panel of experts

You are here

Evaluating Year-end Priorities

“I have a lot going on at the end of the year, like inventory and equipment maintenance. What do you think are some of the most important things I need to do for year-end?”

Healthcare Laundry: Richard Engler, John Peter Smith Health Network, Fort Worth, Texas

This is a super question! It illustrates both the weight of responsibility and the threat of it overpowering your mission.  

First, I would offer perspective on the concern, “I have a lot going on….” That is exactly right, and it indicates the value and the level of involvement in your program. You may substitute any time perspective behind this phrase, and it will fit and still be true. That phrase is applicable on many levels as well, such as job duties, life in general and the world we live in now.    

It is only a problem if the perspective changes from engaging the challenges and enjoying the process to one of fatigue and a desire to set down the load and rest. Whenever you feel this way, the first thing to look at is if you should be doing the things that are driving this. Delegation perhaps? 

If you do not have anyone trained to do this task, then you have a great opportunity to develop, mentor and teach. For me, this is always a motivator, and it is critical to the larger mission: ensuring that we have redundancy in our program and that we are prepared for change.

If your operation has a peak of tasking during the year end, consider the possibility of spreading out these items to other times. If you reset your maintenance cycle to an arbitrary annual cycle, say July 1 to June 30, you will be better able to focus on that task rather than dividing your attention. 

Your team will appreciate not having another thing to stress over for the holiday season.

That being said, the most important things for end of the year involve strategic examinations of the year behind you, the year ahead and the five-year plan. 

With that comes the absolute imperative of ensuring you orchestrate celebrations and recognition of each success of the team and the operations during the year. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.  

Imagine that the team had accomplished only one positive metric for the entire year. Now imagine that leadership did not acknowledge it. While it is a given that the metrics that were not improved upon will be reviewed and addressed, imagine the level of disappointment in ignoring what was achieved. 

Consider the motivational impact and the validation of the effort required to make the metric move. How likely is the team to reinvest in something that was not important enough to acknowledge, recognize and celebrate?  

Not taking the time to recognize and celebrate successes will be a sure-fire way to guarantee the team will move away from engaging to fatigue as noted previously. 

Chemicals Supply: Rich Fosmire, Epic Industries a Division of Simoniz USA, Bolton, Conn.

Most of us have a lot on our plate this time of year, and I am not talking about holiday meals. There is end-of-the-year inventory and equipment maintenance, as well as scheduling conflicts to accommodate vacations, days-off requests and holiday coverage. So, how do you decide what important things need to be done before the end of the year?

Well, the book Thriving in the Workplace For Dummies has a great chapter on prioritizing. There are basically five steps:

  1. Start with a master list.
  2. Determine the top priority A-level tasks—things that will lead to significant consequences if not done today.
  3. Categorize the rest of the tasks.
  4. Rank the tasks within each category.
  5. Repeat this process each day.

What will be on your list will depend on where you fall in the hierarchy of your facility. For most people, a year-end review of wins and losses is important for making changes in policy for next year.  

What is your current cost for producing a pound of finished linen? What is your reject rate? What are your replacement costs? Determining these financial issues will aid in formulating plans for either staying with current suppliers and systems or making some changes.

There is also the matter of your employees. Is there a need to make changes in the coming year? And don’t forget to recognize those who have made significant contributions to the department during the past year. In all the confusion of holiday time, it is easy to forget the value each person brings to the table.

So, prioritize, manage, set goals and expectations, and thank your employees in word and deed, for they are your most valuable asset. 

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Phil Jones, Vistana Signature Experiences, Orlando, Fla.

At year’s end, there are many critical items to be addressed in a vacation ownership environment. 

At the top of our list is to conduct a full year-end inventory of all linen on the property, both in the linen closets and in the laundry. Our resort has 1,682 villas, so the end count is over 300,000 items to account for. We need to make sure we know the par levels of every item and have the order ready for January delivery to maintain proper par levels.

Another critical year-end piece is to contact all vendors we do business with and make sure that all invoices are in and accounted for in 2018. You do not want to have invoices that should have been paid in 2018 now affecting your 2019 budget. 

We have an obligation not only to the company, but also to the homeowners’ associations of the resort not to be over budget at the end of the year.

Each year we compete for capital dollars with all of our other resorts for approval to make improvements, such as new equipment, so at the end of the year it is important that all projects have been completed that were approved and to verify the timeline for all capital expenditures for the next year. 

We will have a planning session in December to get a timeline for any project, as we will not know the actual timeline for the month the project will begin until late December. It is possible we may see that one of our projects has been assigned for January.

Finally, there are many different celebrations that always take place in December, from our associate resort-wide celebration to various holiday celebrations, all of which take up a lot of time planning and executing. 

In the laundry, we have one annual celebration where all of the laundry associates have a large potluck lunch to celebrate our diversity and to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments from the year. 

We will always end the year on a positive note, ready to take on a new year and new challenges. Best of luck to all of you and best wishes in 2019. 

Consulting Services: Michael Dodge, Gotli Labs (GLOBE), Minneapolis, Minn.

First, review the financial information (revenue) of your customer base. Communicate to your customers by thanking them for doing business with your company in 2018. Customers could be external or internal relationships.

Second, do some type of year-end performance review of your employees and give an appropriate appreciation for your strong performers. Bonuses are nice; however, they are not essential. You just need to present some form of acknowledgement that you appreciate what your teammates did for the successes in 2018.

Budget reviews should be completed with financial plans established for 2019. P&Ls (profit and loss statements) should have been analyzed, comparing 2017 and 2018 financial results, understanding successes and areas of improvement.  

The financial differences (positive and negative) should be understood and documented. Financial plans should be established with metrics (and goals). Those financial plans should also have steps on how to achieve the expected results in 2019.

Finally, identify “Your Wildly Important Goal” for your company or group. There should be one overall goal for your team—established, communicated and with steps on how to accomplish this goal for 2019.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].