As I sit here in the middle of another unpredictable Oklahoma weather cycle, I begin to let my mind wander. After reading a story in the newspaper about one of our competitors having to survive the last snow storm, I’m wondering why small business owners are so resistant to change. I’m not belittling small business owners, they pay the bills around here, but I wonder why, in the face of overwhelming evidence, business owners continue to do things that make their lives more difficult.
The newspaper article discussed how one of the large payroll processors had put up 70 people in a hotel across the street and coordinated executives in four wheel drive vehicles picking up other employees all to make sure that the payroll was processed for their clients. Great story, except that part about having to make sure the Fedex and UPS planes were flying to deliver the payrolls across the country. Now I know that this company processes payroll for clients all over the country, primarily for small and medium sized businesses, so their situation was different from ours, but what a waste of time and energy. And to be clear, I’m not bad mouthing my competition, since they have been wildly successful, but they specifically market themselves as an INTERNET payroll company. So the question arises, if the Internet is available at the employee’s houses, and the customer’s offices, then why the logistic nightmare? Why can’t one really process payroll anytime and anywhere as they claim?
I also know for a fact that many of our customers DO in fact process their payroll anytime and from anywhere. I also know that many of them take full advantage of technology and never touch a piece of paper regarding their payroll, which when you have weather like today, makes life a whole lot simpler. So the question again is, why don’t all of them? Why do we drive to work in the middle of dangerous conditions, print paychecks so that the mail or Fedex can retrieve them, and then require employees to brave the same conditions to deposit their checks? Its not like this is new technology. I received direct deposit for my first check when I started working for Deloitte and Touche in 1992, and yet I regularly hear employers say “no thanks” all the time!
Since 1992 technology has progressed to the point that direct deposit is in fact cheaper and safer than delivering paper checks. Not to mention that it is more reliable and more secure. With the addition of the internet to the mix, employers never have to use paper to process payroll, including the time keeping. We actually ran across a company recently that was still using manual timeclocks and manually adding them up (for a whole lot of employees). Why? Again, these are not new technologies?
I have a lot of theories about why business owners are resistant to change, but the one that sticks out most is they are simply too busy working “in their business” instead of working “on their business”. If they took the time to evaluate they way they did business, they would make much more money, than simply reacting to what is going on at the moment. I suggest to our clients to set a goal of working “on their business” four hours a week. Schedule it, and keep it. Work on strategic issues (not tactical) for your business during that time. Ask yourself questions about processes (How can we do this better?), marketing (Who are our most profitable customers and why?), or competition (What is my competition doing with their pricing or products?).
A Final Word on Payroll
I’ve talked to many business owners about handling their payroll processing needs over the years. For EVERY excuse I’ve been given to streamline and modernize their payroll (from “my employees don’t all have bank accounts” to “my bookkeeper will never go for that”), I’ve discovered that there IS a solution. Save yourself some money, time, and liability. Revisit your payroll process, and make it paperless. It’s not like you have anything else to do today…