Time is money. We’ve all heard this metaphor before that this is a simple way to explain opportunity cost. How you spend your time matters. How long it takes you to complete a task matters. If you want to maximize value, wealth, and money, then you must make sure you spend your time on higher valued activities, and less time on low value activities.
Every day we receive and try to understand a steady stream of information from all kinds of sources. For many companies in the restaurant business, data that tells you how the business is doing flows from the restaurants to the corporate office and then out to all levels of the organization—regional, district, and the unit levels. It is not just Point of Sale data, either. Food purchases, speed of service, customer satisfaction, inspections, labor schedules and loyalty data are just a few of the dozens of sources of restaurant data that is being produced all the time.
There is a conflict between these two realities. You need to focus on high value activities, but how do you knit together all the data across all those sources? For most restaurant companies, the data is collected and processed through copying and pasting from each source system into a massive spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet is updated each day, it is sent by email to everyone who needs it. Because it is manual, of course there are occasional errors introduced that may not be found for weeks or months that skew the data either in a positive or negative direction.
The unfortunate end result is that all the time spent copying, pasting and distributing, there is little to no time for understanding what the data is telling you and what actions may need to be taken. Additionally, because time is money, a delay in action can cost hundreds and thousands of dollars across an organization.
Which activity do you think has the highest value, updating spreadsheets or analyzing the latest results to evaluate progress towards your goals?
If you are an executive and some of your time each morning is spent maintaining spreadsheets, you are missing the opportunity to dig deeper into the numbers, identify trends that are important, and develop action plans to respond to those trends in a timely manner. Ask yourself if you are guilty of spending too much time on routine tasks that can be fully automated, and thus give you time to understand what the data is really telling you.