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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. 

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Bring Home The Gold! Employ A Champion Team

Fans are raving over the five teenagers who were the first Americans to earn a gymnastics gold in 16 years.  Being referred to as the “Fab Five” or the “Fierce Five,” the team is being compared to the legendary team from 1996, the “Magnificent Seven.”

How does your team stack up in comparison to the “Fierce Five” or the “Magnificent Seven?”    Are you using outdated policies and procedures in your hiring process?  Get prepared and seize the opportunity to add to your talent pool and find your next superstar!

Building a champion team can be challenging;  however, if you examine the plethora of talent and personality and choose wisely, your team can be the best.  Hiring exceptional talent is critical to the overall success of your firm.  As an employer, you should always focus on bringing the best talent to your firm.

Ironstone has outlined some of the best practices in hiring, on-boarding and human capital retention.

When hiring, ask yourself and determine:

  • Will this person do the job?
  • Do they have the skills needed to perform the job?
  • How well will they fit in with existing team members and culture in the firm?

Be certain not to discount the weight you place on “fitting-in” with other team members and your firm’s culture.   All too often, advisors hire based on the look of a resume and skill set resulting in critical mistakes.  A prospective team member possessing “potential” will only add so much to the depth of your team and may not provide a positive and profitable impact.

“If you don’t know where you are going, then you probably won’t end up there.” ~Forrest Gump~

Don’t settle:

Focus on finding and retaining the best talent for your firm.  Top talent is in high demand; therefore, you should make it a priority to include your hiring strategies as a year-round business process.  In your hiring process include each of the following goals and develop your strategies and tactics for each:

  • Planning
  • Recruiting
  • Selection

 Identify & Keep Your Winning Team:

Utilizing your team and positioning team members with their unique ability will add to increased morale, productivity and profitability.  Consider reviewing current positions and how they are measuring up to the overall success of your firm and identify what skills and personality traits are needed to enhance the caliber of your team.

  • Map your ideal organizational flow chart
  • Identify gaps
  • Assess current positions and roles
  • Determine what is working/what isn’t working

Position Your Firm For Growth:

Don’t underestimate the competition in finding or stealing great employees.  Develop the fundamentals that are needed to attract and retain quality team members.

Consider incorporating the following fundamentals in your hiring plan:

  • Provide job stability.
  • Incorporate challenging work which will instill engaged employees.
  • Provide a culture for team members to grow, flourish and succeed.
  • Create a pay for performance reward system; linking employee performance to the firm’s goals.
  • Focus on developing your current team to be successful.  Provide resources and training that will aide them in reaching and exceeding goals.  Encourage career development.
  • Communicate the firm’s goals with team members.  Team members will have a higher morale and be engaged in their role.
  • Offer enhancements such as flex-time, telecommuting or other services that fit the personality of your team members. 

These enhancements can make a significant difference in employee satisfaction and retention without a mammoth investment.

Download these resources from Ironstone to get started on employing your champion team!

Employee Onboarding Checklist     Hiring Implementation Guide

Your team is a reflection of your business.  This reflection carries throughout the work day and most often in personal lives.  Perception of your team is reality.  Be certain  you have the quality team  your firm and clients deserve;  prepare your firm to employ and attract a gold medal team.

We are curious!!  What does your firm do to attract and retain a gold medal team?  What are your team members favorite fundamentals included in your hiring plan?

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

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

Coming up next, learn about strategic planning with strategic alliances!

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