Saturday, January 24, 2009

50 Cost Savings Tips to Use NOW!

The Maver Management Group has been working with many companies to help them, not just cut costs, but to get and stay profitable. Here are some of the tips that we have gathered on cost cutting and a few on revenue generation that can be implemented TODAY without jeopardizing the integrity of your programs and services. You may have some of these already in place. Consider the rest of the tips.

Planning = Survival
• Develop a game plan that brings your cost saving activities in line with your overall business plan.
• When an employee leaves, evaluate whether the position is still needed, or whether it can be filled by a part-time person or outsourced completely.
• Conduct an internal business process review and streamline operations.
• Outsource all non-core functions (accounting, information technology
• support, printing/mailing, etc.).
• Get aligned with the processes of your suppliers and your customers to take duplication and waste out of the system.

Cash is King!
• Develop cash flow budgets and invest unused cash.
• Consider leasing versus buying your office equipment.
• Interest rates are at all time lows. If you have the credit refinance any outstanding loans.
• Adjust investment strategy to allow for more interest income in the short term.
• Renegotiate your credit card discount fee at least annually as credit card volume increases.
• Look to other associations and corporate credit cards for discounts on office supplies, equipment, delivery services, etc.
• Delay capital purchases.
• Require multiple bids on all products/ services above a certain threshold.
• Meet with your banker to review your monthly account analysis statement for potential cost savings.

Payables and Receivables
• Don’t undermine the relationships with suppliers or customers, but realize you are not their bank.
• Change payment cycle to twice per month or every two weeks.
• Stretch payments terms and pay no earlier than 30 days out, unless you can save on payment discounts.
• Calculate the average age of receivables outstanding over the past 6 months. Work it down despite the economic pressures on your customers.
• Change your policy to require prepayment for all product purchases and meeting registrations.

Budgeting and Cost Allocating
• Require all program managers and department heads to justify every line annually.
• Revisit budget assumptions quarterly to determine if upcoming projects are still necessary or if they can be postponed.
• Allocate all costs (direct expenses, personnel and overhead) to each major program area. Pull the plug QUICKLY on non-performing programs.

Un-Fix Fixed Costs
• Renegotiate contracts.
• Don’t be afraid to ask existing vendors for help.
• Cut down on hours/usage.
• If you lease your office space and plan to be there long term, consider renegotiating your lease well before the expiration date to lock in a better rate.

• Consider telecommuting to offset the need for additional office space.
• Utilize office/cubicle sharing to save space.
• Consider subletting excess space.

Make use of brokers
• Analyze all telecom costs (local, long distance, internet & conference calling).
• Get a better deal on health, disability, life, property and casualty and D&O through a broker
• Ensure that the broker’s commission is paid by the provider and not you.

Use the Web
• Learn and use social networking to drive business
• Find impactful means of delivering your sales message electronically vs. snail mail.
• Use the web for booking airline tickets and ordering supplies where there is an on line discount.
• Move printed materials to your website (e.g. Annual Report, newsletters, member communications, meeting brochures).
• Utilize e-learning or CD-ROM based learning for staff.
• Use audio/web conferencing versus in-person meeting. Archive for later use (sales to members).

• Ensure that someone in the office is monitoring supplies on a weekly basis.
• Prepare inventory sheets of essential items. Charge programs/departments for supplies used as a direct expense for their area.
• Buy supplies in bulk to get discounts.
• Buy last year’s models.
• Choose quality and replace less frequently.
• Use “store brands” since their quality is usually very good.
• Closely track FedEx, UPS, Airborne and local courier usage.
• Consolidate carriers for volume discounts or use Priority Mail for non-essential items.

Get staff involved!
• Make cost savings everyone’s business! Convince them why they should care!
• At least annually, review the association’s financials with the entire staff.
• Develop a program where staff receives a percentage of the cost savings.

Find “Low-Cost” Experts
• Get expert advice that pays for itself and takes the pressure off you.
• Rely on existing vendors for training and retraining.

Contact us, we can help.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Group Sales Cost Cutting Best Practices – Some Specifics

This is a continuation of the article written with Janice Bays, President of Meeting Management Associates and provides some specific cost savings ideas. This is particularly applicable to smaller companies who do not have a large contingent of full time convention or meeting staff. Although those companies should feel free to keep reading as a refresher.

Exhibit Cost Cutters
1. Plan ahead. - If you make comprehensive plans long before your shows, you will avoid costly rush charges for graphic design, production, show services and freight.
2. Upgrade your existing booth. - If you think an exhibit facelift will provide you with a good-looking, effective result, it could be much less expensive than starting from scratch. Design and build in-house if you have a talented crew. You can do the work in-house and save some hefty design and construction fees. A caution here, if not done to specifications and codes, there could be substantial liability if someone gets hurt with your exhibit on show floor
3. Buy a modular exhibit. - The design costs are not necessarily lower, but the costs for shipping and installing/dismantling these exhibits are considerably less. One company reported saving $10,000 to $20,000 per show in installation fees. Also modular allows for ease in moving to different configurations or upgrading.
4. Buy and recondition a used exhibit. - Exhibit brokers, as well as some exhibit houses, offer a variety of used exhibits. The cost of buying used is typically 20 percent to 50 percent of the cost of building new. Remember to factor in the cost of any alterations the used structure will require to meet your specific needs.
5. Consider renting. - Renting an exhibit saves you the costs of building and warehousing. It may be the ideal choice for one-time or infrequent exhibitors.
6. Go portable. - Lightweight, modular booths can have the look and feel of custom exhibits, while reducing significant operating costs for freight, drayage and storage. In a 10-foot booth space, a portable exhibit is often the best choice. These exhibits are usually inexpensive to buy and ship and they can be set up by almost anyone on your staff, thus eliminating installation and dismantling charges.

Keynote Cost-Cutters
1. Hire local. - Look for a speaker based in the same city as the event. Not only will you avoid the speaker’s additional travel expenses, but many road-weary veterans will jump at the chance for a local gig and just may cut you a deal in the process.
2. Find out if the speaker has something to sell. - Speakers with books or videos to sell may be willing to accept lower fees if allowed to peddle their wares. A simple table and chair outside the meeting room (rather than a mid-speech plug) may suffice. Many motivational speakers make the bulk of their living from selling their products.
3. Share costs with another group. - Check with the hotel or local convention and visitor’s bureau for other meetings scheduled for the same day. You might be able to share a speaker’s cost and services.
4. Consider a politician. - Some speakers do not accept fees, such as public officeholders. If your event is in or around Washington, DC, a member of Congress might speak to your group.
5. Above all, - See the talent in action and check references. Don’t be surprised.

Multimedia Cost Cutters
1. Know the story you want to tell. - As with any other marketing medium, it saves time and money, if you can give producers clear directions from the start. Know the audience you want to reach, and the message(s) you want to deliver.
2. Incorporate as much existing material as possible. - Reuse video footage, photographs, slide presentations, brochures and any other visual elements that are already part of your marketing campaign. You can save thousands of dollars over the cost of creating new materials.
3. Don’t overspend on hardware. - The hardware should be a relatively inexpensive part of any interactive system. The presentation itself should be dazzling, but the workhorse equipment controlling your system doesn’t need to be. Work with a knowledgeable professional to choose only the necessary hardware components.
4. Make your message multipurpose as well as multimedia. - You can still have detail-intensive modules in your presentation, but the overall sales pitch should be broad enough to suit other trade show and marketing needs. For example, you could set up your interactive system in your corporate lobby or use it as a training vehicle for new employees. With this approach, you can amortize the cost over more than one venue.
5. Use the expertise of your professional companies. - Sit down with your AV company and work out the least expensive way to set up. Use LCD panels instead of video projectors. Use as few microphones as possible. This will eliminate labor and the need for sound-mixing equipment. When you expect to have extensive AV requirements, book a conference center, most of which include equipment in the cost.

Travel Cost Cutters
1. Airfare - Analyze the cost savings of airfare requiring a Saturday-night stay. It may not be cheaper than paying for the extra room night plus applicable per diem. Travel during off-peak hours (early morning or late evening). Ask for additional frequent-flyer points from your official air carrier.
2. Ground transportation Shuttle service - Ask hotels whether they provide a complimentary airport-shuttle service and book with those that do. Instead of meet-and-greet services, distribute vouchers for airport shuttles and/or fare for public transport. While negotiating for your hotel or resort, request complimentary limousine service for VIPs. Transport delegates within a four to eight-hour window to cut back on bus transfer costs.
3. Parking - Inquire about reserved and complimentary parking. Ask that your special guests and staff get reserved parking spaces close to the hotel entrance.
4. Meet and Greet - Use the carrier's VIP lounge for the group's meet and greet.
5. Around town - Ask the local taxi company for discount coupons for local shows, restaurants, and sightseeing attractions.

Hotel Cost Cutters
1. Know the value of your business. - Keep a detailed history of all your events. You could be far more important to the hotel or the chain than you realize. This can produce extra discounts. Of course, if you are effectively using a professional outsource management company like Meeting management Associates, they will be able to negotiate better rates, based on their combined larger business levels.
2. Locations - Use local destinations or smaller cities that can offer you more for your money. Most have exceptional attractions and don’t have the overpopulation that causes congestion and costs.
3. Room rates - Research the rack rates, as well as group rates. Call the toll-free line or reservations desk of the property or chain. This way you will know the "worst case" pricing. Always give conservative room blocks. If you block too many rooms, you will end up paying for them.
4. Managing the spending - Communicate your budget information to the convention services manager. His or her role is to work with you. Meet every day with your hotelier to review the master account. This will allow you to catch errors on-site. Always budget at least 10 percent of your expenses as "contingency." This will take care of unforeseen costs such as labor strikes, bad weather, overtime, extra postage and mailings, phone and computer hookups, cancellation insurance, speaker substitutions. Limit authorized signatures, and don't accept charges signed for by unauthorized people.

Food & Beverage Cost Cutters
1. Deal with the chef directly. - In addition to the F&B manager talk to the chef. Challenge him or her to work with your meeting's goals and concept. The chef will know what is in season and what is grown or produced locally, and can be very creative if given the opportunity.
2. Ordering - Order as much as possible "by consumption." Uneaten food and drink can be returned and not charged. This works well with soda and packaged foods, like potato chips. Buy your coffee, tea, and decaf in bulk or by the gallon, if at all possible.
3. Breakfast - Instead of hot breakfast, serve an extended continental breakfast by adding fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereal to the regular offerings. Cut down on portions. Cut danishes and doughnuts in half. Offer mini-muffins, mini-doughnuts, mini-danishes.
4. Lunch and Dinner - Use sit-down meals, which can cut food preparation labor costs as much as 20 percent. Skip the dessert, salad, or soup. Dessert can be served at breaks. Consider box lunches instead of holding a formal, sit-down lunch.
5. Other - Ask which other groups are using the hotel at the same time. You may be able to have the same menu, thereby gaining economies of scale that can be passed on in cost savings to you.

Sales is the engine that drives the revenue and companies are always looking for ways of making that engine more efficient. Group selling offers the huge advantage of being able to address multiple customers through one presentation and still be in a face to face situation to sell each one individually. During an economic downturn, reducing group selling costs helps your company's bottom line. These tips can reduce your costs and make your events more successful.

Please feel free to contact Janice Bays or me if you have questions.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Group Sales Cost Cutting Best Practices – The Overview

Sales is the engine that drives revenue and companies are always looking for ways to make that engine more efficient. Group selling offers the huge advantage of being able to address multiple customers through one presentation and still be in a face-to-face situation to sell each one individually. Reducing group selling costs and becoming more efficient helps your company's bottom line both from the revenue and the cost aspect. The group selling situation can be defined as anything from a luncheon or a face-to-face meeting with several key customers to a major exhibit at a convention. The principles are similar, only the execution changes.

The Maver Management Group has been working with Janice Bays, President of Meeting Management Associates, Inc for over 20 years. We have benefited from her expertise, as have all of her clients. Janice has worked with Fortune 500 clients, down through startups with very limited budgets. Janice has contributed her thoughts to this article and she knows her stuff. If your company has a full meeting/convention planning staff, these tips may be a good refresher. For those companies who do not have the staff, these tips can cut your costs. In either case, after you read this series of articles, feel free to contact Janice and learn what her company can do for you to make your group selling situations more efficient and effective.

Strategies That Save Dollars
1. The Plan - As in all cost cutting and program effectiveness, it starts with the plan – the right plan. How is the company’s overall business plan best executed in the group selling situation? Having the right plan enables you to understand up front what is required to be successful and what can be eliminated. This is the essence of best practice cost cutting. We have published a number of other articles on this blog for help in creating the right plan.

2. The Target Audience - Who is the target audience and exactly what do you need to motivate them to take the desired action? If you are looking at national conventions, you could define your audience as all the convention attendees. Don’t! Look more closely and identify the high potential people or companies within the group and find the means to target them.

3. The Message - This flows from the company’s overall strategic plan and positioning. That will keep the message consistent and will avoid costly graphics changes. In the group setting it has to be concise and crisp and is part of the overall “atmosphere” that you are creating. Research show that it takes on average 7 selling presentations to make a sale. Your audience will not tire of your graphics, display or message, since they are not exposed to it continuously. Sales personnel may tire of the message and if so rotate the sales personnel so they don’t wear out.

Outsourcing – Expertise and Cost Savings
1. To use or not to use - Both large and small companies use outsourcing for group selling as a means to increase effectiveness and keep costs under control. Meeting Management Associates (MMA) is one of the full service planning and meeting/convention management companies. They help translate the overall business strategy into the group selling strategies and then handle the management of all aspects of the meeting or convention. There are other suppliers who handle specific elements of the process and will need to be co-ordinated.

2. Single source or bid - Companies like MMA provide the best results when used as a single source supplier. It enables them to be completely open and in lockstep with your needs, as an extension of your company. Of course, they bid out services for hotel and travel and are able to negotiate high value and lower cost alternatives. Cost is definitely an issue, but not the only factor to be considered. You want the best value and what meets your goals and objectives rather than the cheapest.

3. Communication - An important element in all of this is good clear communication. Time must be spent with your outsourcing partners so that they understand your objectives and the role that they play in achieving them. Then their expertise can come into play more fully. Implement a check list that causes you and your outsource partner to communicate on a regular basis.

Contract Cost Cutters
1. Your value - Develop long-term relationships with properties and chains you use often. Negotiate volume discounts. Prepare a detailed request for proposal. Communicate the value of your meeting.
2. Negotiation - You may feel that the hotel holds all the power, but that is not true. Everything is negotiable. Negotiate sliding-scale rates with the hotel. Negotiate no deposit - or at least that the deposit will be placed in an interest-bearing account. Ask for everything and anything that you want right up front, such as 1 per 40 rather 1 per 50 for comp rooms or a number of upgraded rooms at the negotiated rate for your VIPs.
3. Timing - Work with hotels to fill their "hot dates," or meeting space "holes." Though the low season seems to be getting shorter, try to schedule meetings in the least busy times of the year for that specific area. Be flexible with your arrivals and departures.
4. Cancellation - Make sure the contract's cancellation clause is reciprocal. What if the hotel is undergoing major renovations during your event? Or if there is a change in management?
5. Signing - The biggest risk to your company can be in the contract signing. Never sign a contract unless you agree with it in its entirety. Cross out or edit clauses with which you do not agree, initial them, and get the supplier to initial his or her agreement. Pay attention to cutoff dates and attrition clauses. Keep in regular contact with suppliers even after the contract is signed. Things and events can change the meeting opportunity drastically.

These tips provide an overview of some cost cutting ideas for group selling situations. There is a follow up article that details more specifics. It can help you and your company achieve better results and cut your costs.

Please feel free to contact Janice Bays or me if you have questions.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, January 11, 2009

10 Ways for Nonprofits to Cut Costs

Nonprofit World published an article on Ways to Cut Costs. We have adapted some of those suggestions based on the work of Maver Management Group with a number of ministries in the San Francisco Bay Area.:

1. Make maximum use of your Board of Directors.
Make sure that your Board helps you raise money and also save it. Ask them to make use of their own contacts to find individuals and businesses that may be willing to donate the goods and services you need or to be sponsors for your projects and events.

2. Make extended use of your volunteers.
You provide them with an opportunity for significance in their lives. Let them enjoy that to the maximum. This will mean allowing them to go beyond just the simple tasks that they might ordinarily do to reach out to others.

3. Piggyback with local businesses.
Ask businesses in your community if you can include your fundraising appeals in their mailings. It gives them a chance to do some good and provides your organization with leverage and cost savings for your fundraising.

4. Reduce cost of mailers.
The paper you use in your mailings can represent up to 30% of the cost of your print job. Switch to inexpensive paper. Use lower-weight paper to reduce your postage costs. Bundle with other non profits to take advantage of multiple lists and combinations.

5. Adopt teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration approaches.
You can team up with other organizations to buy supplies and even insurance. You might decide to share office space and equipment. You can hold joint meetings and programs.

6. Seek out low-cost marketing and public-relations techniques.
Write letters to the editor or provide guest columns on important issues that your organization addresses. Find local ad agencies to see if they will create public service announcements for you.

7. Seek out donation of materials that you need.
Companies are cutting back and there are surplus items that can directly offset many of your expenditures.

8. Save money on training new people.
Use your volunteers and their connections. Use videotapes, computer based training programs, books, and a personal mentor to cut down on training costs. Most people enjoy self-paced learning and they will get a lot from a mentor assigned to help them.

9. Save energy.
Set back temperatures during times when your facility is unoccupied. Turn off lights and equipment when not in use. Install more efficient lighting. Indoctrinate employees with the importance of saving energy. Monitor costs and let everyone know how much is being saved.

10. Audit the necessity of every activity your organization does.
What would happen if you stopped doing it? Does the reason you started that activity still make sense? Can someone else perform that activity at less cost?

Non profit companies face a different set of circumstances and often rely on help from the outside. If you need help in identifying opportunities within your company on how to impact your bottom line through improved productivity or cost cutting, contact us.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday, January 4, 2009

HR’s Role in Cost Cutting and Controlling Costs

People drive the business. They provide the ideas, the plans, the execution and the energy, along with a lot more. Getting and keeping a talented employee base is critical for future success.

The HR function, if it is used properly, is a tremendously important resource in the business equation of getting and keeping a company profitable. It directly influences the twin goals of increasing productivity and minimizing expenses.

Executives focus primarily on their core competencies since that has been what has made them successful personally. In order to make the company successful, this has to be extended across the organization. Some of the best practices for HR’s role in increasing productivity and controlling the human capital costs are below.

1. Hire the right person.
Jim Collins in Good to Great says, “Think of the small amount of investment involved here compared to what it costs if you hire the wrong person.” Most companies hire based on skills listed on the resume and interviews by inexperienced interviewers. That’s a mistake. To find top talent, first you have to define superior performance. Then you’ve got to take that definition and apply it to performance-based behavioral interviewing and other strategic recruiting techniques to attract the best candidates. You can teach the job but you need to hire the talent.

2. Incent improved performance in productivity and cost control. Both negative and positive reinforcement will motivate people to perform. But as the saying goes, you get more with sugar than you do with spice. The “sugar” you offer can take many forms, such as:
• Implement pay-for-performance programs.
• Eliminate the guesswork on competitive compensation—use compensation surveys.
• Offer flexible work schedules.
• Ask your employees for ways to cut costs. Generally speaking, employees know their jobs better than anyone else.

3. Retain good employees through competitive benefits, communicated effectively.
Like most executives, you want to know that you aren’t paying more than you have to, but enough that your employees feel motivated to perform. Offering the right benefits package can help you achieve this goal. Benefits differ between small and large employers. The standard list of benefit categories may look the same, but the plans, features, and services offered can be very different and so can the costs. The standard list would include insurance coverage for medical, dental, and vision care as well as short and long-term disability, life, accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D), and more and more frequently, long-term care. Get some expert advice on what is needed for the basic plan and how to cost effectively customize it to your employees.

4. Plan and work smarter. Make sure in the execution of your plan that the focus is on the high leverage areas. Even out customer demand whenever possible, so that you can eliminate all overtime and the extra costs. It is amazing how many “extra” non-revenue adding activities exist in all companies.

Above all, communicate, communicate, communicate! This may come as a shock, but even the people who write benefits materials don’t read their own materials. Why? Because traditional benefits booklets tend to have all the appeal of cardboard. Invest in a communication program that includes well written, succinct, compelling, and palatable descriptions of your programs as well as four or two-color professional printing. In addition, hold regular employee meetings to roll out new plans or just help employees understand the value of their benefits and how to use them, including how to keep costs low for themselves and the company.

Once again, while people are important, having the right people doing the right activities in your business plan is critical. If you need help in identifying opportunities within your company on how to impact your bottom line through improved productivity or cost cutting, contact us.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn