Keeping the lights on: how to keep overheads down in an unfair environment

There’s no doubt about it, businesses are getting squeezed from every side like never before. With load shedding back, the rand weakening, land expropriation casting uncertainty on the property scene and the price of electricity increasing, it’s tough to try and keep costs down.

While you can certainly hope for Eskom to get their comeuppance, it’s best to try and work with what we do have. Here’s how to keep the lights on in an uncertain time:

Skimp on the small and unnecessary:
The first port of call is the least painful – try and cut down on what’s not absolutely vital. If your company does beer and pizza each Friday, level with your staff and tell them that you’re trying to spend money on them where it counts, like an awesome end of year party. Limit entertainment expense budgets for your sales staff and executives and see if there are any non-essential stationery items, like post-its or highlighters, you can buy every second or third month only. Funnel this freed-up cash straight into your overheads such as water and lights.

Keep your eyes on the road
Petrol is another expense that has been unforgiving lately, so another real way to reduce costs is with company vehicles and transport. Ask frequent travellers like sales reps to try combine trips and keep fuel spend low and, if new vehicles are required, try the pre-owned route and ensure you look at fuel-efficient makes. If you’re able, try to have out-of-office meetings over Zoom or Skype, saving you travel and time!

People pleaser
In any business, the most expensive and valuable asset is people. During tough times, it helps to cut back on recruiting new staff and rather focus on cross-training the people you already have instead. This is also likely to save you valuable time as these existing employees already understand the company culture and you already know they’ll gel with the rest of your workforce. However, don’t skimp on training these transplants – you’ll really want them as upskilled as possible. Invest time in them and be sure to explain how this will be valuable work experience for their futures in the company and beyond.

Take out insurance
Specifically, regarding load shedding and the chaos it causes, a great purchase can be business interruption insurance. For those who can afford it, business interruption insurance the overheads that your business continues to incur despite the drop in income that things like load shedding might bring. Remember, some policies will cover load shedding while others won’t, so be sure you check before settling on one.