The Qless Blog

Sep 07

The Cost of a New York Minute? About $2.7 Billion

As the old adage goes: time is money. But how much money? According to an economics feature on Nate Silver’s statistics-driven site fivethirtyeight.com, New Yorkers pay an average of $56 a month to shave a minute off their daily subway commutes. As such, renters in New York City are willing to pay that much more in rent for a one-bedroom apartment that is one minute closer to popular Manhattan business districts. Want to move 10 minutes closer to Wall Street or Times Square? That’s going to cost you $560 per month!

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By linking higher rent to increased convenience, fivethirtyeight was able to distill the actual value of one of those famous New York minutes. $56 per month may seem expensive for a single minute per weekday ($56 per mo. / (20 weekdays/mo. X 2 commutes per workday) = $1.40/min.), but when you consider that the average New Yorker earns $27 per hour, or 45c/min, and that those who live closer to Manhattan, where the value of time was measured, tend to be above-average earners, then every extra minute of travel time becomes very valuable indeed. Time is at a premium in a busy city: time for work, time for family, time for leisure, time to enjoy the city that never sleeps.

New York is an expensive city, and its numbers are certainly not indicative of the rest of the world. But because we here at QLess are in the business of saving people time, we thought we’d do the math and figure out just how much a service like QLess could save the good people of Gotham. We wanted to know the financial value of all of the time we save people based on the per-minute rate that Nate Silver calculated.

I knew the number would be high, but it staggered me: the total amount of time that we’ve saved our 65+ million users to date is worth $2.7 billion to New Yorkers. That’s billion with a “B.”

Take $56 a minute, over 20 business days per month and multiply it by 1,800 years of time saved since QLess began eliminating lines. Then multiply that number by 24 hours a day, times 365 days a year, times 60 minutes in an hour:

$56/20 x 1800 x 365 x 24 x 60 = $2.7 billion

The total time that QLess has saved for people worldwide is worth nearly 3 billion dollars to New Yorkers. This realization isn’t about patting ourselves on the back: it’s about the value of time. $56 a month for two extra daily minutes may seem like a fortune, but it’s not all that unreasonable to a modern professional for whom every minute matters. “Time is money” isn’t just a saying. When you get paid for your time, time very literally equals money.

So if a couple of daily minutes are worth $56/month to New Yorkers, how much do you think your customers would value your business saving them the wait for service? Whether the wait is five minutes or two hours, it’s not hard to see that freeing them from the wait is worth a lot to them. Perhaps that’s the reason QLess locations experience 20% to 110% increase in customer satisfaction. Which itself may be the reason 100% of QLess locations throughout the country stayed QLess this year. What better gift for a business to give its customers than the gift of time?

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