There is not as much low hanging fruit on the branches as there used to be. Today, every piece of business is earned. The reality? It always has been.
I try to stay optimistic about the economy, seeking out the positive stories like new businesses and growth opportunities, but sometimes the reality is that, yes, small businesses can be hit hard.
As a small printer, you may be looking around their print shop and wondering how they’re going to afford things like lease payments and payroll with ever-dwindling cash reserves. The easy answer might be layoffs, but there are alternatives. If all you need to stay in the black is a little extra cash flow, full scale layoffs may not only be extreme, they could end up pushing you further down. If you can, consider one of the following:
As you look at your operation, ask yourself, “Am I as efficient as I could be?” If I automate more of my operation, can I get more revenue and take on more jobs I could not before? The answer is yes. How do you think companies like Vista Print do it so cheap? They simply automate the process to keep the per piece cost down and do it in volume. So, yes, it may be a good idea to consider that UV Coating Machine, an all-in-one slitter, creaser and cutter. Or look for the automated lamination machine that can run more jobs with limited human intervention.
If you can’t afford to pay someone’s regular salary, what makes you think you can afford to pay someone time-and-a-half? Eliminate overtime at your print shop now by releasing a clear statement that says no overtime will be approved until further notice. Alternatively, you could draft a new policy offering employees flex time in lieu if overtime is worked (remember to set limits).
If an existing overtime policy is in place, you may need to get employees to sign off on a new policy. Check with HR, your lawyer, or an HR adviser before you make sweeping changes to existing employee contracts.
Limit Travel and Expenses
It’s true that you need to spend money to make money, but sometimes you need to save money to survive. If things are feeling tight, it may be time to cut your small business staff’s travel and expense budgets, especially if it means saving someone’s job.
Today, video conferencing, instant file delivery and quick communication make face-to-face meetings seem like a luxury. Yes, you can often score more points with a person-to-person sales call, but it may be time to start looking for clients locally.
Reduce Total Hours
Whether voluntary or not, hour reductions can be a way to save jobs while reducing pay. Some employees may welcome the opportunity to work less, but have more flexible hours, while others may resist the idea.
Remember though, reducing hours may reduce your hourly payroll, but it may not have a huge impact on your health insurance costs, unemployment costs or worker’s compensation insurance premiums unless you’re dealing with already part-time print shop employees. Take this into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of hour reductions.
Employees aren’t going to like a year without pay raises or bonuses, but they’ll accept it if the alternative is potential job loss. Explain to your staff clearly why you’re implementing a temporary pay freeze and what it means for them. Done right, this move should be accepted with understanding rather than backlash.
When things are slow, there is still opportunity. While others cry, you can find opportunity where no one else is looking.