Dead Time

All businesses have certain blocks of time and effort that don’t bring direct financial benefit to the company, and yet are mostly necessary to keep the business going down a smooth path. These blocks of time are “dead” in this sense, and tend to put a drag on the business as a whole if not managed carefully.

These tasks vary from the obvious, like paying your bills, to the not so obvious, like break time. Both of these are important to the flow of business, and yet if they significantly take away from production then the business will suffer.

In the service industry, dead time is everywhere you look. Quite frequently it amounts to travel time, scheduling your day, or acquiring parts and materials to complete work. Vehicles, tools, and equipment all require maintenance that consumes a lot of time and shouldn’t be done at the customer’s expense.

Then there’s the highly important “safety meeting.” Stuff 20 employees in a room for an hour, and discuss the latest safety concerns. I can’t think of anything more important, but this is a huge case of “dead time.” If the average person in that room makes $20 an hour (we’ll leave payroll taxes and benefits out for easy calculation), then that safety meeting has cost about $1600, not counting the production that was lost in the meantime.

It’s highly important for managers to be aware of dead time, and yet over the years I’ve seen quite a few spend their time creating more of it than necessary. I used to have a boss that thought the best way to deal with almost every situation was to call everyone into a room and discuss it. Realistically, most things can be dealt with in more efficient ways. Some time after I took over leadership of the Imagery Processing Lab at RAF Molesworth, one of my troops came to me and said “Thank you for ending all these crazy meetings!”

I have challenges with dead time around here as well. Driving to and from job sites amounts to a huge amount of time that doesn’t pay for itself. We try to recover some of the cost, but the market doesn’t normally support 100% recovery so we always eat at least a portion of it. Equipment maintenance is another big challenge. If we don’t perform preventive maintenance then we pay the consequences later in the form of downtime due to equipment failure, and let me tell you it adds up way too fast!

In the end, good management of dead time results in good management of the business as a whole, because any misstep in business management will usually result in a fair amount of dead time.

Here at Amerivet Services, we are highly concerned about the expense that dead time creates for our customers. In the course of performing work for our customers, we focus on potential consequences for certain situations, and take steps to avoid problems that may arise and cause dead time and other expenses. We advise our customers along the way, and work together to make sure they’re as productive as possible while we’re performing the work, and for a long time afterward.

Give us a call today, and let us help you eliminate some dead time by getting your problems solved!