Store Room: What have you been doing to cut your business expenses?
Our monthly column is devoted to what works and what doesn't - for our readers, from our readers
"Times are tight for almost everyone. What have you been doing to cut your business expenses?"
Janice J. Whitehead
Balloons By Janice
Lately, I have been trying to create as much as I can from the inventory I have on hand. I have a large inventory and plan ahead so I can purchase less and use what I have in stock first. Because I trust the quality balloons I purchase (Qualatex and Betallic), I don't have to worry much about breakage.
I renegotiated the dumpster contract, changed vendors for cheaper rates on the phone and security and do my own light fixture repairs. On other expenses that I could not reduce, we required the vendor, such as insurance, to convert to monthly billings.
We had to stop donations and advertising since I would qualify for food stamps based on current income if I did not own my house and business.
We order only what we need; try to wait to combine orders for several decorating events and of course take advantage of free shipping whenever possible and shop for vendors who offer it.
Joanne Linker, Owner
We purchased a new energy efficient air conditioner and had brand new duct work put in to keep the air/heat bills lower. Not only am I saving money, it is much more comfortable in the store, and I know the money I AM spending isn't going to waste!
While others are advertising less, there are more opportunities to get more for my advertising dollar while finding different venues to advertise with. I never negotiated before and now I need to and can, so both parties win.
We do Facebook consistently and most every day we post a One-Day Special and/or comment on the events going on in our area to promote our town of Antioch, IL as a whole.
Then we did a phony goofy $2 bill with our advertising on it that says, "We are goofier than a $2 bill!" We give them out to people we meet here and there and say, "Just give this to one of our gals, they'll give you a quickie tour through our store and then you can exchange this for a real $2 bill just for your time!"
I figure if I do a $300 ad we can never be sure how many new customers we attract. So $300 divided by $2 is 150 new customers that I have guaranteed to walk through our doors if the whole $300 is given out. They think it's fun that I'm willing to pay them to come to my store.
I save money by not getting carried away with the latest fad item. I keep my tried and true items in stock and supplement with a few new things. Most of the time fads are outdated by time you sell your stock. (Like Beanie Babies - a few may have made money on them, but now I see buckets of them at garage sales.)
Simply know your basic product line, what sells and stick with it.
I have only been carrying things that I know have wide appeal and will sell.
American Balloon Company
More air-filled balloon décor instead of helium, cut employee hours and increase delivery charges.
Los Gatos, Calif.
We have been doing a number of things to cut our expenses and also become a more environmentally friendly business. We recently replaced all the grass around our building with California native plants that are low maintenance and take much less water, which lowered our water bill, substantially reduced our landscaping service bills and got us a credit from the state for replacing grass with natives.
We are also encouraging customers to bring their own shopping bags by donating five cents per plastic bag saved to Sempervirens Fund, an organization dedicated to the preservation of California Redwood forests.
Hopefully in the long run we will no longer have to buy those pesky plastic bags that end up as trash. We have also been cutting back on our phone book ads and focusing more of our advertising efforts on free venues like Facebook.
Halloween Costume World
Hire more people to stop shoplifters.
Heavenly Choice Flowers & Events
I am controlling my purchasing of all supplies. The last two years we have just used current inventory and adapted designs to what we have. Everyone needs to slim their supply inventory without your customer noticing. Think twice before any purchase.
For example, we have cut our giftwrap selection from 25 designs to10 designs that are more neutral designs. We reduced our ribbon selection from 20 colors of bows with matching ribbon to four different styles, poly ribbon, floral paper ribbon, curling, Mylar and holographic and beautiful wired ribbons.
Jacob & Kimberly Cowger
Balloons, Etc & The Costume Emporium
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Call us crazy, but we actually chose these tight times to expand our business. When the only costume shop within several hundred miles closed in our city, we decided to add costume rentals, makeup and theatrical supplies to our balloon business. We moved to a new location that is at least five times larger than our old one and we have hired five part time employees.
The hard part now is getting the word out to people that we're here and trying to encourage them to shop local. It's a very exciting but also very scary jump to take, but time will tell if this was a good business move!