How much did we save our recent Legal client?

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on March 3, 2014 No Comments yet

 

January 2014                                  Legal Firm Savings

 

As Cost Reduction specialists we a have a very simple philosophy and approach to our clients.

No big contracts just an email exchange is enough for us, plus of course an NDA if you need one.

Unlike other competitors who are known to charge fees and over 50% of identified savings,

we do things a little differently.

 

Our 3 step approach is;

1                   We review all costs within the business, [but we will not teach anyone how to suck eggs].

2                   We will agree those savings with the client. [There maybe a contracts in place which mean the savings cannot be made, we do not count that as a saving]

3                   Our charge of 10% is based on an agreed calculation of the 1st years savings.

We sit quietly in a corner of the office going through the last years worth of invoices and costs and the over the next few weeks will feed back areas where we think savings can be made.

How do we identify savings/ We ask three questions of each and every cost.

1                   Is that cost really necessary? [Can we just get rid of it?]

2                   How can we encourage efficiency when incurring the cost?

3                   Can we renegotiate with your existing supplier or better ones?

We have attached an example of savings that we have made at a London based Legal Firm recently, as an example of our work.

 

Cost

% Saving

Waste Collection

25%

Telephony Costs

29%

Document Storage

21%-64%

Confidential Shredding

65%

Washroom Services

68%

Printing

41%

Electricity

22%

IT Costs

32%

Private Health Cover

28%

Stationery

12%

 

 

For this four partner, firm savings were in excess of £15,000 and are still climbing as        contracts fall due. Our charge for this was 10% of these agreed savings.

 

If you would like us to do the same for your firm then just get in touch with our Managing Director on MarcusKing@TheCostDetectives.co.uk and we can organise a time to meet

 

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What do we charge and How do we find savings?

Posted in Cost Detective, General by Marcus on November 27, 2013 No Comments yet

 

Cost Detective

 

Not surprisingly prospects ask us how we do what we do and what are the costs if they engage with us.

 

I thought it would be  worth writing a short blog, as our methods are transparent and  our costs are there for all to see.

 

Transparency!

 

After we have been appointed by a client the process usually runs like this;

 

1.  Meet with the boss for 45 minutes to understand the business and what its priorities are in terms of costs. Get introduced to finance team.

2.   Sit down with all the invoices etc for the last 12 months and gather information, just a desk and a photocopier/scanner are fine, no need for input from staff.

3.  Take the information away, get clarity from staff on a few items and then start reporting back savings that we have identified via email.

4. First savings are  usually identified  within 10 days, and once we have completed we will summarise all the savings in a nice short report.

5.  We will agree the savings with you the client.

6.  Done

 

How do we identify savings?  We take a 3 step approach  to each and every cost.

OK I could not find an image with 3 steps!

 

1.  Is that cost really necessary? Can we just get rid of it?

2.  How  can we get you to use less, to  be more efficient, whether that be energy or processes.

3.  Can we renegotiate with existing suppliers or suggest new ones?

 

Once we have applied these three questions to all costs we have always identified savings for every organisation we have worked for.

 

How much does all this cost?

It is very straight forward, remember number 5 in the process, We agree the savings with the client? Once those are agreed then our share of that is just 10%, so the client keeps 90% and does not pay any other fees. The 10% also only applies to the first 12 months worth of savings not for years to come like some of our competitors.

 

So there you have it the How and How Much questions answered.

By the way if you are a charity or know of one, we do not charge them even the 10%, so they get the service for free.

 

If you have any questions then just email me on Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk

 

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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 Marcus@thecostdetectives.co.uk  with any questions and help.

 

 

 

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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 Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk

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Costs are like dogs!- The Cost Detectives

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on April 7, 2013 No Comments yet

Costs are like dogs!

 

We spend a lot of time with clients looking at the actual cost of things that they are paying for, because that is the area they want us to concentrate on.

But we also look at how things are being ordered and why?  dog on lead 1

Companies struggle between empowering employees to do  right when they buy things, but equally wonder why their costs just keep going upwards.

There are things you can do to make sure that the balance works better.

Restrict who employees can order from, but equally make sure the door is open to new suggestions for suppliers as employees who are at the coal face often have an eye on new trends and options available.

 

Empower employees not only to spend but to innovate as well.

When was the last time you asked your employees, “What do we spend too much on?” If you did , did you take any notice?

If you have multiple sites how do you know when purchases are being made? Do you have a web based ordering and stock control system that can spit out reports at the drop of a hat.

There are many different ways of controlling day to day costs. Looking at costs two weeks after each month end is not one of them or even worse at year end!

Costs are like dogs you need to keep them on a leash, but there is no reason with the right procedures in place that it can not be one of those extendable / retractable ones. Not every dog tries to run away!

 

dog on lead 2

 

So have another think about your costs, if you do not have the time to find those last bits of savings then you know where to come.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @CostDetectives for great free cost saving tips, or do get in touch if you are looking for any contacts as we now have over 7,000. MarcusKing@TheCostDetectives.co.uk

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How your costs can be like the Olympic Cyclists! by The Cost Detectives

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on March 10, 2013 No Comments yet

How your costs can be like the Olympic Cyclists!

 

I remember watching an interview whilst the Olympics were on , with some of the management team of the British 2012 Olympic Cycling team, the most successful we have ever had.

The thing that really struck me was how the interviewee said there are no big changes to be made anymore, no one thing is suddenly going to make everyone go faster. So what did they do? Did they just try and do the same thing did they just stop looking? No they listed out every single item and said how can we improve it even if it only makes a difference of a hundredth of a second, and they started to make the changes.

 

Low and behold all those little increments added together added up to a big something, more gold medals!Olympic Gold Medal

 

As we visit lots of businesses or talk to prospects we often hear, “oh no we have our costs under control thanks”, well I bet the other countries cyclists thought that as well and look what happened to them!

Making it known in the company that the little things are important will permeate through the rest of the behaviour and all sorts of benefits will accrue. Not only cost control and waste but customer care and delivery as well.Cyclist Finishing First

So have another think about your costs, if you do not have the time to find those last bits of savings then you know where to come.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @CostDetectives for great free cost saving tips, or do get in touch if you are looking for any contacts as we now have over 7,000. MarcusKing@TheCostDetectives.co.uk

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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 Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk if you would like our help.

 

 

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10 Top Cost Saving Tips for any Business

Posted in Cost Detective, General by Marcus on November 10, 2012 2 Comments

Ten top tips for savings costs in any company or at home

 I Recently used this list as a basis for a presentation I did to 20 business women in North London, it was well received. Not only because all the tips are real ones that we have used with our clients, but because some of them can also be used a home.

              1.     Energy                        Make sure you know when your energy contracts are up for renewal. If you     don’t  you will be rolled over into a new contract at a higher than market rate and be paying too much for years to come.

 

                 2.   Energy Usage           A very simple tip, when you leave your business tonight take a reading of your electricity meter. When you come in tomorrow take another reading. He wonder what on earth have you left on all night that is costing you hundreds and hundreds of ££s a year!

 

3.  Fax Machines           Please tell me you do not still have one of these, they cost over £200 a year to run. You can now have a digital fax which means that any fax that is sent to you arrives as an email instead. No more worrying about ink or paper of that horrible squealing noise if your fax shares your phone line. We got rid of ours sometime ago and we now use this, http://bit.ly/MAsfQy  costs £2 a month.

 

4.   Print Costs                   These costs are still falling so you must ensure that you get more than one quote each and every time. We act as a print price checker for a number of organisations so if you need help with what can be a tricky area but full of significant savings then let us know.

 

5.    Telephony                    There are again huge savings still being made in telephony, but if you are a small company or a one man band then have you thought about getting rid of your landline altogether? You can still have a landline number and just point  it at your mobile or answering service and you can change the number it points to anytime.

 

6.    For the retailers amongst you.    You should all be taking credit cards as a payment method, but when was the last time you checked how much your Merchant Credit  Card Company is charging you? It is not all about the headline percentage charges did you now there are over 16 other charges that can appear on your statement? If you have lots of tourists buying your wares did you know there is a way of reducing your charges to zero, and we know companies who are actually being paid by their Merchant Credit card company.

 

7.      Business Rates                        There are still 41% of small companies in the UK who are not claiming the discounts and rebates available. Have a look at your business rates bill and look for the RV value. If it less than £25,500 if you are in Greater London then you should be getting rebates.

 

8.      Data Back ups                     Do you back up your data? Do you back up onto a drive that sits next to your computer? Thief will just take both. What about at home are you backing up those precious digital photos etc. A large percentage of companies fail within 2 years of a significant data loss, do not be one of them.  We use a service that charges £60 a year for a terabyte, incredibly good value, if you want the details then just let me know.

 

9.      Do you run a cafe or a restaurant?        Do you measure your waste food? This is a great way to answer questions like are  our portions too big? Do our customers like what we are serving today? If you simply scrape all the left overs into a bucket then weigh each day you will soon get a picture of what is working and what is changing.

 

10.      Telephony again.                Have a look at your business phone bill, I want you to look for 2 letters that will highlight the fact that you are paying too much. Those letters are “BT”.  95% of the clients that we work with have been paying too much if they have had BT as their Telephony supplier, are you one of the them?

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed these 10 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 Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk

 

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16 ways different Merchant Credit Card companies can rip you off!

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on October 4, 2012 No Comments yet

16 ways different Merchant Credit Card companies can rip you off!

 

We asked one of our experts recently what sort of things we should look out for when we are looking at Merchant Credit Card statements and charges.

They admitted they even surprised themselves with the list.

The headline rates are often touted, but this is not always the full picture!

 

  1. Admin fee – charge to set up the service
  2. Terminal Rental fee – are the fees being charged an introductory offer, or are they fixed.  Also to ensure the same style of machines are being quoted for
  3. Monthly/annual membership fee.  Not very common but we do still see this one a number of applications
  4. Authorisation charges – price per transaction or process
  5. Chargebacks – what charge is there per chargeback
  6. Voice authorisations – are these charged extra
  7. What number does the authorisation service dial – if this is not freephone, the customer will also be paying for the call.
  8. Premium fees – these are often not disclosed fully on an invoice so hard to quantify, some providers are very good at hiding certain fees like this.
  9. Interchange fees – not normally charge separately, but this is now standard practice for some banks.
  10. Cancellation fees, cancellation terms – some of the companies  can impose very onerous terms for cancellation (e.g. all remaining payments plus a cancellation fee)
  11. Contract Length – if the terms above are unrealistic, this could cause a problem.
  12. Setup time – how long will they realistically take to process the application
  13. PCIDSS fees – this may be an annual membership fee, non-compliancy fees, or similarly worded charge
  14. Paper statements – is this a chargeable service, or has this even been scrapped altogether.
  15. RISK – are they asking for any security up front – this is not as likely as you normally deal with existing businesses, but may still be something of a sticking point.  This will also be what is the payment cycle/deferment of the payment.
  16. What other services does the machine offer? – Mobile Phone Top Ups.

 

 

So 16 different things to look at, all before you look at the headline rates of the percentage they charge for each transaction.

 

If you have any trouble trying to make sense of yours then just let us know and we can get our experts to do the work for you and find you the best current deal. Just email me on Marcus@thecostdetectives.co.uk

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Do you have the fairer sex working for you?

Posted in Cost Detective by Marcus on September 13, 2012 No Comments yet

Do I need to provide sanitary disposal?

Even if you only have one women working for you these regulations apply.

 

Each company has a duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The Regulations updated in 1992, stipulate that “In the case of water closets

used by women, suitable means should be provided for the disposal of sanitary dressings”.

 This applies to all commercial premises in the UK.

One of the things that you need to be aware of is that if your building cleaners are just emptying the bins into the general waste bags then you are breaking the law.

So using a highly reputable Registered Waste carrier is essential.

How much should I be paying for the service?

If you already have this service in place with a properly registered Waste carrier then check that you are not paying too much.

Our research shows that if you are paying more than £9 for a monthly collection of each bin then you will indeed be paying too much. If you have a lot of bins that need collecting and servicing, then the price should be less.

 

Of course if you would like us to help you check your existing contract or put you in touch with a supplier then just drop me a line to Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk and we will do all we can to get those bills reduced.

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