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.





Is your business paying any of these prices? You are paying too much!

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

Is your business paying these prices for goods and services?

Markets change, wholesale prices move, relationships are important, we hear all of this but they always result in a price increase from the supplier, not so much a negotiation more of a take it or leave it.

We thought we would give you 10 prices for items that if you are paying in excess of then, it is probable that you are paying too much.

You should also check our other posting that showed 10 suppliers that we have made significant savings against recently to see if they are supplying you. Cost Detectives list of Shame. Or are you one of them?


Are you paying more than…..

1                    1pence per minute for national or local calls?

2                   5.5 pence per minute for mobile calls?

3                   £11 per collection for an 1100 litre waste bin?

4                   Zero to have your Merchant credit card bill sent to you?

5                   £15 for your PDQ machine?

6                   £3 per payslip all inclusive for outsourced payroll?

7                   £9 per collection for Feminine Hygiene Disposal?

8                   You did two years ago for print of any kind?

9                   £8.70 for a case of 200ml Coca Cola?

10              Zero for insurance charged via any of your lease agreements?


These are just a tiny fraction of prices that we have identified that are too high, if you are paying in excess of any of these then just drop me a line and we can help.

Equally if you would like to check a price for anything just email us a current invoice, any cost from A-Z; from Live Lobsters to a taxi to Heathrow!


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


Commercial Property Owner? Do you have cash waiting for you?

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on February 9, 2013 No Comments yet

Do you have a commercial property that you use for your business?


Did you know that hundreds of thousands of UK businesses are due tax rebates totalling £70 billion, according to estimates by tax experts.


UK companies are able to claim tax relief on fittings such as lighting and air conditioning as well as other assets added to the property, though the lengthy legislative process involved in valuing these assets often puts firms off filing relevant claims.

Accountancy firm Deloitte confirming that, in 90 per cent of cases, tax allowance reports will uncover a tax rebate for commercial property owners.

For obvious reasons, the Revenue isn’t shouting about it from the rooftops. But there could be cash waiting for you now, could your business do with some?

“My accountant deals with all of this sort of thing”, I hear you say. The truth is that most accountants can’t be expected to have the skill-set required to identify capital allowances. It requires forensic skills supplied by property surveyors who are not merely looking at invoices.

Capital Allowance claims are one of the many things that we help our clients with if you would like us to see if you are eligible then just let us know, all on a no win no fee basis of course.


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.




Age UK Enfield Continues to Support community.

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on October 27, 2012 No Comments yet


This week I attended the AGM of Age UK Enfield. Did you know each local Age UK office is a charity in their own right and do not receive any money from the National Office?

Age UK Enfield Offices on the ground floor

Not sure what I was expecting, but I had two pleasant surprises.

Firstly was the amount of people there supporting the cause, the Enfield Mayor Cllr Kate Anolue was there, as were a number of councillors. Lots of members of the charity,  as well as volunteers, supporters and the local Police Support Officers.

In fact there were over 100 people in attendance. Including a very sprightly 95 year old barn dancer!


The second surprise was when the CEO Tony Seagroatt during his address, took the time out to mention myself and The Cost Detectives, thanking us for helping reduce their running costs and then recommending us to other charities. Completely unexpected.

The big news of the day was the announcement of a potentially big project on the horizon which sounded really exciting, I am sure we will hear more in due course. This was Tony’s 20th year as CEO a fantastic servant to, well I was going to say “the elderly”, but as they start supporting people when they turn 50 I am not sure I can.

They have some great Trustees but are potentially on the look out for someone that has some marketing expertise they can bring to the team so if you are interested I am sure Tony would be pleased to hear from you.

The police also did a presentation on bogus callers and how to deal with them, a number of people in the audience then st0od up and told their stories of how they had been ripped off, a lesson for us all to be aware. Just another way AGE UK Enfield is helping the local community.

After the meeting was over everyone was encouraged to stay and talk to each other over tea and sandwiches which was great, met a number of interesting people.

Had a great afternoon thanks to Tony and the team at Age UK Enfield.

A final thought “Who do you support in your local community?”.




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