Six Ways Your Business Can Save More Money

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

If you own a small business and are on a budget, you’re not alone. Running a company is no inexpensive task. That’s why it’s important to put saving money on the top of your priority list. Cutting costs in every way possible is essential to ensuring that you’re gaining profits.

The good news: saving may be easier than you think. There are tons of ways you can tighten your belt on the job. Try these penny-pinching tips:

Utilize the web - You already know to use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, but also take a look at discussion groups and message boards, too. These groups are a convenient way to get your business’ name out there quickly and easily—all you have to do is sign your name with your web URL. And best of all, it’s free!

“I didn’t start [participating in online discussion groups] to generate business, but as a way to find information for myself on various subjects,” said Shel Horowitz, owner of Accurate Writing & More, Northampton, MA, and author of several marketing books, including Grassroots Marketing. “But it turned out to be the single best marketing tool I use. It costs only my time. [One] list alone has gotten me around 60 clients in the past five years.”

Form relationships with vendors – Being a loyal customer can take you far. When you frequently use a vendor, they’re more likely to let you in on certain deals as they occur or even offer you a reduced price on a regularly bought item.

“In order to approach this, make sure you have the same employee work with the vendor each time you contact them, always contact them in advance, and benefit them whenever you can by referring business to them,” advises Emily Swartz, marketing communications specialist at Broadview Networks. “Even if they don’t cut you deals, having a vendor that’s dependable and consistent is more money-saving than you might think.”

Go paperless – Chances are, the amount spent on paper, ink and postage can add up. If you get rid of it all, over time, you’ll see your savings grow steadily.

“Businesses should shift towards paperless payments for many reasons,” said Mitch Rose, vice president of BillTrust. “Businesses should not be reliant on the USPS for receiving payments. There is already too much going on with the USPS from rising rates, closing of postal locations, lost mail, delays due to disasters or vandalism, etc. Just as important, the cost to a business to apply a paper check payment is significant. They struggle with keying it in, getting the payment deposited in a timely manner and applying the payment to a specific invoice.”

Pay attention to how much you spend on the little things – There are certain small items that may be bought when you’re running a company that are easily overlooked — things like office supplies, cleaning tools, coffee, etc. And although small and not necessarily the most pricy, these items can add up without you ever really noticing. Spending a little extra time searching for good deals on these items can keep these costs from accumulating. Compare prices and also check for free shipping, which many companies offer on bulk items. You may also opt for cleaning the office yourself or save on package-related costs by delivering something to a close-by client. Also, get creative: buy recycled printer cartridges, buy used equipment on craigslist.com, etc.

Don’t overspend on taxes - Sometimes if businesses are new to a location, they’re subject to a higher tax rate. In order to avoid spending too much on taxes, take action.

“Go to city hall to determine what your neighbors are paying, and use this to negotiate a better rate,” suggests Pete Collins of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in NYC. “Expanding businesses can often negotiate with community authorities, who want them to stay in town rather than move and take jobs elsewhere.”

Go green - A double whammy: save money and help the planet. Things like recycling, for one, can help you scrimp and save at the office. “More and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of reducing their waste,” said Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “Not only can it save businesses money by reducing their overhead (but) recycling (is) good for business and benefits us all.”

Other ways to “go green” include using reusable items like mugs instead of cups for coffee, buying products locally and investing in energy-saving utilities, such as lighting.

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More Area Businesses and Organizations to Help with “10 Days of Giving” Fundraising Efforts

WINONA, Minn. – More area businesses and organizations are stepping up to help with “10 Days of Giving” fundraising efforts. We encourage you to take part in these opportunities and support the 25th anniversary of this wonderful food drive:

  • On Friday, from 4:30-7 p.m., the Eagles Club of Winona, 210 E. 4th Street, will host a fish fry with the help of Merchants Bank volunteers. Cost of the dinner is $8 and includes batter fried or broiled cod, baked potato or fries, coleslaw, roll and coffee. Desserts will be available. Proceeds will benefit the “10 Days of Giving.” Non-perishable food items will also be accepted.
  • From 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Westgate Bowl of Winona will donate 10 percent of its bowling sales to the “10 Days of Giving.” During the same 1-5 p.m. time frame, 10 percent of food sales to Merchants Bank employees will also be donated to the food drive.
  • On Saturday, CrossFit Warrior Risen, located in the Winona Mall, will donate the donations it receives from three classes during the day to the “10 Days of Giving.” The classes will be at 9:00 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Attendees are asked for a $5 donation to take part. Classes are geared for beginners, but are open to all levels of fitness. Attendees will spend 10-15 minutes stretching and warming up, 10-15 minutes learning the movements, and 10-12 minutes working out. Each class is limited to 20 people. For more information or to enroll, e-mail smsavat@merchantsbank.com.

Merchants Bank also will be donating 5 cents each time a Merchants Bank credit card or debit card is used between November 29 and December 15, up to a total of $10,000, for area food shelves during “Swipe Out Hunger,” the Bank’s second annual Facebook Giveaway. For more information go to merchantsbank.com.

Small Business Administration

SBARefreshENA Business Banker from Merchants Bank will provide specialized support for your specific business financing request. Our numerous business loan program options are designed to meet the specific needs of your business, from a business line of credit to fleet financing.

We are a SBA Preferred Lender, which means we can help qualified applicants right when they need us. We’ll listen and help you with the business loan you need. It’s that simple. Contact a Business Banker today to schedule a free, no obligation review of your business. Work with someone who cares about your business as much as you do. At Merchants Bank, we care about you and what’s right for your business. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Jeff Carter Joins Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as Vice President and Business Banker

CarterJeff

Jeff Carter

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. – Jeff Carter has joined the team at Merchants Bank’s Cottage Grove location as a Vice President and Business Banker. He will lead the team in Cottage Grove, according to Twin Cities Regional President Lawrence Stovern.

“Jeff’s experience and ability will be a tremendous asset to our customers, our staff and business owners throughout the area,” Stovern said “He has a great understanding of commercial, consumer and SBA loans.”

Carter has more than 15 years of banking experience, including time at TCF Bank in Bloomington, and most recently at Drake Bank in St. Paul. He has a great deal of expertise in commercial and SBA loans.

“My knowledge will allow me to look closely at a business and suggest the best course of action that business can take for financing,” Carter said. “I look forward to continuing to help businesses achieve their goals, and to continuing to help our community grow through being involved.”

Carter recently completed his course work at the Graduate School of Banking in Colorado. He is a member of the Neighborhood Economic Development Association (NeDA) of St. Paul and the West St. Paul Kiwanis Club. He has a long history of working with and volunteering his time with community organizations.

Merchants Bank Business Bankers Complete Training that Promotes Greater Flexibility in Making Loan Decisions

HarrisonCindyWINONA, Minn. – Business bankers throughout the entire Merchants Bank organization completed online training and an intensive three-day workshop designed as a comprehensive analysis process on extending credit to small business borrowers.

“Omega training allows our bankers to better understand the credit needs of small business borrowers and better serve them,” said Senior Vice President and Credit Administration Manager Cindy Harrison.

The Omega Training program teaches bankers to better consider the business and related personal factors that impact creditworthiness and the ability to repay.

“Specifically as it relates to small business, the training helps us to consider other factors than just the balance sheet when it comes to making a loan,” Harrison said. “This makes the loan experience more personal for the customer and the banker, and that’s what community banking is all about.”

Merchants stock is closely held, but is available to the public when shares become available. There are approximately 400 shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Merchants also has an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

Read about this and other news at Merchants by visiting our website.