Traveling this weekend for family fun allowed me to try many different restrooms and rest stops along my adventures.  Two places, one a rest stop and the other a restaurant, had the super hand dryers that dry your hands in seconds.  Other rest stops had only paper, some only slow-blow driers and some had both. In the ladies restroom, the slow-blower often leads to lots of toilet tissue around as many women don’t take the time to wait for the dryer and just grab tissue to dry often enhancing the mess.

When getting back into the car, I mentioned that every place should have the super dryers and my travel companion reminded me that “they cost money” and I thought how could the added cost of fast dryers be a cost saving?    Of course my LEAN thinking kicked in and wondered if cleaning up after paper messes is less costly than the super dryer investment and I’ll let someone else do the study.  I know that the super dryers and towels get you out faster and for me time outside a highway rest stop is far more fun. Let’s agree, paper towels, toilet tissue, fast dryers, slow dryers and the back of your trousers all get the the job done, but which ones cause the user to actually smile?

As a business owner, what items are worth the extra money.  Here are a few that will pay for themselves over time:

  1. Comfortable Office Chairs.  If you or a staff member will be sitting for more than 20 minutes a day, a comfortable, well designed chair is a must.
  2. Computer Security.  Security is a two pronged situation, keeping hackers out and recovering form crashes as I can guarantee you that all hard drives will crash, we just don’t know when.  Having a backup system is as important as the software you purchase and use.  Good software will be secure software.
  3. The Company’s Online Presence.  This is 2013 – you need to have a website.  Often I hear people say “but I have a facebook page”.  That isn’t the same.  Being in business without a website is akin to not having a business card.  Understand what SEO or search engine optimization is and what you need to do to have it.
  4. A Break Area.  Since happiness is contagious, having a place where employees can grab a cup of coffee, sit and relax away from their desk keeps them on-site and positive.  There is a reason Google hires chefs at all their locations and provides free meals anytime of day.  They want happy, feed employees dreaming of the next billion dollar idea at their location.
  5. Energy Efficient Appliances.  If all the savings on light bulbs, equipment, appliances were added up, very shortly, the extra cost savings would be seen.  The  price tag of the light bulb that I put in a closet in my home 20 years ago was $15.  If it had been an incandescent bulb, I would have been through multiples of bulbs and that doesn’t include the electricity.

We always want to be careful with our business’s balance sheet, but picking where we will splurge can in the long term save us money, increase productivity, ensure employee satisfaction and maybe keep a customer in the shop longer instead of in the restroom drying their hands.