All businesses watch their costs and periodically make adjustments to eliminate costs they do not need. There are all sorts of forward looking ways to save money, such as having insurance and being creative with compensation. Here are some ideas for your organization.

Stop paying for telephone or video conferencing

If you are incurring any expenses for phone conferencing or video conferencing they you need to change who you are working with for these services.

A great resource is FreeConferenceCall.com which provides free conference calling and video presentations. Recordings are free and can be downloaded and up to 1000 telephone participants are allowed at the free level. You can purchase their first tier of service to remove the branded FCC.com call welcome message.

Use free software

There are so many free software packages available now. Everything from Antivirus software (AVG, Avast, or Avira) to project management tools (JIRA) to task tracking (Trello.com)

Whatever it is that you are paying for should be reviewed from time to time to determine if there is a free version available that will meet your needs.

Save electricity

There are so many ways to reduce your utility expenses. These days many electric companies provide free energy audits for your office that will help identify ways you can reduce your costs.

Some common recommendations are:

  • Convert lighting to LEDs, which often are priced at a level that pays off within 2 years
  • Add thermostats that support a weekly schedule to your heaters and air conditioners so they only kick in when staff are present
  • Install energy efficient blinds on windows facing the sun to reduce cooling costs

Reduce printing

Many organizations still store a lot of paper. You can significantly reduce your paper, toner, printer, and staff expenses by switching to digital document storage. It sounds scary but it just means that you “print PDFs” of most documents or scan paper to PDF and then store the file instead of the paper. These days it is ideal to store these documents with Google, Box, Dropbox, or another cloud storage provider so you can get to your documents everywhere and staff can put files in the right place no matter where they are.

Reduce employment expenses

Salaries are typically the largest expense of any organization. There are many ways to reduce or control the growth of these expenses. Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t assume your staff members want a raise, they may want more vacation days which don’t have a direct expense
  • Offer an incentive to opt-out of benefits that you offer employees, such as health insurance, since some employees will have duplicate benefits via their spouse’s employer
  • Use contractors instead of employees for specialized skills that you don’t need consistently every week
  • Offer low-paying or unpaid internships to college students

Reduce meeting expenses

Meetings of your staff are often quite expensive. Everything from transportation expenses, to communication expenses, to the time people spend in the meeting build in to a big number.

Some ways to reduce meeting expenses are:

  • Hold video conferences using Skype, Google Hangouts, or other internet-based meeting platform instead of requiring everyone to come to the office
  • Make sure meetings have an agenda and desired outcomes ahead of time so that the staff time isn’t wasted in trying to figure out what decisions need to be made or simply giving updates that aren’t needed

Consider telecommuting

You may not need as large of an office space as you currently have. If employees are allowed to telecommute you can reduce the number of desks needed, or eliminate the office all together.

If you still need some flexible meeting space you can consider signing up for an office-sharing space where you schedule meeting rooms or offices just when you need them. Regus is a company that comes to mind that offers this capability in most significantly sized cities.

Renegotiate with vendors

You probably have a lot of vendors supply products for sale, raw materials, supplies, and services. Don’t be shy to ask them if you can get a better price or if not, if they can give become a donor to your organization. If they identify with your cause and purpose you may be surprised how good the prices can get.

Competitively bid significant purchases

Whenever you make a significant purchase (i.e. vehicles, trailers, major equipment, office space, furniture) be sure to find multiple companies with comparable products and ask for a quote on your needs. This opens up a couple great benefits:

  1. Many companies can give you better-than-retail prices when you ask them for a quote
  2. You may find comparable products that are significantly cheaper than the brand or from the retailer you first found
  3. If this is a policy you can trust that your staff is taking a look around at price and comparables before incurring a significant expense.

Find free furniture

If you’re not picky you will be able to fill your office with free or nearly-free furniture. This is rather easy to do using sites such as craigslist. You can get all sorts of other things there too…

Open unpaid internship positions

Instead of looking for contractors and employees with basic skills, look for college students seeking internships. You’ll be amazed how a college student can free up your employees after an initial training period. They can also give you great ideas for your website, social media, and technology setup.

Find a group purchasing organization

Group Purchasing Organizations are membership companies that make bulk-pricing agreements with manufacturers. You generally pay a membership fee and in return get special pricing on products the organization has a negotiated rate on.

Reimburse board members for travel (and have them donate the money to you)

When board members travel to board meetings they often cover the expenses themselves.

The drawback to the board member in this case is that they had to pay taxes on the income they received and then used to pay for the travel.

The drawback to the organization is that you’re missing an opportunity to increase your donations and show that your board members are actively engaged in supporting your organization. These are both important in fundraising and in seeking additional board members.

Become a travel agent

Travel agents enjoy discounted travel costs. If your organization has any significant travel expenses, having an agent on staff can be a big money saver. That one agent on staff can arrange the travel for the whole organization and board members at travel agent rates rather than at retail rates.

The biggest savings are generally available on hotels but flights, meeting space, and activities all have discount possibilities.

What to do now

If you would like help with any of the technology aspects of your organization from your website, to software evaluations, to purchasing computers, you can reach out to AssetLab for help.