Controlling Costs in the World of Covid

We have lived with the new world of quarantine and social distancing for several months and even as parts of our country begin to “open up” many of us in the business world are not certain a return to normal is on the horizon.  Most of our clients are evaluating and experimenting how to continue operations with an economy stopped in its tracks.  Our team and I have fielded countless calls from those looking for ways to contain expenses while revenues plummet and I thought this was a good time to share a few points that are easy to do and can be very effective to help stem the flow of dollars out the door.

*Remove the toll-free call-in option on your conferencing accounts*

Part of our new normal is dealing with online conference and video calls.  Not all companies operate this way but with stay at home orders in place for those non-essential staff, many find their team is spending more and more time using tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or WebEx.  Unexpected, and certainly, unwanted bills can show up when your staff is still using toll free numbers as they set up meetings.  Those 1-800 numbers tend to be the culprit of unwanted bills.

Toll free numbers typically come with an additional monthly fee but more importantly they come with a per minute charge for every person using the call.  For example, if 15 people dial into a call for one hour that equals 900 minutes (15 people x 60 minutes) and if the charge is $0.02 a minute, that call costs $18.00.  That fee isn’t high but when you multiply it by the number of meetings occurring over the past few weeks the expense can be extremely high.  Removing that option from your conferencing platforms only takes a few minutes and I have seen it save $40,000 in 60 days.

*Pay attention to wireless data usage*

Bundling wireless devices such as mobile phones, tablets, or hotspots into a corporate account normally saves a company money when compared to reimbursing employees for usage on their personal devices.  Companies buy large data pools that let the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of staff take their small piece of a much larger pie and since all those devices don’t always use the same amount of data, the company saves money by bundling all their staff together.  Rarely do all devices start using high amounts of data all at the same time–until a global pandemic.

Wireless carriers have online tools that allow the administrators to see usage and identify which devices (and thus people) are using a lot.  In times like these it probably isn’t employee abuse, it’s just business as we now know it.  However, that doesn’t mean the company is stuck.  Options such as increasing the data pool, working with staff to find a better internet option, slowing down the automatic updates from some mobile device management tools can all save the data and reduce potential overage bills each month.  Another option many of our clients use is a third party management tool that tracks usage and alerts you before a device crosses an expensive threshold.  A client of ours recently experienced wireless expenses 6 times higher than previous months and most of that growth was preventable.

*Work with your providers*

Most office data networks are seeing greatly reduced traffic right now meaning those expensive Internet or MPLS connections are not providing much return.  Many network operators have deferment policies or programs that will let you turn them down temporarily without a penalty.  Specifically with our clients, we have helped them reduce circuit usage by an aggregate of roughly $250,000 just in the month of April.  In most cases, you can turn them down just by asking.  In other cases, you may be able to trade a few extra months on the end of a long contract for short term relief that reduces the drain on cashflow.  Reaching out and asking the question doesn’t hurt and let’s face it, you will always miss 100% of the shots you never take.

We do believe business will come back and the entrepreneurial spirit will find ways to overcome these troubling times but it never hurts to save some money now.  Some of these actions will carry forward and help the bottom line for months or years to come.  Hopefully at least one of these items is helpful and stay tuned in the next few days. I’ll have some other actions a company can take to maximize cash over the near term and into the future.

Photo by John Guccione from Pexels