“I need more time!” It’s safe to say the to-do list isn’t getting any shorter, so how do I effectively tackle the list? Does this sound familiar? I believe a college professor posed a similar question using fancy words…”increase throughput while holding resources constant.” At the time I didn’t have an appreciation of the problem, it was an exercise to apply the principles he was teaching. Today, it is ever present and I find myself asking the less-fancy form of the question all of the time. Harkening back to that exercise I decided to examine the process.
I was reminded of the magic of process improvements recently when picking up some lunch for my family. It was peak lunch hour on a Saturday and the gang wanted Chik-fil-a. A good choice but I didn’t want to face Chik-fil-A at peak times. As the restaurant came into sight, I seriously thought there was something wrong. I double checked the clock, was it a holiday I forgotten? There were only three cars in the drive-thru line! As I got closer I found out why. There were two employees with iPads taking orders and electronic payments. Beyond them another employee stood at something that looked like an old school hot dog cart - a condiment station. I looped around bypassing the classic menu and speaker where we are all programmed to place our orders; arriving at the window where my order was ready and waiting. In total awe, I took the bags of food and checked the clock again, THREE minutes! Not the 10-15 I was accustomed to, THREE. Happy kids, happy mom!
I am a process geek. I believe that time is money. This next bit paints that picture. As I was living this drive-thru experience, everything unfolded in slow motion. My mind was spinning, reveling in the change, asking countless questions. The first was how much more are they making during peak hours because of the ridiculous reduction in drive-thru wait? Based on my personal experience they achieved 233%-400% REDUCTION in time spent-- did that equate to an equal increase in sales? What was the investment in the technology to place the orders via iPad and the hot dog cart? Were those the only investments? Was the staffing level the same, just repurposed? How did they come up with this solution? What metrics were being measured?
Then, the best question popped up: “How can I help Matrix customers increase throughput in their sales operations?” Chik-fil-A unlocked something brilliant to increase their sales. I’m sure they realized that they needed to find a more time-efficient process for feeding their hungry, hurried customers. They needed to find a way to serve the market demand before it opted out.
There is a direct connection here for media providers. Focused effort! Follow your sales process! Hold your sellers accountable to the process! Track their efforts! It’s not Big Brother that inspires resistance but more like NASA mission control, watching the work to anticipate the obstacles before they arise, helping to adjust the path before the process stalls out; saving time and making more money for your sellers, your company, and your customers.
I will not get more time; the to-do list will not be reduced or the budget increased. The best option is to reduce the wasted effort and bottlenecks, to be laser-focused on moving sales opportunities through the pipeline, reducing time to close, and increasing customer retention. When I think there isn’t a way, I remember Chik-fil-A. I want to be them, not their competitor.