Shop owners need to review costs of services at year’s end
By Keith Jennings
Famous words spoken every December: “The year went by so fast!” This one was no exception, as I’m still working to clear my 2017 to-do list.
After experiencing a rather tumultuous year—personally and professionally—I’m happy that many difficult matters have been handled, and our shop and my family are better for it. I discussed a lot of these situations in previous columns, but one interesting issue wasn’t under consideration until later in the year. It’s something that every shop should consider doing from time to time: a careful evaluation of the many business services and internal processes required to operate a successful company.
In our case, we’ve been with the same payroll company for 12 years and retained the same certified public accountants for many years because their services have been adequate. The consistency created peace of mind and allowed us to focus time and energy on sales, training, equipment upgrades and other operational matters. However, to cut expenses, become leaner and enhance competitiveness, rethinking these important services and comparing all options for the first time in a while has become a priority. After all, there are some hungry people who want to earn our business. It makes sense to give them a shot every now and then.
A major realization occurred when renewing our medical insurance in September. We’ve been running it through the insurance department of our payroll and human resources provider for years. For a while, the insurance was generally affordable and suitable. However, for the past couple of years as costs skyrocketed, the payroll and human resources provider’s offerings became minimal, essentially suggesting we just accept and absorb any increase since this was the market situation. So we did as advised, but other business owners and friends provided insight about better packages and more creative programs that could better control costs. There were no magic fixes, but at least the suggestions were more innovative.
Following those experiences, we have embarked on a serious re-evaluation and expect to switch to a new insurance company in early 2018, cutting ties with the old one.
Another matter was financial and tax services, which have also been uneventful and routine for many years. After numerous conversations with friends and other business owners about taxes and how to better utilize assets and resources to the benefit of employees and family, I became concerned we weren’t being presented with effective options and ideas.
The problem is, our financial advisers have grown and handle so many clients that we’re no longer a top priority. Having a detailed conversation and an annual review of evolving laws and allowable practices to minimize our tax burden has become increasingly difficult because the advisers are focused on bigger clients or just don’t want to exert the extra effort. Therefore, I’ve met with other financial professionals who are eager to advise us and help us better plan for the future.
We’re also carefully re-evaluating other areas to ensure we’re getting great service. I enjoyed the long-standing, easy relationships, but we’ve started another chapter in our company history, and it just makes sense to see what the competition has to offer.
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s!
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