4. Price Shop Your Printer
Get a competitive price quote on your printed materials today. Sure, it’s easy to call Jane over at the print shop and order another couple hundred business cards. But if you have your artwork (you should always retain the rights and camera-ready artwork), you can ship it to the guy in the next city if he offers a better price and free shipping. If you’re really adventurous, try one of the many Internet-based print shops. If you don’t know how to upload an artwork file, it’s easy to learn how on the Internet.
5. Compare Vendor Pricing
You can also see if another vendor can provide you with a quality product. I was unhappy with one sign vendor we used in the past, so I asked for a second bid. What I received from the new company was outstanding, well-thought-out—they actually listened to their potential customer—and very professional. They were hired for a sizable project.
A few days later, the original vendor phoned asking why he didn’t get a chance to bid on the job. I was happy to share with the owner my most recent experiences and offer him a chance the next time.
More recently, I wanted to replace items the original vendor had provided years ago. The items had aged considerably. When I mentioned it to a graphic-artist friend during a casual conversation, he said, “We can do those for you.” So I asked for a quote. Fifteen years later, his pricing was more competitive than the original vendor’s. The product was also more creative and represents us better. I now have two great vendors to work with just by asking around.
6. Seek Out New Ideas
Just because you have something in place doesn’t mean it should remain. We hit a point where replacing ballasts and high-pressure sodium bulbs was going to run into a substantial amount of money by the time we replaced the worn-out fixtures. A little Internet research and a phone call or two led us to a new lighting vendor who not only replaced our fixtures with newer technology for roughly the cost of repairing the old ones, but we received energy rebates and a significantly reduced electric bill as a bonus. The electric-bill savings alone amounts to $4,000 to $5,000 annually.
7. Ask for Referrals
Post a note in your office or ask people who stop by for a referral on who to use for a project you’re considering. Also remember to ask your other trusted vendors for people they depend on and recommend to their family. Other trade people know who the professional workers are, and which ones are just skating by collecting money with tail-light guarantees.
Our soda-machine vendor has been a valuable resource for us, as he travels all over and has inside access to many companies. Vendors are like spies into the inner workings of other companies, so ask your soda or bottled-water vendor for referrals and don’t overlook anyone.
8. Ask Your Peers for Their Best Practices
You have a wealth of support, help and advice at your fingertips via industry websites. Many helpful hints have surfaced from one person posing a question. I know I’ve gained numerous ideas from the folks who share on SelfStorageTalk.com. A solution to any problem or dilemma is available from those who’ve walked before you in your shoes if you simply ask.
It’s up to each member of the team, from onsite management to ownership, to ensure everything is in place and the property is running at full, maximized capacity. Cost-cutting doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, you can enjoy the process, meet some great vendors, and come out looking good to your superiors while positively impacting your facility’s bottom line.
Gina Six Kudo is general manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She has more than 16 years of self-storage experience, and a strong customer-service and sales background. She’s also a moderator on SelfStorageTalk.com, the self-storage industry's largest online community, hosted by Inside Self-Storage. For more information, call 408.782.8883; visit www.cochranestorage.com.