How to Write a Business Plan For an Online Business Directory

Writing a business plan for an online business directory is as important as writing a business plan for any type of business. A proper plan is essential to making an online directory a success. This will outline the type of business directory you will be running and how you will make it profitable. Below are a number of tips to writing a business plan for an online business directory.

1. The plan should outline your strategies on how you will make the directory a money generator. It will detail how the directory will work and how you will maintain profitability. It will also help you plan for unexpected obstacles, such as if one method of acquiring business listing does not work, how you will modify the strategy to make it more effective. It is important to regularly update your business plan to maintain competitiveness. Create short and long term goals and establish time frames for achieving specific tasks and set goals, such as the number of businesses that will post their listing in a week, or in a month.

2. The mission statement is a blueprint to having successful directories. It should define your values and objectives to maintaining competitiveness in the marketplace. It is important that you outline how you understand your target audience, including their needs and wants and how your directory will meet them. It must detail how you will attract customers to list their businesses.

3. You must detail your understanding of your competitors and how your directory will be unique and stand apart from your competitors’ directories. For instance, will yours fill a particular niche market? You need to outline your promotion plan and how you will implement your marketing strategies. You need to create a strategy that gives you a competitive edge.

4. You need to detail a comprehensive financial plan. You have to include such information as advertising and promotion costs and the expected revenue you will generate. You should outline all of the methods and programs you will use to effectively monetize your directory. This can include affiliate programs, offering paid listings…etc. You should create an effective budget that is practical and takes hidden or unexpected costs into consideration. You will need to break down your expenses and revenue to make sure you have a plan that generates more revenue that money paid out.

Starting a new online business directory can seem overwhelming as there are so many online directories on the internet. To stand out from the others, you need a strategic plan, clearly defined objectives, clear promotion and marketing plan, and a practical budget. It will help minimize the risks and maximize the benefits. A general guide on writing a business plan for an online business directory is helpful when planning to build a successful online business directory, but it is essential that you do your research and consult with others to make sure your business plan is a blueprint to success.

Factors That Affect Average Handle Time

When you hear the word “call center” the first image that pops into your mind is an agent waiting for the phone to ring. Such a scenario might have been a reality for most agents in the industry’s heyday. However, thanks to technological advancements, they have come a long way since then.

What is Average Handle Time?

One of those advancements is operational indicators like Average Handle Time (AHT). As the name implies, AHT is the amount of time that a call center agent spends on taking or processing a call. The process involves several key components in order to work efficiently. For example, it includes total talk time, After Call Work Time (ACW) and Hold Time.

Why is it Important?

Average Handle Time is a record of all the calls that are processed by a call center, over a specific period of time. Like every business, call centers have to constantly evolve in order to expand, something that can be accomplished by maximizing efficiency. Such goals call for the pertinent measures that can make them possible. This is also why AHT, ASA (Average Speed of Answer), Occupancy Rate and Service Levels are staple operational functions in all call centers.

However, it is AHT that takes precedence over all operational indicators and for good reason. Service Level, operating budgets and employee requirements all depend on it. For instance, the lower a company’s AHT is, the fewer employees it will require. This is not to mention how little you would have to spend on operational expenses.

Sadly, there are some factors that can throw a wrench in the works, especially when it comes to AHT. Some of them are as follows:

1. Efficiency and Agent Behavior

If you have ever worked in (or own) a call center, you might have realized how much time agents spend on calls. In fact, you might also have noticed certain disparities in the AHT of multiple agents. In other words, you need to learn what causes such a disparity in the first place. In order to determine what affects an agent’s AHT you would need to keep the following questions in mind –

· Do the agents with reduced AHT use different tools than the rest?

· Do they differ in terms of tenure or the level of training that they received?

· Have the agents with better AHT managed to come up with better processes that help them streamline their tasks better?

Besides that, management also needs to determine whether certain agents skip some steps in order to save time. For instance, if an agent fails to process interactions with customers according to company guidelines, it will take him/her more time to process calls successfully. A well regulated AHT has an enormous impact on customer service. Such an unprofessional attitude is bound to affect customer satisfaction (or lack of) sooner or later.

2. System Usability

This goes without saying. Call centers depend on software to regulate operations. Needless to say, the more user-friendly the system is the more productive the agents will be. A well designed system will help call center agents speed through tasks that usually take them a lot of time or regulate tasks that have a tendency to extend call time unnecessarily.

For example, an automated process can help employees access multiple systems for the information that they need, like product delivery confirmations and account balances. Other than that, agents can also input key customer info into multiple systems at once as well as record call details, process forms and update account information to name a few.

Challenges Facing the Freight Forwarding Industry

A business that is in operation has got its cycle of boom and recess. These are the periods when the business is doing well and adversely, respectively. Just like any business, the freight forwarding industry also has got a share of its own challenges. These are obstacles that hamper the smooth running of the freight forwarding industry. Some of the challenges completely stifle the operations of a freight industry which forces it to wind up and go out of business. A well organized freight industry should anticipate such challenges and have strategies in place to combat them when they occur. A freight forwarding industry that waits for such challenges to manifest themselves before making adequate preparations is contributing to its own failure. Mechanisms need to be in place to cover any unforeseen events that may tend to cripple the business. This includes setting funds aside to cater for emergencies and risks which cannot be predicted with certainty. Challenges facing the freight forwarding industry include the following;

Increase in fuel prices has been a major factor that has adversely affected the freight industry. Increase in fuel means an increase in the operating costs of the business. However, the freight forwarding company cannot be increasing its freight rates each time there is an increase in fuel prices. This would brand a company to be very unreliable and unnecessarily expensive. This means that a freight company has to balance between stabilizing the freight rates and making profits at the same time. The price set therefore has to cater for all expenses and leave some profit in the end. If the set freight rates are high, one would lose customers due to stiff competition that prevails in the freight forwarding industry. Increase in fuel therefore poses a major challenge to the freight industry as all of their vessels are powered using fuel.

The sea freight is faced by adverse weather conditions which are normally unpredictable. Very strong tides and waves make it almost impossible to conduct sea transport as one would be running the risk of a sinking ship. During such instances, the sea transport has no activity while awaiting calmness to resume. Furthermore, sea transport has also been hit by the threat of pirates who hijack cargo ship and demand for ransoms before such a ship can be released. This has caused severe losses in the freight forwarding industry which has driven most operators out of business.

Moreover, the credit crunch has had a negative impact on the freight forwarding industry. This has led to reduced activity in terms of trade hence a low season for freight companies. During the economic crunch, the level of trade significantly reduced across national borders meaning that there was little that could be transported from one country to another. This was worsened by the weakening of the dollar meaning that the freight forwarding industry had to receive less in terms of payments advanced to them by their customers. If the price for a certain consignment was fixed at a certain price, the weakening dollar impacted negatively on the exchange rate to those who conducted business internationally.

Wholesale Business: How to Start a Beverage Distribution Business

Combine Wholesale Distribution with the Beverage Industry and you get one of the most profitable and fun businesses in the world.

This article will give you an introduction into this great business, how you can start and how much money you can make on each case of beverage sold. Is beverage distribution for you? Find out right now.

Beverage distribution is one of the easiest and most profitable businesses I’ve seen.

I like it because you don’t need a lot of customers to make a lot of money. You can easily make an extra $5,000 with a few customers.

You will see why beverage is one of the best businesses in the world. I started in beverage while I had my tool and novelty distribution business. I was looking for new products, products that I did not need to exchange so often and that I could sell over and over again to the same customers. This last part was key.

You see, when I was selling tools I figured that I could sell up to 1,000 tools per day or more but every customer was unique. In other words, if you buy a hammer at a store on Monday chances are you will not go on Tuesday and buy another Hammer. Even if it only costs $1.98!

Don’t get me wrong, the “tool distribution business” is a wonderful business and I still love it. I was just looking for another type of product to add to my current items.

I figured out that in order to sell the same product over and over again it would have to be a food product. So I started going to trade shows and looking at chocolate, potato chips, candy, and other products. I even looked at name brands like Hershey’s. The problem was that I could not buy directly from the manufacturers and the profit margins were super low, about 12%. I was used to up to 70% profit margins.

Finally I ran into a beverage manufacturer of an Energy Drink. They were just starting with their product and it was easier to become a distributor.

Now let me tell you a bit about Energy Drinks. Energy Drinks are the new Super Profitable products. Everybody makes money, the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer. You see, Energy Drinks sell for $1.99 to $2.40 at the stores for 8 to 16 ounces. This is incredible if you consider that you can buy a soda that’s the same size for $0.50 to $0.75. Even a 20 ounce soda runs you about $1.25.

Distributors love the product because they make about $8 per every case they sell compared with about $2 to $4 for their other products.

Let’s get back to the Beverage Business. The great part of this business is that if you have only one customer going into the store buying your product you sell at least 1 case of that product per month.

You see; if you sell a soda someone can buy a soda every day, compared to a hammer, where people don’t buy a hammer every day. So you need fewer customers because you sell more per day.

For example: Let’s say you have only 100 stores that you service yourself and sell 3 different beverages. You sell one Energy Drink and 2 Sodas. You make $8 from every case of the Energy Drink and $3 from every case of soda.

If you sell only 1 case of the Energy Drink per week per store and 3 cases of each soda you’ll make about $600 profit from the sodas per week and another $800 profit per week from the Energy Drink. That’s $5,600 profit per month with only 100 stores and only 3 different products. It’s very easy to ramp up to 5 or even 8 products. This is why I love the beverage business.

Now let me tell you a bit more about Energy Drinks. They are the category that is growing the fastest of any other drink. It grows up to 70% per year in the US compared with 2% growth for soda. Companies are still growing from 100% to 300% per year every single year. The best part is that there is no end in sight.

Not only that, the Energy Drink Business is incredibly fun. You get advertising and promotion from companies, you get to do club and store promotions, get t-shirts, hats, gifts, extra commissions and free product from the Energy Drink companies. You also get free racks, coolers, sometimes even refrigerators.

Copyright 2006 Cube 17, Inc.

The Product Life Cycle – Each Stage’s (Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Decline) Effect on Price

What is the Product Life Cycle?

There are many different models to be found that describe the product life cycle, some consisting of four, and others of five or six stages, and obviously the real world is much more complex. For this post, I will keep it pretty simple and basic.

Product Life Cycle Stages:

1. Introduction

2. Growth

3. Maturity

4. Decline

Effect on Prices

Introduction

During the introduction stage of a product, the price is usually highest. This strategy has the goal of recovering development costs as quickly as possible to start earning profit. For popular products, such as cellular phones, the target market’s demand is relatively inelastic, which allows these higher prices charged during the introduction stage. Many consumers strive to have the newest technology at all times and are willing to pay a high price to possess it.

Growth

During the growth stage, competition has entered the market increasing the available amount of a certain product and thus increasing supply. With increasing competition, prices are set to a lower stage to be competitive in the market. In addition, companies have recovered development costs for successful products and thus can start charging lower prices and still earn a high profit.

Maturity

The maturity stage of a product usually eliminates companies that charge the highest price for the given product and thus further increases low-price competition and causes downward pressure on prices. Between companies, prices usually stabilize and most companies offer a similar price. During the maturity stage, prices between competitors usually decrease at a similar rate. Occasional increases in the price of a product (during the maturity stage) represent increase in costs of inputs, etc.

Decline

During the decline stage of a product, prices decrease, because the companies that are left in the market try to reach as many customers as possible. Some products survive to be so-called specialty products and if offered by one company in a geographical area, this company has pricing power and can thus highly increase prices again.

Example

Every several months, Blackberry brings a new cellular phone model into the market. In its introduction stage, the demand is high for the new technology and thus, these models are priced at high rates. When competition increases when other providers bring phones with similar capabilities into the market, prices decrease. After several months, when another new Blackberry model enters the market, the “older” model enters the maturity stage and later the decline stage and prices decrease for this model.

Holding Effective Meetings – Nine Simple Rules

Most people in business complain that there are just too many meetings. That may be true, but business meetings are a fact of life, and the best we can do is learn to make them worth the time and effort they require.

Effective business meetings are an exercise in communication: we speak, we listen, we discuss, we decide. Meeting rules may vary from one situation to another, but holding effective meetings is essential to getting things done. If you want to learn how to conduct a meeting, here are my nine simple rules to help you through the process.

1. Call only necessary meetings

Before you begin the whole process of calling and holding a business meeting, ask yourself if it is really necessary. Do certain people actually have to gather in the same room to accomplish your purpose, or could a series of phone calls, an e-mail or a memo serve the same purpose? Develop a reputation for calling meetings only when necessary, and people will be more willing to devote their time to them.

2. Invite the right people

Invite people who have something to contribute or who need to be involved in the discussion. If you have to consult someone for information or authorization about an agenda item and that person is not there, it’s frustrating for everyone. Consider inviting them just for a specific agenda item. On the other hand, don’t invite people just because they are at a certain level in the organization. Busy people appreciate your consideration of their time.

3. Create an effective agenda and distribute it well before the meeting

An effective agenda is much more than a list of topics. It can function as a meeting announcement, as well as a tool to help the leader control the discussion. Sending it out in advance lets people know what will be discussed and gives them an opportunity to gather information they will need and prepare their input. Effective meetings begin with effective agendas.

4. Start and finish on time

Don’t wait for latecomers — start on time without them. You should also avoid the temptation to bring latecomers up to date on what has taken place before they arrived, a practice that penalizes those who came on time. People shouldn’t be rewarded for upsetting everyone else’s schedule. Allot a time to each subject on the agenda and stick to it. Effective business meetings start and finish on time.

5. State the objective at the start of the meeting

State an objective that is results-oriented rather than discussion-based. e.g. “We are meeting this morning to approve the final budget for next quarter.” This is a measurable objective, towards which you can work during the discussion. Don’t say, “We are meeting to discuss…..”. After all, you could discuss for hours and technically you would have met your objective, but you could hardly describe it as an effective meeting.

6. Keep the meeting moving towards its objective

Don’t let people drag the discussion off track. Keep reminding them of the objective and redirect the discussion back when they stray. Your communication skills come to the fore as you lead a business meeting.

7. Don’t just sit there — say something!

But what if you are attending someone else’s meeting? Can you still contribute to making it an effective meeting? Yes, you can. Assuming you have received an agenda in advance, carefully consider what materials you should take with you, any information you have that would be important to the discussion and make notes of any points you might make at the meeting. Having something to say and saying it is the best way to contribute to a successful meeting. Do your homework in advance and you will know what role you should play.

8. Arrange for appropriate notes

Even informal meetings need notes to summarize what happened and, even more important, to set out any actions that are to be taken and by whom. Names of those who are to take the actions should be included in the notes and, if possible, someone designated to follow up on the actions.

9. When the objective has been accomplished — stop!

If you have been successful in completing discussion of your agenda within the allotted time, don’t be tempted to start a discussion about something else. Finish early and you’ll be a hero, so don’t spoil it by starting to discuss other issues. Congratulate participants on a successful meeting, and move on.

If you follow these rules, you will not only be observing proper meeting etiquette, but you will also be on track to an effective business meeting that delivers results.

Importance of Business Forms

Anybody interested in taking their business to the next level will probably be thinking about getting business forms. Customers are always impressed by good forms because they exude professionalism of the company. There are business owners who get customised forms to streamline their organisational procedure and do it in a big way getting successful all the while. There are several software in the market that aims to elevate your business dealings to the next level by providing good quality, printable interactive business forms.

These electronic business forms are built with a speed and precision that can never be compared to any paperwork. Not only that, the e-business forms allows for faster interaction with the target segment because they are sent across as emails and attachments. It is also received well by the target audience because they don’t have to do any writing work to get the forms filled.

There are different formats of business forms depending on the templates that you download from the net. Programming languages like Java and ABAP create first class interactive business forms that are appreciated by the clients because of the ease of use. Once these templates are downloaded from the internet, they can be customised to suit different needs that come with the nature of the business. There are some forms that you can integrate and create new ones. These are mostly done for industrial, banking, educational and government purposes.

Sending customisable forms makes your business more classy and professional. It is an investment that you will have to make, but the returns are worth the money you spend on it. There are several free business templates that you can download from the net. These templates files come with all the basic functions that you would need. These can be later tailor made to suit your requirements. Some of the websites that offer free download-able templates also allow them to be printed, so that makes the job much easier for you. Getting these forms also saves a lot of time and money because the reach is more and you can be sure that they actually get them instead of it going into the trash can. These online business forms encourage people to respond and interact.

The Importance Of Waste Management

With so much concern recently about being more green and economically friendly, waste management has become a very important topic. People and companies are starting to realize that the things they use, and the way they dispose of them can make a big impact on our world.

Management of waste can involve many things. It encompasses collecting waste material and processing it in some way, or trying to recycle it. It can have both health and environmental implications. Residents and companies are constantly looking for the best and least expensive ways to handle the ever growing problem.

Waste can take many forms. It may be solid, liquid, gas, or in some cases radioactive. Some is non-hazardous while some can be quite hazardous, especially if not handled properly. It is a matter of major concern for many people and companies.

The handling of waste varies according to specific areas, and locations within specific locations. For example, some countries deal with the issue differently. Even within the same country, different locals are treated differently. City waste is often handled differently from rural. Also there is usually a major difference between residential and industrial issues. Some countries have a limited amount of involvement in dealing with the problem.

There are various ways of dealing with the materials. Landfills have been the most common for years. If handled properly, they can be inexpensive and effective. However, with the growing population, available space has become a problem for them in some places. Incineration is also a popular technique. It works well in places that have a limited amount of land space available. The material is heated to get rid of it. However, there have been some questions about the danger of possible hazardous emissions using this technique.

One ever increasing popular solution is recycling. With this the product is reused or made usable in another form. The raw materials are reprocessed. The most popular materials to recycle are aluminum, steel, glass, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, and PVC. The process can be as simple as an individual recycling common objects to companies recycling on a large scale. It is an excellent way to reduce waste and hazards.

Another popular solution is waste reduction. With this, ways are found to reuse products without having to buy more. This can be simple things like reusable shopping bags as opposed to plastic. It can also mean fixing something rather than replacing it. This can be done on small or massive scales.

Waste collection is also important when dealing with this issue. The collection methods can vary greatly. Most residential collections are the responsibility of local governments. Some underdeveloped countries have little to no established collection policies.

Waste management is a very important issue today. Each person and each company needs to find their own ways to deal with it. If we all work together, we can stop the problem before it gets out of control. We are all responsible when it comes to making our planet safer and more environmentally friendly.

50 Ideas For Increasing Profits and Cost Reduction

Do you want to know 50 great profit building ideas that you can put to immediate use in your business to increase profits and reduce costs?

If yes, read all these ideas that have been implemented by clients and have benefited them giving their businesses dramatic boost in profitability. Most ideas can be put to action immediately. Each idea has the potential to give you many %points increase in net profits.

Research shows profits increase by 4%-56% and costs reduce by 18%-37% within 2 years using the simple 5 step process called the Profit Maps Model. Usually a 5% reduction in cost is adequate to turnaround most loss making businesses.

Businesses can calculate the value of the savings by these 2 simple formulas

If the business made a loss

Total Costs and Expenses = sales + absolute value of net loss +/- income tax = say X

Minimum Savings you will make in 2 years = 5% of X (which was calculated above)

If the business made a profit

Total Costs and Expenses = sales + net profit +/- income tax = say Y

Minimum Savings you will make in 2 years = 5% of Y (which was calculated above)

So how much can you save? Improve your profits by?

Revenue

This category typically contains inflows of resources into the business generated through operations.

Needless to say the profit building process can be used to generate marketing and sales ideas. The following ideas were generated with the objective of increasing revenue with little or no impact on the cost structure.

Revenue Increasing Ideas

1. If your company has facilities located over a multi-geographical area you may be able to rent antenna space to cellular phone companies. Typically these companies will pay for the use of rooftops as a place to erect their antennas. Another option is for billboards as advertising if you occupy a central location with a high visibility building. This enhances your revenue without any additional cost you. The point here is to explore alternative uses for your facilities. Remember they are assets that can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are numerous opportunities available for increased revenue if you look for them. Training room and function room facilities can be rented out in the evening or weekends. How about spare land or excess slots you own for public car parking?

2. Determine whether your business can market commission and non-commissioned products as add-on sales. Look for opportunities to sell products to your existing customer base at no additional cost. Examples are catalogue sales to airline passengers and the sale of miscellaneous products to credit card customers. You may have the opportunity to do something similar. Your customers have more value than you realise.

3. Is there any additional value in your customer database? Perhaps your business could generate additional revenue by selling the data. Alternatively consider starting a telemarketing department to market another line of products or services. Depending on your business and the nature of your customer base you may have something great here.

4. Explore the advantages of an effective e-strategy including e-commerce, e-business, e- people and e-technology. There is no question that the new opportunities available through the Internet offer new and innovative ways to increase profits and reduce costs. Consult with an expert in this area including a cross-section of your employees and magic will happen.

5. Segment your customers into heavy user and light user categories and determine the difference between these two groups. What needs to be done to generate another sale from both categories? All customers are critical. What can you learn about the different types of customers to determine whether more selling occasions possible? Make the most of these customers; you already have them.

6. Develop retention strategies as well as growth strategies. In today’s markets, it is as important to hold on to your existing customer base as it to grow your business. It took you a certain amount of resources to attract your customers: you may want to explore ways to retain a high percentage. What is your cost to acquire a customer? What is your cost to retain a customer? Do your employees know?

7. Continue to look for augmented products and/or services that would add value without adding expense.

8. Explore opportunities to licence or franchise your business products or services for additional market share or penetration

9. Explore merger and acquisition scenarios where efficiencies would be gained for all businesses concerned.

10. Develop a relationship with a long-distance carrier whereby your company will distribute phone cards to your customer base in return for a fee or residual commission.

Salaries

This category typically contains charges associated with

· Management Pay

· Non-management Pay

· Hourly Wages

· Training Labour

· Overtime Pay

· All Other Pay, Wages and Salary items

Cost Saving Ideas

11. Establish a 45 to 60 hour per week work environment among the managers. Cost structures among your competitors are basically similar to your cost structure so you will obtain an advantage because your managers are working more hours. This assumes that your managers are productive. Managers who have responsibility for a workforce of hourly employees are usually at the facility, a retail outlet, restaurant or office at least this amount of time. Sometimes business volume is extremely low at early or closing hours. During the slow hours managers can save substantially by scheduling fewer employees and filling it themselves. In addition to the Labour savings, managers will become more knowledgeable about operations and will find ways to improve customer service, training and operations. I have put this procedure in place in several places. At the beginning there will always be resistance, but once managers get beyond the initial hump things will run smoothly. I also find that certain incentive programmes work well here. Get the manager’s incentives based on Labour dollar saved and they come to understand the process.

12. Effectively manage your salary administration programs. Many companies pay lip service to this principle but failed to obtain true levels of success in salary administration and management. To start, make sure you have a salary range for every position in the company. Salaries should be structured so that the midpoint is 100, the minimum is 80% and the maximum is 120%. The basic philosophy is that the candidate should be hired into a position between the minimum and the midpoint on the basis of his or her level of experience. The employees are then moved higher in the range on the basis of performance. This philosophy is based on the premise that mid-point is the amount the position is worth to the company. Employees can obtain an additional 20% through stellar performance. Few employees should be paid over the 120% range. Each job is worth a specific amount to the organisation. If a new hire needs training to become efficient in a particular job, that employee is working at a level below the worth of the position and therefore should be paid at the minimum salary range. When the employee’s performance rises at successful completion of training and can perform 100% of the job duties move the employee quickly toward the midpoint of the salary range.

13. Insist that a salary survey be done every year to ensure that you have achieved the desired community position relative to your competition. In this case the competition is those companies that would recruit your employees. You need to make sure that if you survey 10 competitors; you have a salary range higher than 75% of these companies for your key positions and higher than 50% of these companies for lower-level positions. Implementing this strategy will help you reduce turnover and will also ensure that you are not overpaying for positions.

14. Make sure your salary administration program allows for regular salary review. Typically, this is done once a year for salaried employees and every six months for hourly employees. The review should include a performance appraisal form and the employee’s performance levels should correspond with established pay increases. In other words, establish the pay for your performance review system.

15. Establish a bell curve of salary increases. Let’s say that approximately 8% of your employees are superior performers, 12% are above average, 60% are average, 12% are fair, and 8% are poor. Create a salary increase guideline that mirrors this curve, with the better performing employees receiving higher increases. For example superior employees are given 6% to 7%, above average employees 4% to 5%, average employees 3%, fair employees 2%, and poor employees 0%. This allows the organisation to check and reward performance whilst still meeting its salary increase budget. Obviously, your goal is to continue to train and develop your workforce. Occasionally, low performing employees have to be replaced with those most suited to the position. The Bell curve is just a process to ensure that star performers are recognised and rewarded for their work.

16. Establish the salary increase guideline budget and stick to it. Plan salary increases for the coming year by using the Bell curve mentioned in the above idea. Department managers should budget salary increases for employees assuming that the next year’s performance will be at the same level as this year’s. Please be aware that some performance ratings will change. There will always be exceptions. This process will help ensure that your organisation will remain within the new salary increase budget.

17. The salary increase guideline budget should be preapproved. When a different rating is submitted during the year, treat it as an exception and make sure to justify it because performances can change- it may go up or down. A strict salary administration program will ensure that budgets are achieved.

18. Establish a training rate for all appropriate positions. This is crucial when your organisation experiences higher levels of turnover during the first and second months of employment. The training rate is lower than the standard pay rate and is applicable only during the training period. Employees are given a raise once the training has been completed satisfactorily. Determine whether the training rate could be established for other positions in the organisation.

19. Where the training rate is not appropriate, establish a probationary rate for the standard 90 day period. This rate is lower than the standard pay rate and is applicable only during the first 90 days of employment. If performance is satisfactory, the employee will receive a raise to the standard pay rate. Determine whether a probationary rate could be established for all positions in the organisation.

20. Develop a labour-management system whereby a computer predicts daily or hourly volume and the amount of labour needs on the basis of seasonality. Most businesses have a trend cycle that can be measured with 15 minute increments. First, you must find a way to get past the notion that your business cannot be tracked this way. There is a pattern to your business. Discovering your business pattern is the first step toward determining how to manage your Labour cost. Management will give you many reasons why the business cannot be tracked. Once you work through all their concerns, you and your team can identify those trend items, aspects of your customer behaviour that, in fact, can be tracked and schedule Labour accordingly.

21. Determine whether your new hires would qualify for the targeted job tax credit program whereby a percentage of training dollars is refunded by the government.

22. Determine whether your organisation would qualify for tax benefits for providing employee childcare services.

23. If your employees handle cash transactions, install software driven cash reconciliation process to save time at shift changes and at closing. This will also reduce cash shortages. This type of procedure also saves time in the cash out process.

24. Constantly look for software modifications that can reduce labour. Seconds saved could also mean dollars earned. Using technology is a natural approach to the whole effort of productivity improvement. If your business has not recently explored this area, effective tools that currently exist may surprise you.

25. Have an industrial engineer evaluate your business in terms of time and motion studies to determine whether additional efficiencies can be achieved in areas where high throughput is important. This approach can still work today. Some managers run their businesses the same way they did 10 or 20 years ago. Time and motion studies can have an impact on cost savings, productivity, customer service, and employee morale.

26. Establish a self-regulating team with the specific responsibility of improving productivity and reducing costs in a particular department or area of the organisation.

27. Develop an incentive to reduce absenteeism. This incentive should be linked to productivity improvement goals and to the availability of the workforce. It should be based on reducing absenteeism from previous period. The incentives could be a vacation bonus based on a 1% reduction in absenteeism

28. Develop a variable pay program whereby management salaries are reduced 5% to 10% across the board and these dollars are set aside into a bonus pool. When there is goal achievement, managers have the potential to earn even higher levels of compensation. However, these dollars will be at risk if managers do not achieve profit objectives. The potential to earn even higher levels of compensation will help sell this item.

29. Controlling your staff turnover is another way to reduce operating costs. Implementing strategies throughout the entire human resources cycle to ensure that all systems, procedures, policies, and practices are tight preventing employees from falling through the cracks. I refer to this as the human resources closed loop. If you think about it you will see that there is a cycle to the human resources process. It starts with recruitment, interviewing, selection and placement and continues to orientation, training, salary administration, performance appraisal, development, promotion, and finally termination. Then the cycle begins again. Make sure that all of the areas mentioned are employee friendly and are designed to retain employees. Identify any areas where improvements would reduce the number of employees leaving.

30. In order to determine where are to place additional controls, measure your labour costs in terms of cost per unit, cost per test, cost per guest check, etc. Breaking your labour costs down to the lowest unit will help you better identify cost saving ideas. It will also make it easier to affect and control.

Other Personnel Costs

This category would typically contains charges associated with

· Applied Payroll Burden

· Superannuation Employers Portion

· Vacation

· Paid Holidays

· Sick Leave

· Bonuses

· Short/Long term disability

· Group medical

Cost Saving Ideas

31. Make sure your company has a program that offers all full-time employees the opportunity to receive a higher salary in lieu of accepting certain benefits (such as medical, dental and life-insurance). Today many employees are being carried on a spouse’s plan. Why not let these employees choose a higher salary instead of benefits? As long as salary increases less than the cost of benefits, the company will save money and employees will increase their income.

32. Evaluate the cost of your superannuation administration. There are competitive programs that can reduce administrative costs. A simple evaluation of three different companies will determine whether you have an opportunity to realise savings. Even if you do not want to change the current superannuation administration you may still be able to negotiate better terms by showing your evaluation.

33. Reduce workers compensation insurance by aggressively reducing accidents. Evaluate your workers compensation actual to determine your claims history. Most companies set an actual rate and never re-evaluate them even though their experiences change. Depending on your business you may be surprised at the potential savings here.

34. Using the Internet conduct benefit surveys to comply your cost with those of similar organisations.

35. Challenge third-party providers to reduce administration costs by using the Profit Maps Model and passing those savings along to you.

36. Continue to monitor workers compensation costs and develop action plans to reduce them.

37. Develop a back to work programme that puts injured employees in alternative positions. There are times when injured employees want to remain active in the organisation and appropriate positions are available.

38. Negotiate settlements when long-term workers compensation situations dictate.

39. Eliminate alcohol at all company sponsored activities. This approach can prevent accidents, cut beverage costs at functions and reduce risks.

Communications

This category typically contains charges associated with

· Long-Distance Telephone

· Cellular Phone

· Pagers

· Data lines

· Fax lines

Cost Saving Ideas

40. Authorise a telecommunications consultant to analyse all your communication costs in terms of rates charged, equipment used, and programmes offered, promotions available, usage, cellular phone options, long-distance carrier performance and pricing, fax and security line combinations, past bills, and so on. Structure the contract so that the consultant bills on the basis of percentage of cost saved or refunds received. In this way, there will be no cost to you if the consultant is not successful in improving your bottom line. Review all areas of communication to ferret out these pockets of expense that often go unnoticed. Pagers and cell phones are usually ordered and distributed without the benefit of an organised plan. There are real and meaningful discounts if you shop around.

41. Continue to renegotiate rates and terms with the vendors who provide services. Set up an ongoing procedure for constantly renegotiating rates and terms.

42. Monitor and control your communications cost on the basis of the cost per unit test (guests check, or that like) in order to determine locations for exerting any additional control.

Utilities

In this category typically charges associated are

· Gas and Electricity Usage

· Water

Cost Saving Ideas

43. Authorise a utility consultant to analyse your utility costs. Such consultants would know how to deal effectively with the local public service companies in order to discover advantages or missed opportunities associated with gas and electric services. They should be fully authorised to check existing equipment and records. They should be experienced in developing an index and analyses and creating demand graphs to spot situations where you may have been overcharged. They would also represent your issues to the public utility commission.

44. Pay your consultant on the basis of a percentage of the savings associated with his or her action steps. The typical rate is 25% to 30% of the demonstrated savings and refunds over a specific period of time. There should be no charge if savings are not demonstrated.

45. Take energy conservation action steps including setting thermostats at 72°F. Automatic controls should be put in place to control temperature during off hours.

46. Turn off lights in conference rooms, restrooms and officers when they are not in use.

47. Turn off all lights not related to security at the close of business.

Professional fees

This category typically includes charges associated with professional services such as

· Legal and Human Resources Related Fees

· Proposals (domestic and international)

· Fees for Technical Services

· Other professional fees

Cost saving ideas

48. Talk about fees. If your lawyer does not bring up the subject of fees, you should. Do not be shy. In business, lawyers are free to set their own fees. The best time to discuss is at the beginning of a new legal matter.

49. Try to settle cases rather than litigate.

50. Have lawyers design standard forms you can use in routine transactions.

Conclusion

The Benefits of Renting Warehouse Space For Your Business

A major tool for businesses, especially within the last two decades, is outsourcing. Your company may outsource many services formerly done by internal departments and employees. While many people think of manufacturing and payroll as the major departments that are routinely outsourced, there is one that may surprise you: Warehousing.

Outsourcing your warehousing may be a necessity for your company, especially if you’re a company on the East Coast that needs to efficiently get your products to the West Coast, or vice-versa. Renting warehouse space on the opposite end of the country to house your products is a form of outsourcing. Your company will operate more smoothly and save you money when you implement third-party logistics for your shipping, receiving and storage.

Even if your company owns and operates its own warehouses, you may have certain times of the year when you have more inventory to store. This is when renting or leasing warehouse space can be very helpful. You can store all extra inventory at the contracted warehouse so you and your employees won’t have to make room and clear a space in your warehouse. Even in a warehouse environment, clutter and a lot of obstacles can be dangerous to work around. It just makes sense to have the excess inventory safely stored at another location while you work in an easy-to-navigate warehouse environment.

If you own your own warehouse already, you know the time, effort and money it takes to hire and train warehouse employees. When you rent warehouse space, the personnel is included in the price. These warehousing employees specialize in ensuring the most ideal storage for your items. You’ll still be responsible for providing the manpower for managing the shipping and receiving, but you won’t a constant employee presence at the rented warehouse space.

Depending on the type of inventory you’ll be storing, you’ll need to research your potential rented warehouse space for certain features. Make sure the warehouse is on stabilized, level ground with easy access. Also look for the type of high rack storage that will best fit your needs. Location is also a major factor in deciding which warehouse space to rent. You will most likely choose one that is near a major highway for easy access with tractor-trailers and delivery vehicles.

You will want to consider leasing a warehouse that will allow you to keep in touch with your inventory. Some warehouses have very high-tech logistics software that will allow you to track your inventory from over the Internet. This will give you the power to track and check your inventory yourself, rather than calling an operator and being put on hold while someone else checks for you.

Third party logistics is an ever-growing trend in the warehousing business. Make sure you choose the right warehouse for your company by researching the building’s convenience, staff and amenities.