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Six ways to cut costs in your business

Saving money is important for any business. Here we’ll show you how to cut costs without cutting productivity.

It’s all too easy for a business to cut costs where it hurts and to damage itself in the process. That could be in multiple forms: perhaps you stop investing in the areas that are necessary in order for your business to grow; maybe you damage employee morale.

This article aims to stop this happening. Here, to supplement six light-hearted videos on cutting costs, we explain how to cut costs but keep your staff happy.

Travel

One of the big, hidden costs of travel is expenses – so how do you control them without destroying morale? You could just set a budget for each person, but American energy software company Opower thought a little different: it gave each employee a budget, but this time challenged them to beat it.

Whilst it did publish a weekly league table to add that gaming element, the real reward for employees was to keep 40% of their savings for themselves. Rather than pay out there and then, travelling staff would gain points: If they beat their budget by $100, say, they earned 400 points. This would equal a $40 Amazon gift card when “cashed out”.

See our video above for three more money-saving tips for travelling employees.

Printing

We don’t tend to talk about the biggest cost associated with printing, but it boils down to one thing: people. If you can get the message across (and feel free to use our video, above) about how much printing really costs, and the waste it can generate, then you’ll see your monthly printing bill plummet.

How to do this? The key thing is to raise awareness, either by talking about it in regular team meetings or a one-off special that focuses on cutting costs. Then instil just some of the ways they can make a difference. Using mono instead of colour. Switching to double-sided printing by default. Previewing the print job before you press print.

As we say in the video above, you should seriously consider enforcing some of these rules in print management software too. By making people enter a PIN each time they collect their job, for instance, you not only protect privacy but also stop all those wasted pages being printed and forgotten about.

Productivity

Remember when you’d walk into your office and there would be 120 flyers and letters sitting on your desk waiting to be opened? No? Well, there’s a reason for this: when sending a message cost money, people were much more sparing in their communications.

The curse of email destroyed all this, and it’s now estimated that 28% of employees’ time is spent on email. The question comes, how do you cut it down? We cover some methods in the video above, but there are a number of options.

Forbidding internal emails is one, but that can seem Draconian. By way of a starter, consider having a no-internal-email day on Friday, say, where any emails that could have been answered via a phone call or real conversation are penalised – in some inventive way we’ll let you figure out.

You can also set up a ban on the curse of cc’ed emails, which are often just a back-covering exercise. Why waste five employees’ time on email when only one person needs to read it?

Meetings

We cover the benefits of stand-up meetings above – and they can be a fantastic way to keep things short – which ties in with one of the biggest wasted resources around. We’re talking, of course, about time.

Many meetings are allowed to drift on, because the person in charge either enjoys them (a sign, perhaps, that they don’t have enough to do) or they haven’t worked out exactly what they want from the meeting in the first place.

It’s nigh-on impossible to solve this at a stroke, but by setting up a system where the default meeting time is, say, 30 minutes, and anyone trying to book a meeting room must submit an agenda if they want it to last longer, will not only cut out pointless meetings but also shorten the ones that do happen.

Office costs

How much of your office is really used? Chances are that you don’t know, and with rents rocketing in many parts of the country, now is an excellent time to bring in an expert to find out. They can then do a time-and-motion study to see how many desks are being used at any one time, and talk to your staff to find out how they like to work.

That latter point shouldn’t be forgotten. Whilst cutting costs is great for the immediate bottom line, you should also be trying to boost your staff’s happiness – that could mean offering flexible working rather than a fixed desk in an office that’s an hour or more from their home.

Communication

We cover three easy ways to reduce communication costs in the video above, but why not bite the bullet and take a fresh look at your business’s phone system? Your aim should be to not only save money but improve communication within your team.

It’s potentially a big project, but you can do it in small steps. If you’re already on Office 365, take a look at Skype for Business (what used to be Lync). It can even let you know if people are able to take your call thanks to so-called presence information.

If you haven’t yet made the switch to VoIP, this is probably an excellent time to do so – especially if your remote workforce is growing. Your ISP may well already offer this as an extra service, or take a look at third-party offerings such as 3CX.

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