Paying the Bills: An Illustration of Replacing an Old System with a New One
In 1984, Sam founded Centratel, the number one commercial telephone answering service in the nation, located in Bend, Ore. With a background in engineering and publishing, he is a telephone answering service industry consultant, writer and speaker, and has served as president of several regional and national answering service organizations.
Sam is author of the book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, published by North Sister Publishing, Inc. in April 2008. He also founded and directs Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit that aids surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 8, 2005.
Originally from upstate New York, and an Oregonian since 1975, he is married to Linda Carpenter. He has a daughter and two grandchildren. He and Linda are also in the process of launching an Internet business that promotes communication between absent adults and their children and grand children. Outside interests include climbing/mountaineering, skiing, cycling, reading, traveling and writing.
For years, a nagging problem in my small business, Centratel, was the time and effort it took to pay the monthly bills. The process did nothing for the bottom line and each month required 10 to 14 hours of my time to process 60-80 payables to various vendors. I wrote the checks, entered the transactions into the check register, stuffed the checks into envelopes and mailed them. Then there was the filing and bookkeeping. As we grew, it became too time-consuming for me, so I hired a part-time bookkeeper. But that created another problem because the expenditures were not being questioned by our bookkeeper in the painstaking way I would question them.
The system solution: Our bank’s online Billpayer feature. This system is a perfect illustration of Work The System thinking and methodology. Now, writing a hardcopy check seldom happens. Ninety percent of recurring monthly bills are the same amount each month so the system is programmed to pay these bills automatically. QuickBooks® will automatically log these monthly payments, too. For a payable in which the billed amount changes monthly, it’s an easy matter for me to review the invoice and then insert the amounts both online and in QuickBooks.
Now, again paying the bills personally, I am able to keep a close eye on every cent of expenditure.
This is a prime example of investing time to set up a new system and then benefiting forever from the effort. Over several weeks, it took 15 hours to work out the bugs and program our vendors into the system—the same amount of time that had been required each month to pay bills with the old system. Now I spend maybe two or three hours a month to process these payments, a fraction of the time I spent before.
At home? It’s the same process. The homeowner association dues, water, electricity and everything else are paid on time with very little input from me.
Are we “outside-and-slightly-elevated”? Yes! Billpayer is the quintessential illustration of systems methodology, an enormous success for us at work and at home.
I will be bold here: If you are not using it now, you should be.
Note: Are you utilizing systems in your business, startup, or department to make life easier on you and your staff? Have you mastered the delicate art of automating and delegating recurring processes? It may sound bold, but if you’re not using systems, you should be. If you want to launch your business or department into an organized, efficient, profitable organism, maximize your efficiency and productivity, and propel yourself far ahead of your competitors, you can do so.
Register for Sam Carpenter’s first-ever Work The System Boot Camp, held in Bend, Ore., October 20 and 21, 2008. In this intensive, small-group, life-changing program, you will grasp how a simple, mechanical change in perspective can launch you toward a prosperous life of working less and making more, and move your business or department from chaos to ultimate control.