Expert Advice: Cost saving tips for business owners

Posted by: Katie King

Mon 23rd May 2022

With energy and food prices soaring, changes to the workforce and with other influences at play, it seems to get harder before it gets easier for small businesses in Alfreton.

We have rounded up a few initiatives designed to get both energy and other core costs under control. Some may be obvious reminders and others may be bottom-line transformers that you can start implementing today…

Involve your customers

If you’re undertaking energy or cost saving initiatives, involve your customers. Give them an opportunity to contribute to your green efforts by including them in it.

Ask if they prefer to use their own bags, of they prefer email receipts, ask them to switch off lights or be mindful of food waste. Customers mostly appreciate it when a business is actively promoting green initiatives and in fact, there’s an entire market dedicated to eco-friendly retail so start to involve them in this process.

Train and incentivise staff

Don’t expect an email memo to be a sufficient form of communication in getting everybody on board.

Take the time to train all staff members – not just on induction but at all stages of their career journey and from all departments. Show them where the light sources are, how they can contribute to the initiative and what to look out for. Make them an active part of the plight and they will feel more responsible.

You could even go as far as to offer a benefit or small financial incentive if the business achieves its green goals.

Invest in maintenance and upgrades

The structure and age of many buildings in the UK mean that many systems for lighting, heating and water are out of date. Old systems usually lack the energy efficiency of new ones and until now, they haven’t been a priority.
Now that the energy prices are skyrocketing with uncertainty for the future of energy costs, now is a better time than ever to invest. Use a specialist company that protects your existing investment and aims to keep investment costs low.

Monitor waste

One of the key areas you can save money today is with wastage. This is everything from food to packaging, to bottles of water, unnecessary car journeys and more.

Write down a list of all areas of energy usage in the company and see where you can cut back wastage and make savings.

Do an expense audit and renegotiate your contracts

When looking to reduce the overall costs, perhaps an expense audit is required. Going line by line through the costs to see where you can make savings, or reduce unnecessary spending is a good place to start.

Can contracts be renegotiated, or can new and more cost-efficient suppliers be found? Is it time to look at the processes and procedures to find ways of saving costs?

Review your marketing spend

If you’re doing the same marketing activities that you were doing at the beginning of March 2020, it’s highly likely that you need to update your marketing strategy. Not just for cost savings, but to embrace the major changes that have taken place in the market since the pandemic began.

Where are you advertising before and is that where your guests are still hanging out? 1.2 million people a day joined social media during the pandemic. Are you showing up where they are? Are you making it easy for them to buy / book online?

Can you use unbranded items in some areas? For example, does the soap have to have the hotel name on or can a much cheaper generic version of the same product be used?

Cross train and develop staff

The chances are that many of your younger staff have greater ambitions for their careers than what they are currently doing. They seek roles in management, administration, and commercial departments and when given the chance, training and development – they make incredibly loyal senior members of the team.

Instead of always spending the time and money onboarding new team members and putting them through orientation, spend that time and money on external training, courses and skills development for existing staff that want to progress. Tying this arrangement into a contract can be a lot more rewarding than financial incentives and breeds a level of loyalty that’s invaluable to small businesses.

Improve customer service

If you find that you’re often refunding or reducing the rates of your products or services, perhaps it’s a customer service overhaul that’s required.

Unhappy customers are not only complaining, but they are also telling their friends about their experience, and they are potentially sharing negative content online that you’re not even aware of. None of this helps drive custom.

If you’re currently facing this, it’s worth hiring a mystery shopper or do some in depth analysis on your feedback and put a plan in place to elevate each step of the customer journey.

Written by Katie King – a small business marketing consultant based in Derbyshire.

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