Invest in Efficiencies - Save Time and Money
By Kim R on June 28, 2012
Invest in Efficiencies - Save Time and Money
You know the adage….time is money. But how often do we translate that to our staff time? Do they spend their time running around town on daily errands, being bogged down in day to day tasks, or building member value on higher level projects? Often in the not-for-profit world, we spend a great deal of time trying to save a dollar, when we are actually spending much more in staff time to the detriment of our members.
Often a few small changes in our operations could allow for greater efficiency and time management, freeing staff to focus on higher level projects.
Drop the P.O. Box. Unless you are in hiding, why keep your office location a secret? Consider the cost to maintain your PO Box; not just rental, but the time it takes for someone to go by the box dropping and collecting mail. If a $20/hr. employee is running to the post office each day, assuming 30 minutes per trip, five days per week, an average of 50 weeks per year, $2500 of her salary alone is spent driving to the post office. Let the postman visit you!
Order supplies online. Are you willing to pay $20 or more in staff time NOT to have your supplies delivered? Most office supply companies provide free shipping for orders over a threshold – for Staples.com it’s $45; Office Depot it’s $50. Add one case of paper or a printer cartridge to your list, and you are there. Don’t forget the corporate rewards program. Not only do they offer cash back, most have free shipping on orders of any size, don’t limit cartridge recycling, and their customer service reps will help with hard to find items. And yes, its good to comparison shop for big ticket items or overall best deals, but it’s a penny wise and pound foolish for staff to spend id="mce_marker"0 of time to save $.05 on your office pencils with a thorough price comparison on smaller items.
Let the professionals do your mailings. Look for a bulk mail house in your community for mailings exceeding 500 pieces (and maybe down to 300 if they are in one area of the state). Think dues bills, convention mailers, magazines (if you still print and mail). A mail house will sort your mailing list, stuff (if needed), address and post your pieces. A local mail house Frontline uses charges approximately 4 cents per piece for processing, but pre-sorted first class postage runs less than the regular first class stamp. No staff time on stuffing, folding, or labeling. And no standing before the postage meter. Many mail houses will even come and pick up your pieces for you (or have them delivered directly to the mail house from the printer).
If it’s not on Fire, Schedule it. Take a look at “everyday tasks” and consider what doesn’t need to be every day. Switching from project to project opens your staff to distraction, not to mention time opening special programs, prepping, etc. Paying bills, website updates, filing, data updates are much more efficient when done in bulk.
It’s worth time to shop for your bank. Unlike ink pens and copy paper, spending time finding an association-friendly bank pays dividends in the long run. Don’t overlook Community Banks in your search. Seek a banker with online banking that includes multi-level permissions based on user; ACH and Book Transfer capabilities; no fee and interest bearing checking accounts (yes, they exist – we have them!); and remote check deposit systems.
Utilizing online bill pay with a bank that with multi-level permissions allows staff to post bill payment transactions, while granting your treasurer or other office the ability to review and approve them before they are released. Treasurer’s can also monitor account levels and ACH transactions, while you maintain financial control over release of funds, and still eliminate the time lags and risks of mailing checks back and forth for signature.
Remote check deposit capability brought the greatest efficiencies for our staff in day to day activities. The desktop check scanner linked to a web-based remote deposit system allows daily deposits to be made to any number of clients’ accounts and produces a deposit record for each account. No running to the bank. No stamping backs of checks. No handwriting deposit slips. Checks are deposited promptly and securely from the convenience of the office. The online system is also searchable by date, amount, check number, or account number should you need to track down a check image or other detail. The costs? Our bank charges id="mce_marker"5 per month for this feature (but we negotiated the fee away – yes, you can do that too!). Still consider the savings in gas and staff time racing out the door to get to the bank before it closes.
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