10 money-saving ideas to help your practice through tough timesArticle added by Brett Anderson on October 21, 2011
Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson

Hudson, WI

Joined: July 21, 2011

My Company

St. Croix Advisors

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Just in case you need a reminder about the value of a nickel, we’ve compiled a checklist of 10 money-saving ideas that could add up to a lot more than a couple dimes for your business.

News about the state of the economy continues to seep into every magazine, news program and article lately. From hurricanes and other natural disasters to the U.S. credit rating downgrade, one can’t help but wonder, what does all this mean? How does this affect my business?

As Yogi Berra intoned, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

Therefore, as a business owner, your challenge lies in making sure those nickels add up. Finding ways to cut costs while still providing the overall value that your business is known for, all while retaining key employees, is a serious undertaking.

Many seasoned entrepreneurs can easily rattle off their company’s cost saving strategies; however, those measures were usually last evaluated two to three years ago and could easily be outdated. The often overlooked small cost cutting measures can add up to big savings at the end of the year.

Just in case you need a reminder about the value of a nickel, we’ve compiled a checklist of 10 money-saving ideas that could add up to a lot more than a couple dimes for your business.

1. Bank fees – Evaluate all of your bank accounts periodically to ensure bank fees are in check and competitive for your area on all loans and checking accounts. If you’re in need of capital, some banks are still open for business and looking to lend money. These banks are generally very competitive on fees and rates.

2. Insurance costs – From workers’ compensation to E&O coverage, professional liability to all of your business' P&C insurance needs, it pays to annually review coverage and rates. Premiums have come down and coverage has improved across most major carriers in their efforts to remain competitive. Just recently, I’ve seen decreases of over 20 percent on premiums with better coverage options for some of my business clients.

3. Retirement accounts/401(k) plans – Once the plan is enacted, it is rarely reviewed by the business. You should make it a habit to ask your provider for a full fee disclosure to know what you’re really paying for and to ensure you’re getting the plan you need.

4. Technology – From cell phones to computers to phone service, your business is probably quite wired. Make sure that you ask your cell phone provider for any contract savings that are available to business groups. Look into participating with another business or an association to realize group buying savings on technology purchases.
5. Professional fees – As a professional financial advisor who specifically works with business owners and their families, I understand the unique relationship between the business owner, his/her financial advisor, CPA and business attorney. They’re more like family. We’re not advising that you simply pack up and head for a cheaper alternative, as there’s value in that relationship. (Unless of course, you’re dissatisfied). However, evaluating their competitors’ fees never hurts.

6. Payroll services and IT outsourcing – Perhaps you have a person who handles payroll or someone who helps with IT for your company, or perhaps you have an entire team within your organization dedicated to these roles. However, many business owners find dramatic savings in evaluating their staffing needs in these areas. Contract employees and dedicated companies who provide these specific services for your company may be a good fit for your business. Alleviating training costs as well as the cost of a full-time employee can translate into big savings.

7. Utilities and sanitation – Utilities and sanitation costs can spiral into black holes if a business isn’t careful. Work with your utility company and water/sewage provider on ways your business can save resources (translation: money). Energy saving audits can be quite valuable, and can even result in tax savings if suggestions are implemented. Additionally, look for the best value for your needs with local sanitation companies. If there are several options available, make sure you regularly send the contract out for bid.

8. Benefits – Employers struggle under double digit increases every year in medical insurance costs. New strategies in defined contribution plans are a big buzz word in employee benefits lately. Not only do these strategies generally save the employer plenty, but they are also more attractive to your employees because they tailor to your employees’ unique needs. Contact your benefits representative to learn more and determine if this strategy is an option for your business.

9. Taxes – Pretty much the only upside to declining property values is potentially declining property taxes. If you own your business facility, make sure that you are paying the correct property tax amount for the true valuation. It may be worth your while to contact your local property tax office and inquire about your particular situation.

10. Marketing – Not all of your marketing efforts have to cost big money. With the new and widespread acceptability of social media, reaching your customers where they are has never been easier. Just make sure to do it right. Have a plan, have a strategy and be authentic about engaging your customers socially.

Additionally, most businesses benefit far more from the creation of heroes instead of simply trying to sell something. If you have clients who love your product, love who you are and love what you do, why wouldn’t you want to share their story with the world?

If you do any traditional marketing, look for opportunities to double up. Can you send out two direct mail pieces in one envelope? Our previous mailing, a letter, included one of our periodic fliers as well. One envelope, one stamp. Are you in a related, but non-competing industry as the neighboring business? Great. Look to put your collective heads together and work on a joint promotion, share mailing lists and more.

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