~ Vincent Van Gogh
Most important goals in life require discipline, repetitiveness and consistency. A youngster, developing good study skills. A couple, saving enough for that first home. Anyone trying to lose weight or get in shape. By not doing the work, cutting corners or being inconsistent, one finds themselves with a lower grade, not enough to buy that home or weight gain.
Discipline, repetitiveness and consistency are also needed to prevent discrepancies in the Traffic Department. From order entry to broadcast, the “Life of a Spot” journeys to many different areas along the way. Has your organization mapped this journey? Have you looked at each turn in every process to safeguard against potential pitfalls, resulting in lost revenue? Not only lost revenue, but lost inventory as well in the form of makegoods.
Standard operating procedures… Best practices. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as it is written down and followed consistently. Everyone does the task the same way every time, with the goal of achieving uniform results. By creating a structured process, you can prevent major discrepancies from occurring and close the gap on the unavoidable ones.
Know thy Traffic software
It’s important while creating this structured process, to take some time to really learn the software that you use every day. This small upfront investment will have huge time payoffs in the long run. Software developers have been busy in the past couple of years creating new tools and automating processes. Anything that can be automated, should be looked at closely as managing systems is much easier than managing people. At each turn in the process, it needs to be decided if the current way is the safest most efficient way to perform the task or if the software offers an undiscovered better way.
Map it … write it down
It begins at the beginning. Start with following the spot. So, what’s the first thing that happens? The order is input into a Traffic system. Who does it and what check & balance is in place to ensure that it was entered correctly? Does the software offer a functionality to confirm that the order was entered correctly? Does the software offer a way to check-in on the contract from time to time to make sure that all spots are placing where they should?
As you continue to follow the life of the spot, you come across each process … and there are many. How do you ensure that advertisers are receiving adequate time separation? Adequate competitive separation? How does the spot migrate to the Production Department? And how do you confirm that the Production Director actually assigned the correct audio to the correct cart number? What happens when you reconcile the log? Who is in the loop as to what happened the previous day? And what steps are taken to prevent a mis-step from happening again? What about reports? Who pulls which reports and when? Is it consistent? Can it be automated?
Consistency … the hardest part
It’s a process … not an event. It requires practice. Like a muscle, the more you work on developing it and using it, the stronger it will become. The moment you take your eye off the process or begin to cut corners … that’s when something is going to fall through the cracks, resulting in a discrepancy. So again, discipline, repetitiveness and consistency are the most important factors.
As you move along, the process needs to be reviewed from time to time. When a spot misses, it’s important to understand where in the lifecycle the break-down occurred. More importantly is zoning in on that area, and making a change so that the error does not repeat itself. Everyone needs to be on the same page for this to happen. No one needs to place blame, but accountability needs to be present.
For all the bosses out there, here’s an idea I wrote about in my first article about Closing the Gap on Discrepancies. Why wouldn’t you adopt this?
When an organization sets their goal at 98% or 99% or 99.5% discrepancy free, then what they are really saying is, we understand that human error happens and we are comfortable with losing that much revenue.
The work of a Traffic Manager is stressful, never ending and mind numbing. Most often, they are on the low end of the pay scale and are not eligible for commission. Yet, they are responsible for the bottom line. To achieve all the above, it takes a lot of care and nurturing. Mostly, it takes engaged employees. So, if the station bills on average $7 Million dollars a year and the goal is 99%, that’s $70,000 that can be closed in on.
Wouldn’t all parties benefit by offering bonus incentives to close the gap on discrepancies?
.1% of 7 000 000 = 7000 ($1,000 bonus) (station recoups $6,000)
.5% of 7 000 000 = 35,000 ($5,000 bonus) (station recoups $30,000)
1% of 7 000 000 = 70,000 ($10,000 bonus) (station recoups $60,000
Give a little. Get a lot. For salary level, that’s a big bonus. Dangle that carrot and I guarantee the over-all process will improve and strengthen.