Stephen Dracup, COO at Chess, reviews the three key areas every small business should consider to reduce their costs, including:
Before joining Chess, I ran a small business with less than 20 employees. I know that for SMBs keeping costs under control and preserving cash is the number one focus area.
In this article, I run through the top 3 areas I think we should consider when reducing our costs and preserving our cash.
53% of people are likely to consider transitioning to hybrid in the year ahead.
Travel & Offices
Resist large scale returns to the office or visiting customers and suppliers to avoid getting sucked back into pre-pandemic habits - especially as rising fuel prices will drive up costs of commuting and expenses. We need a policy and clear communication to make sure our people understand what kind of travel we will support.
Offices are inflexible and occupancy levels remain low. It's hard to reduce your costs if you're on a long term lease. Many of us have also experienced price rises from landlords over the last two years, and energy prices are on the way up. So if you can, get your people to continue working from home and use more flexible options for providing spaces to meet your people and your customers.
At Chess, we have reduced our offices from 6 to 1 and set up a range of small local hubs around where our people live. For more ad hoc meetings or customer interactions, we have partnered with NearU, who provide easy access to pay as you go space when we need it.
"Our reporting tools report an improvement in business efficiency of around 50%. In terms of costs, we are saving between 25% and 30% per calendar month, principally through Chess’ negotiation of our international call rates."
Paul Finch, IT Manager, Armstrong Craven
Hiring new people is expensive, especially at the moment, and new people take time to get up to speed and aren’t as productive as they could be. It makes sense to hang on to the good people you already have. A poll of 1,000 UK workers conducted by EY in 2021 found that four in five wanted flexibility where they worked, and 47 per cent went as far as to say they would consider changing their jobs if flexible working wasn't an option. If you add the pressure being caused by the Great Resignation it makes sense to take this seriously. Allowing for home working also opens up your recruitment footprint and can reduce the cost of wages.
Flexibility is not just about where you work. It is also about when you work. Allowing people to work when they want to is a great way to retain people. It will also open you up to a more diverse recruitment pool that may not want or be able to work 9-5 but have real value they can add to your business.
The performance of low-cost connectivity is rising annually. You need to make sure you give your people the bandwidth they need to work well from anywhere. Don't forget to look at mobile technology for those who still need to travel.
Cloud services such as Cloud Voice, Microsoft 365, Azure and Microsoft Teams are optimised to perform well with a dispersed workforce. Their cost model is inherently flexible with monthly billing and the ability to add and remove licences regularly.
It's important to get devices that can cope with real-time communications and suit the person's needs. However, that can create a challenge with cash. Review your device strategy and move to leasing or residual finance - you can preserve your cash while keeping your people performing.
Software is key. A dispersed workforce is going to be harder to manage as you can't easily see what they are doing. It's important to have the right tools to monitor performance. You also need to invest in training to ensure your people get the most out of the software they are using or you will waste money paying for features you don’t use.
A dispersed workforce is going to be more difficult to secure. It's hard to be a generalist in IT these days, skilled people are becoming more expensive, and the costs of getting it wrong are climbing. Some things can't be skimped on so make sure you partner or outsource the areas you have concerns about.
To summarise, you should focus on retaining your people and enabling home or hybrid working as a business. Both are reliant on technology, so ensure you review what you currently use. We can help you on your journey and advise on the best approach for your organisation. Contact our expert team and book your FREE technology consultation today.