Back in high school I worked as a cashier at a supermarket. I thought the job would be easy, but I was wrong. People HATED waiting in line to buy their stuff and they weren’t shy about sharing that with me when it was their turn to checkout. I wanted to help, but there didn’t seem to be much I could do about it because I was going as fast as I could!
Today, things are a bit different. Many stores have developed self-checkout areas where customers don’t need to wait for a cashier any longer as they can now check themselves out and most of the time without waiting at all.
That’s great, but is the situation actually improved?
Based on the available data we have it would seem that answer is largely yes. Self-checkout areas reduce wait times, take up less space, make more room for fresh groceries, save on labor costs and increase the leverage of the workforce because one cashier can now manage 5-6 stations instead of 1.
Sounds great for the store, but what do the customers have to say?
Turns out a large portion of customers prefer the convenience of self-checkout and report saving considerable time as well. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Interesting, but what does this have to do with accounting?
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The point of this story was that hiring more cashiers wasn’t going to solve this problem. We needed to design and implement a better solution – one that provided better leverage and that came in the form of self-checkout.
I see a similar pattern all the time at accounting firms. In an effort to keep up with demand, growing firms do little else then hire as many accountants as they can which is about as inefficient and expensive of a solution as you can get. The net result is a negligible improvement if that.
Instead, accounting firms need a solution that provides better leverage which will likely manifest itself in the form of automation (think self-checkout).
So I want you to stop thinking about hiring accountants to solve your growing problem and start thinking about how automation can help you do MUCH more with the team you already have.
Self-checkout increased the leverage of cashiers by 500-600%. Imagine what your firm could do if your team experienced a similar improvement in efficiency?
PS. Read more about the advantages of self-checkout.