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Just as you change the oil in your car every 3 months or 3,000 miles, you should create a maintenance schedule for your business. When was the last time you looked under the hood to make sure everything was in good working order? A little preventive maintenance could save your company money and avoid costly errors. From my experience working with businesses, I have developed a system that can keep your company in good working order. Here’s a checklist.

Review Your Business Plan Annually

Your business plan is a valuable document. It helps you measure where you thought you would be versus where you actually are. Taking the time to review your plan annually will help you gain a new perspective on your business. It will give you the opportunity to see the big picture and either make subtle adjustments to the plan or major revisions.

Look at your staff ­ beyond the performance review

  • Have you achieved your short-term goals?
  • Are you on course to achieving your mid-term goals?
  • Should you stick to the current strategy or does it need fine-tuning or an overhaul?
  • Will you meet your long-term goals?
  • What new market conditions or events have occurred that need to be incorporated into the plan?
  • Are the assumptions that you originally made regarding the economy, your customers, the competition and your position in the marketplace still valid?

Once a year it’s a good idea to look at your staff to make sure that the way they are organized still makes sense. Is your organization structured in a way that maximizes talent, efficiency and results?

  • Are people really doing the jobs described in their job description, or has the job changed and does the description need to be revised?
  • Are people clear about their roles and responsibilities?
  • Is there a well-defined reporting structure or are there areas that overlap or are ambiguous?
  • Have you conducted an annual performance evaluation? Are there any action steps that should be completed or followed up on as a result of the evaluations? Is this happening?
  • Can everyone in the organization clearly articulate your company’s goals and mission?
  • Who are the key contributors and do you have a plan for ensuring their satisfaction and retention?
  • Are you developing your staff so they are learning new skills and expanding their knowledge base?
  • Do you train your staff, or just assume that they will figure things out?

How well do you know your customers?

Customers are the lifeblood of your company. Without a predictable customer base your products and services will linger on the shelf. Make sure you’re keeping current with what your customers are thinking and planning. Casual conversations can reveal important information.

  • Can you clearly define your customer base?
  • Do you know what your customers are thinking?
  • Do you know their current and future needs?
  • Are they satisfied with your products and services?
  • How well do they understand your company and the products and services you offer?
  • Do your customers understand all the capabilities of your organization?
  • How long has it been since you communicated with your key customers?
  • Are you communicating effectively with them? If so, how do you know? Have you asked them? 

The business environment is constantly changing. An annual tune-up will keep your company running efficiently and smoothly and keep you from becoming complacent. It’s easy to assume that if it works, why fix it. But will it keep on working? Are you adapting to the changes in the marketplace? Are you looking at your company objectively? Take the time for an annual review and you’ll see your company with new eyes.

© 2004 Louise Levy, Levy Associates.

LEVYASSOCIATES  New Hope, PA  215 794-4363