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  • Writer's pictureKate

Turn off the lights - Cutting back the bills

Who would have predicted that after Covid, prices would rise astronomically and businesses would be forced to pay higher taxes and bills to recover corporate losses? Ah, yes, that would be me! The country came to a standstill and the grants and bounce back loans flowed into accounts around the country. All the while, energy companies lost out on billions of pounds from businesses closing their doors. Remember business energy rates are always higher than domestic rates. The Tax man-made less revenue, paid out trillions to support the public, energy companies went under, BREXIT forced prices of imports from Europe higher, stock became scarcer, fuel prices shot up and new laws were pushed through to make more red-tape for small business owners. It was all easily predictable, and whether we blame COVID, BREXIT, or war, the rises were inevitable. It just so happened at probably the worst time in UK history for the general public.

As a small business owner, especially with staff to pay for, your overheads will have almost doubled within a few months. Can a business take back control and save on the rising costs of living and doing business? We most certainly can!

We live in an age where we became so used to having everything cheap, cheap holidays, cheap petrol, cheap energy, companies fighting for your business, willing to give you rewards and discounts galore. It's not that this won't happen again, it will. In the meantime, you need to take action to keep your business profitable. And the changes you make today will be even more rewarding as prices across the board, drop again in the future.

Tip Number 1 - Know your worth

Up your prices! I know you hear this all the time, and many are too scared to increase prices in case it frightens away business, however, the truth of the matter is this - you cannot and should not work at a loss! Your clients are expecting a price hike, and the clients you lose, you will probably lose regardless of the price rise.

Increasing your prices, instantly covers the rising costs of bills and if you are not raising your prices, you are just eating into your own profits, and potentially working for FREE! I mean I love my job and all, but I don't work for free!

Get rid of the least profitable treatments, promote the most profitable, and introduce treatments that make money without staff. i.e. Cryo-lipo, FIR Sauna, LED light, Body Wraps etc. These kind of procedures allow you to service other clients at the same time, increasing the profit of your business.

Tip Number 2 - Turn off the lights

Energy will be the largest drain on your profits, but you can save money, even if energy companies have all adopted the same pricing.

  • Speak to your energy suppliers and check out their competitors for the best deals. Check the daily standing charge (the cost everyone pays daily for renting the equipment that delivers the supply) and then your cost per kilowatt etc. Some energy companies may be cheaper for locking you into longer plans, but my advice is to not commit to anything longer than a year. If energy prices go up again in October you will be protected for the first six months, but if they drop down again dramatically a year later, you will be locked into a higher plan that you are unable to move away from.

  • Check that you are not on a default tariff. These plans often work out extremely costly and you can save thousands just by contacting your supplier and signing up for a fixed-term energy contract. But remember, contact several energy suppliers first for the best possible rate.

  • If you are in a position to, install solar panels. It may be costly at first, but you can benefit from free electricity during opening hours. On average, commercial solar panels cost between £16,000-£70,000 for small to medium-sized businesses. There are several factors that influence the cost of solar panels, though, such as roof size, the amount of energy produced and the number used. You may also be eligible for tax relief on commercial solar panels.

  • Use energy-saving light bulbs or LED lighting in all light fixtures, energy-saving bulbs not only last longer they also use far less electricity. Using less electricity helps not only save the environment by reducing carbon emissions and reducing landfills but also saving money too!

  • Turn off lights when not in use or use motion sensors in rooms. Staff rooms, toilets and treatment rooms do not need to be lit during the full opening hours of the salon. Install motion sensors for even more efficiency.

  • When it's time to go home, turn off all external sign lighting, window display lighting and any internal lights you regularly leave on.

  • Use dimmer switches in rooms where light can be adjusted. This allows lower energy consumption during use. Even better, use soothing candlelight for ambience

  • Unplug any electrical equipment when not in use. This reduces the consumption of energy, reduces your electric bill and can also preserve the life of any machinery.

  • Look for energy-efficient equipment that has great energy ratings to preserve energy consumption. Computers, cleaning equipment, washing machines and salon equipment can all be checked and the most energy-efficient items purchased.

  • Regulate temperature control during cold weather, radiators use more energy to heat from cold, keep them low during opening hours but high enough to maintain a comfortable working temperature.

  • Choose ceiling fans over air coolers during hot weather. Ceiling fans use less energy than air cooling units or air conditioning units.

  • Seal up windows and doors to prevent drafts and heat loss during colder weather. Look at all potential gaps or drafts coming in and seal them up, use draft seals around all external doors. Insulate loft space and look at cavity wall insulation to further prevent heat loss from your salon.

  • Implement water-saving tactics and systems. How can your salon reduce the water consumption it uses? Replace showerheads with water-saving heads, do not leave taps running apart from hand washing and pot washing.

  • Check your plumbing for leaks, and fix dripping taps or leaking pipes. This can increase water consumption and increase your bills.

  • Install water recycling systems, great for flushing toilets or watering plants.

  • Wash towels efficiently, using energy-saving settings on your washing machine and using the lowest heat setting for the load. Only use the washing machine with full loads.

Tip Number 3 - Barter and negotiate like a pro!

Not everything is the final price, some companies will provide discounts for new business, bulk-purchase, recommendations or long term commitments.

Shopping around for better deals is always an advantage when it comes to certain things such as payment processors, banking costs, insurance, telephone and wi-fi services, and other ongoing, regular costs. Finding a better deal elsewhere doesn't always mean you have to make the move to a new company, but it certainly puts you in a better position to get a better price with the company you are already with.

If you are planning to spend a lot of money regularly with a company, then they may just be happy to offer a discount to keep your business.

Remember some things are non-negotiable if a discount is offered that is great, remember to leave the company a great write-up and promote then to your colleagues. Just take into account that small businesses may not be in a position to provide better pricing, and that's ok too!

Tip Number 4 - Bedtime reading!

When was the last time you really looked at your bank statements? Well now is the time to go through them with a fine tooth-combe.

It's so easy to sign up for this service here and that subscription there. It may only seem like £6 here or £5 there, but it all soon adds up to a few hundred pounds a year.

Get those statements out and cancel off any random charges for things you no longer use, or things you forgot you signed up to like magazine subscriptions you don't have the time to read, or software and apps you don't ever use.

Don't forget to check PayPal subscriptions too!

Tip Number 5 - Reduce waste!

I am sure those that have staff, understand this one more than anyone! It's the staff member that used half a pack of cotton wool per brow treatment, or the young therapist that uses 100 wax strips per half leg wax, and where does all the couch roll go? Do you monitor the amount of stock your business truly goes through? When you add up the cost of cleaning supplies, drinks, biscuits, cotton wool, couch roll, shampoo, skincare products, wax strips and toilet roll your business orders every couple of weeks, it really takes a dent out of your profits.

Whether you are a lone worker or a salon that has staff, it is easy to make a conscious effort on the consumables used per client. And this is where cheaper may not always be better, as sometimes more expensive versions of products can last longer than cheaper versions - toilet roll is a prime example.

Set out a standard that you expect staff to work within. An example would be splitting cotton pads and couch rolls, using a set number of wax strips per area, and the number of pumps of cleanser to be used per facial. It may seem crazy, but when you start to monitor stock usage, you start to save hundreds of pounds every month! Replace towels with microfibre towels as they dry faster and use this as replacements in facials and pedicures as a replacement for cotton wool. Ditch the plastic disposable cups for glass, saving on plastic use and cutting back costs.

And the best one..... go paper-free! Digital is king. Everyone now has access to the internet and to smartphones. Ditch the appointment cards, ditch the price lists, use digital consultation forms and provide QR codes for price lists.

Tip Number 6 - Think like a boss

As well as cutting back on every area within your business, don't forget to look at areas where you can capitalise on a new revenue stream. Here are some tips below:

  • Lease out areas of your business to other professionals. If you have a spare corner or room, leasing the space can bring in extra revenue to cover your costs.

  • Make the most from apprentices. Train up amazing apprentices and get them to provide lower-priced or discounted services, enabling you to have a two-tiered pricing option.

  • Sell retail! Your clients are buying skincare, body care and other cosmetics elsewhere, why not from you?

  • Provide specialist workshops to bring in revenue during quiet hours of the day.

  • Start teaching and earn extra money on your days off.

  • Get online! You can make great money with an online revenue stream from cosmetics to tik tok. A revenue stream that makes you money as you sleep and work is a fantastic way to keep your business and your personal life afloat.

Have you found other money-saving hints and tips? Why not comment below and help others save money too. Hope you found this helpful and it has helped save you money in your own business.

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