A Checklist For Strategic Cost Savings

Constantly scrutinizing and reducing the amount of money expenditures going out the door is a good strategy. Using the following checklist is a start to strategically tackling cost.

Dial up a new telecom system: Everything’s up for grabs: landlines, internet, wireless providers, equipment and service plans. First step, contact a telecom consultant who will analyze your needs with no upfront charges. Instead, they take a percentage (usually 50 percent) of any savings they find.

Quick tip: If you’re not using a modern VoIP-based system for multiple phone and internet connections, you should–you may be able to save up to 50 percent on your equipment costs.

Enforce a no-splurge business-travel policy: The funds that are the travel and entertainment budget is often a black hole of overpriced airline tickets, hotels and meals. Put an end to it by instituting a written policy that requires employees to seek out discounts or less-expensive alternatives. Make folks accountable for their travel budgets.

Move IT to the cloud: Moving software and digital files off your desktop and into a virtual environment accessible through the internet can reduce the need to upgrade equipment and software every couple years. To put the cloud’s efficiency savings in perspective, today’s startups can reduce their IT build-out by a factor of 10 to 1 compared with 10 years ago.

Make overtime a crime: For hourly wage businesses, overtime can kill the bottom line. Yes, seasonality and other factors may require more manpower at times, but in most cases, businesses know when to expect them. Smart planning that expands full-time or part-time staff to soak up the overtime hours with straight-time wages can almost eliminate time-and-a-half pay, with labor savings of 10 to 20 percent.

Use credit to earn vendor discounts: Take advantage of any early-payment discounts offered by your vendors. If they don’t offer them, ask for them. Then tap your credit line to pay your vendors immediately. Here’s why: A 2 percent discount for payment within 10 days equates to a 72 percent APR. At that rate, you’re almost guaranteed to come out ahead by using your credit line. You’ll also likely jump to the head of the line as your vendor’s VIP customer.

Whatever steps you take be sure to write out a plan and assign clear managerial responsibilities and authority to carry out each task. By the time you’re all done with the first round of cost-cutting, you’ll be ready–and more experienced–to do it all over again.

* Abridged from an article by Joe Worth, read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com

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