Ways To Cut Monthly Retail Business Costs
If you ask a small retailer what’s one of the most difficult operational tasks needed to be dealt with, staying on budget with monthly expenses will likely be a top contender, especially in these challenging economic times. And chances are your retail business faces the same obstacle every month.
[tweetmeme]It seems every time you turn around, there is another expense, a delay in payment, or some other circumstance that has a negative effect on your cash flow. So instead of putting a little something away for an even rainier day, you find yourself sweating it out until it’s time to flip to the next page of the monthly calendar for a fresh influx of cash.
If you want to make the money and the month line up better, you may need to rethink some of your business assumptions – including what constitutes a must-have expense. Following are a few ideas that can help improve your overall cash flow.
Get Rid of Your Landline – According to CTIA -The Wireless Association, 23 percent of US households are wireless, meaning they no longer have a traditional landline phone. One of the driving forces behind this epidemic is the desire to cut costs, especially in today’s down economy. Now you might think what works for households won’t work for your retail business. But believe it or not, there are simple technologies available today like virtual phone services for small business that will help your shop run more efficiently than it would through the use of a landline. With a virtual phone service, you receive your choice of a toll-free or local phone number that goes to a phone you already have. It allows you to assign extensions to all your employees, whether they are full or part-time. And if you have more than one store, you can have all of your locations linked to the same phone number and callers can easily dial an extension to reach the location they frequent. This makes getting a hold of the stores easy for your customers. They don’t have to memorize several different phone numbers if they wish to call another location to check on an item that might be out of stock at the shop they frequent. In addition to the one-number convenience, virtual phone services come equipped with robust features such as smart call forwarding, enhanced voicemail, call screening and more. Virtual phone services for small business provide all those big-retail business capabilities while costing as little as $10 per month. Compare that to just the base cost of a landline for your retail business and the savings are worth noting. But add in the cost to maintain the lines, taxes and the cost to purchase and maintain telephone equipment and the savings add up quickly.
Take your shop virtual – Leasing retail space is usually one of the highest fixed costs a small retailer has. While it’s nice to have a store front where everyone can gather and work more collegially, if most of your business comes through via online shoppers and phone orders from catalogs as opposed to foot traffic, taking your landlord off the payroll is a good way to cut monthly operating costs. Of course, sometimes you do need a formal office setting – particularly if you need a place to meet with vendors and business partners. Fortunately, you can look into renting a common conference room area from a local business. Even then, a virtual office strategy helps you keep that expense to a minimum, freeing up more cash for other aspects of the business that have more impact on your success. A virtual phone service can help also help your small retail business if you decide to reduce costs by going virtual because it is not location-dependent. In other words, phone extensions can be assigned to anyone anywhere on any phone, so a customer calling the single business phone number can reach their customer service rep or the department they want whether that employee or department no matter the location.
Eliminate specialty or limited-use business tools– Look around your shop, or through the applications on your computer. How many things do you own that have only one function? Can that function be performed by something else? A fax machine is a good example of a piece of equipment that is only capable of performing one task. All it does is send and receive faxes. Yet there it sits, costing you money for a dedicated phone line, paper, toner, even the power to keep it running and ready to receive an incoming fax. You can eliminate almost all of those additional costs that are making your small retail business go over budget by moving to an Internet fax service that allows you to send and receive faxes on your PC or mobile phone. When it comes down to the software you are using to run your retail business, consider a pay-as-you or Web-based service model. With this model you pay a small monthly fee rather than buying the software up-front at a cost that is certain to make you go over your monthly budget. You then gain access to feature-laden applications that have the sophisticated capabilities normally found only in expensive software packages.
Let’s face it. While operating a small retail business is challenging even in good times, it can be particularly difficult when the economy is taking a beating. But with a little creativity and some unconventional thinking, you can help ensure the month runs out before the money does.
Kevin Baker is the Product Marketing Manager for my1voice (www.my1voice.com) the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual phone service for small business. my1voice is a part of a suite of services from Protus, provider of the highest quality Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communication tools for small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations, including the award-winning MyFax, the fastest growing Internet fax service and Campaigner, an email marketing solution with advanced automation features. Kevin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.