Many businesses and organizations have annual budgets that expire at the end of the year. Rather than letting this money go unused and missing out on the valuable resources it could potentially pay for, the excess funds will likely be spent on any needs for the coming year. For tax purposes, many businesses also spend money on things for the next year close to the end of the current one in order to write them off in a few months.
Services to Enhance Your Business
As we approach the end of the year, many of us are thinking about how to improve our systems and take our businesses to the next level in 2015. Making plans now to start the year off right certainly isn’t a bad idea. Contracting services for the next year now with the funds that need to be spent will allow you to try out something new for a long enough period of time to fully integrate it into your current operations and then evaluate whether implementing it was beneficial.
“What could be more important than getting a jump on the upcoming year with a Website Facelift?” says Jenny Kimber, owner of Web Happy. “Major impact…minimal cost. By working with your site at the end of the year, you can start off the New Year with a bang! Changes on your site will ALWAYS help to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but the primary reason for making the updates or changes is to draw new customers to YOU! Think of it as adding curb appeal to your business.”
She continues, “We suggest updating content on your site – images and/or photos of employees, key words and using SEO tools to maximize your exposure. All of these will greatly improve your site. We can do it all at once, or set up a monthly maintenance schedule. With websites and the internet in general, it’s important to plan ahead so that your site is constantly updated and refreshed with new content. The large search engines, such as Google, use algorithms which monitor relevant and new information. In layman’s terms, refreshing your site’s content means that you’re open for business! The opposite also stands true: if you forget about your website, it will appear that you’re out of business. Why not create a plan of action to take you through 2015 and beyond?”
Geniece Brown of Brown Virtual Assisting adds, “Setting aside funds to invest into marketing must be priority since marketing is what attracts your target market to your business. Don’t stop marketing; no marketing equals no business. If your consistent marketing is keeping new and existing business cycling through then you’ll have what you need to cover other necessary expenses.
Having a system to consistently reach out to your contacts, whether they are current clients, prospective clients, or just people who want to hear from you, aids in keeping your pipeline full behind the scenes. It also keeps that connection channel between you and them so you stay top of mind. Three types of lists to build are: (1.) Email marketing list, (2.) Personal email list, (3.) Offline list. Having an email marketing list will help you stay connected with hundreds of people at a time by sending one email. Your personal list will allow you to communicate with those who have given you their business card or email address but who may not have opted into your email marketing list, and your offline list includes those who have only provided their physical address for correspondence, which can still be useful in your marketing efforts. Marketing can be simple and the way you spend your dollars on marketing can be, too.”
She advises, “Paying ahead of time helps you to be more systematic in what you do because you’re prepared for what’s to come. And you’ll find that you may even get offered a discount when you pay ahead. For example: You pay a recurring marketing expense of $300 each month. If you decide to pay 2 months in advance, your marketing provider may discount the fee by $50 or by 10% because of your willingness to pay in advance.”
Accepting payments efficiently will allow you to focus on other areas of service without worrying about how your money is being handled. American Payment Solutions is the best solution provider for your electronic payment/transaction processing needs, and can design a merchant processing solution for any budget that meets all of your business’ needs, as well as providing merchant training and support. For small- to medium-sized businesses, an affordable upgrade to the new CLOVER POS systems allows for access to employee time clock, scheduling, inventory control, menu, back office and off-site management—all for less than $1,500 versus the general going rate for this type of system of $10,000-$30,000! Jim Barnes, owner of American Payment Systems, advises, “End of year spending isn’t beneficial for a business unless what you are purchasing or investing in will help you make more money in the coming year. Point of Sale systems have become very affordable recently, and if purchased before year end, could also make for a good business expense write-off in addition to numerous other benefits for your business.”
Building Upgrades & Maintenance
Consider upgrades to your building as one major area of spending that is a wise investment in almost all instances as it offers numerous benefits. Whether you are contracting maintenance services for the next year or purchasing upgrades and necessary items, there are plenty of ways to invest your money wisely.
Eakes Office Solutions is an excellent asset to utilize as they offer a variety of products and services that are beneficial for businesses to incorporate. Among these, consider the addition of Content and Document Management and Managed Print Services for the coming year. Furthermore, with the ability to provide all major brands of Office Supplies, Eakes offers on-site consulting to allow businesses to better manage their office supply needs. They also offer a customized online approval process so businesses can manage office supply orders for approval, which creates efficiencies and reduces waste thus saving companies hundreds if not thousands of dollars. As Eakes is an authorized dealer representing dozens of quality Office Furniture brands, they can provide solutions such as consultation, interior design, space planning, reconfiguration and installation. Jeff Byrnes of Eakes Office Solutions states, “We are a Nebraska based company founded in 1945 with twelve locations across the state. Eakes Office Solutions has provided customer-focused solutions and quality products for 69 years and we are driven to continue to provide solutions to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Any of our specialists, whether a Digital Imaging Specialist, Office Supply Specialist, or Office Furniture Specialist, provide a consultative approach in order to understand a businesses’ needs so we can offer the best possible solution. Our job is to uncover that weakness or broken process and apply the appropriate solution to help our customers achieve a business goal or strategic initiative. Please feel free to contact Eakes Office Solutions at www.eakes.com or call our Omaha location at (402) 898-3017 so we can help you make your 2015 a successful one.”
Window films and treatments are another investment that will save you money over the coming year. Lisa Hillis of Mid-States Films and Lifestyle Drapery explains, “For those who are making investments in their businesses for the coming year, make sure to look for energy savings wherever possible! Mid-States Performance Films carries Vista and Llumar brands; both of which offer specific films for increased energy savings while providing UvA and UvB protection! Furthermore, some Energy Saving Window Films will qualify for tax credits and will also provide energy savings in the winter, helping to accelerate the payback on the investment.”
She adds, “Next year’s budgets generally reflect last year’s expenditures so it’s crucial to make some true investments for future savings! An investment in energy saving window film this year will hold down energy costs for many years to come. Once the return on the investment has been realized, your annual savings will only increase.”
Controlling your building’s systems is an investment that will pay dividends not just over the next year, but for many years to come. Pat Killeen of Engineered Controls explains, “Engineered Controls can play a very big part in assisting new and existing building owners in controlling their building’s energy costs. When considering that a building’s lighting and HVAC loads account for nearly 80% of a building’s energy usage, there are plenty of energy strategies that a Building Automation System can provide maximizing the energy strategy options available to building owners. Engineered Controls can assist in total building control and help provide a healthier and more energy efficient environment for occupants.
In the maintenance industry it is not uncommon for a facility manager to pay in advance for an extended service and maintenance agreement. Engineered Controls offers our customers Planned Service Agreements (or simply PSA’s) to assist in the daily operation of their facilities. This preventative care program focuses on the building hardware and is a standardized preventative maintenance program on a building controls system to maximize the systems reliability and to minimize the operational costs. In the second element of our maintenance program, the system wide energy analysis, our staff of trained experts will assist a building owner in identifying areas where they can reduce cost, identify simple potential energy savings payback opportunities and training.
Today more than ever, building owners want their facilities to be environmentally responsible and healthy places to live and work. They also want to optimize the energy usage, without compromising comfort. Building systems that are properly maintained and controlled will enable you to focus on the core of your business while ensuring that everything is running efficiently. This also promotes longevity of equipment, protection of employees and equipment due to proper security measures, and energy efficiency which will result in minimizing operating costs and future unplanned capital expenditures.”
All things considered, any investment you make in your building and its systems is going to benefit you greatly, both in the short and long run.
Ironically, the same time we are on a spending spree for the holidays is also when we should be making thoughtful purchases as an investment in our businesses. Planning ahead is always helpful, and in this instance, having money to spend prior to the end of the year can be an excellent way to set your business up for success in 2015!