Switching from a manual route to a computer generated route was a significant time saver for the UPS trucks assigned to deliver hundreds of packages to their customers every day. The team that designed the routing software was challenged to further improve their product. Instead of adding new features, the team decided to better understand the routes by talking to the drivers and occasionally traveling the computer generated route themselves. This process led them to an amazing discovery—they realized that left turns were the problem. These turns were not only difficult to make but they wasted a lot of time and fuel.
The new update to the routing software implemented an algorithm that completely eliminated the left turns from the routes. The result was a safer and faster route and a savings of over 10 million gallons of fuel (and counting).
Moral of the story? There are good, better and best ways to get from point A to point B, and there’s money to be made in finding excessive left turns in your business processes and replacing them with the more efficient right turns. Here are a few “left turns” that BQE has identified as problems in most professional services firms:
Left Turn #1: Sending Invoices When it is Convenient for You
Doing this actually slows down your cash flow. Instead, find out when your clients pay their bills and invoice them a few days beforehand. You’ll receive payment in a week, not a month.
Left Turn #2: Waiting Too Long to Invoice
If your work isn’t getting onto an invoice right away, it should be. The gap between a time sheet and invoice can easily be tightened. Reducing this gap by 20 percent will improve your cash flow by—you guessed it—20 percent.
Left Turn #3: Scheduling Non-Client Meetings during Prime Time
You know the best time to reach your clients. Avoid scheduling internal meetings during these invaluable hours. Move all non-client meetings (e.g., internal or admin) to early or late in the day, when your clients are less accessible.
Other Right Turns:
- Change your billing from once a month to twice a month.
- Avoid overlapping billing and payroll. Stagger it, and your billing won’t be delayed.
- Share project budgets or budgeted hours with your team prior to project launches. Companies that do this usually end up finishing in fewer hours than allocated. Why? The effort involved in getting a task done fluctuates relative to the hours assigned to it. In other words, if your client wants a car wash, don’t kill yourself and waste company money by giving them a full detailed wash.
Have you already identified a left turn in your business and replaced it with a right turn? How did you identify it and what the results have been so far?