The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


Leave a comment

13 Ways To Reduce Operating Costs in 2013

Apply these 13 cost-cutting-busters as you prepare your 2013 budget. Applying simple tactics will help your business remain profitable.

“Economy does not lie in sparing money, but in spending it wisely.”

 – Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) English Biologist

  1. Establish a budget– Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs, you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you analyze expenses and income, as well as forecasting financial variances.
  1. Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly and recognize the static processes. Just because “that is the way it’s always been done,” doesn’t mean there is not a more efficient process. Be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  1. Turn off office equipment when not in useSometimes the simplest things can be things we overlook. Turn off all office equipment and lights when not in use. If your equipment is plugged into a power strip, make sure the power strip can be turned off or is on an automatic timer.
  1. Use social media to advertise – Still not on the social media bandwagon? Social media provides you with an avenue for fast-paced, high-results and low-cost marketing.
  1. Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needsReview workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity. Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from a significant increase in productivity.
  1. Invest in more training It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued. There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses. Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, estimated that it costs $3,500.00 to replace one $8.00 per hour employee when all costs — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, et cetera, were considered.
  1. Build strategic alliances In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  1. Outsource Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll, HR or mailings. Outsourcing will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  1.  Go paperless Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and utilizing email for a portion of your communication efforts.
  1.  Capitalize on technology– Take advantage of the cost savings offered through the use of technology. From telecommuting to teleconference services operational costs can be reduced.
  1. Buy in bulk– Negotiate for a better price if you purchase in bulk or agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.
  2. Consider contract and virtual employees– Consider housing some of your staff “in the cloud”.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks or when  in need of specialized skills. The 2011 Employment Review from Elance shows   that despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100% from 2010. For your firm you can expect reduced turnover, employee engagement and fewer workplace complaints.
  1. Find Cheaper Space– Renegotiate better terms on your current lease now that real estate markets in many areas are leaning in the tenants’ favor.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service and the value you provide to your clients, will go a long way toward improving your bottom line.

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached. 

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

 Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone with your branding questions and let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

  

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Reducing Operational Costs Without Sacrificing Client Service

Living in today’s unpredictable business environment, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we cut our operating costs?” 

Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.  Without coming to grips with reality, your firm will face the risk of severe loss.

Steps that you can take, starting today, to ameliorate issues and make your office more effective and efficient:

  • Establish a Budget –  Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you both analyze expenses and income, as well as allows you to forecast financial variances.
  • Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly recognize the static processes because “that is the way it’s always been done”, and be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  • Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needs Review workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity.  Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from significant increases in productivity.
  • Invest in more training –  It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued.  There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses.   Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work.
  •  Build Strategic Alliances – In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/   we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  • Outsource  Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll or mailings.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks.  Outsourcing and utilizing contract employees will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  •  Reduce office expenses –  Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and order supplies in bulk.  Shop around for lower prices and negotiate a better price if you agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.  Reduce utility bills as much as possible, but not at the detriment of team effectiveness.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service, and the value that you provide to your clients, will go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Keep these principles in mind and implement them.  You’ll find that your reduced operating costs will lead you down the path to substantial growth before you realize it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies needed to reduce your operating costs while strengthening your relationships with existing and potential clients.  By being held accountable and responsible for the cost cutting steps above, you will gain control of your expenses and move towards a better bottom line.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-The Performance Evaluation


Leave a comment

Success Systems For Your Firm

We are in our second cycle of blogging about Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, and sincerely hope that you are gaining additional guidance and support for implementing best practices in your firm.

Ironstone focuses on 4 key fundamentals that we refer to as the Fundamental 4.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Each of the 4 key fundamentals have 8 sub-categories that you will use to begin creating your systems.  Visit our website to see each sub-category to start your system processes.  www.IronstoneHQ.com

In series one, “How To Increase Your Effectiveness,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/how-to-increase-your-effectiveness/   we reviewed how you can increase your effectiveness by using reports and tracking systems in your firm.  When you define your standard operating procedures and create multiple tracking and reporting systems the operational effectiveness of your firm is improved.

Clients and prospects come into direct contact with each of your systems.  To provide extraordinary service you must pave the path by implementing and updating each system.

How To Start

Start by developing the external and internal processes for each sub-category of the 4 key fundamentals.  Formally communicate these processes with clients and team members in order to achieve the mission and vision you have established for your firm.

 “Inch-By-Inch It’s A Cinch!”

For each process/system that you create, follow these steps:

Step 1:  Introduction

Your introduction should include the following components:

  • Title – name the process
  • Purpose – describe the intention/objective of the process
  • Scope – identify when and to whom the process applies
  • Roles – list the roles and functions of those involved in the process
  • References – include any reference documents that help form parts of this process.

Step 2:  Steps/Procedures

Begin writing a list of each step needed to perform the process.  Each set of procedures must be followed to accomplish a given task.

Step 3:  Mapping

Describe the event and the amount of time that is required for the process.  Describe the inputs, activities, sequences, and decision points within the process.  Use flowcharting to provide a visual aide to the process.  Within this step Ironstone has found that a checklist of each output will help to validate that the action is completed.

In the Mapping Step you should also include exit criteria.   Describe an output’s state (or condition) required before the process or procedure can be considered “complete”.

Step 4:  Metrics

For most processes that you create, you will want to ensure that the process is measured to determine its contribution to your firm.  Determine what key metrics you will monitor and compile data that will demonstrate the ROI from the process. Be sure to review any areas that should be improved.

Step 5:  Document Control

Create a chart that contains the history of any revisions made to your document.  In the chart, include the date, the revisions that were made with a brief description, and the person who made the revision.

Your systems and processes will provide consistency throughout your practice, and Ironstone can provide you with templates and checklists to help you get started as well as review your current processes to identify the gaps that are most commonly overlooked.  Contact us for assistance in creating proven and effective systems for your firm.
 
 
Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Leadership


Leave a comment

Stabilize Your Operating Costs: Balance The Demands Of Increased Client Service Expectations

Stabilize Your Operating Costs:  Balance The Demands Of Increased Client Service Expectations

Surprisingly many business owners have an unclear view of their operating costs, which is key to achieving sales goals.  What are the ongoing costs for operating your business?

Operating costs are the expenses that you have related to the day-to-day operations at your firm.  Your operating costs will be in one of two categories:

  • Fixed
  • Variable

A fixed cost is, as the name suggests, costs that you will incur regardless of how much business you do.

Some examples of fixed costs are:

  • Salaries
  • Office rent
  • Utility bills
  • Loan payments for any start up costs
  • Banking Services

Variable costs are those which will change according to how much business you do.  Variable costs play a role in projecting your profit and break-even points for your business. Some examples of variable costs are:

  • Sales
  • Sales Commissions
  • Marketing

You will be facing choices that begin to increase your operating costs.  For example, you add a team member to assist in keeping up with the service expectations of your clients, thus, for each salary added, the more clients you must add to cover your costs.

The time you spend with your clients is a service that you don’t want to compromise.  There are other ways that you can re-evaluate your operating costs.  Consider outsourcing items such as;

  • Web-site maintenance
  • Mailings
  • Compliance
  • Marketing Initiatives
  • Printing Services
  • Kill your power
  • Rent instead of buy
  • Stay out of the airport
  • Get rid of your printers

Sure, some of these ideas cannot be cut completely.  Compliance issues will prevent you from ridding of hard copy documents.  Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.

 

Ironstone can assist you in estimating the costs associated with owning and operating your firm and will guide you through re-evaluating projections if appropriate.    We have templates available for your use.

We want to hear from you!  What steps are you taking to reduce your operating costs?  Share your ideas!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development- Capabilities Presentation,  How Do You Share Your Firm’s Story?  Learn How!