10. Always shop around for the best quotes
Use a ‘three quote’ buying system. This is a priceless way to check that you are buying the best, so apply it to all your procurement needs – and regularly test the incumbent against others so the main provider keeps their prices sharp.
11. Buy in external expertise
You can always buy in expertise in the form of subcontractors, and one example is appropriate here (though it’s also a general cost-saving point: we did this in other areas, notably finance and recruitment). I made a seriously rewarding investment at a time when we had been stretched but I felt the budget could not afford a full-time role in professional buying. I turned to Andrew Botting, ex-Granada Forte Buyer, and he helped review our warehousing services, among other things. I only had to pay him by the day and the return on this investment was significant considering the chunky savings he made. This kind of buying review should be an automatic process for business owners growing into the mid-scale.
12. Keep credit cards to a minimum
Limits on people with company credit cards definitely saved expenses – especially coming on top of a rigorous expenses procedure that I would check from time to time.
13. Offer out your time
Giving time away is a priceless reward if you cannot afford cash. At Pacific Direct, sunshine might mean an early-finish Friday, when we would announce ad hoc early departures for the general team, with management staying behind to man the phones.
14. Short-term leases offer greater flexibility
Short-term leases with easy early break clauses give you plenty of chances to move office.
15. Outsource your IT
Outsourcing IT network support – something we did throughout my time at Pacific Direct – is money well spent. Incidentally, we also used off-the-shelf packages for all our accounts management and reporting software until we got to the size where we still used off-the-shelf packages but with about 15 per cent of customisation, which was the next best ticket. (In the end we invested heavily in software sourced through our Czech division, saving us the expense of buying at UK prices.)
16. Referral sales make growth easy
Deliver on a service promise, fight to retain all your customers and then get those loyal fans to help introduce you to others.
17. Ensure your sales team delivers
Never pay sales people commission on a deal until the money is cleared and in the bank. This should be any company’s standard practice for long-term security.
18. Reward staff
And finally, if your business culture includes the belief that everyone is rewarded out of the same profit pot, and all the savings add up and impact that profit potential, you’ll be amazed at how much more conscientious people are. Get people to treat the business’ money as their own and you have cracked it.
This extract is taken from More balls than most © Lara Morgan, 2011 (published by Infinite Ideas). Lara is founder of Company Shortcuts, www.companyshortcuts.com