Who Needs Time Management?

I used to dread the mandatory time management seminars that my employer would schedule because, excuse the pun; they seemed such a waste of time! The reality, however, was that I always came away with a thought or process that helped me to be more efficient. Here are a couple of strategies that will help you become more productive, more profitable and less stressed. Find out what they are.

I could sit here and bore you with the usual buzz words like, organization, tasking, scheduling, planning, recording and the list goes on.

However, I would like to point out two areas of time management that will hopefully get you thinking about your own operation.

Management: As a District Sales Manager for an OEM and good friend of mine often says, "are you an employee of your company or a manager".

It is so easy to fall into the trap of fighting fires that you become an employee of your business, not an owner/manager.

You walk in the door and there is a service problem that needs your attention and before you know it, you have the overalls on and you are wrenching out the back.

You have to place that parts order before 10:00AM or you won't fulfil your promise to deliver your customer's order for the next day. Your sales person did not show up so you have to work the floor and the finance company rep just walked in and wants to do a floor check.

Sound familiar? You are now an employee of your company, not an owner who is ready to manage. So what do you do?

1. Make sure you empower your trusted employees to make decisions so they can carry out your instructions. This starts with job descriptions for each member of your staff and conducting regular meetings so they are clear on their responsibilities.

2. Make sure you delegate on a daily basis.

3. Start in the morning with a trip to your office and plan out your activities for the day. If you are like me, make a check list so you don't forget important tasks.

4. Observe and guide as opposed to doing yourself. We all fall into the trap of thinking we can do it better ourselves, better to train and trust your employees.

Business Flow: The other area of time management that I think is somewhat unique to the Recreational Product industry is the month to month flow of business. Do you ever wonder why everything happens in the last week of the month?

DSM's are calling for unit orders, the booking order for oil or parts has to be completed, and there is an advertising push to meet your sales numbers for the month. It is like we do 80% of the business for the month in the last week.

This use to drive me crazy when I worked for an OEM, because you cruise along all month and then there is a panic in the last 5 days to meet your targets. So what can you do to lighten the load?

Step 1: At the beginning of each month take some time in your office to review your business plan. If you don't have one, get one, but failing that review your booking order commitments for the month.

Step 2: Unit free floor plan financing (FFP) comes in two formats, term or date. If you're booking order floor plan has a date such as FFP until June 1st, then take the order at the beginning of the month to maximize the length of time you have on FFP.

If it is term such as 90 days, then delay your shipment until you need it. However, if you are low on ATV inventory, for example, at the beginning of the month take the order immediately as opposed to waiting until the last week.

Step 3: Make sure you understand your terms of sale on parts and accessories. Many OEM's bill by statement so your monthly orders are due and payable by a specific date the next month.

For example, 20 prox means statements are due by the 20th of the following month. Consequently, scheduling your purchases at the beginning of the month lengthens the term to 50 days as opposed to 20 days at the end of the month.

Step 4: If you have a special promotion or advertising campaign, launch it early in the month. The intent is to grab those sales before panic sets in at the end of the month and you have not reached your targets.

Step 5: Make sure you know what your finance company and supplier credit lines are and how much is outstanding at the beginning of the month. Don't fall into the trap of wanting to purchase inventory and finding out you are maxed out on your credit lines.

All this means is you are managing your time better by scheduling your purchases and sales initiatives early in the month as opposed to the end.

You have enough on your plate at the end of each month, such as HST reconciliation and month end accounting. By doing this you will maximize your terms on the purchase of inventory and reduce the stress of meeting month end commitments.

Planning is the key so if you need help with your financial business plan, contact me.

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