How to reduce operating costs

As your business grows the cost of running it will increase. While that truth may be inevitable, there are steps you can take to lower the amount of money you pay for everyday expenses such as telecommunications, payment processing, payroll and electricity.

Make this the year your business saves some money. Consider these opportunities to lower operating costs.

Check into association membership discounts

Associations often organize group discounts for their membership. With hundreds or thousands of members, an association can negotiate volume discounts with suppliers to secure rates that are beyond the buying power of individual businesses.

Savings categories include our merchant accounts, telecommunications, banking, health plans, emergency automotive, travel, and shipping.

You could join an association representing your industry, school, profession, geographic region or your interests. Consider joining your local board of trade, or chamber of commerce, to access significant member benefits.

See our list of professional alliances.

Consider outsourcing

Small businesses often outsource their payroll, accounting and distribution (they may be looking to reduce costs or simply have no other choice).

Outsourcing payroll

It’s tempting to try to manage company payroll yourself. But payroll processing has so many moving parts — remitting source deductions on time, calculating your employer contribution, issuing T4s, signing cheques — that can quickly add up to more time than you may think. And, if you make a mistake or file a return late, you run the risk of incurring a financial penalty.

Have a look at how we can help with your tax filing and payments.

There’s also the stress of managing payroll while trying to run your own business. Outsourcing non-essential functions will free up the time you have to spend on revenue-generating activity.

This may be the year to outsource to a payroll solutions supplier. These specialized administrators will handle every aspect of your business payroll while giving you up-to-date reports and anytime access to your payroll information.

Overseas outsourcing

Your business may want to look at strategically hiring staff in foreign countries to complete tasks that your internal staff currently do. The advantages of doing so include:

  • Paying lower wages – less than your internal staff yet relative to the wages of the chosen country.
  • Reallocating funds – money that’s saved on payroll could be used to reinvest in assets, refurbish premises, or research new markets.
  • Improved performance – while your internal staff will have more time to focus on their core roles, overseas staff can be specialists in certain fields at a fraction of the cost. Your business can potentially become more efficient.

Cutting back on expenses

Typical expenses that all businesses need to manage are phone, Internet, power, wages, and general office expenses. Here are some of the ways you can reduce these.

Trim communications costs

Mobile phone and Internet data plans for you and your staff can quickly add up to a lot of money. Thankfully, competition in the telecommunications marketplace is fierce as suppliers are eager to win or keep your business. Often, a telephone call to your supplier to request a review of your account is all it takes to find cost savings.

Reduce your energy usage

Industry experts say that energy costs are one of the biggest business expenses. Anything your business can do to become more eco-friendly may help to reduce costs and improve your bottom line.

Taking measures such as retrofitting lighting, turning off idle machinery, programming thermostats and buying green energy are a few helpful actions to consider. It’s best to conduct an energy audit of your business – contact your hydro supplier to request one.

It’s always a good idea to perform an annual review of your operations to spot opportunities for improved cost savings and efficiencies.

Importing

Is it worth importing your business's raw materials? If you can’t lower the costs of goods that you sell by purchasing from an alternative supplier in your own country, research how much those same goods would cost when bought from overseas.

There are a number of considerations you’ll have to think about before you decide to import. There are added costs associated with importing such as tariffs, customs duties and storage. Exchange rate fluctuations will affect your bottom line, and finding a reliable supplier may not be so easy.

Embrace technology

Your business will have to look to technology to help reduce costs. The world is changing rapidly and keeping up with the newest technological advancements will give you options to lower expenses.

Some strategies you could adopt include:

  • Removing manual processes – first identify where your staff could potentially improve then research methods to decrease paperwork and automate processes.
  • Implementing cloud computing – it can be cheaper to store information, do your accounts, and run a content management system online.
  • Communicate with your staff, suppliers and customers over the Internet at lower cost or even no cost.
  • Allow flexible work hours – depending on your type of business, you may be able to let your staff work when they prefer, and even from home.