5 Ways to Lower Overhead Costs

Many focus on saving time out in the field – watching hours spent on jobs, looking for ways to improve productivity.  But how often do you look at saving time in the office, or doing admin type of work? Adding a wrench to the mix this year is how the pandemic has affected how and where we work. Some of you are working from home, which may have affected the computer you use, how you “meet” with other staff, how easy it is (or isn’t) to focus on the task at hand.  So often, time on office tasks, time on sales tasks, time spent working on estimates, (to name a few)  isn’t tracked – perhaps just the total hours worked for the day/week – or not at all for those who are salaried But the profit from your jobs needs to cover your overhead and leave you a profit.  So it’s a good idea to review what gets done and see if there is a more efficient way to get the work done. And that leaves you with more profit ☺.  Here are 5 ways you can lower your overhead costs.

  1. Delete! – How often do you find you’re doing something that no longer needs doing or no longer important?  Look around to see if any tasks can be eliminated. Or perhaps there are costs you can eliminate. While auto-pay is a nice feature, it’s easy to forget to review expenses that are paid monthly.  So take a look and see what can be eliminated.
  1. Delegate First, can this task be delegated so you can focus on tasks more in line with your position in the company? If you’re the owner, that could be focusing sales or revising your vision for moving your company forward.  In some cases, hiring someone to do lower-level tasks will actually save you money because then you’re free to work on tasks that will help move your business forward – or maybe enable you to work less.  I know this can be tough – I’m guilty of just working on lower level tasks when I should delegate.  I’ve told my assistant she has permission to remind me to let go so I can focus on sales, marketing, and strategizing.  And this is something to review at least once a year if not quarterly – or even monthly if your business is rapidly growing.
  1. Systematize – Many get caught in the trap of “this is how we’ve always done it”.   Or maybe you aren’t hearing that as much this year, but it’s always worthwhile to ask if there’s a better way.  Have you found steps get overlooked?  If you can systematize, you ensure steps don’t get overlooked, thereby preventing problems. This may mean having a checklist or procedure.  Maybe this year that’s even more important – especially if procedures needed changing.  In some cases you may find you can drop a few steps.  It never hurts to review. Perhaps the place to start is what tasks take the longest or which tasks are really critical?  It could be a checklist for hiring – not just the payroll information but perhaps usernames, logins, permissions etc. need to be established. A checklist will keep you on track. I had a client ask earlier this year about a way to streamline their approval process on outgoing invoices – and we found a way that was much more efficient! 
  1. Automate – This is one of my favorites! Automating gets tasks done for you, saving you time, money and preventing mistakes from human error. In the case of QuickBooks, it can be monthly, quarterly or even annual charges – automatic bill entry or deductions from bank accounts or charges on credit cards – or even monthly billing to customers if the bill is the same amount every month.  A popular one is to automate time entry.  So mobile apps that integrate with QuickBooks save the bookkeeper LOTS of time. And, having done the books for a landscaper several years ago, I can tell you that manually entering time in QuickBooks is time consuming!  In some cases, automation may mean an initial investment of a tool or software, but the ROI is often big.  So look around, what can be automated? Even lots of little tasks add up.
  1. Training – This is another area that involves investment but can have big pay-offs. Training shortens learning curves, can prevent costly mistakes, and in some cases offer time saving tips and strategies.  When working with clients I almost always find mistakes in setup or data entry.  In many cases, features aren’t being utilized either due to not understanding the feature or not even being aware that feature even exists.  That’s true for long-time users as well as “newbies”. And I always find ways to get work done faster; guess that comes from my own impatience with computers ;-).  While I naturally think of QuickBooks training, training is often needed in a variety of areas in your business, including HR (e.g. keeping up with changing regulations), project management, sales and marketing, just to name a few. You might also find that this year, many conferences are going virtual so that eliminates travel expenses making if more affordable for you and/or your staff to receive training.  And personally, I find conferences always worthwhile, although often it’s from the connections I make and/or talking to peers and walking away with new ideas, ways to streamline workflow or increase revenue.

So look around. What takes a long time or is costly?  Perhaps there’s a better way or it can be eliminated completely. If you’d like help in reviewing your QuickBooks setup and/or procedures, let us know and we’ll schedule a time to discuss!

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