Category Archives: Cash Flow

Three Ways to Lower Costs and Boost Profits by Going Greener

Every business wants to increase revenue and cut expenses. How about if you do both of those things, and help the planet at the same time?

How? By going greener in your business.

Yes, I know—you’ve heard for years: “I’d love to go green but it’s too expensive and difficult!” Maybe you’ve even said this.

The good news is that’s nonsense. Done the right way, going greener can be easy, cheap, and profitable.

Let me say that differently: sure, there are plenty of expensive, difficult ways to green a business. But there are also lots of ways to go greener that you can do quickly and easily, for little or no cost. Since going green is a process and not an absolute, start with the easy, cheap, and profitable things!

Then you can allocate the money you save into new green initiatives that might not have quite so high an ROI.

1. Cut Your Paper Costs by 60 Percent or More—In Two Easy Steps

As your printers and copiers wear out, replace them with the “duplexing” kind, capable of printing both sides of the paper automatically. Set the defaults to double-sided printing, and train your staff to keep those settings unless they’re doing something that needs to be single-sided—which, usually, is a very tiny percentage of the paper flow. When I did this, I immediately started saving about 40 percent of my paper costs (and I use recycled paper, which usually does cost more).

And even before that, train your employees to bump up the default screen magnification or font size (using the View: Zoom command in Microsoft Word or most web browsers, and the Settings or Preferences command in e-mail programs) so that even though it takes the same space to print, the screen displays bigger type: comfortable enough to read. I used to print documents that were more than five pages or so, but now I’ll read even 50 pages on the screen, because the big print doesn’t make my eyes tired nearly as fast. Now, I sometimes go many days without even turning on my printer.

2. Plug the Energy Holes

How much energy is leaking right out of your building, or sucked away by “energy vampires”? If you’re like most businesses, you’re losing a lot that you can recapture with two quick, inexpensive methods.

Put your hand next to an empty electrical socket on a wall that borders the outside. If on a cold winter evening or a hot summer day, you feel a temperature difference between the inside and outside air, you’re feeling your hard-earned money slipping through the wall. Air that you’ve paid to heat or cool to the optimum temperature is migrating outside, increasing your complicity in global climate change while running up your energy bill.

You can easily stop this air from flowing out. A tiny investment in foam insulators and outlet protectors will pay for itself very quickly. In the US, where I live, many utility companies will give you the foam insulators for free. Even if you have to buy them at the hardware store, they’re very cheap. It takes under two minutes to unscrew the socket or switchplate cover—remember, you only have to do the ones on outside walls—pop in the foam pad, and screw the cover back on.

Now, for any outside-wall socket that doesn’t have a plug in it, pop in an outlet protector: a little piece of plastic designed to keep baby fingers out of trouble. Hardware stores have them in the baby department.

Finally, caulk any windows that leak air around the edges (use removable rope caulk if these windows are designed to open) and install door sweeps if you’re losing air around exterior doors,

Once you’ve blocked all that air from migrating back and forth, get rid of your “energy vampires”: equipment that stays on all the time, in standby mode, even when switched off—anything that turns on instantly without any warmup is probably guilty of sucking out a surprisingly large amount of power over time. The easiest way to deal with this is to buy multi-outlet power strips that have an on-off switch. Get in the habit of turning the power strips off until you need them, and your printers, copiers, computers, coffee machines, microwave ovens and other devices will stop drinking power all night long. If you train your staff to flip those switches, you’ll be amazed at how much you save.

3. Market to the Green Consumer

The green market is growing at better than 29 percent a year, according to Allen Rubin, director of the National Environmental Hall of Fame.

And as soon as you begin to take some steps toward lowering your carbon footprint and conserving resources, you’re entitled to approach this lucrative market. The more you do to go green, of course, the deeper you can go with messages about sustainability to win new business and higher revenues. But even if you’re just starting with the easy steps above, you can make this a marketing opportunity—NOT by “greenwashing” or pretending to be greener than you are, but by using these tentative steps as a jumping off point to engage your customers and prospects. For example, an in-store or social media campaign that says “this is what we’ve done so far. If you were us, what else would you do to go farther down the green path?

More Easy Green Ideas

If you’re excited about saving more energy and resources, here’s a gift for you: a free copy of my e-book, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life-With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle. Just visit http://painlessgreenbook.com/earthday, and enter the code, “earthday” (without the quote marks).

Want to market green products and services to green AND non-green audiences? Marketing consultant, syndicated columnist, and copywriter Shel Horowitz shows you how to “reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU.” He specializes in green and ethical marketing strategies and materials for businesses and organizations. The primary author of the category bestseller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), Shel writes the monthly column Green And Profitable. His website is http://greenandprofitable.com.

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BizVidya Guide: Reduce your Days Sales Outstandings

accounts-receivables2

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is your company’s average collection period.

The smaller this number, the faster you are in collecting money from clients.

[For the mathematically inclined, a more accurate measure of your Collection Department’s performance is the Percentage of Overdue Amount (monies beyond due date) to Total Due Amount (Total uncollected amount including fresh sales) – also, known as Days Delinquent Sales Outstanding (DDSO). See Advantage of using DDSO to measure the effectiveness of the credit department (http://www.encyclopediaofcredit.com/WebHelp/articles/risk_analysis/art730.htm )].

Depending on the nature of your business (for example, number of transactions, customer profiles, and competition), you may choose from a variety of strategies and tactics to reduce your Accounts Receivables Average.

Tip #1: Re-evaluate your Credit Sales Policy

 

Why are you selling on Credit? Why not Sell ‘Cash’?

Sell ‘Cash’! On Zero Days Credit! Even better, see how you can collect advance before delivering a product or a service.

Yes, you heard it right!

Question your product/service/marketing strategy – why are you selling on credit, at all?

Take a fresh look at your product/service basket and market segments.

Perhaps, you can identify products/geographical regions where customer will willingly/happily pay cash. This could be because your product or service is tightly coupled with (and/or is essential to) the customer’s workflow and you can create an edge over competitors due to stock availability, location, price, etc.

Create a marketing/selling strategy on how you can channel adequate energies and resources on finding and selling in those areas (Location/Features/Price) where customers will easily pay cash.

Tip #2: Create/Modify/Implement a New Credit Policy which helps you plug cash flow leaks

If you do not have a Credit Policy, create it to achieve clarity and consistency in giving credit to your customers.

If you already have a Credit Policy, revamp it to take advantage of changing market conditions.

Once you have an up-to-date Credit Policy, implement it with rigor and discipline. Make someone accountable to track Credit Policy deviations.

Tip #3: Have a New Customer Policy, Customer Retention Policy & Customer Firing Policy

Don’t do business with any and everyone. Do background checks before committing transaction with a new customer. Identify and give higher priority to faster paying customers. Fire your low-value slow paying customers.

Tip #3: Streamline Your Collections Process

 

  • Insist on having your collection follow-up process move with clock work precision.
  • Based on Due Date of Outstanding, schedule the escalation process – Emails, SMS, Calls, Visits and Legal Recourse.
  • Ensure that the monitoring team regular sends New Customer Verification Reports, Credit Policy Deviation Alerts, and alerts on payment variations and disputes.

Tip #4: Update Your Customer Contact Details

 

Over a period of time, customers change their contact persons, phone numbers (including landline), email-ids and even physical locations. Having an updated customer contact database facilitates the collections process and this could be critical in following up on delayed payments and/or taking legal recourse.

Tip #5: Train Your Team to Follow up with rigor and discipline

 

A well trained tele-calling follow-up team knows when to use appropriate tricks of the trade – like calling on odd-hours, when to insist on cheque number, follow-up based on customer’s cash flow cycle, and so on.

Watch this space for more on each (and many more) of the above.