7 Ways to Reduce Costs

By Ron Pereira Published on February 9th, 2009

If you work for a company that doesn’t need to cut costs you can ignore this article.

If, however, your company needs to reduce costs now more than ever it’s my hope this short article may help you along the way.

And while the ideas I’ll list are not revolutionary or new… chances are your company is not practicing all of them in which case opportunity exists! Let’s get started.

1. Print on both sides of paper

Paper is not cheap… in fact if you work in a big company I bet you spend thousands and thousands on it. So, instead of printing on one side of the paper use both sides. In some cases this isn’t practical… but in many cases it is.

2. Stop printing all your emails in color!

Next, challenge your workforces to stop printing emails as if life will stop if they don’t. And please stop using the color printer! I once visited a plant that controlled this by placing the printer by the managing director’s desk to control this. This may be a bit more command and control for many… but it worked!

3. Re-fill ink cartridges

The ink cartridges in those printers you have are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e. So, instead of ordering new cartridges you may look into getting them re-filled. There are companies dedicated to this and from my experience the quality of their work is beyond excellent.

4. Try video conferencing

Instead of paying hundreds, maybe more, for an airplane ticket to that one day meeting why not utilize video or web conferencing instead? You can share files and collaborate very well these days with applications like Webex.

5. Use Skype

Skype is the bomb and will save your company lots of money on phone bills, especially if you make frequent long distance calls within your company.

6. Close the doors for a week

If things are really bad and it’s looking like layoffs are imminent you may try to close the doors for a week or more while asking employees to use vacation time. Sure this isn’t exactly fun for the employee… but it’s better than the alternative!

7. Frequent Flier Miles

OK, how about this heretical idea. If you fly a lot for your company and they pay for your plane tickets while you rack up the frequent flier miles… how about asking employees to use these miles for future business trips? Perhaps the employee creates a separate frequent flier program for all business trips.

Now, some will say their company “owes” them these miles for being away from their family, etc. Me, I don’t buy this. If you don’t like to travel you are always free to find another job that doesn’t require it.

You know, some place like Burger King where they do it your way!

What do you think?

What do you think of my list? Especially number 7? Can you think of any other ideas for how you can help your company save money in these difficult times?

  1. Jason Stokes

    February 9, 2009 - 11:59 am

    If my company asked me to do #7, I’d tell them to bugger right off.

    There’s also some issues with travel insurance & such while using Frequent Flier Miles – it can be difficult for the company to classify it as a business trip when you’ve used your own miles.

    Plus, even the federal government gives miles to their employees.

    Finally, I do feel like that’s the least tiny benefit I get for spending far too much of my life on the road. I don’t agree with the find a new job perspective- companies also owe something to their employees beyond a salary – ala a reasonable life.

  2. Ron Pereira

    February 9, 2009 - 4:26 pm

    Haven’t we had this conversation before, Jason? 😉

  3. Mark Graban

    February 10, 2009 - 6:33 am

    I used to work, a long time ago, at a place that strictly controlled color printing. It made me feel like a child to not have the right to make a professional decision to print something in color and then it took longer when it DID get approved.

    I’d rather explain to people the costs (hang a sign on the printer showing the cost per page) and let them be professionals. I think that’s how you treat people with respect, rather than making it difficult for them.

    I also disagree with the Frequent Flyer miles thing, but won’t go into that. I’m just glad I don’t get taxed on that as income!

    I agree that Skype is great. Videoconferencing is still pretty untapped, especially with laptops having webcam capability (well, except the “cheaper” ThinkPads my company chose to “save money”).

  4. Dragan Bosnjak

    February 10, 2009 - 6:57 am

    I agree that videoconference is a great thing but I disagree a little with Webex because it is a non-freeware product. And we all know that free products exist which can give us the same capability (ex. Google Talk inside Google Apps…). Maybe the example is oversimplified (the application of video conference in google talk is VERY simple), but I don’t think that users of videoconferences exchange other than their own talking and discussing (hopefully also problem solving…) and then send eventual files and attachments (and ideas) via email to share it with others.
    The only thing that counts in my opinion is that this product is free to use by anyone anywhere.

  5. Aurora

    February 10, 2009 - 8:27 am

    In my company they said me that Skype is not secure……=S

  6. Adam

    February 10, 2009 - 9:19 am

    I have one. Stop sending people to 4 weeks of training in some hotel room where it’s more of a vacation than learning experience. Instead have this same person go to the floor and run an event. My company kills me with how much money we waste on sending people to training, especially since in most cases these same people don’t even finish a project or if they do it takes them 9 months. Sorry if I sound bitter but I sort of am.

  7. Marty Y.

    February 10, 2009 - 2:21 pm

    When I worked for Caterpillar, the policy was that frequent flier miles for company trips were the company’s property. Somehow, they made sure that all those miles went into a central pool. I didn’t question it, it was just the way it was.

    It was kind of cool, when out of the blue one of my business trips would come up free, and then it didn’t hit my department’s budget. I think the Cat travel department would use the miles on those trips that turned out to be the most expensive.

  8. Scott

    February 10, 2009 - 3:45 pm

    We do all that was suggested except the Frequent Flyer miles. It was tried years ago but it is better to let the traveler be flexible to travel on their own time and let them have the miles etc. I spent many a weekend to save the comapny money traveling or coming home late on my own time. Now you want me to give up the one perk that makes it a little tolerable.

  9. Leroy

    February 10, 2009 - 3:59 pm

    I think that what the responses to your article show is how important it is to balance cost saving against employee engagement.

    A far better approach is to beef up the rigour around ROI for capital that your company spends. If you are booking a trip, could you book later in the year and combine reasons for travel? Can you teleconference?, etc.

  10. Adam

    February 10, 2009 - 4:13 pm

    I’ve never followed commens on a blog post before but this one has grabbed my attention. I am really surprised so many people are more worrieed about their flier miles than they are the health and vitality of their company. Come on people. Wake up. We’re in a damn recession here.

  11. Ron Pereira

    February 10, 2009 - 4:42 pm

    Excellent discussion, folks! I figured this would create some passionate dialogue. As always, thanks for the comments.

  12. Daniel S

    February 11, 2009 - 2:38 pm

    It is a little sad that it takes tough economic times for some companies to get serious about cost savings, as lean practitioners many of these tips should have been implemented while the company was riding high on the hog.

    Its always better late than never but waste should be found and eliminated regardless of economic conditions.

    If the company sees compensating employees with frequent flier miles as waste then by all means the company should have means of capturing those frequent flier miles and utilizing them for the benefit of the company. What about when I use my own personal credit card on that trip and I get compensated for my expenses should I turn over the cashback rewards I will be receiving? What about asking employees to voluntarily reduce their 401k contributions to save the company money? There alot of things the company can do, but should they?

  13. Ron Pereira

    February 11, 2009 - 3:43 pm

    Hi Daniel, your point about it taking a crisis to make people think about things like this is a very good one. As they say, the best time to do kaizen is when times are good.

    Thanks for the excellent comments everyone. Keep them coming!

  14. Jon Miller

    February 13, 2009 - 7:21 pm

    Turn things off. Lots of things.

  15. Brian

    March 2, 2009 - 10:51 pm

    I figure that if the health of your company depends on using frequent flier miles, you better get the resume polished up and see what your unemployment insurance benefits are. Have you tried to use those things? It’s impossible to book a ticket when you actually need to travel. Far better to review your overall travel policies – about a year ago I cut one or two days off my trips that were usually week long affairs. I put in an hour or two more in the field office and productivity hasn’t suffered. But I save the cost of hotels and meals.

  16. Matteo Casadio Strozzi

    March 3, 2009 - 5:05 am

    In our experience we’ve pushed so much italian and international companies to follow 1-6 in order to save as much money as possibile.
    The results are simply astonishing: companies do not expect thousands of euros saved in this “simple” and lean way!

  17. Nick

    September 24, 2009 - 9:29 am

    You could always add an application on the server to remove color from emails and web pages as they print.

  18. Ben

    April 13, 2011 - 11:53 pm

    How about not sending Upper Management flying around Business Class? Are they too good to save money and travel Economy like the rest of us? I hate companies that make a big deal about not printing in colour, then blow the equivalent of 1 persons 3 months salary on the Big Bosses flight over from Italy.

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