Telling the truth about SME life today

Gareth Limpenny is MD of Jelly Communications, a £20m-turnover business mobile company. His firm specialises in cutting costs for its customers. He’s provided these insights to help entrepreneurs bring down their overheads, without jeopardising performance.Don’t overpay for your business mobile tariffConsider whether you are paying for calls between colleagues and excess minutes that you don’t use. Speak to an independent supplier who will find you the most cost effective tariff and you could get the latest handsets into the bargain.

Don’t pay for fixed and mobile broadbandThink about your working habits. Do you travel with work a lot” If you use a laptop you could use a USB Dongle to give you broadband access anywhere and cut your fixed line access. Rent out surplus desk/warehouse spaceDo you have extra space going” Consider renting out the space to a small start-up company.

Pool your office maintenance contractsConsolidating suppliers who carry out cleaning, building maintenance and repairs can help you negotiate a big discount. Ask your current maintenance firms if they could handle a larger brief and get them to quote for costs.

Get a better business banking dealThere are a number of banks that offer business accounts so shop around for the best rates. There will be big differences in the interest rates offered to customers on credit and savings accounts as well as the rates charged on credit cards and overdrafts. Ask your business connections who they bank with and remember that service is a key part of the proposition.Review your business insurance policies This is a neglected area of finance that many businesses forget about. Price is a key driver for the insurance market, so make sure you are not paying too much. Get a financial adviser or specialist broker to check your insurance needs (buildings/van or fleet/key man/indemnity) and potentially move you to policies with lower premiums. Don’t be tempted to cancel policies without a backup in place though.

Renegotiate with suppliers for raw materials/ servicesThis is an obvious one, but very important, especially if you rely on a large amount of raw materials, such as metals, timber, foodstuffs or paper. Consider switching suppliers, especially if overseas companies can provide the same standards at cheaper prices. Make sure that you get discounts for bulk purchases and don’t be afraid to negotiate hard. Outsourcing Are your staff spending time on tasks that are not core to their job, such as admin” You can outsource almost anything these days and freeing up your staff time could allow them to focus on winning new customers.

Reduce energy usageEncourage staff to switch off lights in toilets and cupboards when not in use. Using fluorescent ceiling lights in place of individual desk lamps will also cut energy consumption.Renegotiate finance and loans or take payment holidaysInterest rates have been falling drastically in the last couple of months, so you may be able to negotiate better deals on your loans or commercial mortgages, especially if you have a reasonable amount of equity. A financial adviser can help with guidance. If you are really stuck, ask your bank manager if your finance deal allows you to take a payment holiday or reduce payments for a few months.

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