Spring is here and now is the time to refresh your accounting processes and surroundings. After the flurry of winter activity ... the year-end close, LIFO preparation, OEM financial statement changes, and audit and tax preparations…many of our New Year’s resolutions to clean up our books and implement new processes may have become buried under other priorities. Now is the time to put them into effect. It’s not too late! You still have most of the year remaining to realize their effects.
Let’s start with the accounting. Were you able to reevaluate your expense allocations and prorations prior to the year end? If not, take this opportunity to meet with your managers and the boss to review the current expense allocations and make those logical adjustments for properly allocating the appropriate expenses to each department.
Next, let’s target those standard and recurring entries. Have you made adjustments to the property tax and depreciation expense entries based on last year’s tax bills and the CPA’s 2018 Book Depreciation Report? How about those yearly accruals such as holiday parties and bonuses? Don’t forget to accrue a monthly amount to cover those anticipated December payouts. And now is a good time to adjust or set up the vacation accruals. Is your absentee compensation being expensed monthly to evenly distribute the expense throughout the year? Dealers don’t like to get hit with the higher vacation pay expense and the possible reduction in gross profit at the same time when your technicians and sales consultants take those much-needed vacations.
While we are freshening up our accounting, let’s also take this opportunity to clean up our work environment. Clean out your offices and work spaces by removing old files, shredding unneeded paperwork, transferring prior years’ records to storage (physically or digitally), and preparing for 2018’s new records. Clean and dust all those spaces that have been ignored or unreachable for months. Add some plants. Make your work environment a pleasant environment for all.
Lastly, let’s think ahead. Do most of your staff take summer vacations? Start preparing now for those times when staff members will need to cover for others. Do you have procedures manuals for each position or desk? Are your staff members cross-trained? Get each member to put their daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities in writing including screenshots and step-by-step instructions for performing their duties in the DMS. Rotate your accounting staff between desks during less stressful times to get them familiar with the other functions. Don’t wait until right before vacation time!
Also, to minimize the impact of the year-end functions for next year, copy the CPA requirements (usually an Excel workbook) and begin entering the 2018 required details now. If you make this part of your monthly functions now, January 2019 will be a much more enjoyable time. Maybe you could actually have the opportunity to go sledding with your family instead of working those weekends finalizing 2018!
Let’s hear some your ideas for spring cleaning and preparing for the new year; share your thoughts in the comments!
Wines, a certified fraud examiner and certified F&I professional through the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, brings more than 30 years of retail-auto industry experience to NADA. She has extensive experience working as a controller for dealership groups of all sizes. Wines graduated from the NADA Academy in 2002. As a general manager for Hendrick Automotive Group, she returned to the NADA Academy in 2013 for the inaugural Hendrick Leadership Academy. Wines was selected for General Motors’ Women’s Retail Network in 2001 and completed GM’s Minority Dealer Development program. She obtained a BSBA in accounting from the University of Central Florida.