We believe you started your business out of a place of passion and to meet a need in your community. As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats, juggling your time between owner, human resources director, marketing manager, and accountant, to name a few. Your time is valuable, but in light of all of your job titles, time never seems to be in abundance. Due dates loom, tasks pile up, details are overlooked, and stress begins to consume you. The solution? Delegate. Here are five signs it’s time to look for an outsourced bookkeeper so you can get back to dreaming and growing your business.
1. Receipts and bills are stacking up
Is your desk becoming overgrown with bills and receipts? Does the paperwork feel like it never ends? Organizing your books can be discouraging when you are drowning in financial data. It becomes even more difficult if your business did not set up a proper system for bookkeeping from the beginning. Without a standardized approach, maintaining your books can be burdensome. Your employees rely on you for accurate and timely payroll and budgeting.
Organized books are critical for profit-loss statements, financial planning, and budgeting. Cloud-based tools like Quickbooks will make it easy to keep tabs on your finances without the mountain of papers on your desk. Don’t let those receipts get the best of you; hiring a professional bookkeeper can help.
2. Tax-prep is stressful and overwhelming
Does tax season stimulate anxiety? You took the right step in hiring a Certified Public Accountant to file your taxes, but tax preparation is still required. Someone needs to run reports, apply updated tax codes, and categorize paperwork. Doing this on your own can be intimidating. While financially savvy and experienced, your CPA is not involved in the ins and outs of daily business and doesn’t know what papers you filed where or how your business runs cash-flow through the weeks and years.
CPAs don’t typically do tax preparation, and it will require much more time, money, and communication to find all of the documents and data they need. Outsourcing all your business’s tax prep to a bookkeeper can alleviate the oppressiveness of tax season by streamlining communication with your CPA and increasing your confidence that your taxes will be filed correctly.
3. Financing is necessary for growth
Is your company looking to grow? Do you need additional financing options? For more financing, you must have organized and accurate financial data. Banks will evaluate your business on the organization of its financial records, debt repayment history, and reputation. By hiring a bookkeeper to execute financial tasks, your business will have a greater opportunity for increased lending. In doing so, you can know your profit and loss statements will be timely and accurate when submitting paperwork to a bank. If you need additional documentation, your bookkeeper is a call away. Don’t let approvals get in the way of your organization’s growth.
4. Every penny counts
If you’re a small business owner, you know that every penny matters. Unanticipated fees and additional expenses are simply not an option. Avoiding unwanted costs is a must, and cash flow management is essential to running a successful business. By hiring a bookkeeper, your company avoids the risk of audits and late fees. In addition, bookkeepers can facilitate a more efficient business on your behalf by appropriately entering all information for your taxes, which saves money in the long run. Get back to looking at the big financial picture, let the bookkeepers handle the pennies.
5. Dreaming for your business has become stagnant
You didn’t go into business for the endless bills, crinkled receipts, and math homework. You became a business owner because you had a dream: a desire to change and serve your community and to build time and financial freedom. We believe you deserve to have the time and energy to focus on your goals and see them come to fruition. A professional bookkeeper grants you the mental space to be inspired again by maintaining the areas of your business that drag you down. Get back to dreaming, hire a bookkeeper.
By delegating the bookkeeping to a professional team like System Six, you regain time, energy, money, and most importantly, the space to grow your business. Are you interested in taking the next step to finding a trustworthy and dependable bookkeeper? Let’s chat. At System Six, we help business owners get back to what’s important, one line item at a time.
Welcome to the final part of our three part series on bookkeeping and finance specific to churches. This third part of the series covers budgeting. Just like I mentioned in part two, I recommend reading the previous parts (on Helpful Tools and Program Spending) of the series since this final edition of the series builds on what was previously covered.
In part three we will be discussing budgeting and the various aspects of the process to consider while walking your clients through building a budget.
The biggest challenge to budgeting is making sure that the appropriate people are involved in the process. Usually the primary champion of the budgeting process is whoever is sitting in the board treasurer or church operations role. Unfortunately, this most often ends up as the only person that cares about having a budget.
It may seem simplistic, but it’s important to start with the basics: “What is a budget?” Throughout my years of helping with budgets, and even working on my own household budget, I have learned that a budget is a plan for how to spend money. With a church, that money belongs to the churchgoers who donated those funds. In a church, a budget is a plan for how to spend other people’s money and that plan should support the ministry goals and objectives of the church.
Who Should Make the Budget?
Since these ministry goals and objectives are often discussed and set by church leadership, a budget should support those goals. Because of this it is vitally important that other members of leadership contribute to, or assist with budgeting. In most cases, pastors and lay leaders are not financially minded so their natural inclination is to avoid the budgeting process altogether. In their minds that is the reason they hired or appointed an operations or finance director.
As outsourced bookkeepers and consultants, the goal here is to advise our church clients that the budget committee should consist of ministry leaders, operations staff, and ministers. During the process the question of “Does this budget support the ministry goals and objectives of our church?” should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and the committee consists of all the right people that can answer that question.
The Mechanics of a Balanced Budget
Now that all the right people are at the table, it’s okay for the operations and financially minded leaders to lead the process. The best place to start is with income.
Income for a church can be a challenge due to the following:
How many church attenders are giving?
Will those church attenders continue to give at the rate they are giving?
If the church is growing, how much will the revenue grow?
If the church is getting smaller, are the people leaving regular givers?
Of the people leaving, how much are they giving?
Is there a plan to encourage increased giving in the upcoming period?
In part two of this series some of the donor management and church management tools that I listed can help to answer these questions. Other questions are better answered by pastors and ministry leaders, which is why it’s important that they are involved in the process.
Once all these questions are answered it’s important that the revenue budget is set based on practical expectations and not on the amount that is desired. The revenue can be divided evenly across all twelve months of the year, or allocated differently to each month based on previous year giving trends. If using the latter method, make sure that the monthly cash flow can handle particular months where expenses may exceed revenue. This situation may arise since most expenses are the same month-to-month, but monthly revenue can fluctuate. Once revenue is determined, expenses naturally follow.
The first pass through expenses can be accomplished without looking at revenue, and based only on the needs of the church and ministries. It’s important that expenses are then compared to the overall projected revenue. If total expenses exceed total revenue for the year, that means the church likely can’t accomplish everything that it wants to that year. This is again why it is important to have a budget committee made up of ministry leaders and pastors because at this point, hard decisions will have to be made about where to reduce expenses. These decisions should be guided by the ministry goals of the church, and if expenses are cut in certain areas, it’s a collective decision instead of a financial director simply moving numbers around on a spreadsheet.
At the end of the process the difference between total expenses and total income ideally should be zero. If expenses exceed revenue, that means there will be an expected cash burn (disregarding any balance sheet considerations). If revenue exceeds expenses, there is the potential that the extra money can be put towards a reserve for future savings.
Bookkeeping to Serve the Church
As stated earlier, budgeting is important and because it is important, needs to involve many stakeholders. Since churches are made up of many people, many people should be involved. In our role as trusted advisors we can encourage the churches we are serving in this direction.
Since this wraps up the three part series on outsourced church bookkeeping, our hope is that we have helped to provide clarity on some of the potential pitfalls of serving churches. The intention is that this will help to increase the value that we are providing, and ensure the success of the churches and non-profit ministries we are serving.
If you are an outsourced bookkeeper looking for further ideas, or a church that is in need of outsourced bookkeeping, we are glad to serve, and we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So, let’s prepare now for your future success with a strong budget.
For business owners, having a budget for the New Year is an important part of financial preparation. But for some business owners, just the thought of having to prepare a budget makes them anxious. The idea of adding another item to your to-do list might actually push you over the edge, especially this year. Or maybe you just don’t know where to start. Either way, a budget is a critical step to your success, so reach out! System Six, your current bookkeeper or your CFO can help!
The budgeting process allows business owners to think about how much they will earn and how much they will spend in the following year. It can be as detailed or as summarized as you like. The goal is that a budget will ultimately help the business owner throughout the year determine if the business is on track financially through the use of budget versus actual reporting. So you’ll know month by month when and where to make expense changes or where you may be exceeding your revenue expectations.
Where Do I Start with a Budget?
Preparing a budget may sound like an impossible task. Keep in mind that this process can be as simple as you want it to be the first year and then revised and improved upon in subsequent years.
The most effective way to build your budget is to align your data with the accounts in your financial system (i.e., QBO, Xero, Sage, etc.) and ultimately to input the budget into your system for easy reporting next year. At System Six, we are here to work with our clients and other business owners to help them through this process.
Whether you have prepared a budget before or not, one of the best places to start is by reviewing financial statements for the current and prior two years, making notes on some key pieces of information.
Do you notice any revenue trends? Are there certain months where you earn most of your revenue each year? Do you see a rather steady revenue increase each month?
Are there any atypical income sources in those years that may not recur next year?
Are your Cost of Goods typically a certain percentage of your revenue each month? Are there ever variations in certain months that need to be planned for?
Are there any atypical expenses in those years that may not recur next year?
Are there amounts you want categorized differently on your statements next year?
What’s the Point of a Budget?
Building your budget will vary some depending on your revenue model. However, in most cases, when determining your revenue budget, you will want to include realistic stretch goals. A budget needs to be achievable. There are other business growth documents you can use to evaluate and incentivize a sales team, for example, but a budget should be a realistic expectation of next year’s financial statements taking into account known external factors and changes. The expectation is that you will be able to run budget versus actual reports next year and be able to determine if your business is on track to your anticipated (budgeted) bottom line. If you are, great job! If not, you’ll be able to see where the business has gone astray and make real-time (monthly) adjustments to get back on course towards your initial plan.
How Detailed Should My Budget Be?
If this is your first time preparing a budget, our recommendation is to keep it simple! We don’t want you to feel like your budget is more trouble than it’s worth. If you are a Budgeting Pro, you can make your budget as detailed as you like. Either way, you will want to match your budget data to the Chart of Accounts inside your Financial System (i.e., QBO, Xero, etc).
You can enter your revenue to the top level called Revenue/Income or you can split it between your various sub-Revenue accounts. The same is true for all layers within your Chart of Accounts, including Cost of Goods and Expenses, being as detailed as you like or simply entering to the parent/summary/header accounts that you prefer. You can even choose to simply enter annual amounts for all accounts which will auto-split evenly across all 12 months of the year. Just a quick note that if you enter budget entries to the Summary accounts, and then next year actual expenses are entered to Sub-Accounts (more detailed), you will want to run Summarized Budget versus Actual reports in order to see the variances at the Summary level. But don’t worry, this is just fine; your budgeting efforts are still well worth the time! You may find this is all you need for several years.
At this step in the process, having reviewed both current year and prior year financial statements, it is up to you to determine next year’s annual budgeted revenue. An estimate is fine at this point based on what you know about your business. It is helpful to forecast where you think your revenue will be at the end of the current year in order to have a solid starting point for next year’s budget.
How Do I Determine Budgeted Revenue?
You may be wondering how you calculate more detailed budgeted revenue. This will differ depending on the type of business you operate.
Different Types of Businesses
Subscription or Donor/Membership-Based organizations typically track their subscribers or donors/members by level or group and price. They know how many members they anticipate for next year and what revenue that equates to.
Service or Project-Based organizations typically track their services by price. They anticipate a certain number of services for next year and what revenue that equates to.
Inventory/Product sales organizations typically track their product sales by product. They anticipate a certain number of product sales for next year and what revenue that equates to.
These calculations are made with information pulled from a Point of Sale system or Membership database, which may or may not be directly integrated with the financial system.
More Complex Business Structures
What if your financial system is set up with even more detail, such as departments, locations or class structure? All of these layers can absolutely be taken into account when creating your budget. Essentially the process is the same; you will simply repeat the process for each of these layers. In the end, when the budget is entered into your financial system for each of those layers, the summarized version of your budget will “roll up” to your master budget. It is important to note that completing a budget process to this level of detail can be quite time consuming, especially if this is new to you or if you are taking on this challenge alone without any supporting departmental staff.
Special Revenue Considerations
As revenue is estimated for next year, it is important to include potential key business changes, such as new product lines/products or expanding business areas. Conversely, it’s also important to consider the discontinuation of any business lines/products or the closure of any business areas. Other key changes might include the impact of price increases, including not only the anticipated increase, but also any customer impact as a result of those increases (i.e., cancellations, etc.).
Once you have this detailed annual budgeted revenue, the next step is to determine how to spread it out monthly for next year’s budget. If you have chosen not to calculate annual revenue in such detail, simply use the annual budgeted revenue for the business as a whole you determined above.
Monthly Revenue Modeling
Once you know what you are expecting for next year’s annual revenue, it’s important to know how to spread out that revenue each month. Depending on the type of business you operate, there are several options to choose from. Please note that if your revenue is consistent month to month, you can choose to enter your annual revenue, skipping this step altogether, allowing the system to allocate revenue evenly by month (simply dividing by 12).
Cyclical Revenue Modeling
Does your business generate most of its revenue during a specific month or quarter of the year? For example, is your business dependent on New Year’s resolutions (i.e., gym memberships, etc)? Or, is your business dependent on holiday sales (busiest from Oct-Dec)? If so, then your business would be considered cyclical, with more revenue being entered to specific months during the year. For a cyclical business, it is important to budget revenue next year by looking at the historical trends for those key months, being realistic about growth, and then allocating revenue in the other months similarly.
Does your business typically grow a certain percentage each year or each month? If so, calculate the growth percentage and see if that applies consistently throughout the year or in certain quarters. Based on what you find, this percentage growth should be applied similarly to revenue amounts for next year.
Breakeven Revenue Modeling
Would you like to budget revenue based on the minimum amount needed to cover anticipated expenses for next year? This is called Breakeven Budgeting. You can apply revenue Cyclically or Incrementally, but by lower amounts or even reducing revenue from the current year. In this model, first budget expenses, budgeting revenue last, with the goal being a $0 Net Profit/Bottom Line. The purpose of this model allows business owners to know that if they do not exceed budgeted expenses and at least meet budgeted revenue, they will not lose money at year end.
The expense side of the budget model typically uses percentage growth for key accounts. Most often, business owners will review current and prior year financial statements to gauge expense levels and increases year over year to estimate next year’s budget. Key areas to consider include:
Cost of Goods Sold: Since these are industry or even business specific, you’ll want to review these in depth to determine what to expect for next year by month.
Payroll: You’ll want to consider both cost of living increases as well as any anticipated performance increases. Keep in mind that payroll accounts can be in various places within the Chart of Accounts, depending on your layout, including Costs of Goods Sold and Admin/G&A, and may also split out owner wages separately.
Employee Benefits: Benefits can unexpectedly increase, sometimes quite a bit year over year, so it can be helpful to reach out to your broker to get an idea of your increase for next year. Be sure to include any new benefits you may be implementing next. And similar to Payroll, these costs may also be found in several places on the P&L, including Cost of Goods Sold and Admin/G&A, with owner benefits oftentimes split out separately.
Utility Increases: Although often considered a “fixed expense”, utility companies do increase their rates and utility expenses can be a large expense on the books. So taking a look at prior year increases can help determine next year’s budgeted expense.
Revenue-based taxes: Depending on your state, revenue-based taxes are typically percentage based. So for budget purposes, setting them as the same percentage (of next year’s estimated revenue) as current year is generally a safe bet, unless you expect major changes to your business model.
Other expenses: As the business owner it is important to look at the other expenses on your books, determine what percentage increases are appropriate for next year or if there is another methodology that makes more sense for estimating next year’s budgeted amount. You know your business best and are in the best position to make those estimates.
So Where Do YOU Want to Start?
Having reviewed more about what you already knew or learned something new, where do you want to start with this important step towards your 2022 success?
How Can We Help?
If you are interested in some help with this project, please click on this link and connect with us at System Six. It will take you to a short list of questionnaires to help us determine how we can best serve you in this process.
We’ve all had to pivot this year in order to keep ourselves and our communities safe. While some companies, like System Six, have been working remotely for years, we recognize that the shift to completely digital platforms and processes can be overwhelming and daunting. The good news is that there are so many great options for online tools that will have your team working cohesively in no time. We know that nothing can quite replace the collaborative vibes of your office or the chit chat around the water cooler, but hopefully these tools will help you get on the same page while you can’t be in the same space.
We use Teams (and have used Slack in the past) primarily as a means to field casual conversation and quick questions. In order for this to work to its full potential, though, you have to have strong buy-in from your team and commit to quick response times together so that it remains an effective means of communication. Teams can be used for questions and updates that can be handled quickly and easily; it’s not for asking particularly heavy questions that require your colleague to completely stop what they are doing to help. Make sure to ask specific questions and avoid ambiguity.
Karbon is our preferred tool for task management. It is a tool that is specifically built for accounting firms but we’d highly recommend a tool like this (see Teamwork, Clickup, or Asana) for keeping track of tasks. Email is not an ideal place to assign tasks because once the email has been sent there is no visibility of if/when the task got done and no way to see if the task is still in process.
With Karbon, you can automate reminders, setup workflows, and ensure that there is visibility on the scope of a project for each team member.
With a remote team or clients who span multiple time zones, it can be such a simplifier to use a scheduling service. Save yourself the endless “reply-alls” and mishaps over who is on what time zone and invest in a service like Calendly for booking appointments. Calendly updates your availability in real time so you can rest assured that you will never double book a meeting. It comes with features like custom reminder emails, cancellation notices, and calendar syncing. The free version works fine for most people though it is branded with “calendly” and you only have one meeting type as an option.
Google Drive | Easy & sharable access to information
We can’t stress enough the importance of real time editing and updating of shared documents. Avoid sending various versions back and forth with Google Docs robust variety of cloud-hosted documents and spreadsheets. We especially love the Google Sheets features for collaboration around ideas, updating contacts, and sharing live content. We’ve been able to connect Google Sheet directly with Quickbooks Online to automatically pull key financial metrics directly into various meeting agendas which has been extremely valuable when reviewing our company performance as leaders on a weekly basis. You can review our meeting agenda template here!
Fathom is a reporting app that is especially focused on turning complex financial reports into beautiful, easy to read trends, Fathom connects easily to QBO, and it presents financial information in an easy, understandable way. Fathom puts accounting info into a visual, easier to understand form that is especially helpful for anyone who may not be especially numbers-minded. Really, it is a communication tool as much as a financial tool.You want your numbers to communicate the story of what is happening in your business and be able to present this data to your key stakeholders (team members, investors, or your spouse).
Loom is a great tool to create a tutorial by sharing your screen and recording the session to send via URL. If you need to shoot off a quick explanation about how to use a feature, or want to show a client an element of a program or website, you can record a short video for them. This allows the information to be reviewed at someone’s convenience.. And if your client or colleague has to pause to go homeschool their third grader, then they can always come back to it later!
While the focus of this post is the tools we use while working remotely, the theme is communication. This is particularly essential when you aren’t just down the hall from someone, but you still need to be able to communicate quickly and clearly. We want to make sure that the tools we do use are easy to use, intuitive, secure, and allow for quick and helpful communication.
Making the Jump from Solo-Practitioner to Forming a Group Practice
How do you know when it’s time to make the jump to forming a group practice? Many practitioners are impeded by not knowing where to start or wondering if the administrative time and the payroll cost might outweigh the profit. We’ve seen many MHPs (mental health professionals) make that switch successfully by identifying and utilizing apps that are designed to get you there. Before we explain the combination of knowledge and technology required to make this plunge, let’s take a look at some of the factors that you might be weighing as you consider expanding from solo counseling to a group practice.
Why would you do it?
You’re overbooked! Clients love you and even though you may not have actually fully branded yourself, whatever you are doing is working. Instead of feeling overworked and stressed, spend some time figuring out what that secret sauce is that clients love about the way you do therapy. Hire like-minded professionals you can work with who can provide the bandwidth to add more clients to your practice without you bearing the brunt of those added hours.
You acquire the opportunity to spread out your overhead costs. There are many therapists who would love to support an existing client base and be relieved of their own need to market, brand, and the accounting and admin that comes with a solo-practice. Make sure you hire the right people because you, as the business owner, are telling your clients that you’ve personally vetted this new therapist.
You offer or specialize in one kind of counseling. Perhaps you only treat individuals but you keep getting asked by your clients if you can do couples counseling or counseling for kids. Rather than turning them away because you know it’s not your niche, you can add a therapist with those strengths and specialties to your practice without having to refer potential patients out.
To start a group practice the first order of business is to make sure you’ve identified WHY. Is it because you have a good brand that people like and you’re overbooked? Or do you intentionally want to expand? Do you want to diversify your offerings? Do you thrive in a collaborative environment? Knowing your motivation is important and will point you in the right direction for expansion, branding, communications, and networking.
Form the Correct Type of Entity
If you have a solo-practice, hopefully you’ve already taken advantage of the tax benefit of forming an LLC (in some states a PLLC), obtaining an EIN, placing yourself on payroll, and have considered filing as an S-Corp with the IRS. A stellar small-business focused CPA can walk you through the steps and explain to you the tax benefits of filing as an S-Corp.
If you’ve found another therapist who you are going into business with, form a new multi-member LLC (again, this is a great time to consult with a knowledgeable CPA so both owners can make sure they’re minimizing personal taxes) with a new EIN. Don’t let these details overwhelm you! There are plenty of CPA’s who can help you take these steps (we as accountants know quite a few).
Tracking Everything – The Apps
As a business owner, be sure to track everything! There are many practical tools that you can use to keep your finger on the details of your practice. Do your research and choose one piece of software that will handle almost everything an MHP will need to do with clients (scheduling, insurance billing, remote sessions, electronic paperwork, accepting payments, etc). A few that we’ve worked with are ChARM (https://www.charmhealth.com/) and Simple Practice (www.simplepractice.com).
Many of these can connect with an accounting software (Quickbooks Online is our go-to) for income recording. Most also have excel reports that can be exported to do a deep dive into reviewing margins and average billing numbers. Whatever it is you pick, you do need to ensure it can provide that all-important income reporting so that an accountant can take that info and integrate it into the accounting software where all expenses live.
A great accountant can help you build out basic margins tracking based upon billable sessions and pay rates for employees. Whatever you build should be scalable so that what works for 3 people can work for 10. No need to go fancy on margins reporting, Google Sheets is usually sufficient and it can be connected to QBO as well for automatic updating of your numbers. We often rely upon our own internal data specialist to build automatic reports like this for our clients; and though it requires expertise outside of the realm of normal spreadsheeting to build, once it is built, it can be easily run and refreshed as needed. The same holds true for calculating what you can afford for overhead and owner pay once you understand your margins and standard expenses.
Hiring Employees – It’s the Group part of “Group Practice”!
Even if you already have an EIN and have been paying yourself via payroll, odds are you didn’t open up a state unemployment insurance account as business owners are exempt from these taxes (you can’t really fire yourself and legitimately claim unemployment). Most states have online applications that can be completed in 15 minutes and an unemployment account number obtained same-day or within 2 weeks. Make sure you’re also covered with workers compensation insurance (some states have state-sponsored programs, other states you will be required to purchase via private agencies). Once applied for and received, whatever your current payroll system is should be well prepared for you to add new hires into.
If you don’t already have payroll up and running, we would recommend Gusto as a great small-business friendly system that allows 100% online hiring and onboarding of employees. Gusto also has some great articles that can help to give direction on the various state payroll tax accounts you’ll need to apply for depending upon what state you are located in.
To hire good people you need to have a good employment proposition. A large portion of that is going to depend upon how you communicate what you’ll be offering in terms of compensation. There are two fairly common approaches but both are based around fees per session and how much gross profit you need to be left with to pay overhead and to pay yourself (and potentially any other owner).
Pay a percentage of each session – In this scenario, you hire therapists and tell them their pay will be x amount of the fees they bring in during the month (say a 60/40 split or a 70/30 split). This is a guaranteed way to make sure you can always cover that employee’s salary as they’re only being paid for what they bring in. However, you want to be sure that the balance covers your own overhead such as rent, utilities and other professional fees (like accounting!).
Pay a base wage and then create a variable compensation structure for fees brought in over that base wage – Guaranteeing you’ll cover everyone’s base salary with this method is a little more risky, but it is a more attractive employment proposition as employees see a direct correlation between more client sessions brings exponentially more pay. In this scenario and as an example you’d offer a base salary at the state minimum for professional positions at $24k. If a billable session is $100, you know they’ll need to have at minimum 20 sessions a month to cover just their salary. Any sessions in excess of those needed to cover payroll go toward paying overhead expenses. Since 20 sessions is considered to be a very low caseload, you can make the minimum 35 or 40 sessions a month and pay a portion of those revenue earnings out as additional compensation (i.e. you get 80% of the session fee for any session booked in excess of your established minimum, or even up to 90% if you book over 60 a month).
While it might seem small, additional perks are a great way to make an employment offer more desirable. Healthcare is always an option to add for full-time employees. As a small group employer you can usually pick a percentage of the monthly premium to cover and then have the rest deducted pre-tax from employee paychecks. An annual continuing education stipend is also attractive ($300 a year) along with additional pay for any time spent team-building or aligning everyone with your brand. Free supervision for those working towards full licensure is also a great addition that doesn’t take up much of your time as an owner, and also gives you an opportunity to train that person on the brand you’re building to pull more clients into the practice.
At the end of the day your practice won’t grow steadily unless you hire the right people who will support your goals and work well with your clients. Take time to interview thoroughly and have a great employment proposition that provides for increased pay and growth opportunities in the future. Above all, make sure you’re hiring people who concur with your mission, vision and values. And finally, when you research, locate, and utilize the tools that will help you minimize time spent on administrative and accounting tasks, you and your team can focus on that which is the most important element of your successful practice; your patients.
So often, meetings can seem like nothing more than necessary evils or giant rocks weighing you down, stopping you from actually getting work done. This can be especially true if you are a team leader in your organization. It can often feel like you do nothing but jump from meeting to meeting and if the scheduled ones aren’t bad enough, there are always impromptu or last minute ones that pop up as well. How in the world can you possibly find time to accomplish anything? For the past 18 months, we here at System Six have been using a meeting cadence that has alleviated most of these pitfalls – and we want to share it with you!
We created a team meeting agenda that we stick to which allows us to work through company updates and issues together as a leadership team while not detracting from the other things we are working on. It helps us keep one another accountable, and also leads to far fewer rabbit trails as we go through the meeting agenda which in turn buys us more time. This meeting agenda,pictured below, is mostly based on EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) and a book called Traction. We added a personal check-in sales scoreboard, client headlines, and team headlines but we give all the credit to the book and EOS model for helping us design this google sheet. (Click to see the spreadsheet up close – if you want a FREE COPY of this Leadership Meeting Agenda, just click here!)
A Look into Our Meeting Structure
We use this agenda for our Monday leadership call and the attendees represent each department of the company (Sales, Operations, Finance, Culture, Customer Service). One person is designated as the “call leader” and is responsible for running the meeting and keeping everyone on track. If we don’t designate a manager for the meeting we can easily get lost in the weeds. The overarching goal is to bring everyone in the organization into the loop on what’s happening, where our progress stands, and what needs to happen next.
For this meeting we always start with relational connection. For us it’s ten minutes, allowing us to connect on the highs and lows of life outside of work. With this knowledge we can support one another during busy seasons and it also reminds us all that we are people, not just performers.
Review your Key Performance Indicators
From there we move into our scorecard section which is five minutes of sales updates, landed contracts, goal statuses, leading and lagging indicators and operational hiccups that lead to lost revenue. This gives us space each week to get on the same page about how the business is functioning in its quantitative elements. The scorecard section usually stirs some good conversation topics that we add to our IDS section below.
Know Your Big “Rocks”
After that we go into one of the main parts of the meeting which we call Rock Review. Here we check on our large quarterly goals which we call our “big rocks” (see, rocks don’t have to weigh you down!). Each team leader is responsible for 1-3 “rocks” per quarter, and this meeting is a weekly opportunity to check in, encourage and help one another with our big picture projects. These “big rocks” require our primary focus and attention so we allow ample time for this section. For each item we do a full review, check off completed tasks and tackle possible hiccups.
Headlines & Accountability
After the Rock Review we go on to further agenda items. We spend a short and sweet five minutes on client “headlines” where we update one another on how clients are doing and then do the same with team “headlines.” We move from there to our To-Do List from the previous week which is not only an accountability check, but also a chance to address any roadblocks team members may be facing with their To-Do’s.
Rather than spending time throughout the week notifying each other of headlines with either clients or team members, we all know that we have this standing weekly meeting where all of those topics will be discussed. This keeps the overall weekly “noise” level down and we can trust that there is time and space to discuss these things every five business days.
Identify, Discuss, Solve
What follows next is the main section of the meeting, IDS (Identify, Discuss, and Solve—credit Traction). For this portion of our time together—45 minutes—we bring up company issues and rank them by importance. To do this each team leader gets five votes and chooses which topics are highest priority for them. The items with the most votes go to the top of the list, those with the least are bumped down to the bottom. This way we are working on issues that are critical to the company as a whole, not to just one person’s portions. We get through as many elements on the list as possible knowing that the rest will carry over to the next meeting. Out of this IDS time comes our to-do list for the following week. Our team knows they will be checked on for these items in the next meeting so it is a good reminder of exactly what is on each of our plates going forward.
To finish we end with rating the meeting. Each team leader rates the meeting on a scale of 1-10 and if there is a 7 or lower, the call leader asks that person why they gave that particular rating. That team leader then has an opportunity to explain their rating and it is a chance for us all to hear that and improve the meeting for next time.
Once the meeting is done the call leader copies the agenda, pastes below and then clears the solved issues, clears off completed to-dos, moves to-dos from this week to last week and makes sure the agenda is prepared and “fresh” for the next week. A clean slate! Something we can all—and especially the next week’s call leader—be grateful for. Throughout the week leaders can add topics directly to the IDS section of this newly created agenda. So instead of blasting an email that says “Guys, we have an issue we need to discuss,” that person can put the issue on the agenda and know it will be covered during the next meeting.
Know Your Meeting “Why”
The main goal for this meeting and for sticking to the agenda so closely is communication and connection. We are able to stay in the loop with each other, with team members, with clients and with whether or not goals are being met. This meeting allows us to avoid having to do daily calls and makes a huge difference in being able to better keep everyone’s respective time budget. Having a predictable meeting template has been critical to our success. Not having clear guidelines for how a meeting will run or what should be included just leads to confusion, frustration, and miscommunication.
Don’t be afraid to get critical about how and why you meet! Hopefully with some strategy, your business can find a cadence for your own leadership meetings that will motivate your team to reach its full potential.
If you’d like a free copy of our Leadership Meeting Template, just click HERE!