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Are You Wasting Time Counting Cash Registers?

Stephanie Cho
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Increase Your Employees’ Productivity by Eliminating the Time-Consuming Task of Counting Money

You probably have a dish washing machine, a laundry machine, or some other appliance that helps you do your chores. What you probably don’t think about every day is just how much time those appliances save you – just how much longer would your day be if you had to do everything by hand?

How annoyed would you be if you had to give up your free time in order to spend more time on chores? Especially, when there are affordable appliances that can virtually eliminate the amount of time you need to spend on most chores.

Although these appliances don’t make you money, you still purchase them because the time they save you each day is well worth their cost. There’s a reason why the classic adage exists: time is money.

If time in your personal life is so valuable that you’re willing to spend money on devices that save you time, why wouldn’t you do the same for your retail business? If you could find a way to reduce the amount of time either you or your employees spent on a task – so that you could focus that time onto tasks that are more productive – why wouldn’t you?

Just How Much Time Are You Wasting Counting Money?

For most retailers, at the very minimum, the following is done twice per shift:

  • Verifying the safe
  • Counting cash register tills
  • Preparing deposits

Since the majority of retailers have more than one shift per day, the average retailer will use about 4 labor hours per day to count money. This number, of course, rapidly increases the more cash registers there are.

Simply counting the cash register tills takes an employee an average of 20 minutes – 20 uninterrupted minutes. When the employee is interrupted, the employee will likely have lost count and need to restart the count, or the resulting count will probably be wrong. All these are real concerns when it comes to “time sink” – an activity that takes a long time, in a wasteful manner. Isn’t finding areas where there is a time sink and reducing/eliminating the time sink a part of every manager’s job?

Because it’s necessary and constant, counting money is easy to overlook when it comes to increasing productivity; but counting cash by hand, in this day and age, is one of the biggest time sinks a business can have.

Assuming the most minimum an employee can be paid – the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour – is the cost per hour to count money, the 4 labor hours per day that the average retailer uses to count money means that it costs $29 per day to count money.

Putting the monetary cost of counting money aside for a moment, consider what your employees could be doing with those 4 hours per day instead: providing better, more engaging customer service; training to take on more responsibilities; coming up with solutions on how to streamline other tasks; etc.

“How can I spend less time in the back office verifying the safe, counting tills, and preparing deposits and spend more time managing the details that really matter?”

If you’re a retailer that is open seven days a week, that means it will cost, on average, $154 per week to count money. In a year, you’ll lose $10,556 on counting money alone; keep in mind this is using the minimum wage to calculate this cost – anytime any employee, such as yourself, is involved in counting the money, the cost begins to increase rather rapidly.

Additionally, there is another thing to keep in mind - this figure doesn’t account for the two other tasks mentioned at the beginning: verifying the safe and preparing the deposits. Considering these tasks are typically reserved for management-level staff, the costs of these activities inherently include an hourly cost approaching double the minimum wage.

Now, taking into account these two tasks, let’s reconsider the cost: say 3 hours (of the 4 hours) is used by employees counting cash register tills and 1 hour (of the 4 hours) is used by management-level staff to verify the safe and prepare the deposits. For the purposes of this example, the federal minimum wage - $7.25 – will be used as employees’ wages and the wage of management-level staff will be a conservative $10 per hour.

So, per day, once management-level wages and tasks are taken into account, the total cost per year is $11,557. The costs used in this total are extremely conservative, meaning that $11,557 is what the average business can expect to at least spend on counting money every year.

What manager wouldn’t want to find a way to save their business $11,557 per year? For just a small fraction of that total cost, you can: you just need to automate your cash counting process using either a scale or a cash counter.

How to Solve Your Cash-Counting Woes: Scales & Cash Counters

A scale is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a device that weighs money. There are many security features that exist on money, one of which being the weight of a bill. Each bill is designed to weigh exactly a certain amount, and there are scales that are sensitive to detect the exact, minute weight of bills. The same concept applies to coins; scales are able to accurately weigh coins as well.

Scales give you the ability to count money six times faster than counting money by hand

Scales in the past needed to be calibrated daily in order to make sure that their weight readings were exact – this is no longer the case, there are scales that do not need to be regularly recalibrated in order to give exact readings. Additionally, scales in the past used to be somewhat expensive, but now, they’re rather low-cost; scales tend to pay for themselves rather quickly.

Besides reducing the amount of time needed to count money, modern scales are equipped to keep records of cash data: the total amount of money, the time and date the money was weighed, etc.

A cash counter is pretty much exactly what it sounds like as well: a device that counts money. Some cash counters are able to detect whether or not a bill is counterfeit, while other cash counters are unable to do so. Just about all cash counters these days are able to count more than one denomination of bill at a time.

Cash counters are able to count up to 1,000 bills per minute – and they don’t even have to all be the same denomination!

Most cash counters are also able to count a precise amount of bills by denomination so bills can conveniently be strapped together in set amounts for easy deposits at the bank. Although cash counters tend to be a bit pricier than scales, cash counters are able to count money much quicker than scales.

Like scales, some cash counters are equipped to keep records of cash data: the total amount of money, the time and date the money was weighted, etc.

In addition, there are some cash counters available that function simultaneously as a safe: once cash is run through the counter to be counted, the cash can also be securely stored within the counter until it can be deposited at the bank.

Not only do scales and cash counters reduce the amount of time spent on counting money, it can also have other beneficial effects for businesses:

  • eliminate employee error or theft
  • significantly reduce the amount of time needed to settle denomination disputes with a customer during a transaction
  • automatically detect counterfeit money (applies to certain cash counters, not scales)
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