Running Costs and How to Reduce them!

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on November 19, 2013 No Comments yet

Running Costs and how to reduce them!

[Reward for reading the article at the end!]

We at The Cost Detectives work with a number of charities every month and although costs can differ widely between organisations the relentless pressure to reduce them and get value for money is always the same.

Whether it’s champagne and fish tanks in the private sector or sleeping bags and Gift Aid support in the charitable sector, we have found the same basic questions can be asked of all costs.


The three most important questions

 to ask when looking at any cost.


1    Is that cost really necessary?  [Can we just get rid of it, just because that is the way it has always been done does not mean it should continue that way. Challenge the costs very existence.]


2    How can we be more efficient? [This could mean something as simple as turning the lights off or using free technology available on the internet, or making processes work smarter.]



3    Can we renegotiate with our suppliers, if not can we change them? [Many suppliers will negotiate, you maybe surprised and indeed there are many hungry suppliers who will provide better and less expensive products and services.]



If you can ask these questions and take action on the answers then you will go a long way to ensuring that you are using your income wisely for your charities chosen passion.


Often it is a case of finding the time to ask for help. For example, we are often surprised how many companies are happy to help charities especially those with local connections, equally we come across others who treat charities as just another customer and charge whatever they can get away with. Most charities we see have a mixture of the two. But do find the time to ask.


The key is not only to ask the four questions but also to take action!


Reward Time!


As a reward for reading the article here are three tips that you can take away with you now and potentially save thousands of pounds in your charity. So copy these to your finance team now, you may even get them to make the coffee for a change as a thank you.


3 Cost Saving Tips


1    If you do not know when your energy contracts end then find out, otherwise you will be rolled over into a new much higher, above market rate for years to come.


2    Have a look at your phone bill, if you are paying a minimum call charge, even if the call is one second long then you are paying too much. Also if you are paying over 8 tenths of a penny per minute for local and national calls then you are paying too much.



3    If Vat is actually a cost for your charity then check you are paying the reduced rate for all your energy and water you could save 15% off every bill!



The Cost Detectives are a Cost Reduction company, who help all types of organisations by identify cost savings. We help a few charities each month for free. Follow us on Twitter for more tips or just email  with any questions and help.





Revealed; Suppliers we have identified savings against for clients!

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on July 16, 2013 No Comments yet

When was the last time one of your suppliers rang up to say their prices were falling?


A great question that I often hear from grimacing businessmen in networking events and business meetings.

Well, sometimes all you have  to do is ask, or get someone to benchmark your costs for you.

Time and prioritising is the work of the devil as far as most FDs and MDs are concerned, so we have put together a little list of those suppliers we have identified significant savings against in the last few months.

If you have any of these suppliers then just get in touch.

Indeed if you are using them then it is probable that you are paying too much no matter how big or small a company you are.

In no particular order, honestly;


BT for Telephony

PHS for Washroom supplies

Viking for stationery

Iron Mountain for Document Storage

Local counsel for waste collection

Biffa for waste collection

Bond for outsourced payroll

AXA-PPP for healthcare

Streamline for Merchant Credit Cards

Rentokil Initial for washroom supplies


If you are looking at the list and see your name, then how about reviewing your clients accounts and getting better value for money for them?

We are coming for you!


If you would like your costs reviewed then just drop me a line on


Are Leases and HP Agreements the next PPI?

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on February 14, 2013 No Comments yet



Are leases and HP Agreements the next PPI?


Be honest when you had the lease or HP agreement for your last photocopier, phone system or IT equipment for the office did you read all the small print?

Photocopier Leases!!

Even if you did, did you understand it?  There is growing evidence of problems coming from the industry experts that we may have another mis-selling situation on our hands.


There has been some high profile cases involving schools recently who have been massively overcharged, one medium sized primary school was losing £45,000 over the five year contract term, a massive part of their budget. Another school was paying £25,000 too much. These are not scams these are just ordinary leases that just pile up and look OK each time.

Another horrendous example was Glemsford Primary who said it unwittingly signed a deal leasing 100 computers, which the school said was on the basis that it would not cost anything, they ended up with a bill for £500,000.

IT Leases!!

But it is not only schools it is now spreading to all sorts of businesses around the UK.


If you have a lease that is old new or current just send it to us and we can get it reviewed for free for you.

The report will tell you if there are any issues that may trigger some sort of compensation. If not then you have lost nothing apart from the comfort of knowing that you have a good deal.

Just email me on a copy of your lease or click here, Cost Detectives Leases, to upload your agreement for free and send me the link.

We will review the lease in a few days and send you the results we find.


The Secrets of Cost Reduction!

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on January 26, 2013 No Comments yet


The  Secrets of Cost Reduction.



We are often asked what approach we take to reviewing client’s costs.

The answer we give is straight forward and can be used by anyone in any organisation, whether you are one man band or a multi national.

We believe each and every cost in your business should be subjected to the following 3 questions.


Is that Cost really necessary?

Challenge every single cost within your business, what would you do if you could not buy it anymore? Can you find it free on the internet, can you barter it for something. Has the technology just got old and you should really have got rid of it ages ago, no matter what it is.

How can we use  less of things?

You can always be more efficient, whether that means setting the photocopier to automatically print both sides. Or going paperless altogether, or not leaving things on standby. Look at your business processes, map them and test them and look for where the delays and inefficiencies are.


Can I renegotiate, or find an alternative?

Sometimes it can be difficult to renegotiate with the large corporate, especially if you are a smaller company. But why not say to your other suppliers “We are looking to appoint you as our exclusive supplier for X, if we do that we would need to have 5% off” or “ For every £ we spend over last quarters spend we need a 10% discount”.

You will be surprised how many suppliers are keen to help and maintain their market share by keeping you as a customer.


I hope you have enjoyed these tips, please do not hesitate to ask any questions or indeed add your own. Don’t forget to share this article  if you found it helpful. Just send me an email if you would like our help.




Charity Facilities Management, what is special about it?

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on October 21, 2012 No Comments yet

What is special about Charity Facilities Management?


I was recently invited to speak to a group of charities brought together by the wonderful Annette McGill of the Charity Facilities Management Group.

There were 15 or so London based Charities ranging from some of the very big players to some more modest ones.

This group meets on a regular basis and recently they have inevitably been talking about costs and trying to make sure that  that they are all paying market rates for goods and services.

Annette spoke of some of the large disparity on some costs from within the group, not explained by volumes etc . I am sure some members took that information away and started negotiating with their suppliers armed with that new knowledge, one of the benefits of the group.

This sharing of information seems more open in the Charity sector, and is not something I readily come across in the commercial world.


Indeed what was special was  how some of the very big charities were more than happy to help the smaller ones and not only with advice but with offering to share contract rates that their bulk had allowed them to negotiate so the smaller charities could benefit from savings.


Needless to say my segment was on not only how we look at each cost to make sure they were paying market rates but also to ensure that they asked two further questions as well.

Firstly;     Do they need that cost at all, what would they say if I told them they could no longer buy that item or service, what would they do?

Secondly;   How can you use less of and goods and services, you will save a lot more money this way. I illustrated this by asking how many of the group had turned off their PCs when they came to this afternoon meeting, only 20% had. All that energy down the drain and out of the bank.

I finished up my piece by letting the charities know that our Cost Reduction Services are free to charities, which as you can imagine was well received.

The meeting also had other presenters from buying Groups as well as suppliers of various items. This all added to the receiving of information and homework for the attendees.


The next meeting is about Energy, with a number of brokers attending, I hope they talk about energy saving as well and not just getting the best price. I hope they read my previous blog on ideas about how Energy Companies can rip you off.


The Charity attendees were:  Cafod, NCVO, John Ellerman Foundation, Unitarian Church, Charity Facilities Management, Trust Thamesmead Ltd.

Campaign to Protect Rural England

Field Lane Foundation, World Vision UK

Peabody Trust,  British Heart Foundation

National Voices, Society of Genealogists

Disabilities Trust, NCMA, Cats Protection

Marie Curie Cancer Care, Spurgeons


Why have a Franking Machine? 3 Tips on what you need to take into account.

Posted in 3 Tips from the Cost Detectives by Marcus on July 23, 2012 1 Comment

Do you need a Franking Machine?


Does your office have a franking machine? Do you know why?  These  are the top 3 reasons for having a Franking Machine.

1                     Postage costs can be up to 38% cheaper than using stamps!

2                     No more “we have run out of stamps I’m off to the post office”, then not retuning for hours on end!

3                     You can print your own logo onto each envelope using the Franking machine.



But what you also need to be aware of is that if you only do a few letters then the cost of buying or leasing a franking machine does not make sense. If you have about 10-25 letters a day then you may well be better off, especially given the extra time saving of not going to the post office and using the franking machine takes a fraction of the time of using stamps.


The best quote we had from the experts that we use was “That client does not need a franking machine”. So find a team that will not just sell you a machine but will give you good advice.

Remember if you have a machine already especially if you lease it, they are a lot like business mobile phones. The Costs are falling and new companies may buy you out of the contract you are in so it always worth checking if you can get a better deal.

Do not forget that each machine has their own consumables such as ink so make sure not to sign up a contract that has a fixed extra price for consumables without checking.

Of course if you would like us to help you check your existing contract or advise on taking the plunge on your first then just drop me a line to and we will do all we can to help.



The Cost Detective shows you how a charity can save quick money on their energy bills.

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on July 8, 2011 No Comments yet

The Cost Detective shows you how a charity can save quick money on their energy bills.
If you are helping a charity get them to check that they are paying the correct Vat on their energy bills, most should only be paying %5 not 20%.
Also they do not have to pay the Climate Change Levy, it is often a cost that goes un noticed by charities.
Power prices have gone up and up so negotiating is now even more important, but your opportunity to do so is severely limited by the small notice period, get help.