South African business have seen its share of economic fluctuations on a local front with slowed growth amidst uncertainty in the face of possible downgrades – and international market turbulence notably with the UK Pound hitting a 30-year low following the 24 June outcome of the UK ‘Brexit’ referendum, culminating in the decision taken by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union.
Despite these shocks to the market, there are silver linings ahead as economists foresee only short-term effects on emerging countries from movements in the market.
In the interim, companies that take a future-focused approach, by investigating alternatives to cut costs and save money, will better prepare themselves to not only succeed in this current economic environment, but also lay the foundations for continued business growth.
Here are three suggestions to cut costs and still grow your business:
1. Reduce your staff complement
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, your wages and salaries will almost always make the biggest (and most painful) dent as far as expenses go.
However, you will need to consider cutting down your manpower if you really want to save money.
Of course, most of your employees are probably performing critical functions so before you start laying off valuable contributors to your workforce, you should at least be asking some important questions:
- Does every single employee fulfil an essential role in my business?
- Is every employee truly helping my business increase turnover?
- Are there three people doing the job that one person can easily handle?
- Are there employees who have the capacity to take on more?
Think of it this way: it’s possible that you have one too many staff members if you’re still running your operations manually off of an Excel spread sheet. You need to be a) cautious to hire, and b) open to ways to cut your salary costs.
Related: How to manage employees when they're on the road
2. Improve the way you sell
Do you have a list of every potential client you have quoted? Do you take the time to follow up with those you’ve quoted?
The sales process doesn’t end once you’ve sent off a quote. A good sales process is a lot more complex than that and requires a lot of planning.
Getting this down is critical, but if it’s done correctly you’re guaranteed to improve your acquisition and retention rates and your all-round sales strategy.
A well-crafted sales strategy looks like this:
- Use an automated system that lists each of your products or services in a menu to compile your estimations. Using a system like this is cost effective and will help you save time. There will be no need to start a new quote from scratch each time.
- Phone each potential client and send through the estimation when they are available to chat to you. Talk them through the quote over the phone rather than just mailing it off with your fingers crossed.
- Be sure to monitor your quote dashboard and make a follow up call two days after you called. Call again a week later.
What’s more is that following up on your website leads within five minutes of getting them, means that you arenine times more likely to convert them into sales, according to recent research.
3. Implement better business systems
As mentioned previously, there are dangers to running your whole business off of an Excel spread sheet (ie: manually).
I have seen people struggle to stay up to date with the ins-and-outs of their business, trying to keep their hand on operations, sales and most importantly, invoicing. Doing things this way is so risky, tedious and not to mention stressful. Think about how many times you have lost important information or deleted critical data.
Manual operations may make you feel like you have control over your business, but all this means is that you will never be able to speed up your processes – not unless you find a faster, streamlined, more automated way to get the job done.
Get yourself an integrated system that allows you to see all of your day-to-day operations on one interface. It’s madness to continue to tear your hair out over something that can be done at the click of a button. The right integrated Business Operating System (BOS) will allow you to convert your quotes into purchase orders and purchase orders into an invoice or statement.
Related: 8 Free resources for setting up business processes and systems
In other words:
- None of your projects or orders will get lost
- As a result there won’t be work that you forget to invoice for
- An integrated dashboard lets you see all your projects from one interface – giving you peace of mind
If you are able to improve your service delivery and turnaround time, you will improve your sales - resulting in happy clients, happy staff and a streamlined business that has room to grow.
During the course of running and growing your business, you will need access to both short-term and long-term cash savings to pay salaries, suppliers, or even to save for a future project or large payment. Standard Bank provides a range of flexible Savings and Investment solutions, with competitive interest rates, to help you meet your business’s savings and investment needs.