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Cutting Costs but Getting More: A Lesson in Running an Advisory Firm

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It’s important to keep a close eye on expenses when running a business. Even small, incremental savings can add up to meaningful amounts over time. Recently we changed our phone and Internet service provider–from AT&T to our local cable company, Cox Communications–and not only have we cut our expenses, but we’ve gotten an additional service.

We’ve used AT&T from the beginning of the business back in April 2007. The phones have always worked fine and I have no compliant about the speed at which we accessed the internet. Also, whenever we needed help, the people on the phone were always–or I should say, almost always–courteous. So why did we make the switch? Because every month, and I mean every month, our bill was different. For the first year or so, we would call after receiving the bill, and they would correct it, send us a new bill, and we would pay it. After a while, this got very old. The time it takes to contact the phone company is time taken away from the business.

That’s what you might call a chronic inefficiency. With AT&T we were paying around $350 per month for three phone lines and Internet access. The cable company is charging us around $275 a month for the same three lines and Internet access, but with one additional feature. We now have cable TV! So we are getting more for less! Now I can cancel my online subscription to CNBC TV which is about $10 per month. The savings per year is close to $1,000 and we’re getting more for our money.

Next Up: Going Paperless

Speaking on the topic of efficiency, our next move will probably be to go paperless. We are looking for a fairly priced document management solution, preferably one which integrates with a good contact management software, also known as CRM, for customer relationship management. Currently we use ACT but are considering a change, mostly because ACT interferes with other programs we are running. Also, ACT is sometimes a bit slow. I think it’s a great bargain for the price, but since our cash flow is improving, it may be a good time to look for a long-term solution for our CRM needs. Moreover, it may be better to move more to cloud technology instead of desktop applications.

Can anyone recommend a good CRM?

How about a document management solution?

Thanks for reading!