I recently gave a webinar on Zen time management to controllers and office managers. Over the years I’ve created various technology tools to enable controllers to get more time in the day by downloading from their DMS to Excel. This webinar opened up a new way to use technology for task delegation.
Each month controllers and office managers have hundreds of tasks to get done. One of the principles of Zen time management is to complete tasks quickly so that we can open the door to new opportunities. By letting tasks get backlogged, controllers start to get dragged down by the weight of these pending duties. Their minds get cluttered with incomplete tasks. They don’t feel very light or energetic and it eats away at them subtly from inside. With the new concept of Zen time management, the idea is to reject all excuses and get tasks done quickly. But the biggest reasons why controllers and office managers get overwhelmed by incomplete tasks is that they don’t delegate to their office staff. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest one is training.
It is often easier just to do it ourselves instead of spending the time and energy to train someone who will probably do it wrong. We fail to categorize tasks so that the right chore goes to best qualified person. A typical office staff does have more time to learn these tasks than they lead you to believe. They might say that they are too busy to learn new tasks to avoid layoffs, but all you have to do is order a cake and it’s amazing how quickly they can get up and leave all that incomplete work behind! The problem is that controllers and office managers don’t have the time to delegate and train.
When I was a controller, I solved this problem by having a thing I called the “Redbook” on my credenza. It was red because most of the computer manuals came in red binders and I’d use old ones to save money and recycle. In this Redbook were all the tasks that I needed to do including simple instructions and the last one I had completed. I had these separated into sections by skill levels A, B, C. The A or “anyone” skill level could be done by almost anyone in the office. This was normally putting things in order or filing. The B or “better” skill level was for those better qualified and the C skill level meant that the task could only be done by my office “cats.” A cat-like person in my office was confidential, accurate, and timely. For example, reconciling reserves or holdback might need a better qualified or B-skill person, but I’d need a cat-like office person to accrue manager’s bonuses. This task required that the person be confidential and accurate – along with getting it done on time.
Over the years, I ended up creating an electronic copy of my Redbook in a database for my controller clients that included the spreadsheets needed to perform the tasks and tips. One of the biggest advantages of having the Redbook electronically was that it is easy for a controller or office manager to pull up an answer whenever their dealer reads an article or attended a 20 group meeting and asks if a certain task is “being handled” or “are we doing this?” My controllers keep the record of done tasks in the same database and give the dealer, CFO or CPA firm login access to see for themselves. It is easy to see when was the last time they have reconciled the floor plan or paid the sales tax.
Lately I’ve enhanced it more for my controller clients to include the ability to e-mail reminders to the assigned office person if the task wasn’t done by the due date. If you want more information on an electronic Redbook, just send me an e-mail.
By using a Redbook method, you can compensate office personnel based on the amount of A, B, and C tasks that they perform. At any time, office personnel can ask that an unassigned task be assigned to them after reading the tips on how to perform the task. Hopefully using technology to organize office tasks will enable your office manager or controller to be open to new opportunities to save the dealership money or generate more sales instead of getting bogged down in tedious chores that their staff should be doing.