If I had a magic solution for service based businesses on how to effectively and easily measure time (without it being an additional admin burden on already busy people) then I would be a wealthy man. Clients often look to me to give them the solution. They understand the logic of measuring time but don’t like or enforce the application of doing it (and indeed, business owners and senior directors are usually the worst culprits for not recording their time accurately (or at all!). Sound familiar?
It’s one of the more frequent conversations I have with clients; from small businesses (who often don’t do it at all) to large organisations (who often do it badly). To start out we discuss how they currently measure profit, how they measure capacity and how they manage staff’s time. We discuss the benefit of time recording:
- It helps you avoid the over servicing epidemic that is so prevalent in service based businesses
- It helps you more accurately quote for work (because you have lots of accurate historical data)
- It creates a direct correlation between how busy staff are and how much you are billing
- It enables you to measure and monitor staff capacity and therefore make business decisions based on sound information
Once a client sees the value in doing this we can start to discuss HOW to implement it. With the plethora of online tools now available (from free tools like Toggl to more advanced systems such as Harvest and StreamTime) there is plenty of choice but any system is only as good as the data inputted. So get your culture right from the start with new staff: this is something they have to do every day, just like turning on their computer or submitting their expenses. Create a culture where it is expected to have time sheet information completed every day (rather than weekly) and finally, make sure reports are reviewed weekly and any anomalies, potential bottlenecks etc are discussed. Explain the context of WHY we do this and get staff thinking commercially e.g. “I have 3 hours to design this page” rather than “ This page is a work of art so will take as long as it takes”.
Now let me contradict myself
So that’s the internal piece and now my advice about how to position what you do with the client is the total opposite. NEVER sell your service based on time. You need to monitor time internally as outlined above but avoid talking about time to clients. Consider what the client is buying – it certainly isn’t time! What is the VALUE that they buy from you – your strategic insight and experience, the delivery or your service, your creativity? This is what you are selling and this is how you should market your service.
This is a popular topic and I am running a workshop at my local Chamber next week on this very subject. You can register here.
If you’re not able to attend then let’s arrange a call to chat through your current challenge on this topic and let me see if I can help you as I have helped many other clients. You can also download my whitepaper on this subject.