Creative Ways to Build a Culture of Savings

Creative Ways to Build a Culture of Savings

By Alice Bredin

Most businesses would like a larger cash reserve to show for their hard work. Selling more products or services might seem like the most obvious path to increasing profits, but cutting down on expenses can often be the quicker, simpler route.

If everyone in your company learns to economize in the right places, your business will keep far more of your hard-earned revenue.

Read these tips for some creative ways to build a culture of savings into your company.

Use free services
Cut your cash outflow dramatically by making “free” your go-to first step for all services. Even big businesses use FreeConferenceCall.com, Skype, Google Hangouts and the like to coordinate meetings. Apps are also a good source of support and many have free versions. For example, SocialOomph.com manages and tracks social media and EasilyDo is a time-saving app with a free version that helps organize emails. Try free apps for a time; if need be, you can eventually upgrade to fee-based versions with more options.

Teach thrift
To spread savings across your company, encourage your team to adopt money-saving habits. Discuss the importance of savings to the bottom line, and model good habits by planning ahead and searching for deals. Make it company policy to pay early to get discounts, grab “early-bird” discounts for a must-attend conference and investigate prepay programs for rental cars. Ask your biggest vendors to give you a cut rate if you send a lot of business their way — and remind your team that discounts are available on almost everything. For example, most people assume shipping rates are fixed, so they don’t negotiate for the best rate. If shipping is a big expense for your company, consider asking your shipper how they can do better. Review your shipping habits to identify your greatest needs; that way, you ensure that you get a good deal on what matters most to you.

Improve your collections process
When payments are slow to come in, time spent chasing payments and resubmitting invoices can quickly add up. Slow collections can also force your business to tap interest-bearing sources of capital to cover expenses while you await payment.

A solid collections program ensures that your company will receive payments quickly and with a minimum of effort and expense. Shore up your process by asking all new customers to specify details of their approved billing procedures. This will include the details required on invoices, preferred form of submission (paper, email or other) and follow-up procedures if a payment is slow. Use an app or program to track billing details. Follow up quickly to resolve issues on any late payment.

Take easy steps to save energy
You are likely aware of basic energy-saving measures, such as turning off lights and shutting down computers at night. But most businesses are missing a lot of other easy opportunities to save on energy costs. For example, did you know that laptops consume 90% less energy than desktop PCs? Take some small steps to access big savings: installing motion detectors to control lighting in frequently unoccupied areas, such as restrooms; installing blinds or solar screen shades; and using reflective window film or awnings on all south-facing windows.

To reap the greatest savings, do an online self-assessment with PG&E's Business Energy Checkup tool. It will compare your energy use to that of similar companies, make customized recommendations on how to lower your costs and give you information on products that offer financial incentives to implement energy savings.

“Hire” an intern
One of the biggest money drains on a small business is hiring an underworked employee. Instead of adding staff, check out internship programs at local colleges. Is there a business student who would swoon for the kind of real-world experience you can offer? Good projects for an intern have a set beginning and end date that maps to the intern’s availability. Interns also thrive when they can build on work already in place, as opposed to creating something from the ground up. For example, if you need to build up your sales database, an intern could search the web for qualified leads based on a framework you already created. Be sure to vary an intern’s tasks for best results.

Track industry-specific savings
Keep in touch with your industry associations to learn about savings on everything from health insurance to hiring. The best associations are always adding new discounts and advice on managing expenses. To find industry-specific advice for saving on energy costs, look at PG&E’s website. It explains how biotech firms can save money with fume hood settings and air delivery systems, for example, or how companies with refrigeration equipment can save by using night covers on display cases. For retailers looking to manage lighting expenses, the site has tips for cutting costs dramatically.

Looking to learn more about how to create a culture of savings? Turn your gaze to your energy usage and explore the benefits of becoming energy efficiency by downloading PG&E's "25 Money-Saving Tips for Businesses" eBook.


Check out this article for simple money-saving tips.
  • SMB Blog Author
    Alice Bredin
    Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert and author. Small business owners worldwide have relied on her books and columns to improve their productivity and success. She is a former small business commentator for public radio's Marketplace program and has helped shape small business policies through her testimony to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Alice is president of Bredin, Inc., a B2B marketing agency that helps the Fortune 500 sell to small and midsize businesses.
 

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