The relative quiet during and after Christmas and the New Year affords a good opportunity to review our performance during 2016.

The benefits of looking in detail at what worked and being honest about failures and disappointments is of huge value.

It’s from these conclusions we are able to plan for 2017 and drive our businesses forward.

So, while you’re recovering from too much turkey and one to many eggnogs start reflect on the successes and failures.

What were your biggest achievements this year and why?

What strategies led to real results?

Which were the least and most profitable services?

What did you not do so well and how can you change things to make improvements?

Did you provide consistent excellent customer service to all customers?

Where can you improve your service?

What do you need to invest in to improve operational and financial performance?

What do you need to do you attract more customers?

Is your marketing timely and relevant?

Do your services compliment your customers’ requirements?

On your return to work in the New Year it’s time to formalise the review with your management team and workforce.

Your review should conclude with a comprehensive business plan for 2017 complete with financial targets, customer account plans, people development goals and operational improvement objectives.

The work doesn’t stop there though.

Monthly reviews throughout the year should keep your plan on track.

Look out for these tell-tale signs that things might be going wrong.

Sales figures drop – stop and analyse why this is happening immediately. It could be your service levels have dropped and you have unhappy customers. It could be your products aren’t meeting your customers’ expectations. You could have a problem with quality or may be your marketing lacks relevance and you aren’t attracting the new customers you expected.

Employee morale drops – your biggest asset is your workforce. Low morale leads to mistakes and a lack of attention to detail. It doesn’t take long for this to translate into a drop in service levels which are clearly visible to and felt by your customers. Get close to your workforce to understand potential frustrations and issues.

Costs rise and revenue falls – this is often really difficult to see as the movement tends to creep over time rather than stand out as a dramatic change. The key to staying on top of this is regular key performance indicator reviews and robust financial management.

Competition increases – keeping an eye on your competitors is essential. If you see a sudden increase in the market then it’s time to stop and review what you are doing. Making sure you are always at the top of your game and able to offer something different to your competitors is key to maintaining growth and achieving your goals.

Important customers leave – losing key clients tends to be a sign that something isn’t right. Proper account and relationship management should be an early indicator. Take time to understand what has gone wrong and address the issues quickly to avoid future losses. Proactive communication to customers is key. Keep the customer at the heart of your business.

Growth is quick and exceeds expectations – now don’t get me wrong this is a good thing; but don’t be caught out by it. Rapid growth can put serious strain on your people, systems and resources. If you’re pulling in the cash make sure your infrastructure can sustain the growth long-term.

Quality time spent reviewing and planning has a direct relationship to your company’s success.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year and a 2017 filled with growth and prosperity!

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