Holiday bonuses are great…did you get one or give some this past year? We all have likely received them at one time or another – it could be a nice gift card, extra check in the mail or a special award or gift given at the annual holiday party. They make us feel good because they provide that little extra that we may not have been expecting.
As you settle into 2020, it may be time to evaluate some of those forgotten areas of your business – you may give yourself a little bonus in the process.
I work with a diverse group of clients from across the country, and every business is different. Some run extremely tight, lean ships and watch every penny; however, believe it or not, we often uncover areas that have simply been overlooked and become an avenue to capture savings. Other clients are so busy that they tell me they have not thought about certain aspects of their business in years – usually because it is not the “squeaky wheel” or at the top of the list of fires to put out.
These are often goldmines of opportunity to recapture money that is going out the door unnecessarily. Regardless of which type of business you run, I urge you to push pause and get some help from a qualified outside professional that will look in all the places you may think are in order – or even more commonly, those daunting areas that you avoid on purpose.
Where do you look? Here are some of those those forgotten nooks and crannies within your organization to investigate:
General Business Administration
Do you or your employees have subscriptions to things you never or very rarely use – but they are set to automatically renew annually? Evaluate them before you pay the bill this year.
When I audited my expenses this year, I found hundreds of dollars being spent on things I was no longer using – a LinkedIn subscription, a few domain names, a few other memberships that I was no longer using to the fullest extent, or seeing the return on my investment. That is a few hundred dollars I can allocate somewhere else.
Taking a good hard look at the P&L every year is something my clients expect of me, and year after year we find additional areas to save. Here are a few examples:
How much you are charging: When was the last time you did a competitive analysis in your market on what you charge for equipment, monitoring, service etc.? Are there easy ways that you can capture a little bit more from each customer that will make a meaningful impact to your bottom line?
Time and time again, clients tell me that they have not raised their prices in years – or worse, ever. If you have been in business for just five years, you have already seen the cost of labor, fuel, and materials all go up – which means your margins are being reduced! If you have been in business longer than five years, it is even worse.
When you look at the value you are bringing to your customers, it is easy to justify a price adjustment. Have you looked at service plans as another revenue generating machine? There are many ways to offer more services and charge a fair price. If you have called a plumber or HVAC tech on a Friday night or weekend, you know that they understand their value and have no qualms charging for it!
How much are you being charged? When was the last time you worked with a vendor to ensure you were receiving the best-possible pricing at your current volume levels? If your business has been growing and you have been buying more from vendors, you now have higher bargaining power – leverage it!
I help clients find some pretty quick wins in this regard all the time. Clients say their equipment pricing has not been updated since they started out, or their central station pricing is still the same – the same goes for things like auto insurance and vehicle leasing. All these vendors usually have tiered pricing, and it is very rare to meet a vendor in one of these areas who is going to automatically give you volume discounts without being prompted.
I learned from a previous client the importance of a quality quarterly vendor review meeting. Every three months, you should review the amount of business you are doing with each of your vendors. Are you truly partners both focused on your growth and success? You should be.
When was the last time you evaluated your website? Is all the information on your site up to date? Have you had some exciting customer wins with that you should be celebrating? Was your company featured in a local news report that you should be linking to or highlighting? Are you paying for any plugins or services for the site that are no longer needed? Are there updates needed to the platforms, credentials, copyrights etc., that need to be updated to ensure your site is secure, optimized and running as smoothly as possible?
Consumers and business owners no longer have the time or patience to wait for a page to load or videos to play. Make sure your customers’ and your potential customers’ are satisfied with every interaction with your business – including the online experience.
In the same area, are you fully leveraging social media? Social media is here to stay and ever-changing, and if you are not active on social media, you are not leveraging the easiest and often free marketing tool at your fingertips.
Whether you are a large multi-regional company or a traditional small business, social media is the great equalizer. Every employee – from salesperson to installer to service rep to telephone support person to company owner – should be celebrating the company on social media. When I work with clients, one of the first things we do is implement a social media campaign and policy – get your customers to start talking about you, liking and sharing your page. The yellow pages and ad words are long gone in 2020.
How much are you spending on employee benefits and perks? Are they working or could you offer something even more compelling to reduce your attrition and recruiting costs?
When I speak with clients or potential ones, one question I always ask is about their greatest challenge, and retaining great employees is always at the top of the list or close to it. How do you compete with the guy down the street? It used to be money, but in today’s competitive market, that is changing.
Yes, wage is still very high on the list, but what should not surprise you is that in this current market, employees are more concerned with recognition, growth opportunity, and a general feeling of being a part of something bigger. Are you tapping into this cultural and generational trend? An annual review of what perks work and what perks don’t is a must in today’s climate. If you need help with this, just ask your employees!
Robert Few is the Managing Partner of The Connection Xchange (TCX), where he works with top security and integration companies as well as MSOs, ISPs and other non-traditional companies looking to enter the connected home and security markets. Over more than 25 years in the industry, he successfully launched and managed the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) Mentorship Program for several years. Contact him for help in getting a mentorship program started: (201) 838-0091, email [email protected] or visit www.securityinfowatch.com/21111763 to request more info.