Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Few Painless Ways To Cut Costs

Have you ever walked down the street and noticed a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk? If you did, I bet you picked it up. Maybe you looked around to see if someone had just dropped it, but if it was free and clear, you picked it up. It's free money. Who wouldn't pick it up? Apparently a lot of people.

One of the most painless ways to cut expenses is to cut the cost of money. Given current interest rates, this is a great time to call your banker to renegotiate your building mortgage interest rates.

If you rent and there are commercial vacancies in your area, see if you can get a break on lease rates. If the landlord isn't willing to work with you, check into the possibility of new space elsewhere, at more competitive rates, once your lease is up.

Due to impending legislation on credit card interest rates, many card issuers are raising rates dramatically because they may not be able to down the road. If you have an unpaid balance, check into lowering your rate by transferring it to a new card or rolling it into other debt.

If you pay expenses by check today, consider paying bills with credit cards that have a cash back or airline mileage provision. If your supply house doesn't take credit cards, consider switching to another that does.

Since the credit card gives you a 30-day float, make sure you pay vendors within 10-days to take advantage of discounts.

Make sure you're utilizing frequent purchaser programs from office supply stores. Every few months, we receive a gift card from Office Depot based on the previous months' purchases. It's not a huge amount, but it adds up and we earn it simply by remembering a phone number when we make a purchase.

Some retailers offer corporate discounts for the asking. Barnes & Noble will gladly sell you a Reader's Advantage card for $25, but the also offer a corporate card for free that gives you 15% off book purchases. Recently, I replaced my laptop battery at Batteries Plus. Because I told them I was replacing it as a business purchase, I got a small discount.

If you're eligible for buying programs like the Service Roundtable's Roundtable Rewards program, be sure to enroll and take advantage of the savings.

Another area to save is merchant services. Many business owners pay far to much in rates and the myriad of small fees. A different merchant services vendor can save thousands.

Ask small business owners if they're doing these things and most will say they are. I suspect, however, that most are not. I'm basing this on how well contractors utilize the Service Roundtable's merchant services program. Thousands should be using it, but are not. Recently we were approached by another merchant services vendor about the possibility of supplanting the current vendor. Here's the note the rep sent to Lee Rosenberg...

I have good news for you, but bad news for me - Unfortunately, you are currently getting the best deal we've seen in a long time. You are getting all pass through plus 10 basis points. Look in the Discount % column where it says .10%. Then, we looked at all the interchange breakdowns on the 2nd page and all of the interchange categories are correct and you are getting your business cards at Level II which is rare. Cleanest and cheapest statement we've seen in a while. Best we could do is match what you are getting and if what you have now is working, then it would not make sense to switch.

Contractors using the Service Roundtable's program literally save thousands vis-a-vis their old program. Every dollar falls straight to the bottom line.

Why in the world wouldn't a contractor jump at the chance to painlessly save money? Why would anyone walk past a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk?

If you figure it out, let me know. If you're a Service Roundtable member and want to save painlessly through Roundtable Rewards or the merchant services program, contact Janet Thomasson.

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