On your to-do list for November is the dual-purpose task of preparing your budget for next year.

Dual in the respect that this is a time for you and your management team to reflect on this year's performance and compare that with your 2011 plan.

If you accomplished your goals, congratulations. If there are deficiencies, this is a time to determine why, and as a team discuss the needed corrections.

My suggested process for establishing your budget is, first, set a meeting and off-site location where you can work without interruption.

Next, hold a short meeting with your team two or three weeks in advance to set the stage for this important process. Detail your purpose, make individual assignments, pass out copies of your 2011 budget, your 2011 year-to-date results and any forms you intend to use during the upcoming budget session.

Managers' assignments are more tactical, i.e. anticipated sales and gross profit generation, inventory levels, an estimate of expenses and personnel counts required to generate the gross.

Your responsibility as a dealer principal is more strategic, taking into account the local and national economy. Accumulate any available data from your 20-Group or manufacturer that lets you compare your organization's performance with that of your peers.

Create a written agenda. This has proven to be a great tool in keeping on track, while allowing the group to focus.

Following your opening remarks, each departmental manager should make a presentation to the group recapping 2011 results, then present their individual department budgets for 2012, along with a plan to accomplish it.

Once all departments have done that, the comptroller will total the results, make any required adjustments and present the results to the group.

This process not only determines numbers, but helps energize your team. Since managers have been totally involved throughout the process, they will be more inclined to take ownership of their individual plans and the dealership's.

The National Automobile Dealers Assn. has graciously provided the aggregated data points below from its Dealer 20 Groups.

This allows you to compare and plan your dealership's performance in key areas.

Best wishes for a great meeting, and good selling!

Veteran dealership consultant Tony Noland is at tonynoland@tonynolandandassociates.com.