We explore some of the ways in which dealers can cut costs for themselves and create loyalty by cutting costs for customers
Attempting to cut costs in any business is an ongoing challenge. During lean times it can save a company; when we’re in the black it can ensure there is a potentially substantial amount of pocket money to play with, invest or squirrel away.
There are plenty of ways that those of us in the office products industry can save money – we’re all watching the sector change and shift, and the manner in which it is doing so often creates savings, whether intentionally or organically. There isn’t a customer in the world who would decline the opportunity of being offered innovative ways of saving money, so a dealer in the know – one who can advise on the subject and supply cash-saving products – is likely to gain the trust and loyalty of that customer.
Here we have gathered together a few ways in which customers can be encouraged to explore new avenues in order to cut costs, as well as some tips and tricks specific to dealers themselves on how they, too, can become more efficient.
We talk a great deal about going greener in Dealer Support, and it is, undeniably, a method of making various savings – cash being one of them. This could mean making cleaner energy choices – such as the use of solar panels (which require more of an investment but will pay off in the long-term) and eco-friendly lighting – all the way through to implementing better recycling practices, something which can create rewards.
A major way of going green in any office environment is to have better, more economical printing practices. Printers are increasingly becoming more efficient to run in terms of energy usage; they use less ink and toner and also encourage users to use less paper. Certain printers now require users to swipe a pass over them in order to approve the print and the (albeit minimal) effort required to do this often discourages people from printing unnecessary documents, thus saving paper and money. Paper prices are creeping up, but it’s an easy cost to cut.
As well as investing in lower-energy printers and other desktop technology customers can be advised to change their lighting. As previously mentioned, solar panels and low-energy bulbs can help with this; however, a motion-sensor system which switches lights off automatically when that lighting is not required can save even more money. Many offices are fully-lit for the entire day and this is often unnecessary; a system which slowly dims the lighting in areas where no movement is detected can save huge amounts of money in efficiently-used energy.
Digital document management
Efficient document management cuts costs primarily by freeing up innumerable working hours. Exploring the benefits of better document management with a customer will speak for itself; having software which scans, organises and archives paper documents not only saves the time that would otherwise be spent archiving by hand, but will also continue to save working hours in the future when those documents need to be retrieved. On top of this, digitalisation of documents can work towards ensuring that a business complies with the newly-implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); failure to adhere to this can lead to enormous fines. Investing in digitalisation is a win-win situation.
Earlier in the year we explored the reasons why most dealers offer free, next-day delivery and, while it is clear that this system is something that’s expected by customers, it is inefficient for the dealer so it may be worth reviewing this delivery system. Fear of losing business may be what is, primarily, fuelling the desire to follow the cost-free, next-day pattern, but a reasonable customer – especially a long-standing, loyal one – is likely to understand and accept that this service is not free for the dealer. Think about implementing a small delivery cost, a recurring subscription price or having one specific day per week that you use for delivering. Any combination of these is likely to save thousands in fuel and van maintenance.
As well as investing in lower-energy printers and other desktop technology, customers can be advised to change their lighting. As previously mentioned, solar panels and low-energy bulbs can help with this, but a motion-sensor system which switches lights off automatically when that lighting is not required can save even more money. Many offices are fully lit for the entire day and it is often unnecessary; a system which slowly dims the lighting in areas where no movement is detected can save huge amounts of money in efficiently-used energy.
Efficient use of space
For both dealers and customers, this can be a hot topic. For customers, better use of space could mean replacing outdated technology with smaller, more efficient units, removing traditional desks and adding sit-stand ones, or it could translate to the use of that space for break-out areas. While the sit-stand desks and break-out areas may not immediately seem like cost-cutting moves, think about the impact they’re likely to have on staff – any investment in their well-being allows them to work better and more comfortably for longer, lessens the number of sick days they’re likely to take and, ultimately, will contribute to them staying at their company longer.
For dealers, efficient use of space can mean all of these things and, additionally, storage for the products they sell or outsourced storage for customers. In this issue of Dealer Support Gordon Profit from Citrus discusses the fact that he uses the additional space in his own office to provide on-site storage solutions for his customers; the money this brings in contributes heartily to the building’s rental costs. Something to consider for dealers working in spacious offices.
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