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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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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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

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Business phone bills ; 3 Tips to see if you are paying too much!

Business Phone Bills

 

 

We have been saving costs for organisations costs for years on all sorts of costs from A to Z. Today we are focussing on land line telephony costs.

The cost of telephony continues to fall and the suppliers margins are falling or they should be. We see a huge variety of costs being paid for the same call so many suppliers are still making too much money!

As with a lot of things, businesses just want the phones to work and they do not have time to check if they are paying too much. The imagined hassle of changing suppliers is also something the procrastinator holds onto.

The changes in the industry means it is now easier than ever to change suppliers and there is no excuse!

Your supplier is not about to tell you that you are being overcharged you need to get it checked for yourself, in the years we have been looking at costs we have saved money on 98% of telephony bills that we have seen.

 

So what 3 Tips can we give you to let you know if you are paying too much?

 

    1. Are you being charged a minimum call charge? Have a look on your bill if you see a 1 to 10 second call and they all cost the same, then you are being charged just for connecting. You are paying too much, this billing went out with the ark!
    2. Does it cost more than 6.5pence per minute to call a mobile? The cost of calling mobiles was always an expensive per minute charge but costs have fallen dramatically in the last few years as more and more mobile calls are made. Can be less for high volumes!
    3. How much are your lines , more than £12.50 per month? Lines are a regulated product so they are all looked after by BT so even when you change supplier the underlying provider is still BT.

 

If you would like another 3 tips on what you should be looking out or if you have any trouble trying to identify if you are paying too much then just send us a copy of your latest bill to Marcus@TheCostDetectives.co.uk and we can advise for you.

 

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