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End-of-year business planning is a time of opportunity. It’s a chance to make your print business more powerful and strategic. It should happen across all departments and be handled systematically and proactively. Is that how fiscal year-end works in your company?

In my experience, most printing companies do not have a documented year-end process that gives them business insights and sets the stage for the coming year. 

I work with print business and business owners, VPs of sales and marketing, sales managers, and key executives, and I “train” my clients to have an effective year-end protocol. I will cover some of the important items on the YE list in a moment, but first, I want to talk about why it’s important for printing companies to prepare for year-end. 

To build an effective sales and marketing program, you must build your printing company from the inside. This way, your people are proud to work for you and sell for you. A well-run business motivates employees in every department, not just sales and marketing. 

Preparing for year-end can be uncomfortable, time-consuming, and easily postponed. Having the discipline to do what must be done, promptly and professionally, is part of being a company that leads the way instead of dragging its feet. 

Whether your print business closes on December 31, September 30, or another time, I recommend you start working on your checklist early in the 4th quarter.

7 Items for your Year-End Checklist:

PRELIMINARY YEAR-END NUMBERS

Your soft report will look like the one your accounting department generates the first week of the new fiscal year when you close out the year. You can generate a year-to-date income statement or another report that will give you the insight you need for your planning. The preliminary report should cover all the areas where you may need to adjust a payment schedule, get something purchased or paid off within the fiscal year, take care of use-it-or-lose-it items, and make sure there’s nothing exposing you to risk or additional fees. Run these soft YE reports in November and December after month-end closing and list all items that need attention.

SALES PLAN

Something in your sales program has changed this year, I guarantee it. You may have added or dropped a rep or hired a support team. Territories change. Technology changes. Commission structures change. Small elements of the sales process evolve – for example, using a team approach on whale accounts. All these loose bits need to be put in one document so you can launch into the new year empowered and informed, based on current realities.

EQUIPMENT LIST

This is so easy to generate and so often overlooked. The accounting department needs this for tax purposes. Does your sales team know which pieces of equipment have been added or removed? I had a client add mylar tabbing to their offerings and never informed the sales team. Ouch! 

MARKETING PLAN

You have a marketing plan, right? Just .like the sales department, things change in marketing, and you should be anticipating opportunities. Have an annual marketing review from an expert mid-year. Don’t just throw it in a drawer and get distracted. Use that insight to close out the year strong and prepare to dominate your market. 

BUDGET

Your budget should be finalized no later than 60 days before the end of the fiscal year. Your success in decision-making centers around the precise forecasting you and your team do in this powerful, revealing document. 

ORG CHART

Especially in family-run companies, the organizational chart can get sprawling and confusing. Who reports to whom? Why is there a big hole over here in the operations department? What positions need to be filled? What roles can be combined? How do our larger business initiatives affect our reporting structure, now and in the future? 

Your organizational structure should reflect the strong, profitable business you want to be in the future, not the lagging structure of what you were yesterday. Habits, sentiment, power struggles, ego, protecting compensation, and other factors can make this a tough process, which is why it should be done annually. I can dig into this more in another post, but rearranging your org chart can double or triple your team’s effectiveness, without even hiring another person. This is a strategic annual process that should not be ignored. 

EXPERT INPUT 

When you work with an outside consultant who has the privilege of being inside printing companies similar and different than your own, you gain the benefit of their experience. This is why I always recommend an external team as an extra set of eyes during critical points in the annual business cycle. I work on external teams with CPAs, sales trainers, legal advisors, commercial real estate experts, vendor partners, key customers, and others who can provide invaluable advice about how to end your year powerfully. The best-run companies have a systematic year-end protocol with external players. 

You can see how a year-end process is an important tool for successful printing companies. The best-run companies use this as a learning experience to steer growth and amplify effectiveness, for both internal and external marketing efforts. 

The end of the fiscal year is a time of opportunity. Use it strategically! 

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Check out last month’s post: https://printmediacentr.com/how-to-get-your-marketing-program-unstuck/

Want to read more posts from Sandy? https://printmediacentr.com/author/sandyhubbard/


Sandy Hubbard is a Marketing Strategist and Business Advisor specializing in the printing industry. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn or in the #PrintChat group, which she co-hosts with Deborah Corn.

 

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