The 4th Quarter: Accountability, Strategy, and Planning

by Coach Rob Balfanz

Now that football season is officially underway, let’s focus our attention on the last quarter of the game. The 4th quarter is when the yearlong numbers become real and leadership becomes accountable. It is when annual planning is completed, leadership is measured, and talent deployment is strategized for the upcoming year. It is the time for important decisions that will ensure the current year finishes strong and the next year will meet or exceed expectations.

The pressure on leadership is constantly increasing, especially in the 4th quarter. Some of this is due to budget concerns, pressure to hit the forecast, and the overall state of the economy, but the majority of the pressure is due to scheduling and weather challenges, production output, and labor shortages. Leaders must have the ability to meet expectations and move the company forward successfully in this competitive economy, no matter what challenges lie ahead. Find out how VSI can help you be prepared with the right tools for the right job.

As we move into October, many small business owners may just be starting to assess the rest of the year, after a busy summer. What can a business owner do to prepare for the last quarter and make sure the new year starts off with a bang? Here’s a quick checklist of things you can do now to finish the year strong and start the new one ready.


Financial Planning & Staff Acknowledgment 

  • Look at your profit and loss statement: It’s important to know where you stand now, rather than after the first of the year. If you’re fortunate enough to have more profit than expected, you may want to consider a major purchase that can be depreciated.  Make sure you have the cash and talk to your accountant if you are not clear of the depreciation rules.
  • Verify your 1099 information: Make sure your 1099 information is setup properly in your accounting system. If you don’t have proper information from each vendor or client, ask for it now, then create a form to use every year.
  • Start planning for your employee holiday gifts and cards: Don’t wait until the last minute. Order employee and client holiday gifts and cards now so they arrive on time.
  • Create budgets for the New Year: If your fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, start budgeting now for the New Year.
  • Write out all your accomplishments for the year: Share them with your staff, they’ll appreciate it!
  • Write out all your New Year goals: Do this for the upcoming year and share them with your staff to get them inspired. If they know where you are going, they will want to come along for the ride.


Internal Audits & Organization

  • Clean up your email list: Are there people on your list who haven’t responded or opened an email all year? Now might be the time to clean up that list and purge inactive users.
  • Perform a website audit: Check all the links and auto responders on your website to make sure they’re still working. Double check pages for expired offers or promos and delete any pages that are no longer relevant.
  • Record your year-end mileage: If you use your vehicle for work, write down your year-end mileage so you have it handy when it’s time to meet with your accountant.
  • Make a copy of your current year calendar: Your business calendar documents your work life: your travel, meetings, and more. It’s a valuable record. Save a PDF report of your entire year.
  • Backup your files: You don’t want to risk losing a year’s worth of client information, financial data, marketing content, and other files. Assemble all these files into a single folder dated with the year. Send a copy to a cloud backup such Drop Box, keep a copy on an external hard drive separate from your computer, and keep another copy on your computer’s hard drive.
  • Have a strategic planning session for the New Year: Now is a great time to meet with your team, your employees, your field leadership team, board of directors, advisory council, consultants, advisors, and staff to help plan the year. Getting feedback from trusted advisors, staff, and even customers can be a great way to shape the future of your business.


Certification & Material Assessment

  • Check your licenses and certifications: Make sure your documents are up to date, that you renew your licenses, your certifications, your insurances, etc. When the work is ready for you, you need to be ready for the work.
  • Schedules: You have to delight your customers, your team, your clients, and yourself if you are going to end the year on a high note. Know your holiday and PTO/vacation liability.
  • Vehicles: Not only is insurance important, so is your team’s overall safety when getting to and from a project. Have all of your preventive maintenance checklist items available: tires rotated, snow tires ready, fluids filled and on hand, wipers replaced, bulbs replaced, registration and insurance paperwork in each vehicle, tow service company information, info on where a repair shop is located, safety kits in each fleet vehicle, jumper cables, safety lights, etc. Don’t wait until it is too late or there’s an emergency.
  • Know your vendors, distributors, manufacturers: You need to know and understand the hours of operations, the contact listings, shipping and receiving hours, both the office and the dock hours — you do not want to make a promise you cannot keep due to the distributor not shipping during winter hours.
  • Waste: If you provide drop off locations for your crews, check that the paths and receptacles are free and clear so they can dispose of any unwanted or used products. Do not set anyone up for unsafe conditions.
  • Make sure your service contracts are renewed: If you have any seasonal contracts that may have expired or need to be updated, address this early in the 4thquarter. Don’t wait until the first snow/ice event or cold spell to find out you forgot something. Take care of it now.


The Big Three

  • Recruiting: Identify your needs not only for the 4thquarter but also the upcoming year. VSI can help! VSI is hosting Workforce Events, Power Networking Events, and Job Fairs all over North America. Find out where we’ll be next and reserve your spot today.
  • Save money, make money: Schedule your transportation and lodging early, prior to the upcoming holidays. Invoices should be up to date and sent out in a timely fashion. Purchase your office products sooner rather than later and be prepared. Purchase installation products and accessories in bulk and have them ready when necessary. Look for sales and closeouts, find the savings, and re-invest in your team.
  • Trust the Process: Be motivational, be inspiring, be passionate, be tough, yet be empathetic. Find out who wants to be part of the process, not just part of the outcome, good or bad.


In Conclusion

During the 4th quarter, it all starts and ends by making a positive impact on your team, on and off the job. A good coach can change a game, a GREAT coach can change a life. Remind your team daily to bring their best to work and most importantly, to trust the process.


To your success,

Coach Rob Balfanz

Topics: leadership   employment