This week the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) released a report claiming that nearly £5.6 billion is being wasted in governmental spending, including £10 million on designer furniture for Whitehall employees now working from home, and £50,000 on takeaway that was ferried to the Health Department during lockdown. Other waste includes first class air tickets for Treasury staff and over £400,000 in art for government buildings, much of which has not even been unboxed. This comes at a time when national finances are under huge pressures, and public sector workers are facing pay freezes. Waste however is not solely limited to the public sector, and many businesses now would be wise to think about how they can make savings. Here are 7 areas to consider:
- Cut back on stock: There have been several high-profile cases where industries have been caught out by sudden changes in consumer habits or by the fast-changing COVID-19 restrictions. Pubs have had to host flash sales of perishable beers as lockdown restrictions were reinstated, while clothing retailers have been stuck with hangers full of suits that they are unable to shift as workers sit at home in their pyjamas. When planning for the future, consider whether stock would last if restriction levels were changed, and whether what you are stocking will be in demand in these unusual times.
- Reconsider your office space: It is likely that the working from home revolution is here to stay, with many firms realising the vast majority of their staff can work efficiently, and in some cases, even more productively from home rather than the office. This may be the time for companies to consider downsizing their real estate footprint and searching out smaller offices or those in a cheaper location as facilities will likely be used less frequently.
- Ensure you are paying the lowest rate for your transactions: As cash usage declines due to safety concerns, and e-commerce and card payments soar, it is often overlooked that the rate you are paying to process transactions can add up rapidly. As the volume of transactions mount, differences as low as 0.1% can drastically impact your returns. At UTP we offer some of the lowest rates on the market for e-commerce and card transactions. To ensure that you’re saving as much as you can in these trying times, check out our great range of payment solutions.
- Cut back on software: Regardless of the industry you are in today, there are innumerable apps and software packages from Word processing to HR systems, to inventory management, and CRMs all of which usually entail a licence fee. Take the time to audit which software packages your company uses and consider if there are open source or lower cost alternatives, or even see if you can negotiate a discount with the supplier.
- Ditch the landline, and the paper: Voice Over IP (VoIP) systems have rendered the traditional landline all but obsolete, especially when the costs of calls are stacked against free or business grade software. For call heavy businesses, this is one of the fastest ways to make a saving. Likewise, printing is notoriously expensive, and reducing the usage of paper in a company is great for savings and for the environment as well.
- Reduce the number of meetings: While staying in contact and keeping everyone on the same page is important, especially when more staff are working from home – meetings are an expense, because all the participants are not actioning their assigned roles. Overly frequent meetings can actually hurt the bottom line, and with persistent group chats such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and others on the scene notifying all your employees or contacting certain teams is now more streamlined than ever.
- Move your marketing online: If you are still advertising via newspapers, billboards, printed marketing materials, letters or directories it may well be far past the time you moved your advertising online, either organically through social media channels or through paid online advertising. It is true that the cost of this has increased noticeably in recent years as more companies take their marketing online, but online search engine results are likely the number one way potential customers are going to find out about your product or service.
These are just a few areas to consider, without mentioning other easy savings such as purchasing refurbished office equipment or bulk buying office supplies. 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for businesses, and 2021 is likely to continue to present challenges. It is not only the public sector that could benefit from increased scrutiny of spending, but businesses from global brands to family run stores should now reassess their own spending, and seek to make smart savings.