1. Take ownership of the elements of your job which affect profit
It's important to always imagine the business is your own. For example, even if you are a board member of a privately-owned company without shared ownership, it is important to act as though every decision will directly affect you in order to keep standards high and produce the best results.
Recognise that every member of the team can improve profit and will benefit through greater job security and higher earning potential. Keeping your staff happy and giving them fresh challenges each day is likely to increase their productivity.
2. Recognise how you can reduce waste or inefficiency in your daily work...
Everyone loves saving money. Doing the same job at a lower cost immediately improves margin without the need for extra revenue.
...But never assume that the cheapest solution will save money
Be careful of taking unnecessary shortcuts. While cost-efficiency is important, you should never compromise on quality. Buying a cheap product or service may result in an inadequate performance that ultimately costs more in the long term.
3. Keep borrowings to a minimum to reduce interest costs
Use the company's credit rating and track record as a tool for negotiating better payment terms with suppliers. Get paid quickly and reduce the likelihood of debts by dealing with customer queries efficiently and ensuring that you stay within their credit limit and stick to the agreed payment terms.
4. If you have an idea to improve profit, share it with your manager
No one knows your job like you do. Don't be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and share your ideas with those in more senior positions. The worst that can happen is they say no, and your suggestion will reflect well on you as an ambitious member of staff.
5. Plan ahead
It seems obvious, but many of us don't. Take the time to consider how best to carry out a task in advance to reduce the risk of errors later on. This will save you time in the long term and maximise cost-effectiveness.
6. Review prices constantly
It's important to always be aware of the changing economic landscape and to be switched on when dealing with suppliers and customers. Buying rates are often in flux and may move sharply, and therefore must be reviewed regularly, while selling prices must also be revisited to ensure customers are getting value for money as well as alternative options. Don't be reluctant to use the company's buying power to secure a discount or rebate where possible, even from a trusted supplier.
7. Optimise your negotiation
Think outside the box and consider how else you can benefit a potential customer aside from what they are paying for. Seek or offer reciprocal business or other non-financial concessions to where possible, to improve your negotiation. It is also worth considering introducing a colleague into towards the end of the negotiation process in order to assert your authority and get the most out of the deal.
8. Form good relationships with suppliers
Build trust with suppliers over time by demonstrating reliability and desire to work together for the long term. Positive relationships and a good track record will encourage suppliers to give you preferential treatment and their best possible deal. Once these relationships have been built, you will be able to assess each one's strengths and offer the best solution to suit your customers' individual requirements.
9. Inform suppliers and customers of the specific criteria of any quote
Good communication is vital to any business deal, but be aware that misunderstandings do happen, sometimes leading to paying for what you don't need or receiving less than you require. In this sense, it's important to set the customers' expectations correctly at the beginning to minimise the potential for mistakes and maximise their satisfaction.
10. Team work
Use your talented team! Everyone will have different views to contribute (good and bad!), so harnessing the collective knowledge of your team will ensure you select the most appropriate suppliers, manage customer relationships in the best way and find the right solution for carrying out any task in a cost-effective way.