By: William Arruda, Forbes Contributor
Businesses improve their bottom lines when they do one of two things: generate more revenue or cut costs. As an employee, if your personal brand is tied to improving the company’s financial health, you score a big win because those achievements are easy to document and make your boss look good, too. Become known as someone who manages resources wisely and comes up with innovative ways to achieve abundance.
Employees who keep their eyes open for opportunities to cut costs can be one of the biggest drivers of growth and efficiency at a company. But it can backfire; if you’re simply a cheapskate, your insistence on cutting corners might hurt the quality of the service you provide. Instead, commit to being a wise bargain shopper—someone who never sacrifices quality but is a great steward of company resources—in these three areas:
1. Implement automation.
Automation can save your company money while allowing team members to focus on what really differentiates your company from the competition. Legendary guitar maker Fender, for instance, leveraged this principle when its marketing team started using Workfront to automate tasks. This allowed the company to reduce time spent in the project discovery phase by consolidating details and timelines centrally instead of having each of its creatives track his or her own work.
Fender is hardly alone in its automation push. A 2017 report from McKinsey & Company estimated that for 60% of occupations, around a third of activities can be automated. To join this growing movement, start by considering which of your team’s tasks might be successfully automated. If you find a certain task mundane or repetitive, that’s a good place to start. At the same time, look at industry competitors and how they have retooled. By following a similar approach to automation, you can accelerate your company’s efficiency, meaning you and your team can devote their talent to higher-level tasks that demand creativity and a human touch.
2. Cut expenses related to your office space.
An often-overlooked area for cutting costs is the physical work environment. “You will never be able to reduce your overhead costs to zero, but that is no reason not to get them to a manageable number,” says Dave Llorens, an electrical engineer and the CEO of EverWatt Lights, a lighting-as-a-service company. Seemingly simple solutions can go a long way, such as shutting down electronic devices when not in use, making your documentation fully digital and switching to cost-efficient LED lighting to reduce costs throughout the year.
Need proof that a simple change can have big results? When the printer is out of toner, Mom Inventors Inc. refills its cartridges, which reduces environmental waste while saving the company 50%-75% compared to buying new each time. Be realistic when trimming office expenses and suggest smart changes. For example, requiring the entire team to work in the dark is not realistic, but using sensors that turn off lights in unused rooms is smart. Suggest some simple ways to reduce office-related expenses and alwaysoffer to track the impact of those changes for the team. The data from that tracking becomes evidence of your success during performance-review season.
3. Save on vendor relationships.
Vendors take up a big piece of the pie when it comes to your company’s budget. Being able to land competitive rates can add up to a sizable difference in the bottom line. Suggest to your boss that the company renegotiate contracts with some of its vendors or even work out barter arrangements. Of course, this requires you and your team to be willing to haggle and even walk away from vendors that are unable to meet you at least partway on cost savings.
Ian Aronovich, of GovernmentAuctions.org, negotiates businesses expenses big and small with his vendors and has received better prices on everything from phone service to office supplies as a result. Such reductions are possible when vendors can be flexible and work with their clients to provide loyalty or bulk discounts or to collaborate on innovative arrangements. Prepare in advance for negotiation conversations by obtaining bids from other suppliers, and plan to renegotiate contracts each year. This can allow you to get the most value from your vendors, even if it means switching to a new one that can offer your company a better deal.
By getting creative with technology, office equipment and vendor relationships, you can lead the charge to streamlined, low-overhead operations that propel your company forward this year. When it comes to building your boss’s trust, focusing on the company’s financial health will help you stay top of mind. As you develop your personal brand throughout your career, make your mark as a true team player who understands the big pictureand is always pitching in to enhance profitability.
William Arruda is the cofounder of CareerBlast and creator of the complete LinkedIn quiz that helps you evaluate your LinkedIn profile and networking strategy.