A while ago (over 4 years to be more exact), I gave an intern a hand-written shopping list and sent her off to Office Desperate to pick up a few things (I didn’t specify quantities, just the stuff we needed). As of Halloween 2008, we just finished using the binder clips she purchased. Did I mention I didn’t specify quantities? She was a bargain hunter: “It was a Buy One Get One at Half Off Sale. Look at these great binder clips I got.”
Since that experience we spent a little time and typed up the usual “shopping list” of what the office needs to function (including quantities to have on hand and when to order more). That little list has done a great job (and saved more than the time it took to prepare it) just in being able to compare the cost of ink/toner cartridges alone!
So, with that story, let's review how you do things on the “expense” side of your office. Be prepared to answer 3 main questions: Is it necessary? Is it negotiable? Is it efficient?
- Is it necessary? It may be a good time to reevaluate your fixed costs (and contract lengths, i.e., Internet services, office phone lines, cell phone service, etc.). You’ll be surprised when you find that you've had a “standard maintenance agreement” and never used. Consider terminating it.
- Is it negotiable? Talk to your long-term vendors for better rates (now, in the short term). We’ve found that technology (printing services, FTP services, etc.) are becoming more aggressive in maintaining their customer base (hint: that’s us architects).
- Is it efficient? Review your old business habits (you do have some, don’t you?) Review your accounting and invoicing procedures? Can you do it any easier or faster? Is that software really worth the expense? Do you really use all the bells and whistles that the accounting software offers? Can you purchase a lesser subscription and get only the parts you use?
Does any of this resonate? Any more suggestions or tips? Next week: Exposure Reduction.
--Lisa Stacholy, AIA