You’ve probably spent some considerable time thinking about how you can improve efficiency in your business next year. Have you considered what you’ll do to improve the working environment for your employees? A recent study shows that employees who are happy or feel satisfied are 12 percent more productive.
So what can you do to make or keep employees happy and satisfied?
Make sure work areas are comfortable. A study by Staples shows that office ergonomics can improve productivity and well-being. A whopping 86 percent of people report some discomfort from office furniture and equipment. When you consider the cost of upgrading work stations to include ergonomic chairs or standing desks (since studies show that sitting might be the new smoking), remember to weigh it against the benefit of happier, more-productive employees.
Consider allowing telecommuting or more-flexible work hours. Employees who are given flexible hours or allowed to telecommute may be more loyal, according to this study. When you consider the high cost of turnover, it may seem worth it to make room in your policies for flexibility and telecommuting.
Eliminate office politics. Making the lists of top reasons people quit over and over again are things like: not feeling respected by coworkers or supervisors, not getting along with coworkers and other office politics. Consider how you can improve the environment in your office and help people to get along. This may be the hardest change to make—just figuring out what the problem is can be tough. Try starting with an employee survey. Encourage employees to be honest with their answers. Then, make sure you do something about the issues they feel are important.
This year, consider improving your office environment to increase productivity. You may end up happier and more productive yourself!
Guest post by Richard H. Tyson, CEObuilder
My past two articles stressed the advantages of open-book management. In the first, I discussed the importance of identifying and regularly displaying key performance indicators (KPIs) to fully engage employees in delivering desired business outcomes. In the second, I suggested a few essential metrics from the income statement. Today, I want to address a few equally critical KPIs regarding cash flow. These deal primarily with your cash conversion cycle.
The cash conversion cycle is a function of key metrics taken from both your income statement and balance sheet, through which a handful of crucial ratios are calculated. The combination of these ratios gives a strong portrayal of any company’s ability to service its current obligations—and the working capital required to do so. They include the following:
Receivables Turns: Annual Sales
This gives the number of times receivables turn over each year. For example, a company with annual sales of $1,200,000—and $200,000 in receivables—turns over its receivables 6 times a year.
Days Cash Tied Up in Receivables: 365 (days in a year)
Receivables Turns (from prior ratio)
This shows the average number of days it takes your company to collect its receivables. Using receivables turns (6) from the prior example, it takes 61 days, on average to collect monies due.
Inventory Turns: Annual Cost of Sales (COGS)
This ratio gives the number of times inventory turns over each year. For example, a company with COGS of $600,000—and inventory of $200,000—turns its inventory 3 times a year.
Days Cash Tied Up in Inventory : 365 (days in a year)
Inventory Turns (from prior ratio)
This shows the average number of days it takes your company to sell its inventory. Using inventory turns (3) from the prior example, inventory sits on the shelf 122 days before being sold.
Payables Turns: Annual Cost of Sales (COGS)
(payables associated with COGS)
This gives the number of times trade payables turn over during a year. For example, with annual COGS of $600,000—and $50,000 in payables—your company turns over its payables 12 times a year.
Days Cash Freed Up in Payables: 365 (days in a year)
Payables Turns (from prior ratio)
This ratio shows the average number of days it takes to pay your bills. Using payables turns from the prior example (12), it takes 30 days to do so.
We now use each of the “days ratios” together in constructing your cash conversion cycle. The formula for that important metric is:
Days Cash Tied Up in Receivables
Days Cash Tied Up in Inventory
Days Cash Freed Up in Payables
Using the numbers from our example, the cash conversion cycle for your company would be 153 days (61+122-30). Knowing this, we can calculate the working capital required to finance the business. This is based upon the company’s annual sales of $1,200,000, or an average of $3,288 per day. By multiplying sales per day by the cash conversion cycle days, we come to a working capital requirement of $503,000.
Beyond the value of knowing the working capital required to run your business, this information provides critical KPIs to be shared in your use of open-book management. Because the cash conversion cycle is a function of lagging indicators, it can be improved—if we understand leading indicators that drive it.
Under an open-book environment in the example above, our AR and purchasing personnel would likely take action to improve the KPIs for both days receivable and days inventory. AR might reduce days receivable to 50 days through more aggressive collection processes, and purchasing—through a new “just-in-time” system— might achieve a 20% reduction in inventory. Assuming no change in how we pay our bills, the cash conversion cycle would improve to 117 days (50+97-30), a reduction of 36 days. This equates to of $118,368 less working capital required—and a company with a much healthier cash position, much improved liquidity, happier bankers, and owners who now sleep better at night!
Anyone who runs a company knows that “cash is king”—and that owners and officers of businesses sweat bullets over the cash in their companies. That said, too many don’t share that concern with their employees—and empower them by openly sharing the both leading and lagging KPIs. Armed with this information, open-book managed companies almost always find that employees contribute in new and significant ways to both the profits and cash flow of their businesses.
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 22 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching models
Bank of American Fork VISA® Business Rewards credit card
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Most businesses today use a credit card for their business expenses. Why not use a card with a low, fixed rate and a rewards program with no annual fee?
There is no cost to obtain a VISA® Business Rewards credit card. However, the following rates and fees apply and is subject to credit approval:
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VISA® is a federally registered trademark of Visa.
Guest post by Ken Burnett, VP/ Director of Training and Business Development, Bank of American Fork
This series is written from experience and is part of Bank of American Fork’s training program. The program embraces the philosophy that training is a skill-based job, and managers need to learn specific skills to be successful.
Training professionals have limitations in the types of training they are able to single-handedly provide. Content may be very complex or specific or there may be too many training sessions to handle on your own. It may be helpful to have others in your organization assist in the process, but be sure you’re still involved in consulting with and helping your associate.
Often, a subject matter expert training without assistance will skip to the parts of the topic that are cool or difficult. They may be so comfortable with tasks that they don’t remember to include context or the basic sequence of a task. Just like you, a training professional, wouldn’t be in charge of the accounting or auditing process without guidance, your associates should be in charging of training without some guidance.
However, it is critical that you maintain good relationships with your business partners. Meet with them on a regular basis to understand their pain points and how you can help. Be prepared to add value to what they are trying to accomplish. A job aid, job analysis or performance analysis can provide stand-alone value for any department. Most importantly, let them be involved in the training process.
For developing and delivering training, there is a scale of involvement from other groups within your organization. First we will look at partial involvement and second, training that requires another department in your organization to take the lead. For training to be successful, many different departments need to contribute. The following table will help guide you in determining what role the training department and other departments will play.
Type of training
Cross-department request for technical skills or knowledge training
Use organizational resources as subject matter experts from many areas and develop the content. Train each area to perform its part, and then make each area aware of the entire process.
Provide specific content information and needs that should be addressed for your area. Review the final product/approach so your department’s needs are met.
Core skill (everyone in the organization needs the skill or knowledge at some level)
Make sure you provide the same message to all parts of the organization.
Provide department specific examples and context to make the training more effective.
Use scenarios provided by other parts of the organization and fit them into the job aid.
Provide scenarios and situations that apply to the interaction skill.
Highly-technical function or specific skill training
Organize content into job aids and facilitate classroom training as needed with a subject matter expert from other department.
Teach the technical part of the class with the training department providing the facilitation.
Management or leadership training
Understand the outcome of the skills needed and use a facilitation discovery-learning technique
Provide the situations that apply to the leadership skill that people in the organization are struggling with and make sure the conversation is getting at the real issues.
Communication of information that doesn’t require a change of skill, but is new information or knowledge.
Get content or technical detail from other department, and use the information to assist with constructing a communication piece or a job aid.
Provide the technical detail.
Sometimes the training department will be unable to assist in developing training. Make sure you have templates available for job aids, communication and facilitator guides ready for others to use. You should also set aside time to work together to
o Describe the objective of the training,
o Understand why employees are not able to perform the task as assigned and
o Discuss the basic structure of training.
While involvement by other departments is important, be sure to have a facilitator who is not the subject-matter expert. Consider a time when you’ve met someone who is an expert on something—nuclear fission, baseball cards, fishing—and how the conversation likely went beyond territory you understood. Well-meaning, marginally-crazy subject-matter experts skip context and the basics in favor of the interesting, cool or difficult parts of their subject.
Allow the expert to develop the training, but facilitate the session. Lead the witness, so to speak. Be sure you’re helping to:
o Provide context for the task (why is the organization doing this and what is my part in it?),
o Recap conversations and provide transitions,
o Re-state questions and answers for clarity during a discussion and
o Cut off conversations that become too technical or off-topic.
Ken Burnett is vice president/director of training and business development for Bank of American Fork. He is responsible for training more than 300 employees on a variety of topics, including coaching and feedback for dozens of senior managers within the organization.
Guest post by Richard H. Tyson, CEObuilder
In my last article, I shared the merits of adopting open-book management. As discussed there, each business should identify and regularly display key performance indicators (KPIs) to fully engage employees in creating desired outcomes.
While some of these will be unique to each business, there are a handful of KPIs that should be employed in every for-profit enterprise. Among those are a few critical metrics from the income statement. They include:
• Revenue (sales)
• Cost of goods sold (COGS or cost of sales)
• Gross profit
• Operating expenses (general and administrative expenses)
• Net profit (earnings before interest and taxes/EBIT or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization/EBITDA)
Each of these income-statement metrics focus on aspects of running a business profitably. Notice that I have not included any measure of earnings after interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Why? Because these items have nothing to do with the operations of the business. Interest expense is a function of how the business is financed, taxes don’t have anything to do with how well the company is run, and depreciation and amortization are accounting conventions that have nothing to do with operations.
Also notice that each of the KPIs mentioned is a lagging indicator; that is, it is the result of other factors that create that outcome. These other factors are also often measureable, and are known as leading indicators. With lagging indicators, open-book management raises several essential questions:
• How can we increase revenue?
• How can we reduce COGS?
• How can we increase gross profit? (An answer to the revenue and COGS questions will provide the answer.)
• How can we reduce operating expenses?
• How can we increase net profit? (As the ultimate lagging indicator on the income statement, answers to the preceding questions will create a favorable answer here.)
As management and frontline employees discuss these questions, they should recognize that not all income-statement dollars are created equal. An additional sales dollar ($1) is decreased by the COGS associated with it (let’s say $0.50) and by the operating expenses that might correspondingly be costed against it (let’s say $0.40). In this example, an additional sales dollar contributes only 10 cents to the bottom line ($1-($0.50 + $0.40)).
If, however, you discover cost reductions of $1 (in either COGS or operating expenses), the entire dollar goes to the bottom line. In other words, to get the same impact of a dollar of cost savings, you would have to sell $10. The investment in cost savings literally increases profitability faster than does increasing sales!
That said, revenue should not be ignored. It’s often a first instinct to reduce price to increase sales. While this might bring in new sales, it must be recognized that reducing price without an equivalent reduction in COGS hurts gross profit unless the volume of sales increases significantly.
Price reduction is an easy answer, but the better solution to revenue enhancement is generally to improve product or service quality (hopefully without an increase in COGS), thereby enhancing the ability to sell the value proposition inherent in the product offering.
The answers are not always clear cut, but one thing is clear: before any of these KPIs can be optimized, employees need to better understand the existing metrics. This can be done through the use of dashboards that measure and display leading indicators that drive financial outcomes. Some executives will choose to share metrics expressed in dollars, while others will opt for ratios, percentages, ratings or scales. Whatever the measure used, executives need to start engaging their team in the process of improving financial outcomes. Newcomers to open-book management often find that their income statement is a very good place to start.
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 22 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching models.
Today, on Veteran’s Day, we’re thinking of the many Utah seniors who are also veterans. Up to $1 million a day is stolen from Utah seniors (see here). Recently Bank of American Fork received the 2014 American Bankers Association Community Commitment Award for Protecting Older Americans, a national award with only one recipient. Bank of American Fork has a unique passion and five-part initiative designed to help support caregivers and protect seniors from fraud. Behind the initiative are employees that are passionate about helping the seniors and caregivers in the communities where they live and work.
Tracey Larson is one of those employees. Larson, a special projects manager at Bank of American Fork, is the head of the bank’s age-friendly initiative. Her passion stems from being a daughter of senior parents.
“There was a shift for me that caused me to become really passionate about supporting age-friendly banking,” said Larson. “It was when I started to hear the stories. I remember my first meeting on a committee that included hearing first-hand stories of elder and vulnerable adult abuse. I cried.”
Besides her passion for making banking and finance safe for seniors and their caregivers, Larson has the know-how and detailed eye that make it natural for her to move the initiative from words on paper to action in the community.
For example, Bank of American Fork has an age-friendly champion at each branch who receives extra training on how to spot fraud or a stressed caregiver. Although all Bank of American Fork employees are trained to look for and report suspected fraud, the training for age-friendly champions is more comprehensive and goes far beyond what regulators require.
Because of employees like Tracey Larson, Bank of American Fork is making strides in helping to prevent elder financial abuse. Because of the bank’s innovations like account tools to help protect seniors and education about how to protect loved ones, awareness of this widespread problem is growing. To move prevention beyond Bank of American Fork customers, the bank is collaborating with other organizations and financial institutions to make offerings like this nationwide.
If you are a senior who needs, or may soon need, help with your finances or a caregiver of a loved one, you are not alone. Visit blog.bankaf.com/seniors. Ask your banker about what resources are available to you.
Project Teddy Bear in its 15th year
The little boy was so traumatized by neglect and abuse that he spoke to his therapist from inside a cardboard box for two years. Inside, he clung to his trusted teddy bear—the only one he felt comfortable with enough to have inside with him. This child—and thousands of others like him—has benefitted from your donations to Bank of American Fork’s Project Teddy Bear. Each holiday season, we collect new and clean, gently used stuffed animals to give to children at family support centers across Utah. Many of the children are victims of abuse, neglect, poverty or addiction. Some have been taken from their homes into state custody during the night; others have been moved from one foster home to another; yet others have experienced the violent loss of a loved one.
When these children, and perhaps all children, can hug and hold their own teddy bear, it brings comfort and a feeling of safety.
You can help. Project Teddy Bear is an opportunity for you to join with the communities in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, and donate teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Starting this month, all Bank of American Fork branches will be accepting donations of new or clean and gently used stuffed animals through December 16.
Looking for the perfect gift for employees, those hard-to-please relatives and friends?
We have the solution: a VISA® Gift card. Bank of American Fork’s VISA® Gift cards allow recipients to decide how they want to spend their money, saving you the hassle of shopping for all the people on your list. They’re the perfect gift for any occasion, including those coming up—holidays and end-of-the-year employee rewards. To purchase a gift card or to find out more about the fees that apply when you purchase a gift card, please visit our website or your nearest branch.
VISA® and the name Visa are federally registered trademarks of Visa.
Sense of community still a cornerstone in keeping customers safe
Amid a string of headlines revealing security breaches among high-profile retailers, banks across the country are working to ensure that their customers’ private information remains private. But with the impersonal approach offered by national banks, some customers are finding that they feel more uncertain than ever about the security of their finances. Big banks sometimes struggle in connecting with their customers as individuals with unique needs. A bank headquartered on the east coast may lack the presence to personally attend to Rocky Mountain residents and their concerns.
As a local institution that has grown alongside the Utah Valley communities over the last century, Bank of American Fork understands the threats local customers face. What’s more, the bank employs new technology to enhance the customer experience, not replace it. Bank of American Fork’s strategy in combating fraud begins with a comprehensive awareness of potential threats, both online and off, while working closely with customers to offer them the tools and knowledge necessary to secure their finances.
Data compromises in recent months involving large retailers such as Target, Apple and Home Depot have only heightened people’s awareness of the real-world dangers threatening the safety of their savings. Bank of American Fork’s layered security has minimized the risk to their customers, and the bank is proactive in identifying those who may be affected while working with them to take preventative measures such as issuing new cards and flagging suspect spending to ensure that their finances are still safe.
“We take the threat of identity theft very seriously because, as a local bank, these are our friends and family we’re working with,” said Blaine Crosby, Bank of American Fork’s chief information officer. “When a community entrusts us with their finances, we want them to rest easy knowing their money is secure.”
Bank of American Fork’s layered security extends to all its financial services. This includes installing a number of safeguards at each point of transaction, including ATMs. For example, at the start of 2014, 95 percent of ATMs across the nation were running on the Windows XP operating system. Microsoft announced that they were discontinuing support for Windows XP, potentially opening a window for exploits by hackers. Bank of American Fork was already in the process of transitioning its ATMs to Windows 7, and quickly had each of its machines up to date. This ensured access to the latest updates and security patches and preempted the risks faced by other machines that were still running on outdated operating systems. The ATMs routinely issue security alerts to report skimmers, hackers, or suspect transactions, and in the event that security reports show evidence of vulnerability, the ATMs can immediately be shut down remotely.
Additionally, Bank of American Fork is combating online fraud by offering Rapport™, a security solution for home computers provided through the financial security experts at Trusteer, Inc. Rapport™ is a downloadable set of tools that works alongside existing firewalls and antivirus programs to help protect against phishing scams and malware. The service, which is provided at no cost to customers through Bank of American Fork, works by monitoring for potential threats as customers handle their billing and transactions during online banking, and can be configured to help protect against threats on other websites that can serve as an entry point for malicious behavior.
The ways in which Trusteer’s Rapport™ software helps protect customers include:
• Warning users if they visit a fake website purporting to belong to Bank of American Fork,
• Preventing the collection of banking credentials and other sensitive information, and
• Protecting web browser communication to prevent malware from tampering with bank transactions.
The free software is simple to install, entirely transparent and does not interfere with normal computer use. While use of this security software is not compulsory for Bank of American Fork customers, it is highly recommended.
Bank of American Fork is highly dedicated to security. Attention to technological safeguards provides its customers with protection while still allowing for the personal touch of a local establishment with a strong sense of community. Despite the ongoing threats facing a rapidly changing financial environment, Bank of American Fork, with the cooperation of its customers, is committed to providing them a high level of financial security, and with it, peace of mind.
ICBA spreads the word about Project Teddy Bear in your community
Sandy Dubois started Project Teddy Bear 15 years ago as a way for employees at Bank of American Fork to give back to their communities instead of giving gifts to each other during the holidays. Dubois is passionate about helping children, and she wanted the project to be about the at-risk children in Utah communities. That first year, customers, community members and bank employees donated a couple of hundred teddy bears to be taken to a family care center to be used in play therapy or for children taken from their homes and from everything they knew. Last year, during the 14th Annual Project Teddy Bear, you brought in more than 20,000 bears that served the children in care centers across Utah.
Every year Dubois and others hope the care centers will call and say there’s no need for the bears—that all of Utah’s children are being taken care of and none are victims of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so Bank of American Fork seeks the community’s help in increasing the number of donations every year.
Now, Project Teddy Bear’s national recognition from Independent Community Bankers of America’s 2014 National Community Bank Service Award will help spread the word and get more people involved in helping Utah’s children and children across the nation. Independent Banker magazine highlighted the project in its September issue and Dubois and Bank of American Fork invite any other bank or business to copy the model.
“The reason this recognition is important to us is because it helps the community,” said Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “Our local communities have helped more than 73,000 children simply by getting involved. Some people drop off one bear when they come in to make a deposit and we have others, like girl-scout troops, who take on the project and bring in hundreds of bears. Each donation matters, because each of those bears represents an at-risk child here in Utah.”
Project Teddy Bear will start its 15th annual collection beginning November 20. Drop off a bear at any of our 14 branch locations. We know you care about the children in your communities, so talk to us at www.facebook.com/BankAF or @bankaf to find out how you can be involved.