Advantage, You! (Conclusion)

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Diana Vollmer |

Contracted functions can cut your costs, increase your profits

SAN FRANCISCO — You’re the owner. You have the advantage, the home court. But are you making good use of it?

Every business, regardless of size, needs expertise to devote knowledge and proficiency to everyday tasks and occasional incidents encountered by companies across all industries.

It may be prudent for you to now consider contracting for periodic help on additional assignments as well. A good starting point is to review the items on your organizational chart that you really dislike and consider if those jobs can realistically be contracted out on either a part-time or on-call basis.

Let’s first focus on the CFO (chief financial officer) and the direct reports for that executive function.

These include administrative responsibilities that are often outsourced. Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll are commonly contracted out, so for now we will focus on HR (human resources) and IT (information technology).

How often have you encountered a situation in which an employee interaction with another employee, manager, customer or supplier has resulted in a complaint, a tense unproductive environment, a resignation of a valued employee, an angry or lost customer, or even a formal arbitration or lawsuit?

HR is one of the most complex issues businesses face. It is estimated that one in five small businesses has an ongoing formal dispute with an employee; it is my experience that the percentage is higher in the fabricare industry.

However, few cleaners can afford a full-time HR specialist, but hiring for on-call expertise is realistic and affordable. A good source to reach professionals in North America, and globally if needed, is the Society of Human Resource Managers.

IT proficiency has become more generalized relative to hardware maintenance and internally less specialized for software due to the hosting availability offered to the industry for POS and accounting.

Your needs may be better suited to outsourcing versus an internal employee. If you have not explored alternatives, it is a good time for a review. Sites like www.freelancer.com can be a good starting place to find the right fit between your needs and a contractor to fulfill them.

For the operations division, maintenance is often outsourced for big repairs or installations, but preventative maintenance is also a natural choice for periodic contracting. Many of you contract for your safety maintenance, compliance and training needs. Janitorial is also a function that can readily be hired from outside.

Purchasing is a skill that can be beneficially utilized annually to request and analyze bids for supplies and services that may have gotten out of line due to their lower-level priority on your “to do” list.

Another example is to hire an efficiency engineer to analyze the plant layout, either as it exists today or for a new installation.

The promotional/sales and marketing group often out-sources marketing but should also take advantage of outside sales training to change passive order-taking culture into a sales culture, a status that is prevalent in the fabricare organizations that are currently growing their sales.

When is the last time you had a trainer in to coach your counter and route staff to sell more to your existing customers, or to actively reach out to prospects and active referrers and influencers?

If you want your company to grow and prosper in this competitive industry, your team needs training and implementation of their new sales skills to make it happen.

Do press releases often rise to the top of the priority list? They are highly effective and should be an integral part of your promotional package, as should regular interactive written communication with customers. Writing skills are valuable and contractible.

Are you considering opening another location? Do you pride yourself in being an expert negotiator of leases? How often have you actually negotiated a lease? Once every couple of years? Less frequently or more often?

Perhaps you should enlist the aid of someone who negotiates leases daily to obtain the best terms possible and the most value for the life of your investment in the lease.

The same is true for a professional retail designer for your store remodel or new opening.

Any or all of these alternative contracted functions can cut your costs, increase your profit and ensure your future prosperity.

Professionals are more proficient, efficient and cost-effective. Take advantage of their advantages.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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