Chronoblog
Category: Features-Hot Topics
Where are Your Employees, Really?

where-is-your-employee-really-chronotekWould you buy a new 55″ smart TV without a remote?  Maybe it’s not necessary, but it sure makes the TV much more functional and enjoyable.  If you’re a small business owner with off-site hourly workers, you need confidence that employees are clocking in and out at the job site.  An automated timekeeping system with GPS technology can provide location information on every employee clock-in and out. Maps can show pinpoints of every punch.  It’s great data.  But do you know if that location is the actual job site?  To know if your employee was on the job when clocking in you would have to memorize the location of every job site.  If you have more than 20-30 sites, especially in urban areas, these lone pin drops on a map are pretty useless –  like a smart TV without a remote.  Chronotek has the technology to tell you the employee was “Located at Job” or “Located NOT at Job“!

The Chronotek system allows you input the address of every job site.  Then when employees clock in and out, we compare the mapped job site address with the GPS track and report in bold, bright letters if the employee was tracked at the job or not. If we report that he’s located at the job, no need to spend time looking at the map.  If he’s reported as not located at the job, then you can view a map that shows your job site AND where your employee was tracked. You don’t waste time wondering, “Is that a Waffle House or the job site?”  A smart time tracking system knows that both pieces of information are important and lays it right out for you.  You can conserve your valuable brain power for higher level issues.

We believe that technology should enhance your business practices and make your life easier. Stay tuned and stay in touch by following us on Facebook.

What Picture Do Your Labor Numbers Paint?

blog-what-picture-do-your-labor-numbers-paintThe paint by numbers sets were so much fun as a kid. Just follow the pattern established by the numbers and you could paint a beautiful picture. Numbers are funny that way. They can paint pictures that are worth more than a 1000 words. If you are a small business owner with off-site hourly employees and you’re not minding your labor cost dollar numbers closely, the picture they paint may not be very pretty.

Let’s look at some numbers.

You started out with a target labor cost of 50% for the job.  You spend an entire day gathering payroll data and putting numbers in a spreadsheet. Not only is this number gathering wasting your precious time, but because you don’t utilize an automated time tracking system your labor costs are 70% of revenues and you eke out a 10% profit. The struggle is real.  But why are labor costs at 70%?

In studies done by the American Payroll Association and the Robert Half Agency, it’s shown that employees steal 10 minutes a day.  (It’s extremely easy to take an extra 10 minutes a day when using handwritten time cards.)  Employees can write down whatever clock in, clock out times they want.  You’re lucky if it’s only 10 minutes a day. But we’ll say 10 minutes a day using an example of 15 employees – that comes to 150 minutes a day or 3262.50 minutes a month (54.375 hours) based on 5 day work weeks.  Chronotek’s new Weekly Labor Cost Report can calculate your actual Labor Cost for you automatically.  The report also takes into consideration the fully loaded pay rate.  So if the employees’ pay rate is $8/hr, it might be that you are actually paying close to $9/hour considering taxes and workman’s comp.   So you’re throwing $489 out the window every month on these handwritten time cards (that hurts a little bit).

Instead, embrace the wonder of technological accountability with an automated timekeeping system and take back your money.  An investment in our system of $89 a month for 15 employees yields a return of $400 back in your pocket.  That’s 4.5 times your investment and raises your net profit by 25%.  If you pay your employees more than $8 an hour, then you’re making more money faster.

It’s time to get your money back.  No more unearned pay and no more laborious spreadsheets.  This is why we created the new Weekly Labor Cost Report that enables you to track true labor costs (pay rate + payroll taxes) against your labor budgets.  A picture is painted using the exact numbers.

Stay tuned and stay in touch by following us on Facebook.

Can Your Employees Be Trusted?

We want to believe that all people can be trusted, but we think it’s better to approach it as Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”

That’s wise advice when it comes to your employees.  This article sites a Kessler survey in which 30% of the respondents admitted to falsifying their time cards. Businesses need protection from the few who can easily take advantage of a handwritten time card payroll practice. Our automated timekeeping system captures accurate time with a simple toll-free call or a click on our new mobile app. In a post, Minding Your Minutes, we referred to an article that stated that small businesses lose 10 minutes a day from each employee due to time theft. These minutes compounded every day 52 weeks a year adds up to a number that will shock you.  Fourteen employees making $7.50 an hour could cost your business $375 a month in unearned pay. These are unearned minutes going towards overtime as well.

The financial impact is devastating and along with your bottom line, it’s your honest employees who suffer.  This wasted money could be used for their pay increases and incentives. Instead small businesses that don’t have a solution to the time theft problem struggle to just stay afloat.

This is the greatest injustice. Hardworking, honest employees lose their jobs due to the actions of a few.

We can be your advocate. We will give you freedom to trust while we verify.

Announcing our New Website and Exciting Changes Ahead

New www site

Everyone loves a new pair of shoes. The old loafers served us well and gave us many great miles, but getting a new pair is exciting. The same is true, but exponentially more, for the thrill and anticipation of new company websites.  Today we are beyond excited to announce a beautiful, new and functional marketing website for our telephone and app timekeeping company.

If you are just exploring, you may want to watch a short video on how our system will make payroll day a breeze, and read about all of the tools to help manage your off-site employees.  Use a handy slider to easily estimate what the cost might be. Enjoy the new website and all of its blog content on your phone, as it’s mobile friendly. And of course, you can give us a call if you still have more questions. For our current customers who have this page saved to login to your Chronotek account, you can still press the ‘Sign In’ button.

Speaking of mobile friendly… our NEW Mobile App has more exciting changes ahead. And we want to also let you know that the Admin site will soon have a new look, as we make it more mobile friendly for business owners and administrators who work out of the office. Stay tuned for more announcements on those future upgrades.

And if you’re a small business owner with remote workers and still use handwritten time cards, we welcome you to check us out. Simply click on our new orange button to start your free 30-day trial. You’ll love walking a mile in these shoes.

NEW Chronotek Mobile App – Hired Hand for Small Business Owner

Suzie was relaxing with her family one evening when her cell phone rang. Once upon a time, before Chronotek, that evening call would have instantly pushed her into panic mode.   Her job as a supervisor used to ruin her evenings with late night emergency calls because jobs were not being covered.  But not any longer. This was a welcomed call from her brother, Jim.

Suzie: Hey Jim, how’s it going?

Jim: Everything is great. Do you remember telling me about the new Chronotek app last week?

Suzie: Yes, of course.  Why?

Jim: Well, your miracle story inspired me to do something about my timekeeping mess for my construction company.

Suzie: Are you still using paper time sheets, little brother?

Jim: Yes, but you got me thinking.  My business is growing and with 16 employees it’s getting very tough to manage, but I can’t afford a Super Suzie yet.  I’m the Suzie, and the marketing and sales guy, the bookkeeper, the secretary, the HR guy, and I’m sometimes the guy swinging the hammer at the job site and sweeping the floors in the office.

Suzie: You definitely have your hands full, not to mention your new baby.

Jim: I have a new baby? (chuckles)  Oh, yeah, I do!  Well, I think Chronotek’s employee time tracking system and the new app will finally give me time to spend time with her.

New App 7 TCSSuzie: Absolutely!  Chronotek and the new app can be your Suzie, and more.

Jim: I know, the entire system is amazing. My employees actually like the ease of clocking-in from the app.  And I no longer have to track down their time cards. Timesheets get created automatically and I can review them from the app or the website whenever I’m ready.  If my guys are late, I get alerted right to my phone.  I don’t have to worry; did they show or didn’t they show?  I can see from the app when they clocked-in, and it shows a GPS map that geo-locates where they clocked-in.  It is like I hired a supervisor at a fraction of the cost.

Suzie: You sound like a new man, Jim.

ChronotekUserWithMoreTimeForHisFamilyJim: I feel like one, too. And speaking of my baby, in the evenings I’m not stuck in my office doing work at the desk.   Just last night I was rocking Sophie to sleep while reviewing and editing time cards on the new app.  I even added a new employee on the app while singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.

 

Suzie: You’re too funny, Jim.  It sounds like Chronotek is giving you your life back.

Jim: Chronotek is my new hired hand,  and this new app is especially helpful.  Chronotek is taking some of this load off of me for sure.

Suzie: You’re learning, bro. Chronotek is helping us both!

Chronotek’s remote employee management system and our new mobile app have transformed the lives of Suzie the SUPERvisor and her business owner brother, Jim. Our mission for 20 years has been to provide a proven way to track labor hours of remote employees that yields greater profits and improved personal lives of small business owners.

If you would like to try it free for 30 days and experience the life-change that Suzie and Jim have, click here.

We would be honored if you stayed in touch with us. Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

NEW Chronotek Mobile App – Life is Better

We’ve been chronicling the life-change of Suzie the SUPERvisor since she started using Chronotek’s new mobile app.   She can wake up in the mornings, fire up the Keurig for a fresh cup of coffee and check Workforce Stats on the app to review her employees’ activity through the night.  And our in-app messaging is the perfect communication tool to keep her employees just a click away.

Suzie was recently praising the app with her brother, Jim, who owns a construction company. She told him how the app made her boss and his janitorial company look like the industry leader to a prospect. Let’s listen in on their conversation:

Suzie: Jim, it was the most amazing thing. I wish you could have been there.

Jim: Yeah, me too. It’s not like you to get this excited about anything. What’s so special about this app?

Suzie: Many things, but just yesterday my boss, Gary, wanted me to go with him to meet a new prospect and present our bid to maintain his building.

Jim: Smart man, bringing in the big guns.

Suzie: Yeah, right. Well anyway, we got there and it turns out that a water pipe burst in one of his offices a few minutes earlier and he’s got a mess on his hands.

Jim: Not good.

Suzie: Not at all. John, the building owner, was frantic and wanted to cancel our meeting. I asked him what his plan was to clean up the mess and he hadn’t thought that far yet. They had just fixed the pipe. I knew that this was going to be a great contract if we got it so I took a risk.

Jim: Oh no!

Suzie: I turned to Gary and said, “Why don’t I get a crew over here immediately and take care of this for John? This one will be on us.”

Jim: That’s pretty bold, Suzie. Do you think you own the company?

Suzie: It was a small office, so I knew that things wouldn’t be too bad.

Jim: This is all great, but what does it have to do with the Chronotek app?

Suzie Supervisor - Chronotek New AppSuzie: I was getting there. So, I open the app, go to the screen to add a new job, put in the name of John’s business, created the job code, and the app is able to geo-locate me. This allows me to quickly add the address without having to ask or look it up.

Jim: Cool!

Suzie: And that’s not all. Then I broadcast a message to all of my employees that I need 5 people right away and the first 5 who respond to the message get the work with bonus pay. I had 7 replies in just a few minutes. And when they got to the building to clock in, the app geo-located them, and the job was the first one on the list to choose from. So simple for my employees to clock-in.

Jim: How did Gary take the bonus pay thing?

Suzie: He took it fine when John told us that we got the contract. John was amazed at how we swiftly and easily we handled his unexpected crisis. He said it was nothing short of a miracle.

Jim: Suzie, you’re a miracle worker!

Suzie: Ha! The new Chronotek mobile app is the miracle, not me.

Jim: I’d say so. I knew that something was different about you. You’ve seemed a lot more relaxed lately.

Suzie: Oh, little brother, you have no idea.

Suzie is learning that life is better with the new Chronotek app, and not just work life.  We all know the extent that day-to-day work stresses permeate our personal lives. When you can find a way to alleviate the work stress, our personal lives are so much sweeter.

Stay tuned into Suzie’s story by subscribing to this blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Celebrating with our NEW! Chronotek App

Launch the fireworks! Toss the confetti! Start the music! We’re still celebrating our 20th birthday and we’re doing it in Chronotek style with something great for customers of our telephone timekeeping system. It’s better than any door prize or party favor; it’s the release of our brand new mobile app!

We’ve been beta testing the new app with a few of our customers and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Reinhard Grab, owner of ServiceMaster Advanced Cleaning, LLC in Summerville, South Carolina said, “I love the simplicity of the new Chronotek mobile app. The simplicity is like art. It’s beautiful and intuitive and has uncluttered functionality. It’s so easy for employees to use.”

Bruce Jeffers, owner of Classic City Solutions in Winterville, Georgia had this to say, “The new app works great. It gives me access to valuable data that my managers and I need out in the field.  I love Chronotek!” We love you, too, Bruce!

Manuel Silva, Operations Supervisor with nanoCLEAN Decontamination Services, LLC in Quincy, Massachusetts said, “The new Chronotek app gives me a lot of great information. The Workforce Stats page tells me who is and isn’t clocked in, who was late, and who wasn’t at the job when they clocked in. I can edit time cards from the new app. It’s very helpful.”

MTC shot_237x97

We think that you will agree. The power, functionality and usability of the new Chronotek app reinvents the reality of mobile workforce management.

 

  • Would you like to send a group text message to all of your employees? Done.
  • View one quick and easy stats page showing who’s late, who’s a no-show, who wasn’t at the job when they clocked in/out and who denied the request for GPS tracking? It’s all there!
  • Add jobs and employees from the app? Absolutely!
  • Edit time cards while the doctor makes you wait for your appointment? You bet!
  • See a list of your employees’ actual hours worked and their future schedules for the week? That’s pretty handy for preventing overtime before it happens and the new app has it!

We want to tell you so much more about it. Our next post will go into deeper detail on how your employees can use the app. Then subsequent posts will highlight the supervisor and administrator functions. Be first to the party. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all new posts.

But for now, go to your app store and download the new app. Download it free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

 

 

New OT Rule Makes Automated Timekeeping a Necessity

The federal government has given small business owners another reason to closely monitor and track their employees’ hours.  A new rule in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) beginning December 1, 2016 will raise the salary threshold of workers for which overtime must be paid.

In 2004 the Department of Labor 1required businesses to pay salaried workers overtime if they made less than $23,660 a year, making those workers non-exempt from overtime pay.   The new rule will almost double this threshold to $47,476, resulting in more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay.  Employees with salaries less than the new rate of $46,476 must be paid time-and-a-half overtime for every hour over 40.

An article in USA Today outlines ways companies might respond to this change.  They could continue to pay the same salary and start paying OT.  Or they could raise employees’ salaries to $47,476 to avoid OT.  Another strategy is that employees could be instructed not to work overtime, and part-time workers brought in to cover the workload.  Other businesses may cut the base pay of workers and pay OT in an attempt to keep paychecks at the same level.  Finally, salaried workers could be converted to hourly.

However you slice it, small businesses will need to accurately and efficiently monitor and track the hours of their employees.  We’ve explained before why handwritten time cards are a bad idea.  If your small business isn’t using an automated system to gather employee hours, now is the time to start.  For over 20 years we have provided business with a proven solution to control labor hours with our app-based and telephone timekeeping system.

Click here to start your free 30 day trial and get ahead of the December 1 deadline.

 

Tax Expense or Tax Deduction

You might remember from a previous blog post we analyzed the financial ramifications of a daily Red Bull habit, and the even more monetarily crippling practice of using handwritten time cards to track the time of remote employees.  In that post we made an assumption that your 15 employees are twice as honest as the national average and you lose only $2600 a year in inaccurate time card reporting.  With tax season still lingering on our minds let’s evaluate the potential tax ramifications with that situation.

Today we want to use the previous post as a basis to explore the difference in a tax expense and a tax deduction.  In that example, the $2600 that you spent in unearned wages also comes with payroll tax expenses.  According to this MIT article, you must add to the $2600 payroll expenses for Social Security/FICA (currently 6.2% on the first $90,000 of salary), Unemployment/FUTA (6.2% on $7,000 of salary) and Medicare (1.45% with no salary cap).  Workers compensation for the service industry could be an extra 5-8%.  So, the real total number is more like $3000.  These are unearned, undeserved, wasted dollars.  There’s a plethora of other consequences of time theft: poor work quality, a culture of dishonesty, low company moral, etc.  But we are just focusing on the dollars today.  Wouldn’t it be more fun to pop the top off a convertible, hit a long country road, load up Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”, and toss $100 bills into the wind?  At least you’re choosing to blow the money.

But in a sense you are inadvertently choosing to blow money too if you’re still using handwritten time cards.

Now let’s look at the tax deduction side of this.  Invest in our telephone and app-based timekeeping solution to get accurate, automated time cards that will eliminate the $3000 waste.  In our previous post we estimated the cost for your 15 employees on our system to be $2100 annually.  That’s $900 back in your pocket.  But it’s really more, because of the business tax deduction you are allowed for the expense.  This puts another $500 back on your side of the ledger which brings the real cost of our system to approximately $1600 annually.

Invest $1600, save $3000.

It is like you just got paid to use our system!  You’re up $1400 in tax-free money. That’s an 87.5% return on your investment.  Much better than your CD.

Now you can reinvest this $1400 in another tax deduction, maybe Red Bulls for your employees in the break room.  Using an automated timekeeping system makes great business sense, and investing in your employees is always a fantastic idea too.  Tax season can be better for everyone!

 

#3 Spring Cleaning for Small Businesses: Use Shift Lock to Clean up Time Cards

We’ve all seen those late night infomercials. The ones that claim for 6 easy payments we can buy a new product that miraculously cleans our house while we sleep and will change our lives forever. The lesson we learn with infomercials is that the payments aren’t easy, there is no miracle, and we’re still doing housework on Saturdays.  Well, we have great news.  First, this isn’t an infomercial and second, we have a new tool on our telephone and app timekeeping system that DOES work and WILL change your life forever.  In this installment of our Spring Cleaning For Small Businesses blog series, we want to introduce to you Shift Lock, a massive time-saving tool that cleans up your cluttered and confusing time card issues.

If employees work designated shifts and your company policy is to pay for only those hours, yet employees continually clock in early and out late, then you have a mess on your hands.  You pay the extra time which throws off your job budgets, or you spend a lot of time correcting the time cards.  Either way it’s more money or more time unnecessarily wasted.  Lose/lose.

With Shift Lock, time cards are automatically adjusted to the scheduled shift time. Your early bird employees can clock in when they arrive to the job, but their times cards lock to the scheduled start time. Late clock-outs can be adjusted to the scheduled end time. They hear this announced when they call to clock in and out or see the message on the mobile app, so there aren’t any surprises on pay day.

Save money. Save time. Win/win.

You may even consider Shift Lock the miracle that cleans up time cards automatically (so you can get some sleep).

Keep posted on this new series by subscribing to this blog or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Obamacare Q & A: Must Offer ‘Affordable’ Coverage

Our guest blogger, Matt Lapointe, helps to explain the ‘Affordable’ concept in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Matt Lapointe, is an attorney with Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. in Tampa, FL,  www.whhlaw.com.  Matt advises small and mid-size businesses on all areas of business law, including the ACA.

Q.  I own 5 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. Each is in a separate LLC, but I know they must be grouped together for ObamaCare purposes under the aggregation rules you discussed in Part 1 of ObamaCare Q & A.  I offer health coverage to all my full-time employees, but I heard that I could still get fined if the coverage I offer is not affordable to my employees.  How does the ACA define “unaffordable”?

A.  Health insurance coverage is deemed “unaffordable” if the premium required to be paid by the employee exceeds 9.5% of the employee’s household income.  Recognizing that an employer has no way of knowing the “household” income of its employees, the regulations allow affordability to be determined on the basis of the employee’s own income as reported on his or her Form W-2 (in Box 1) instead of household income.  If any employee’s share of the premium exceeds 9.5% of her W-2 reported income and any employee obtains subsidized coverage from the ObamaCare exchange, then the company must pay a penalty of $250 per month ($3,000 per year) multiplied by the number of full-time employees who obtain subsidized coverage from the exchange.

We’ve mentioned our new ACA-ALE Status report that calculates by month the total number of full-time and full-time equivalent employees to determine if your company must comply with the ACA. ACA FT Status

Our other new ACA report, ACA: FT Status – Monthly, breaks down each employee’s hours by the month to point out which employees meet the full-time (FT) status according to the ACA 130-hours per month ruling.

(These new ACA reports are coming out with our next update.)

We would like to thank Matt again for his time as a guest blogger in this series and for his assistance in creating our new ACA reports. As we’ve mentioned before, the Chronotek staff does not have ACA experts and therefore cannot answer compliance questions. Feel free to contact Matt.  We may hear from Matt again. Please stay up to date by subscribing to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Obamacare Q & A: Does Your Company Qualify – ALE

It’s a daunting task to determine if your business is required to comply with ObamaCare’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). In this third post of our series, ObamaCare Q & A, our guest blogger, Matt Lapointe, an attorney and ACA expert with Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. in Tampa, Florida, will clarify the definition of an Applicable Large Employer (ALE). Matt also helped us create a new report, ACA-ALE Status to crunch the numbers. Thanks Matt, for this ALE Q & A session.

Q.  My office cleaning company has 60 part-time cleaners who work on average 20 hours per week.  I also have 10 full-time supervisors, 3 full-time office staff (including my husband and me) and 2 full-time sales people.  I know that ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate applies to companies with 50 full-time employees.  We only have 15 full-time employees, so ObamaCare doesn’t apply to us, right?

A. WRONG.  To determine whether an employer is an “Applicable Large Employer” or “ALE” the ACA rules require you to convert your part-time employees to “full-time equivalents” or “FTEs.” Under the ACA, “full-time” is 30 hours per week or more. To calculate your FTEs, you take the total number of hours worked by all your part-time employees in a particular month and divide by 120.  In your case, assuming each of your 60 part-timers worked 20 hours per week in a particular month (60 x 20 x 4.3), the total hours worked for that month would be 5160.  Next you divide the total hours for the month by 120.  In your case, 5160/120 = 43 FTEs.  Adding 43 FTEs to the 15 full-timers, you end up with a total of 58.  You need to perform these calculations for every month of 2015 to determine whether, on average, your cleaning company employed 50 or more full-time employees over the course of the year.  If it did, your company is subject to the Employer Mandate.  Here is a chart that demonstrates the necessary calculations:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
FT 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15
PT/FTEs 43 45 47 45 41 35 33 31 35 37 39 40
Total 58 60 62 60 56 50 48 46 50 52 54 55

12 month total = 651

Monthly Avg   651/12 = 54.25 = 54

Because 54 >50, the Employer is an ALE.

 

 

ChronotekACA-ALEReport

Chronotek has a new report, ACA- ALE Status, that helps to simplify the process of pulling together and understanding the numbers for customers of our telephone timekeeping system.  As Matt mentioned, it’s important to remember that your definition of full-time is quite different from how the ACA determines your company’s full-time and full-time equivalent count. Our new report compiles these numbers automatically.

In our next post in this series, Matt will explain the meaning of “Affordable” in the Affordable Care Act.  It’s not a random or subjective term and all ALE companies need to understand it’s specific directives. Stay informed.  Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

ObamaCare Q & A Series

We’ve been preparing for it. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is imposing new numbers on small businesses.  Like death and taxes, it’s something we’d like to avoid, but unfortunately we can’t.  The best alternative is to be prepared and gain an understanding of its implications for your business.

In our new blog series, ObamaCare Q & A, we’re going to hear from Matthew Lapointe, who is an attorney with Wetherington Hamilton, P.A. in Tampa, FL,  www.whhlaw.com.  Matthew advises small and mid-size businesses on all areas of business law, including the Affordable Care Act.

Matthew will conduct a series of Q & A’s on ACA compliance to give us insight on who must comply and who doesn’t. He also consulted with us as we developed two ACA reports that will be released soon.  We aren’t ACA experts and will defer any questions that you have to your own legal advisors, but our reports will help compile and organize relevant data for companies who use our telephone timekeeping system for their remote employees.

Please check back with us soon for our first Q & A installment in which Matthew will address the ACA compliance issues of owning multiple businesses.  You can also subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all new posts.

Effective Alerts for Remote Employees

The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is a medical term that is becoming used in non-medical environments.  It means applying the smallest dose possible to achieve the desired result; and anything beyond that is wasteful.  If a cup of water will extinguish a tiny fire it’s overkill, and a waste of resources, to dump a five gallon bucket of water on the flame.  MED is relevant in the remote employee telephone timekeeping world as well.

One of the most valuable tools to help manage remote employees is email or text alerts sent to supervisors.  Companies can set up two types of alerts:

  1. All check-in and check-out alerts. These alerts are sent every time an employee clocks in or out.
  2. Late or no-show alerts.   These alerts are based on schedules and are ONLY sent when an employee is a no-show.

There is an effective way to handle alerts.  It’s the MED of alert management. 

All check-in/out alerts are beneficial when monitoring new or “problem” employees.  A supervisor receives the alert and then calls the employee on his cell phone, “I see that you just checked in.  Is everything going ok?”  The employee now knows that eyes are on him.    But if these alerts are applied to all employees they can become overwhelming, even a nuisance.  A company with 20 employees that work 2 jobs every night would trigger 80 alerts each night.  Make it 40 alerts if you don’t set the check-out alerts.  That many alerts will eventually become ineffective, not to mention unnecessarily disruptive.  The last thing you want is a supervisor turning off all alerts.    And why do you need these alerts for Susie?  She’s been a solid, faithful employee for 6 years.

On the other hand, create job schedules with late alerts to receive alerts only when employees are a no-show.  These are the alerts that really mean something.  They indicate that action must be taken to get the job covered. These alerts are the Minimum Effective Dose and their effectiveness must be preserved by limiting unnecessary alerts. If all check-in/out alerts are used for every employee, then these very important late alerts will get lost in a sea of texts or emails.

Any alert received should be actionable.  A strategically used check-in/out alert means that the supervisor will randomly follow up with the new or problem employee until the issue is resolved; after which the alert should be stopped.  A no-show alert gets a supervisor’s attention so he can get the job covered.  And yes, set late alerts for Susie’s schedule too.

Don’t pour a bucket of water on the problem when a wisely employed cup will do.  Go for the Minimum Effective Dose.  Using alerts effectively will help cure the headaches of managing remote workers.

 

The Chronotek Mobile App Is Here!

If you haven’t tried Mobile Chronotek, it’s time to put your best employee management device in your pocket.  Step away from your office, take a walk, but stay connected to your small business.  Supervisors use Chronotek Mobile to see who’s clocked in, who’s late, who’s a no-show in the past 12 hours, who’s approaching 40 hours for the week and more.   And now the free Mobile app is available.  Search for Chronotek Mobile.   Our Mobile website users now have options!

The app is also a dynamic tool for your employees. They can use it to easily clock in, check their live schedules and view their time cards.    Read more  about the freedom that the app (or mobile site) can provide.  Mobile Chronotek has something for everyone; and it will just get better!

Enhance your remote employee management experience with our web and telephone timekeeping solution.  Go to your App Store and download Mobile Chronotek today. Then enjoy a walk. You deserve it!

 

Chronotek Timekeeping Midyear Review

It has been a busy year for us in the world of telephone timekeeping. As Ferris said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

We want to pause for a moment at the midyear point and look back at what we have been doing at Chronotek this year. This is more for the benefit of our customers who are so busy that they may have missed a few things.

  1. Budget Planning. We unveiled a new budget planning tool to help keep your job contracts on track. It is powerful. It is simple. It’s unbreakable, so give it a shot. We wrote several blog articles about it. Take a look at our Budget Series.
  2. Calendar based Job Scheduler. We released a new calendar based job scheduling module. With Schedule Manager, you can create schedules with many recurrence options and receive late/no-show alerts.  It also shows you an employee’s weekly hours across all jobs so that you don’t schedule her for overtime. You can view and schedule by employee or job. Read about Smart Scheduling.
  3. Prohibit Unauthorized Phones. We made it possible for you to mark phones as unauthorized which will prohibit your remote employees from using them to clock in or out. The call attempt is logged for you to see. Unauthorized News.
  4. Employee Notes. We added an employee Notes tab. Make customized labels and track notes on employee call-outs, raises, bonuses, termination reasons, etc.
  5. Job Notes. We added a Job Notes tab. Supervisors can log notes about work performed, facility size and details, issues incurred, alarm codes, etc. Managers can leave notes for supervisors to review.
  6. Enhanced location features. We are licensed with Google Maps to offer enhanced location features. When adding job sites enter the address and see the location populate on the map. We are in the early stages of these exciting new capabilities, particularly with a new travel/mileage feature that will be released soon, so stay tuned.
  7. Smartphone App. We are in the final stages of developing our smartphone app for iPhone and Android and registering with the app stores. The App version will be very similar to our existing mobile site which we hope that you are utilizing. Read 8 reasons why you should be using it to monitor your off-site workers.

It has been said that 7 is the number of completion, but we promise you that we are not finished. Simplifying the lives of our customers is our highest priority and as long as we continue to discover ways to make this happen, our hands and minds will be busy.

Don’t miss anything. Be sure to stop and look around once in a while.

Budgets 103: Control with Integrated Scheduling

We believe that budgets are the target and that schedules are the plan to hit the target.

An airplane has a landing destination, but there is a control in place, called the pilot, that brings the plane in.  She will make adjustments along the way in speed and altitude to keep the aircraft on course.

Schedules are your control to ensure that your budgets land on target.

In this budget session we want to offer 3 reasons why integrated scheduling  gives you the edge in budget planning.

  1. Life happens. You started with a budget plan, but then employees started working the plan. Things got a little off course.  Chronotek plots each budget progress on the Budget Dashboard. The cautionary yellow and red colors on our charts advise you when actual hours are coming in too low or high suggesting scheduling changes.   Control the destiny by changing the schedule.  Use the integrated Scheduler button on the budget screen to access Schedule Manager and quickly make these changes. This will protect your budgets throughout the intervals.
  2. 1000 foot view.  Chronotek gives you the airplane window shot of each job incorporating the actuals, and schedules with the budget.  As employee actual hours compile against the budget, and the future schedules get calculated in, Chronotek predicts where the budget will land at each interval along the way through to the end of the term.  See where adjustments need to be made and quickly make them with the Integrated Schedule option.
  3. Empower your supervisors. They may not have access to the budget screens but they can see the budget numbers and interval variances for each job on the Schedule Manager screen. This equips them to make necessary scheduling changes along the way.

Your profitability on each job is too important to leave to chance. Seize the power of predictive technology by creating a budget plan with integrated schedules and control every budget.

Pilot your budget to a smooth landing.

NEW** Stay on Budget Using Predictive Technology

We have all come to the end of the month with a sick realization that there’s more month left than money.

If you bid on jobs based on annual or seasonal labor hours, your small business might have a similar situation.  If each month there is more calendar left than budget hours, you can find yourself over budget, compounding your losses each month.  If too many of the hours on the job were overtime, the issue is exacerbated as your labor dollars explode by 50%.  Or for businesses that get paid based on weekly  budgeted hours, and employees work less than the budget, not only are you  leaving money on the table, the quality of the work could be subpar.   Either situation could leave your business struggling to survive.

Some well-intentioned business owners may use elaborate spreadsheets to track labor hours, but that is a tedious, time consuming and highly imperfect method.  Spreadsheet data is not real-time, interactive nor predictive.  Have you been looking for help?

This is where a telephone timekeeping system does more than capture accurate time for payroll. Our new Budget Planning tool and Schedule Manager analyze actual hours along with future schedules to help monitor your budgets in real-time.  Through interactive charts and easy-to-follow color-coded graphs, you will know each day if your budget is on track or not.

Make better decisions when the Predictive Budget tool systematically and automatically suggests schedule changes to correct your course.  The scheduling data becomes even more dynamic.  As you schedule employees, their actual and scheduled hours for the week are in plain view so that you don’t schedule them for overtime.

Budget monitoring.  Suggestive scheduling.  Overtime management.

It is Predictive Technology that gives you the power to control your own future, not be stunned by it.

This is truly life changing.  It’s dream saving.  And it’s simple.

Budget Planning coming May 1.

*Coming Soon* Chronotek Gives You Power to Predict the Future

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

The survival of your small business depends upon you understanding and using the past to help predict and control the future. It’s the power of predictive technology and it’s now at your fingertips.

Our telephone timekeeping system for your remote employees has been enhanced with two integrated innovative tools, Schedule Manager and Budget Planning.  Easily create a job budget for any interval of time based on last year’s actual hours or the contracted hours, and then simply schedule out the hours. As your employees punch in and out of these jobs, we crunch the numbers to advise you if the budget is on target or systematically suggest scheduling changes to correct your course. This automatic calculation of actual hours and future schedules against the budget gives you “future vision” to see where actual hours could trend if not managed.

It’s the power to protect your profits.

The Budget Planning tool can also be utilized without making schedules. Create a budget for any interval of time and the system will mark actual hours in real time against the budget to track any variance. Manage with confidence.

It’s the power of simple.

The future is here…coming May 1st.

Take the Time to Do It Right

paperboxThis picture says more than a 1000 words about small business practices. Don’t worry. We will keep it shorter than that in this post.

But notice where the newspaper is…2 and 1/2 feet below the paper box. On the ground. In fact, every house in this neighborhood has a paper box, yet every newspaper was delivered to the ground. The paperboy was more concerned with being expedient rather than excellent.

Expediency in business is not always a good thing. In the matter of the newspaper, several problems could have resulted. A dog could take off with the papers chewing a mess in his wake. Or rain could ruin the paper. Would advertisers in the paper be happy to know that their ads are in danger of never being seen? Or minimally, an entire neighborhood street littered with papers is not attractive and not necessary.

Take the time to do it right. That’s what the poor example of the paperboy teaches us.

We appreciate feedback from our customers about our telephone timekeeping system. We know that as users they have insight that we may not have, especially industry specific needs. Many of the ideas get passed along to our brilliant software development team to ponder the possibilities. We often move forward, but we take our time.

Then before we release a feature or enhancement across the board, we will beta test with a small sample size to tweak and work out the bugs. We can’t get in a hurry. Integrity of our system is of the highest importance because our customers depend on us. The last thing our customers need is a new shiny feature that’s riddled with bugs and complicates, not simplifies their lives.

In the past few years we have released major new enhancements or features, but only after much work and testing. Our QuickBooks Interface is a remarkably powerful tool that saves valuable time processing payroll. Our improved mobile site now allows employees to view their schedules and time cards as well as clock in and out via the web. GPS technology can track the location of employee’s punches. The roll out of these features was slow and methodical. We worked very hard to break them ourselves before releasing them to our customers.

We are about to roll out an improved version of our scheduling tool.  It will replace the current Shift Schedule ‘Beta feature’ that just a few clients have been testing for us.  We have heard from the users of our new Job Scheduling tool that it is just what they wanted.  We know the multi-job schedule view is also very valuable and it can still be seen as such from the Daily Schedule screen; and of course Schedule Viewer is for that 1000 foot view.  We are always working to get it right!

We want to improve the lives of small business owners by offering them a proven way to control labor costs and increase customer satisfaction. Every new feature is produced with that one goal in mind. We will never race to release something new just to keep up with the competition if in the end it may cause more problems than it solves. We choose excellence over expediency.

Now, this is a much better example to follow.

Smart Scheduling Working For You ** New

If you are a current Chronotek user, you’re going to greatly appreciate our new calendar-based Smart Scheduling by the job. It’s the coolest thing since, you know, “sliced bread.”  If you’re still on the fence and haven’t made the wise decision to use technology to capture accurate time for payroll then this might be just the right time.  This new Smart Scheduling tool is one more way we can save you money and simplify your life.

 We provide the advantage with real-time integration.  With calendar-based Job Scheduling, you can view job schedules by day, week, bi-weekly, and monthly.  The powerful advantage is that we house the employee’s LIVE time cards.  As you add an employee to a schedule, you can see that employee’s scheduled and accrued hours in real time so that you don’t inadvertently schedule her for overtime.

We do the math.  At the top of each view (daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly) you can see how many total hours have been scheduled and actual hours accrued for your job, across all employees.  One quick look lets you know if the scheduled vs. actual is off-kilter. Time is money!  Your profits can be wasted if your employees are spending too much time at each site.  And on the flip side, too little time spent at each site can lead to poor quality, resulting in unhappy customers- a deadly poison to your profits.

 We broadcast the changes LIVE.  All new schedules or revisions are LIVE and are pushed out to our mobile site for supervisors and employees to view.  Read more about the power of our newly enhanced mobile site in our Great 8 blog post.

We provide flexibility.  As before, you can create late alerts to notify you by email or text of no-shows.  Various recurrent patterns (i.e. every other week) can be scheduled for jobs that repeat intermittently.

Why is it smart?  This first iteration of ‘smart’ takes scheduling to a new level when the integrated powerful Budget Planning tool (coming soon)  is also used.  This dynamic tool allows you to create budgets with calendar-based intervals.  The three elements of time (actual, scheduled, and budgeted) exponentiates the management information available, putting power in the hands of many management levels.  Budget Planning will let you know if you are on or off target for your seasonal, monthly, annual or “you decide the term” budget.

But more on that later.  First enjoy Smart Scheduling and see how it will change your life. We know it will.

 

New Web Clock-ins can be used by Hearing Impaired

Chronotek Mobile Clock-inWe now offer web clock-ins via smartphone and computer for your employees! While this feature can be a great asset to any company, it is uniquely beneficial for your hearing impaired employees.

We constantly seek to respond to the feedback and needs of our customers and this is one our most exciting enhancements. Web clock-ins can be done by an employee or by a supervisor who can clock-in a list of employees at one time.  As an added benefit, location tracking is recorded from smart phones and Web browsers with location services.

If your company would like to try this new feature, please let us know.   We will add it to your account and send you information on how to get started. (Chronotek pricing may differ if this method is solely used.)

Would You Trade a Quarter if I Gave You a Dollar?

If someone offered to trade you a dollar for a quarter, would you accept the trade? You would probably back up a truck to haul away your good fortune. For businesses using hand-written time cards to track their employees’ time, Chronotek has such a deal.  Our industry leading telephone timekeeping system, with over 15 years of proven excellence, can save these businesses between 2-6% on their largest capital outlay, payroll (savings averages according to the American Payroll Association).

Times are tight and you may think that you can’t afford to implement a telephone timekeeping system. Our clients have shifted that thinking – and they are getting ahead of their competition!  Our system is not a cost; it is an investment – with benefits.  We don’t pay you to use Chronotek, but it seems that way.  The return on investment is only part of the savings. When you manage your employees more effectively you give better service to your customer.  Chronotek provides a good return on your investment and a comprehensive employee management tool.

The following chart illustrates how Chronotek saves people money by capturing accurate time…  no padding on Chronotek time cards.   We estimated 20 employees working a 6 hour, 5 day work week, with 2 clock in/outs a day.  Employees would make 870 calls a month costing $129, with a possible savings of $707 a month (4% of payroll less cost of system).

Check out the pricing calculator for your estimated savings.

An investment with benefits…  Save time by not having to collect and process manual time cards…  Run payroll reports with accurate time cards…  Receive alerts when employees do not show for jobs…  Prevent buddy punching with Random Voice Verification…  Send voice messages your employees must listen to.

Put another way, approximately every $1.25 invested in Chronotek could yield a return of $7.  Can you afford to wait any longer?   Save money, work smarter and stay ahead of your competition by implementing proven technology.  Get your truck and we will load up your savings!

Can Chronotek Automatically Deduct Lunch Breaks?

One of the questions we get fairly often is whether or not Chronotek can be set up to automatically deduct hours for employee lunch breaks.  We know that many company policies require employees to take a 30 or 60 minute unpaid lunch break, and that these hours are often subtracted from total time worked on a daily basis.  Although this is a common and entirely acceptable practice, we have decided not to have Chronotek do this deduction automatically in order to protect our clients from potential mistakes and costly litigation.

The reason for this concern? There is some controversy surrounding automatic lunch break deductions.  The most recent example is a $40 Million Lawsuit Settled By Wal-Mart for this very practice.  The lawsuit covered the payment of back wages for employees who had lunch breaks deducted from their hours worked without being notified. In most cases the workers were not even taking a break at all, but regardless it is required that employees be notified anytime their hours are being adjusted.

Chronotek does offer a full set of features for managing hours worked, and exporting data to payroll programs like ADP and Paychex.  We simply avoid allowing automatic lunchtime deductions in order to better protect our clients from litigation like that faced by Wal-Mart.

Questions or comments on this issue? Feel free to ask and discuss in the comments section.

What Features Does Chronotek Provide For Large Companies?

Here at the Chronoblog we have spent a lot of time talking about how our system scales perfectly for small businesses.  We always feel that one of the best things our product helps customers accomplish is to keep fixed costs low, by providing a system that grows as your company grows- there are no big leaps in cost or barriers to expansion.

With this focus on our ability to fit the growth needs of our customers, sometimes its easy to miss some of the excellent features we provide for large customers from the moment you register.  In fact, some of our happiest customers are large, multi state companies who first joined Chronotek because of the wide range of customization options we offer.  Lets review a few of these “big picture” features:

Cross-Country Timekeeping Made Easy: Chronotek makes it easy to manage clock-ins across multiple time zones.  The web interface makes it easy to assign different jobs to particular time zones, and our Licensed Caller-ID ensures that employees clock in for those jobs at the correct locations.  It has never been easier to manage your timekeeping needs- from coast to coast.

Easy User/Role Administration: Chronotek provides simple tools to manage access for various users.  Large companies who need to allow various managers to access the Chronotek account can easily do so.  At the same time, it is easy to place limits on what these additional users can view and change.  Many companies use these tools to allow regional managers access and control over their areas, while still maintaining a central monitoring account to easily keep tabs on the entire company.  For more information on setting up these features, our Support team will be happy to assist you.

Integration With Other Business Tools: We recognize that today’s businesses often employ a variety of software tools to automate their payroll processes.  Thats why Chronotek is an industry leader in our ability to integrate with other tools.  We integrate with ADP, Paychex, Compupay, and support automated FTP exports as well. We are always adding support for new products- if your payroll tool isn’t listed, talk to our Support team!

Scalable Pricing Options: Perhaps our most compelling opportunity for larger customers is our excellent scaled pricing system.  Chronotek helps large companies save even more money on their timekeeping expenses by giving lower per-call prices for higher volume accounts.  Our Pricing Calculator makes it easy to see how much you can save.

These are just the beginning of the rich features we offer for our large customers.  As always, our excellent support staff is ready to assist you with any questions you may have- call, email, or simply comment on this post for more information.

New “Any Employee” Schedule

Today we are thrilled to announce a new feature that has been at the top of our “wish list” for some time now.  Many customers had asked us about how best to handle jobs where they didn’t care what employee clocked in, just as long as somebody did.  For many of our customers who manage many different locations, simply ensuring that at least one employee had arrived at a jobsite was critical information.  One example of this type of job might be a pool management company that needs to be sure someone has shown up to open a neighborhood pool for the day, or a security firm that needs to be sure a specific location is covered by a certain time.

We started rolling this feature out on Tuesday, and already we are thrilled with the response from our customers, and the innovative ways they are planning to use it.  Our programming team put in lots of hard work perfecting how this new type of schedule would work with our alert system, so that supervisors can receive up to the minute information regarding which job sites are covered.  Our team also designed the schedules to interface perfectly with our Mobile Chronotek system, allowing supervisors to view this information from any web enabled mobile device.

All in all we are very proud to be able to offer this new feature to our customers.  Our support staff created an excellent email tutorial on using “Any Employee” schedules, and current Chronotek customers should check their inboxes for this information.  As always, any questions or feedback may be left in the comments section below- we’d love to hear how you plan to use this new feature!

Chronotek on Cells – Introducing Mobile Chronotek!

We are bringing Chronotek to any web-enabled mobile device!  Your Chronotek Supervisors can log into the mobile version of Chronotek and see employees’ time live.  The best news is… we offer this service at no extra charge.

We hope that Chronotek can put you in front of your competition with all the industry leading features that help make your job easier.  And like all of our features, Mobile Chronotek is very easy to use.  The Chronotek Supervisors simply use the same login credentials for the Chronotek Version 2 (Beta) interface on the Mobile version. This version does not have editing capabilities, so you do not have to worry about your Supervisors changing files.

We hope this feature makes your job easier!

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