January 1, 2020, starts a new year and a new decade. It is a good time to assess where you are at in your business.

Often when you ask a meat plant operator what they would like to accomplish in the next year they reply, make more money. However, to achieve that you need a plan. Your plan should consist of many different goals with the end result being increased profitability and long term sustainability for your business.

Why not start 2020 by setting goals in several different areas to help you achieve both profitability and sustainability. Following are some areas in which you may want to consider setting goals.

Review your list of products and services

It is a good idea to annually review the list of products you manufacture and services you perform (official and custom processing of livestock, catering) and determine the volume you produce in each area. You may discover that you have some low volume products that you want to discontinue offering and identify some high volume products you want to increase your emphasis on.

Check your labels to assure they are correct. Look at the appearance of your labels. They provide your customers with their first impression of your products. They should be attractive and professional.

Determine your costs

Determine what it costs for you to produce each of your products and perform each of the services you offer. Consider more than just the cost of the meat, nonmeat ingredients, product label and packaging. Your estimated cost should include a figure for production labor, sanitation labor, maintenance labor, distribution cost, marketing cost, utility cost, plant overhead (includes equipment usage) and any other costs you have associated with producing and distributing your product or performing a service. Make sure you also include a figure for management’s time. This exercise can provide you with VERY valuable information. It helps you get an accurate estimate of which of your products and services are profitable. What you learn from this exercise can be very enlightening. You may learn you need to raise the price of some of your products or services.

Equipment purchases

Take a good look at your equipment. Do you have equipment that needs repair? Perhaps there is some new equipment you would like to purchase that would help you operate more efficiently or introduce new products. It is always a good idea to have a planned schedule for equipment maintenance and replacement.

Plant improvements

All buildings require ongoing maintenance and repair. Perhaps you want to expand the size of your plant. If you rock along for years, perhaps even decades, without adequate maintenance and updating of your building and equipment, you may realize one day that you have many things that need to be done all at once — and the cost can be overwhelming. If this realization occurs when you are trying to sell your plant (no one works forever) it may affect your ability to sell your business.

Employee programs and benefits

I feel it is important to annually review your employee programs and benefits. Are you providing an environment that makes people enjoy working for your company? Without good employees, no company can be successful.

When you have your goals set, you should assess your progress at least semi-annually. Having goals to help guide a business are part of management’s responsibility.

Remember: Plan for success.