“Must-Dos” for year-end as Dealers Eager to Finish 2020


By Susan Moll and Matt Hurst

The end of 2020 is nearly upon us and many dealers are ready to put it to bed. I can hardly blame them as this year has been one for the record books. Finding balance at year-end will take work as dealers still must contend with completing 1099s and W2s, update model lines and account numbers, and manage their accounting books. I have two pieces of advice for dealers heading into the year-end in 2020 that I consider “Must-Do’s” in addition to the list below.

First, leverage your DMS partner to maintain efficiency, organization, and take control of your year-end plan.

And, Second, don’t take your foot off the gas when things go back to normal. The pandemic was a major driver of change to old antiquated technologies and processes. Dealers have been very adaptable to changing conditions. By offering contactless service, digital and remote vehicle delivery, laser forms, and more to their customers, they continue to drive change in the industry. Let’s continue to push things into a better way of doing business.

1. DO repeat after us – January 31, January 31, January 31. Make sure that date is in your calendar and that you have alerts set far in advance because January 31 is when your W-2s, 1099s, and 941s are all due. Start getting these forms ordered, printed, and filed as early as possible, to keep your dealership running smoothly and on schedule.

2. DO create a year-end checklist. When asked what her secret to a successful year-end process was, Lori Garrison’s response was clear and concise – build a checklist. Garrison, who is the controller at Huffines Auto Group, uses the same checklist year after year and modifies it with notes or memos when anything important about the process changes. Whether it’s updating tax tables, ordering forms, or filing and paying vehicle inventory taxes (VIT), everything she needs to close out the year is found on the checklist.

3. DO conduct an annual physical inventory count and reconcile any discrepancies. It’s critical to count your physical inventory at least once a year to make sure your parts inventory value matches what is actually on the accounting books. This count will help ensure that all necessary adjustments are made so you don’t carry any deficits into the new year.

4. DO only what you can do. “As a controller and manager, it’s important to make sure you’re always empowering your staff rather than micromanaging them,” explains Garrison. “You should only do what only you can do.” In other words, delegate the work and entrust as many tasks as possible to your staff rather than trying to touch everything yourself. By doing this, your staff can broaden their understanding of the business and you can focus on the responsibilities that fall strictly on you.

5. DO remember there are ways to stay on top of year-end reporting all year long. Lisa Feagin, the controller at Tom Bush Family of Dealerships, recommends running your month-end process like your year-end process. “By reconciling account accruals and write-offs every month, you’ll be able to spend more of your time focusing on the minute details at the end of the year, such as putting accounts under a microscope to catch any errors or discrepancies,” she explains.

Want to sell smarter and improve operational efficiencies in the years to come? Read the full guide, 5 Must-Dos for Dealers, here.

About the Author

Susan Moll, Senior Director of DMS Field Services, Cox Automotive. Matt Hurst, Senior Director of Client Services, Dealertrack DMS.

A version of this article originally appeared as part of our series in Digital Dealer here

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