Labor Day signals the unofficial beginning of autumn. If they’re not already back in school, kids typically march back to the classroom with sharp pencils and over-sized backpacks the Tuesday after Labor Day. The holiday itself is a time to relax and regroup. Next Tuesday though, with the kids back in school, it’s a good time to look back on the busy summer, and see where your company is at and compare it to where you had hoped it would be.
You’re Joking–it’s almost Autumn?!
Last December, I mentioned setting goals for the year. Winter isn’t typically as busy for backflow testing as it during the months that backflow reports are due to water purveyors (typically Spring and Summer.) It’s easier to strategize when you can catch your breath than it is to play catch up half-way through the year. With Autumn nearly upon us though, this is a good time to reflect and see if those goals were met.
So…did you grow?
Growth, as I mentioned last winter, can take many forms. Did you hire a new tester because you’re at a point that you couldn’t keep up with testing without additional hands? Maybe your growth took the form of organizing, and reducing the hours you or your admins had to spend chasing down backflow reports.
If so, congrats! I’d recommend jotting down some notes about how you feel now about your company and the things you’d like to focus on in the coming months and next year. Why?
Last year I started making a spreadsheet for my garden. I include things like the seeds I used, where I purchased them, how much they cost, and how well they did. I include notes like, “This tasted awful!” and,“The dogs ate all these before I could harvest any.” Why? Because while all these things are incredibly crisp in my mind in Autumn. When I go to order seeds and plant vegetables 5 or 6 months later I have absolutely forgotten the majority of my ails and accomplishments. So, I take notes each week about anything remarkable about the garden–sometimes there’s not much to report. But if I tried to remember all these things in Spring, I’d recall a fraction of the information! I would be destined to repeat mistakes, and I wouldn’t be able to grow the garden how I want. So take notes now, and in a few months? You’ll be glad you did.
Oh…I forgot about goals!
On the other hand, there’s also the chance you’ve forgotten what your goals even were! If your office looks like a jungle of paperwork and you can’t remember the last time you got out of the office before dark, it’s time to set those goals now. There’s no time like the present. If you’re in a place where you’re overwhelmed, don’t wait until Winter or next Spring to deal with the things you could do in Autumn.
What are some of the things you can do now?
- Have 200 unreplied emails? Skim them and delete any spam or promotional emails that are outdated. When I wrote the blog on spring cleaning your office, I mentioned keeping on top of your emails. I strive to always have fewer than 10 unread or un-replied emails. If you have more, sit down one morning with the only goal (for a set amount of time) to reply to those emails. Chances are, it won’t take as long as you think.
- If you don’t have a full-time administrator, there’s a chance you’re behind on billing. Nobody wants to receive a bill for work done 3 months ago. Take an entire day, if need be, and sort out exactly who needs to be invoiced, and send them off. Make calls to people regarding payments that haven’t been received. And absolutely make sure you’re up-to-date with all your bills. If you can, turn on automatic payments for things that are recurring payments.
- Hire an accountant. Okay, this could be part of the billing issue…but if you do not have an accountant that comes in weekly or every two weeks, consider hiring one. They will pay for themselves within a fraction of the time they are saving you.
Those are just a couple suggestions. There are multiple ways you can start organizing your company this autumn so that you can focus on the larger goals after you wrap up your backflow testing season. The more organized you are, the more productive you can be. You’ll spend less time looking through piles of paper and more time testing backflows!
On Labor Day, though, take a moment to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor over 2016. Enjoy a little bit of peace while you barbecue or take up the labor day sales for school supplies- then dive back in on Tuesday to form your goals for the rest of the year!