Top 3 Strategies for increasing billable consulting time

| By:
Craig Fulton

How booked, busy, and billable are you? Let’s do the math.

If you’re like most technology solution providers, your utilization is probably somewhere between 50-60%. But why settle for average when you can make a few small adjustments that could push you above 80%?* Any number of activities could be hurting your utilization. We’ll outline the most common, as well as how you can easily address them head-on.

Help your team start to boost their billable time by putting these 3 best practices into practice:
Track ALL Time

Many companies make the mistake of only tracking billable time. By failing to track non-billable time, you forgo valuable insights into what administrative tasks are keeping your team from billable tasks.**

If you don’t, you’ll cannibalize your profits.

We’ve heard countless business owners say that they let billable time slip through their fingers simply because they didn’t know how to account for it. No task attached to a client project is too small to track—phone calls, emails, texts, travel time, coordination, planning, proofreading, researching, transferring files, etc. Don’t cut yourself short.

Quick tip: To keep time tracking neat and clean, set a minimum billable amount. Most companies set it at 15 minutes. This means that even if you only work 7 minutes, you still bill for 15. This drives home the idea that no task is too small to track.

Review Non-Billable Time

While we don’t advocate fear mongering or making staffers feel bad for posting less than 80% billable time, we do suggest creating a safe, open forum in which to discuss where non-billable time is going. You might be surprised at what they have to say.**

If you don’t, you might miss out on the lowest-hanging fruit.

How many times have you heard employees say this about a day-to-day business task: If I never have to do X again, it’ll be too soon? Well, guess what? They might be on to something.

That purchasing process that worked two years ago might not work for how you do business today. Or, if the hardware supporting your business constantly crashes, that could be bringing your team’s billable time to a halt, too. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know which pain points are the biggest.

Quick tip: Set up a quarterly all-hands meeting to review administrative burdens that hinder employees from achieving more billable hours. Identify the biggest black holes, and welcome suggestions to help eliminate them. Be sure to communicate problems you’re focusing on, what outcomes they can expect, and when. Communicating how their input is helping the company become better will encourage more participation in the future.

Use Templates

Any and all repeatable tasks within your company should have a template. Whether it’s a statement of work, meeting recap, product order, receipt, invoice, or order form, it needs to be standardized and shared throughout your company.*** Many productivity platforms like ConnectWise PSA™ (formerly Manage), ConnectWise Automate (formerly LabTech), and ConnectWise Sell (formerly Quosal) enable you to build and store custom templates to help you better manage daily business activities, remotely push updates, and keep quotes and proposals in line with your branding standards.

If you don’t use templates, you’ll leak time.

Without templates, employees have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to accomplish a task. And, if you let each person create their own templates, there will be no consistency across the forms your company sends out. This hampers employee onboarding and your customer experience.

Quick tip: If you don’t have productivity tools like ConnectWise PSA, ConnectWise Automate, and ConnectWise Sell yet, consider building a library of business templates. Any repeatable task should have a form, and these should be housed in a central location that anyone in your company can access.

This concludes our 4-part consulting series, but check back soon for our Booked up, Busy & Billable series—where we’ll share even more best practices for painlessly boosting employee utilization.

*, “Booked Up & Billable Best Practices” infographic, 2014. ** FunctionFox, “Stop Giving Away Your Time (Guidelines on how to close the billing efficiency gap).” *** Ruppert, Loretta, “Unlocking Productivity in Your Law Office: Eight Keys to Exposing Billable Time Killers,” GPSOLO Report, Vol. 2, No. 12.