Saving money where possible and improving efficiency is important for businesses at all times, but even more so during periods of economic uncertainty. Now’s the time to reduce waste, streamline processes and re-connect with loyal customers.
Here are five practical tips to help you weather the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen your business along the way.
Innovate and simplify
Businesses can improve their efficiency by creating templates and finding services online that can simplify their processes.
“We live in a world of amazing technology that’s affordable, easy to use and a breeze to implement. Now is the time to get on top of innovation in your business,” says Lyn Hawkins, director of Business Women Australia.
Whether you run a cafe or an accounting firm, digital tools can save you time and money on “onboarding” of clients and suppliers, payment processes and marketing. Think about what needs streamlining in your business and dedicate some time to researching the tools that are relevant to you and your industry.
Negotiate with suppliers
With a recession looming, suppliers are more open to negotiation. That may mean free postage, a discount for signing up for a longer period or throwing in a bonus product for loyalty.
“Identify your five biggest monthly costs and negotiate better terms with those suppliers,” says Donna Vincent, managing director of Solo Accounts in Perth.
“In this climate, your suppliers will want to see you survive. They’re more likely to support you so you can rebuild and thrive,” she says.
Make sure you’re on the right energy plan
The cost of energy can differ a lot between energy retailers and the plans they offer. The energy use in an office isn’t the same as in a bakery, so it makes sense for these businesses to be on different plans.
“We always ask and encourage people to have a conversation with their energy retailer and make sure they’re on the right plan,” says Duncan Bryce, head of customer relationships and growth at EnergyAustralia.
There are many variables that can affect the amount of money your business pays for electricity and gas, including the time of day the energy is used, in some instances. A plan where rates won’t increase for 12 months makes it easier to budget and plan financially, and some plans may offer a discount on the total bill, says Bryce.
Improve energy efficiency
In addition to being on the right plan, getting an energy assessment of your business can help you pinpoint energy waste and save on expenses. Leaving lights on, the photocopier in “energy saver” mode and computers in standby uses electricity and costs money over the long term.
“Typically 10 to 15 per cent of energy can be saved by being more efficient in terms of turning off lights, turning off screens and things you aren’t using at a point in time,” says Bryce.
Updating appliances may seem like a big outlay but can often result in a lower energy bill. Switching over to LED lights and encouraging an energy-saving culture, such as turning devices off at the wall when leaving can also reduce power bills.
Take advantage of free marketing
There’s never been a better time to network. With face-to-face meetings still off the agenda for many, networking events are being hosted on Zoom or similar platforms and the majority are at no cost. Check sites such as Meetup or Eventbrite for networking events in your area and industry.
Business consultant Trevor Weeding, owner of Development Pathways in Sydney, says: “Loyal customers will want to return. People will be looking for you, so make it easy for them to find you.”
This article has been created in partnership with EnergyAustralia.
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