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My Credit Card Fees Are Great…Aren’t They?

fence plank har har“Thanks, but we’re happy with our rates.”

This is a very common objection that we get, and our response is “Great!” If your credit card processor is giving you fantastic rates, it just makes our job that much easier. Our work in this area is already done! Now I can finally fix that broken fence plank my Wife has been telling me about!

There’s Just One Thing…

Those aren’t the rates we look at! The rates your vendor/processor are offering you are typically solid, and while we do occasionally find someone who is being overcharged, it’s rarely anything to write home about. The rates we look for are ones your vendor/processor has absolutely zero vested interest in. We look to improve your Credit Card interchange fees, which your vendor/processor makes nothing on…zero, zilch, naythin. These interchange rates are the wholesale cost that Visa/Mastercard charge for each transaction. In most cases, more than 80% of what your being charged per transaction is interchange. Looks like I won’t have time to fix that fence plank afterall…

Can Interchange Rates Be Improved?

Contrary to common belief, yes they can! Credit Card interchange rates are largely determined by a slew of “rules” that Visa and Mastercard put in place. Each time one of these “rules” is broken, your interchange rate jumps up one notch.

Do you know how much you’re being charged by Visa and Mastercard per transaction? Do you know what a “good” or “bad” rate looks like? Are you happy with yours?

Download our info sheet to learn more about how we lower credit card merchant fees without changing vendors.  Or, click the button below and contact us right now.

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Money for Nothing, Cost Containment for Free?

500px-Mark_and_David_Knopfler_of_Dire_Straits_1979How Much Does This Cost?

Cost Containment is a fairly unique (and relatively new) industry. We don’t approach companies looking for lump sum payments. Instead, we approach them with the idea that they will be reducing their expenses even AFTER paying us. This idea sometimes does not translate well, so I’m going to flesh it out a bit more here.

So…It’s Profit Sharing?

Okay, so our ultimate goal is to reduce your expenses in a certain area without altering your vendor, or reducing your quality of service. The realized savings are instant increased profits for your business. Our fee is a percentage of those profits, which means our service pays for itself and pays you money that you didn’t have before. See what I mean? Let’s go through an example scenario…

Pre- Peak Scenario: Your company is spending $1M in credit card processing fees every year.

Solution: Peak’s proprietary solution reduces your credit card processing fees to $700k per year.

Fee: Peak collects a percentage of that fee over two years, in this case we’ll say 35%.

Post-Peak Scenario: Taking into account Peak’s fees, your company is now spending $805k in credit card processing fees every year.

Conclusion: Your company makes almost $200k in pure profit annually just by using Peak.

See how easy that can be? Of course there are more details involved, but big picture-wise that’s how the process works. At no point is Peak ever “taking” from your company, but we are being paid for our expertise and service. Our fee is based purely on savings found – no savings = no fee. Now I’m no fan of claiming anything is risk free, but our service is pretty darn close, if you ask me.

Have you had an experience with performance based fees?  If so, we would like to hear about it. Post a comment below or click the button below to contact us directly.

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Photo by Klaus Hitscher

Credit Card Processing Companies. To Change, or Not to Change?

hotdog-resized-600.jpg“We don’t want to change vendors.”

This is a knee-jerk reaction I hear on a regular basis. I’d like to clear one thing up on this topic, once and for all.

We know from experience that vendor relationships, be it credit card processing companies or telecommunications, can be a major driving force behind the success of a company. We at Peak completely understand and value this relationship. Not to mention the fact that changing credit card processing companies can sometimes be a major hassle. The honest truth is we have zero intention of changing you from any of your vendors, be it credit card processing, wireless telecom, or even hot dogs, and would never even consider doing this unless you told us specifically that you’re interested in looking around. Most of our clients stick with who they were using before partnering with us.

A Deeper Understanding

What this really boils down to though, is an understanding of our role in reducing your electronic payment processing overhead. We not only partner with you to lower your costs, but we also work with your current vendors to ensure every process is moving as efficiently as possible, potentially reducing your interchange costs along the way.

We are vendor agnostic. It’s our goal to cultivate relationships…not destroy them.

Download our info sheet to learn more about how we lower credit card merchant fees and reduce wireless telecommunications costs without changing vendors.  Or, click the button below and contact us right now.

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Credit Card Interchange Fees. An Insider’s Guide – Part 1

freeway interchnage“What is Interchange?

This is by far the most common question we get asked relating to credit card processing fees. Contrary to common belief, interchange is not a way to get from one freeway to another. To fully answer this question would take  far more than just a couple hundred words on a blog. For that reason, I’m going to break this into multiple posts. Now for Part 1!

My Merchant Account Rates are Great

Everyone is somewhat familiar with merchant account discount rates and per transaction fees. Typically their credit card processing fees in this area are competitive, which leads to the knee-jerk “we have great rates” response. Of course you do, almost every moderately successful company that keeps an eye on their merchant account does. Your processor has no vested interest in your credit card interchange fees, however, because they don’t see a single penny of those profits. The bigger question is – what are the wholesale costs associated with your credit card processing fees?

The Details

Credit card interchange fees what we like to refer to as the “wholesale cost” associated with processing credit cards –  what Visa and Mastercard charge your processor on each transaction. This rate varies considerably from card-to-card, from industry-to-industry, and even from one like-business to another. For example: If someone pays you with a MasterCard World Elite Business Card, your your credit card interchange fees can vary from 0.7% to 3.17% of the sale amount, depending on a number of factors.

The catch is, you, yes you, can have a major impact on which credit card interchange fees your company qualifies for.  If you do a few things wrong before, during, or after the transaction takes place, that sale that should have cost your 0.7%, could very well end up costing 4-5 times as much as it should.  Now think of every credit card transaction you’re running through on a day-to-day basis…

Do you know how well you’re doing on your credit card interchange fee’s?  If not, stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts in this series.  Or, if you don’t want to wait until then, click on the button below to schedule your free consultation.

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Is Cost Containment “Risky Business?”

Tom-Cruise-Risky-Business-ImageNo Risk? Of course not.

We at Peak pride ourselves on being completely transparent about our services. I could sit here and tell you that there’s zero risk in using our services, but you’re far too intelligent to believe that and I’ve been doing this too long to make that kind of statement. What I will confidently say, is that you’re reducing your risk significantly by outsourcing this project to professionals. Professionals like us, of course.

The Fee Assessment

The assessment phase of our service is, in all actuality, risk free. There’s no risk in moving into the first phase of allowing us to analyze a statement from your vendor. If the project does eventually move toward implementation, and if you do decide to outsource the project to us, any and all major decisions are still made by you. Nothing ever happens without you being fully informed as to what any potentially consequences might be. For example, if the project revolves around credit card processing and interchange rates – you may stay with your current vendor but make system changes. We will outline every change that needs to be made, the reasons behind each change, and how that change may or may not affect your day-to-day operations.  We assist you though the entire process and track the results.

Simply put, we minimize risk, and eliminate surprises.

Do you want to see what we are all about?  Contact us by using the button below. 

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Tackling Tax on Your Business Cell Phone Plan: the Inside Scoop

bizman-cell-190wideTax on wireless services isn’t chump change. Here’s an innovative way to shrink those bloated business cell phone bills.

When the topic of your company’s wireless voice and data services comes up, there are always the same two questions: should we switch carriers? And do we have the best plan? But that’s not the whole picture.

Chump change it ain’t

If your company has hundreds of business cell phone users, wireless taxes alone can add up to thousands of dollars per year. And if you catch on about tweaking the way those taxes are calculated, you can shrink the cost.

Just ask the $600M equipment retailer that cut its wireless tax bill by 23%. They found $121,000 per year in tax savings and related hard costs. We’ll go over this example in next week’s webinar.

Benchmark it. Contain it. Tame it.

The session next week is a fast paced briefing for CFOs, COOs and CIOs. I’ll introduce you to guest speaker Jim Breitzman, who will help cover how to assess one’s total costs in this category, what it means to fully optimize wireless costs, what other businesses are doing to contain them.

An inside scoop

For two decades Jim worked for wireless carrier powerhouses including Verizon Wireless, GTE, and Ameritech. After years of negotiating to meet the carriers’ revenue growth targets, he is now leveraging his experience to the benefit of the customer.

Come to our webinar to get the inside scoop.

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Annual Business Cost Savings for Top CPA: Almost Priceless

PEAKCASESTUDY-GALLINA-calloutThere’s a new Peak case study out, showing how a top CPA firm — already running a very tight ship — got $58,648 in annual business cost savings with our help. More info and links below…

A few months ago I wrapped up an initial engagement with Steve Burnett, a partner at GALLINA LLP — accountants with offices in Las Vegas, Novato, Rancho Cordova, Reno, Roseville, San Bruno, San Jose, Seattle and Walnut Creek and widely regarded as one of the best in accounting, auditing, tax, and financial management consulting services for construction, real estate, and related industries. In the course of the engagement, we found $58,648 in annual cost savings for Burnett’s accounting firm… without eating up more than a few hours of his team’s time, start to finish.

As the project to examine company expenses got underway, Burnett was then owner of Burnett + Company LLP, which was quietly preparing for a merger with GALLINA LLP. Burnett had Peak focus its cost analysis in specific areas, and concentrate on others later. Burnett knew, for example, that his company’s current 401(k) plan would be superseded by something new.

Initially, my team and I identified ways to save an average of 30 percent in a range of cost categories. Separately, we found ways to save 30 percent to 63 percent on telecommunications costs, depending on which of four options Burnett might choose.

As you might imagine, Steve Burnett, of all people, knows how keeping costs down can boost a company’s bottom line. And before we collaborated, he did doubt anyone could find ways to save money at his firm. “We run a tight ship,” Burnett explains. “As a CPA firm, we’re especially cost conscious.” After we collaborated, he commented that “the dollars Peak came up with on an annual basis were substantial.”

The merger that was under way did wrap up as planned, and now Burnett sits on the executive committee of the larger firm, with approximately 200 people and several offices in Calfornia, Nevada and Washington. Best of all, we earned an invitation to add value in the future. “We are very much looking forward to Haas using his cost reduction method for our new firm,” Burnett said.

The feeling is so mutual.

Download the full case study (PDF)

The full case study is downloadable as a free 5 page PDF.

Rookie cost reduction program mistakes of do-it-yourselfers

methods_1They are easy to make when running a cost reduction program isn’t your usual job

I’ve said before that running a thorough cost reduction program is too big of a job for do-it-yourselfers. I’m not just saying that. Today I’ll walk you through the steps. I’m not worried about giving away this information. The way I look at it, once you realize the work involved and the expertise that you’d need, you’ll see the wisdom of bringing in a pro while you concentrate on your regular job, where you already are the expert.

Needs analysis

First you’ll conduct a “needs analysis” to see if you are purchasing the right products and services for your company, and that you have the right criteria for all your vendors. (Let’s see a show of hands: How many of you thought you’d begin by writing an RFP? Yeah, I thought so.) The reason you start here is that you need to know your objectives before you can tell if your vendors are meeting them. Take a single cost area such as freight and shipping. How much do you ship per day, per week, and per month?  Are they priority or ground?  If priority, what method is necessary and why?  The list goes on and on.  It is easy to overlook critical questions when looking from the inside of an organization out, rather from the outside in.

Learn about vendor markets

Now that you know what you need, you’ll have to learn about the vendor markets. Were you going skip this step too? That could be a costly mistake. To keep going with our shipping example, you’d need to learn about new carriers and offerings that have developed since you last shopped for it (probably a few years ago). Have transit times changed? Have fuel surcharges increase? Once you’ve learned about the shipping business, you get to start all over again researching merchant card services. After that, you can go to school on the copier business. And then you’ll start studying telecommunications. And so on.

Identify key players

OK, you’ve done all your research on the various industries (by the way, you don’t get to quit your day job while you are doing all this). Next you need to identify the key players and vendors best suited for your needs (as identified in step 1) in each market segment: Credit card processing, shipping & freight, food & beverage, copiers, records management, office supplies, janitorial services — the list can get quite lengthy. “Key player” doesn’t always mean the company with the most memorable commercials on TV or the nicest looking web page.  It also doesn’t necessarily mean the company your neighbor knows who did a good job for his buddy.

Write up an RFP

Finally you are ready to write up a request for proposal, then send it to the two or three key players in each product or service category that you already know are a perfect fit for your needs. You knew about this step already, of course. You just didn’t know it was so far down the list.

Negotiate

Here’s the part that many people hate: negotiating. It’s no wonder. The vendors negotiate deal after deal. They are experts. When was the last time you negotiated a deal on printing, or food services, or a wireless contract, for example?  Negotiating is also much different when you already know what the best in class pricing looks like for a company like yours.  Often, do-it-yourselfers are flying blind on whether it is a good price or not. Negotiating entails more than just asking for a lower price.  To us, sometimes it means fine tuning the agreement to ensure the client’s needs are fully met.

Enforce the commitments

You aren’t done after the new contracts are signed. You still need to make sure the vendors deliver what they promised. It would be a mistake to let something fall through the cracks. Tracking the performance of the vendor and contracted pricing is an absolute must.

Getting help

Still feeling confident enough to do it all yourself? And are you comfortable with how much productivity you’ll lose while you are doing it? I’d be surprised. Honestly, I admire anyone who can tackle cost-reduction successfully while trying to run a company at the same time. I do this for a living, and it’s a full-time job for me.

Was it surprising to see how much is involved in a thorough cost-reduction program? I’d be interested in your impressions. Leave a comment!

What’s on your wish list? Cut business costs to free up capital

wish-list-190Say you had $50,000 more budget to work with in 2011. What would you do with it?

When we talk about boosting profits through cost analysis, we are not talking about finding a few dollars and cents here and there. When savings can be 30 percent in a single category, expense reduction can translate into:

  • Expanding or improving your work space
  • Hire a much-needed employee
  • Upgrading technology or equipment
  • Making long-neglected repairs
  • Improving your profit and loss (P&L) statement

Improving your balance sheet may be the best move if you are preparing to sell your company. It can also give you leverage when you talk with bankers about your company’s line of credit.

Large recurring expenses = potential for large savings

Of course, each company has a unique mix of costs. Depending on the type of industry you are in, your business’ toner costs may be tens of thousand dollars a year. You also may have expenses such as linen and laundry or food service. On the other hand, you may have low or no shipping costs and merchant card services fees to pay.

Basically, if you have any large recurring expenses, it can pay to have a cost-reduction professional look over your company’s invoices and formulate a plan that will save you money. We get paid by retaining a portion of what we save you for the first couple of years, so we have the ultimate incentive to save you money: The better you do, the better we do.

You decide which recommendations to implement

At the same time, you remain in control. We put together a plan, but you have the ultimate authority about putting the plan into play. Once you give us the green light, we handle the negotiations and the transitions. We also follow up to make sure the vendors are delivering the savings that they promised.

You make a small commitment of time and pay nothing out of pocket.

2011 wish list

So what if you really did have $50,000 more budget to work with in 2011. What would you do with it? I’d like to hear about it — please comment!

Free download

Download quick, easy-to-digest tips on spotting waste and restoring dollars and cents to the bottom line. Go >>

When profits slip away: how you can cut business costs

cut-business-costs-190Tips on stopping profits from slipping away.

No business executive or owner sets out to waste money. And when a business is small, they usually manage to stay on top of expenses. They look at every invoice. They remember what things cost last month or last year. They keep a sharp eye out for waste.

But as companies grow, it gets hard to keep a finger on every cost. You have to hire other people to manage part of the business for you. They may have no idea what you used to pay for something. They may get caught up in their day-to-day duties and not have time to review invoices or pay attention to changes in the market for certain goods and services. An invoice comes in, they make sure it gets paid, and they move on.

And that can kill your profits.

You see, when you bring in a dollar of revenue, you can keep only part of it. But when you cut a dollar of wasted expense, you keep the whole thing. Spending one dollar less will add as much profit as creating $10 or more in top-line revenue.

Maybe one of your departments needed to rush out for some new supplies to finish a project on a deadline. There wasn’t time to hunt around for bargains. When it came time to re-stock, someone went back to the same vendor and paid the same price. After all, it was OK the first time. And so some profit walks out the door.

Then there’s your telephone and data services. Here’s a typical progression:

  • You start of with one location.
  • Then you add a few lines and a new data connection.
  • Then you add another location and few more lines.
  • Then another location and another.

Before you know it, all of those locations have multiple statements, multiple billing structures and your accounts payable department is swimming in statements. It is hard enough to manage all of the statement and pay them on time, let alone sifting through all of the jargon and data to see if they are correct.

Finding inefficiencies is key

This wasn’t on purpose, but it happens. All the time. You see, we do not reduce quality or service to find savings.  We focus on finding inefficiencies in billing structures and invoicing errors.

Often, there are even ways to lower costs and actually increase service levels by pairing up the right vendor to a specific situation.

The way to uncover those hidden costs is through a complete review of expenses, concentrating on common areas of waste. We do this in areas like shipping, telecommunications, and office supplies.

But who has time to do that? We do.

That’s the whole concept behind hiring a cost-reduction firm. We have the time because that’s all we do. You can plug into our:

  • Expertise — we do alot of this!
  • Knowledge of the vendor markets — we know the discounts that are available
  • Ability to negotiate better prices — all without sacrificing quality

Alignment of interests

Because we earn our fee from the money we save you in the first couple of years, the service doesn’t cost your company a penny.

Have you ever suddenly realized that you had been paying more for something than you needed to? I’d be interested in hearing about it. Leave a comment or send us a note.

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