For BSCs, the key to a profitable business is effectively managing the hours contracted with the client. There are many things that must happen to accomplish this task, including scheduling qualified, trained workers; avoiding overtime; a smooth, efficient payroll and billing process; and proactively using management reports to identify strengths and weaknesses.
For most cleaning companies, employee schedules are the heart of operations. The information stored in the schedule tracks all activity at each job site and feeds payroll and billing, which are the main sources of revenue and expense. Inaccurate schedules can result in incorrect paychecks and invoices, fines from state regulatory agencies and skewed financial reports. Companies who successfully manage schedules have an upper hand in realizing more profit.
Tools are available to assist companies with scheduling. On one end of the spectrum, some companies use spreadsheets to maintain this data. This is the most basic way to manage the data, but is not effective because spreadsheets do not have built-in tools to flag overtime and compliance problems. A good scheduling software system includes the following features, which are essential to efficient operations: 1.) a compliance tracking system that allows the company to track employee training, qualifications and licensing information; 2.) a query program that allows a scheduler to search for employees who have been properly trained, meet the job requirements and are not in danger of incurring overtime; 3.) overtime alerts and reports; and 4.) integrated billing and payroll.
The first essential feature a scheduling system should have is a compliance tracking program. These programs provide ways to record training and qualification information by employee. For example, some states require that a security officer complete a minimum 40-hour training program before they can work at a job site. A compliance tracking program allows users to document that the training class is required, if it is pending or completed and the completion date. Some compliance tasks are recurring. For example, an officer’s license may require annual renewal. A good program should allow a user to set up a recurring schedule for the license renewal and keep track of when that license is due. Some systems even go as far as sending out an e-mail to the job supervisor or employee to remind them to renew the license. The reason this is so important is that states can impose hefty fines for non-compliance. A company could even put its ability to operate at risk by ignoring these state regulations. Furthermore, a compliance tracking system into overtime. You may even be able to search for employees who live close to the job site. The list of eligible employees should be presented in a simple, easy-to- read format so that the scheduler can quickly peruse the list and start contacting the employees to work the open shift. CallQ, a product from TEAM Financial Management Systems, takes this a step further by automatically placing outbound phone calls to the people on the list. CallQ uses text to speech technology to ask the employee if they would like to work the open shift. The employee can accept with any touch-tone telephone and they will be ensures that your company is complying with the terms of the contract with the customer. If the customer has requested an officer with HVAC experience, you can track this information and ensure only those people with the proper training work at that job site.
When evaluating scheduling programs, one should also consider how quickly and easily open shifts can be filled with qualified people. Query programs can assist with this process. These programs allow users to query the database of employees to build a list of qualified, trained, available employees who are not in danger of going automatically placed in the schedule. This is a huge time saver for those scheduling special events or new jobs.
Preventing unnecessary overtime is very important for security contractors. If contractors incur overtime, usually it is not billable to the client. Therefore, it has a large impact on margins. By using a query program, schedulers can take a proactive approach by avoiding scheduling employees into overtime. Because it is so important, you should look for additional features to avoid and analyze overtime. For example, a scheduler can receive a warning if they proceed with scheduling an employee into overtime. Some systems allow you to further prevent it by requiring a password to proceed with scheduling overtime. The password should only be given to someone who realizes the impact of scheduling the overtime, like a supervisor or manager. Finally, a scheduling system should have various onscreen and printed reports available to analyze overtime that has been scheduled. This allows a company to review the information daily so that changes can be made before the overtime is incurred.
Finally, to save time and prevent error, an integrated billing and payroll system is ideal for security contractors. This means that data flows seamlessly from the schedule directly to payroll and accounts receivable modules. With an integrated system, there is no need to manage a complicated interface to another software package or re-key the data. Payroll and billing can be done with a few clicks of the mouse. And, since the data originated in the schedule, where actual hours are recorded, you can be sure that invoices and paychecks will be correct.
The system you use should provide management reports that expose areas of strengths and weaknesses. One of the most popular reports among TEAM customers is the On Screen Job Costing report. This report is like an interactive P&L with detail down to the job site level. It pulls all data from the General Ledger for the time frame in question to show actual vs. budget numbers for revenue, labor and other expenses. The thing people love most about this report is that they can drill down on any number to the source transaction to look more closely at supporting figures.
Keeping track of essential billing and payroll data is an administrative chore for any contractor. The process can be much easier with a good software system. The benefits of an efficient system are endless, but most importantly, it should streamline processes and provide you with powerful data to support your efforts to maximize profits.
Jill Davie is Vice President, Sales and Marketing, at TEAM Financial Management Systems She can be reached at (800) 500-4499 or visit www.teamfinancial.com.