Small businesses tend to be informal, but they should not overlook the need for periodic meetings to ensure that all departments and employees are aligned with the owner’s vision. Quarterly meetings are typically set up for several different functions, but no one wants their employees feeling like this through the monotony of the same presentation.
Make sure you share your passion with your team, keep them focused, and discuss how they are having an impact in these ways:
Sales and Marketing
This is a review of sales efforts over the last three months and effectiveness of marketing and promotional activities. The owner usually reviews how the sales staff has performed relative to established quotas. Sometimes, the quarter’s most successful salesperson is recognized. Problems are analyzed and quotas for the next quarter are established. Sales policies and techniques can be reviewed. Often, an owner will release ineffective salespeople just before the quarterly meeting as a sobering reminder to the rest of the staff that the survival of the business depends upon sales revenue. Marketing efforts should be measured in terms of return on investment, and advertising campaigns should be reviewed and revised as necessary. If the owner is not satisfied with advertising efforts, she may call for presentations from new agencies.
Personnel and Recruiting
Staff is reviewed and if any changes are needed, they may be finalized at these meetings. The need for additional workers is assessed, and this is the opportunity to revise the management structure of the business. Promotions and demotions can be discussed here, as well as modifications to compensation and benefits. Problems with particular employees will be addressed. Sometimes this may require extraordinary support from the business — for example, the company might sponsor a key employee with a drinking problem to a rehab facility. The owner will also evaluate the trade-offs between employing workers or hiring contractors. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) now affects businesses with as few as 50 employees, so this topic will receive prominent attention at these meetings.
This is an opportunity to brainstorm ways to increase efficiency and cut costs. Owners must balance the work that’s done “in-house” versus subcontracted out. Owners of small manufacturing companies must also assess the benefits and costs of replacing some of the workforce with new machines. Interestingly, the trend of outsourcing manufacturing operations to China and other offshore locations has begun to reverse, and many companies are now “onshoring.” Owners are finding that profits from offshoring can be elusive, in part due to logistics and quality control problems. The quarterly operations meeting can address these and other issues that affect a company’s bottom line.
Accounting and Finance
A company’s capital structure is constantly evolving. A quarterly finance meeting can review funding needs and sources, especially if new projects or capital expenditures are anticipated. Private companies can acquire funding from many sources, such as private investors, venture capitalists and crowdfunding. Attractive loans are available from private lenders such as IOU Financial that can help finance the growth and operation of a company. In addition, thee tax and accounting regulations change every year, and the quarterly finance meeting is a good time to review the latest developments, such as the new rules regarding depreciation and capital expenditures. As we mentioned earlier, the ACA rules now affect smaller companies and has important tax implications and accounting requirements — points that should be reviewed at the quarterly finance meeting. Finally, the company should review the quarterly financial reports — balance sheet, income statement, budgets, etc. — to measure progress and handle unanticipated conditions.
It’s a great idea to thank the staff with a quarterly event — an evening at a bowling alley or a weekend retreat. Staff morale is very important, and happy employees can help an owner achieve her long-term plans. A sullen or unhappy staff can ruin a business and sabotage its operations, so staff appreciation meetings are good business.