If you ask any member of the Homebase team, they’ll tell you that I have a not-so-secret obsession with—and knack for—coming up with ways to save money. Some call it a gift, others call it annoying, but I call it a necessary aspect of running a business. Every dollar coming in and going out should be managed closely. 

As a business owner or manager, you’re likely already familiar with the basics: reducing marketing spend, managing labor costs, keeping an eye on overtime. But now is the time to think outside the box and get creative. 

Here are my favorite money-saving moves. 

Shop around 

When looking for a product you may assume your typical vendor or go-to-source is going to be the cheapest option out there—but that’s not always the case. 

We’ve been guilty of this at Homebase in the past. We haven’t always comparison-shopped for Office Depot, but it’s always a good idea to do so. There are things we’ve bought for our offices that we’ve later learned are cheaper from other places like Target and Walmart. 

Use online money-saving extensions

Speaking of shopping around, there are apps that will do this for you. While you’re shopping on most online sites, browser apps like Wikibuy (owned by Capital One) will actively compare prices from other stores for the same product. 

Utilize cash back options

There are a number of cash back applications out there, such as Rakuten, that identify where you’re shopping and give you 2-3% cash back. It’s nice. For example, at Best Buy we get 1% of what we spent on monitors returned to us, so it can slowly add up. 

Save green by going green

Making the transition to a more earth-friendly business is a win on all fronts. It’s a great PR move, it’s great for the environment, and you actually save money by making a few small changes. Print on both sides of the sheet of paper, or even implement a paperless operational strategy. You’ll save money on the cost of paper. 

You may not need to capture signed receipts for your credit card transactions (check with your merchant service provider on specific rules) saving some more receipt paper.  Even further, you can cut your utility bill down quite a bit if you transition to energy-efficient light fixtures. 

Take the sales call 

You likely avoid taking the call from someone trying to sell you something that you already have. However this is a great way to discover what the new market rate is on a service or product.

If you find that market rate is lower than what you’re currently paying, let your current vendor know. Ask them if there’s anything they can do to meet that new price point. 

Another benefit of taking the sales call? Activation promotions. Oftentimes a new vendor will sweeten the deal by offering an even lower price or special offer just for switching over to them and it may not be that difficult to make the transition. 

Split the cost when you can 

Other small businesses in your area are likely wanting to save money as much as you are, so team up for events so you both can save a little cash. If you host a sidewalk sale—or curbside reopening event— invite another business to join you and share the cost on materials, space, etc.

You can even team up to promote the event, which means less marketing spend out of your pocket.

Buy refurbished

Take advantage of the refurbished offerings from a company you trust. For example, we needed iPads for the office. We went with refurbished models from Amazon Renewed because they had warranties and you save a couple hundred dollars per unit. 

Plus, you know Apple products are good quality, so if the devices arrive to you and they are in working order, it’s likely going to last. We saved about $1,500 on that specific order this way.  

Be assertive 

Here’s a fun hint: If you get straightforward with your bank and tell them you’re not going to pay certain fees, they’ll likely waive them. They’d rather have your business’s money in their bank than lose you as a customer over a nominal amount. 

This idea of being assertive also goes into that conversation you should be having with your vendors. If you feel like you’re being charged a fee for no reason, ask them to waive the fee or you’re going to move your business elsewhere. 

Use pay-as-you-go worker’s compensation 

There’s a high injury risk in the restaurant space—which means high worker’s comp insurance payments. Pay-as-you-go worker’s comp takes away the heavy burden of the cost by allowing you to pay your insurance liability throughout the year instead of in one large lump sum. 

Pay-as-you-go worker’s comp can be a pretty big money-saving move from a cash flow management perspective. Check with your insurance broker and see if they work with anyone that offers pay-as-you-go worker’s comp. AP Intego is an example of a company who provides it. 

Keep an eye on usage, make changes when needed     

We pay for internet service in our offices, as you likely do as well. However, with our employees currently working from home, we’re not going to be in our offices for the near future. So why pay full-price for the internet?

I took us down to the lowest plan our internet provider had available, given that our consumption is going to be low. We’re saving about $850 a month just by doing that. 

Take a look at your internet plan and reassess what you really need when rebuilding and reopening your business. You might have had the bigger plan in the past because you had customers sitting and sharing the WiFi, but that might not be happening as much given your local restrictions. You may be able to go down a level for the time being.