When I walk into a new organization I question every cost that crosses my desk. Why? Because it matters! Every dollar matters and experience has taught me there is a lot of waste out there! Obviously, I question the bigger items first, but eventually I question even the small items. Below are a few examples. And please note that I’m intentionally sharing examples of “small stuff” to make a point . . . the bigger stories require a bit more time and space than we have here!
An employee was responsible for ordering some company logo shirts! She said, “I was talking with another employee and we were wondering if we could use company American Express points and get the shirts without spending any cash!” That’s a great idea! These two people were thinking like company owners! While the dollars involved are relatively small, it told senior management that these people both have “their head in the game”. Not only did people take notice of their attitude, but their idea earned them each a $50 American Express gift card as well!
I recently asked about a $78 monthly invoice. It didn’t take long to learn that the cost was supposed to be passed along to a customer two years ago but no one ever took the time to do it (the customer had even agreed)! I instructed that the monthly charge be added to the next invoice and guess what!? The customer paid it! No questions. Let’s think about the “math” on this one. $78 per month for the last two years is $1,872 that just slipped away. Given that the company was paying the bill, any money received from the customer would fall through to the bottom line. Over a five year period (the length of the customer contract), this little $78 expense is worth $4,680. While it’s not enough money to save the world, these things add up over time and it was certainly worth the 20-30 minutes it took me to find the answer!
I saw a line on a lease invoice for storage space. I asked to see the space and found that it was filled mostly with empty cardboard boxes and a never used ping pong table. I checked the lease document and found that it was on a month to month basis. If you have been paying attention, I’m sure you can guess what I did next. I talked to the person responsible for the area and explained the costs. And this wasn’t some $50 per month lease at a public storage facility; this was $577 per month in a downtown building! That’s $6,924 per year. At the same time, the staff who were responsible for this area had just asked to spend $7,000 on new computer equipment. Interesting how those numbers almost match!
If you think these small examples, are interesting, you should ask me about the bigger ones sometime! Some people think that questioning expenditures is the job of finance alone. But I think it is the job of everyone who touches the process of spending money. Ask! It matters!
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your cash is flowing. know where.
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