Published - May 2004
FROM THE ROAD
By Dave Jakielo
Three Steps to Success for Billing Companies in the 21st Century
One of the greatest things about running your own company is that you have control. You determine what you do and how you do it. However, when "The Buck Stops Here" is the sign on your desk, you can be faced with one of your greatest challenges.
The price we pay for this freedom of entrepreneurship is that the decisions we must make never end. I'm not referring to the easy stuff, like what brand of coffee do you order for the lunchroom or at what temperature you set the thermostat. I'm referring to the tough choices you need to make in order to stay in business.
I wish our industry were getting easier, but that isn't the case. As a matter of fact, I know some companies who are struggling to stay afloat in today's economy. Given the many challenges we are facing, I've decided this month to share with you some possible alternatives that might help to keep you razor sharp on the cutting edge of the billing industry.
If any of the following apply to your company, read on:
Flat or falling revenues
The Triangle of Success
It's my opinion that billing companies today require a three-prong approach in order to succeed. These are automation, offshore, and utilization of billing professionals.
Internal improvements in some or all of these areas can improve your operation financially as well as help you to upgrade the level of service to your customers. Let's take a closer look at these three areas.
- Automation: With technology moving as rapidly as it does, this is an area that requires constant examination. Can you eliminate any manual task, such as keying demographics or payments, that can be received and entered into your billing system electronically? There is nothing worse than doing something inefficiently that really should not be done at all. If you haven't visited the possibility of additional automation in the last 12 months, it's time to reevaluate. Spending money to have your team perform unnecessary functions is a huge waste of talent and resources.
- Off Shore: If you have repetitive tasks that must be done over and over (and cannot be automated), why not explore a lower-cost solution? By sending such duties offshore, you can free up your current, more experienced personnel to tackle difficult job functions. Unfortunately, it's getting more expensive and complex to perform day-to-day billing functions that achieve the same results we did a few years ago. Finding alternatives is imperative.
- Billing Professionals: One of the biggest reasons to minimize cost through automation and offshore options is so you have money available to reinvest in your personnel. To be successful today, it isn't enough for one person in your firm to be the "expert." You need various specialists who are able to provide the services your customers demand and deserve. These professional are more expensive, but necessary to maintain your business position.
The monies you save by eliminating low-level, repetitive tasks can be reinvested in your staff. You could assist them in getting certified in a particular area of expertise, for example, such as coding or compliance. Here's another option: you could invest in training and training materials to keep you team up to date and help broaden its knowledge of our industry. The broader a person's knowledge base, the more innovative and creative he or she can become in your company.
Today, many of our clients are more knowledgeable about the billing industry. They expect us to stay ahead of the curve. It's impossible for any one person to be an expert on all facets of our industry. Investing in your employees is a great way to continue to deliver exceptional customer service.
The argument I sometimes hear is that, "I'm not spending time and money training my employees because no sooner do I get them trained than they leave." My response to that statement is, "OK, so you don't train them and they stay." Which situation would you rather find yourself faced with?
I hope the above thoughts have sparked some ideas that you'll be able to implement to help you on the road to "Continuous Improvement." Keep in mind if you're not moving forward you're moving backward. I wish you continued success.
Send your questions and comments to Dave@DavidJakielo.com. Or he can be contacted at Seminars & Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh PA, 15205. 412-921-0976. www.DavidJakielo.com.