In Mexico time is fluid and flexible, while in other major economies time is decidedly rigid, linear and costly. Being late is part of our social and, to a lesser degree, business culture, which seems at odds with the meticulous and precise recording of time engaged in by both Aztecs and Mayans. Foreigners often cite our lax appreciation of deadlines, appointments and schedules as one of the most frustrating, and costly, aspects of doing business in Mexico (after, of course, corruption).
Efficiency, whether in service delivery at a 5-star hotel or during the selling of an ocean-front condo, impacts directly on the amount and frequency of profit.
The opportunity cost resulting from a lack of efficiency in the service industry in general and in tourism in particularly, can be the difference between a positive experience and a horrible one…. Unlike product-based businesses, services are most often consumed during a single encounter. Any delay in delivering a service can have a severe impact on the consumer´s perception of service quality and brand loyalty.
Why? Because, unlike a product, a service cannot be back-ordered. Once the moment passes, the opportunity is lost, and that loss has a dollar value.
Most of us do not pay enough attention to the real opportunity cost of a delay. But change the way you measure opportunity and you´ll get a better perspective on how effective, or not, your colleagues and business are and what they “add” or “take away” from your future success.
To help understand the opportunity cost of any type of lost time, assign an economic value to every productive minute or the number of interactions you have – or want to have – with customers during a normal business day. If, for example, your business can generate $200 for every 15 minutes of activity during a normal business day, a 15-minute delay in opening the shop can theoretically result in a $200 sales loss, now multiply that by the number of people you can sell those 15 minutes to during the week, and suddenly, the opportunity cost of lateness becomes alarming.
Let me put it into context… If 2 colleagues arrive 15 minutes late to a business meeting forcing 3 colleagues to wait 15 minutes each for the meeting to begin, the opportunity cost of those 15 minutes is actually equal to 1.5 hours, or 20% of a business day assuming a 7 hour work day (8 minus 1 hour for lunch)…
15 minutes x 2 late arrivals x 3 attendees = 90 min of lost productivity.
Those 90 minutes of wasted meeting time can end you costing you roughly $1200.
Now, let´s extrapolate those 15 minutes to our arrival time at work, and assume that the average worker in Mexico arrives 15 late at least 1 time per week, for whatever reason.
Then consider that there 52, millions of us in the work force in Mexico, working an average of 5 days per week, totaling 13,728,000,000 work days per year. That´s a lot of work. So, if we assume that each of us is, on average, 15 minutes late to work on at least one day per week, this totals about 1.5 days per year each.
Now, take the 1.5 work days each of us loses every year – through no fault of our own, of course – and multiply that by the 52 million of us that make up our country´s workforce, and suddenly we´re looking at a staggering lost opportunity cost of 78,000,000 work days in 1 single year. Don´t believe me? Here´s the math…
15 minutes x 50 weeks =750 minutes / 60 (minutes in an hour) = 12.5 hours = 1.5 days
1.5 days x 52 million = 78 million lost work days
1.5 days working days lost per worker is equivalent to 235,455 people (roughly the population of Puerto Vallarta) not showing up for work at all, for an entire year. Now suddenly those 15 minutes take on a completely new meaning… Suddenly being late is not so innocent.
A commitment to punctuality, timeliness and (meeting) deadlines demands an adherence to efficiency, effectiveness, processes and communication that leads to excellence in customer service and, ultimately, business success.
Anyone that proposes that being a little late on a regular basis is OK is doing themselves and their business/employer/colleagues a disservice. Being OK with chronic lateness (whether in arrival times or meeting deadlines) in the work place is akin to condoning a lack of organizational skills, inefficiency, wastefulness and arguably theft, because ultimately they all lead to the same place: loss of opportunity.
Daniel Gómez is Director & CSO at Mijo! Brands, a leading digital agency with offices in CDMX and Puerto Vallarta. For more information on how to create succesful brand experiences, please contact us.