20 Ways to Cut Costs

It may seem silly to spend time counting pennies, but the old adage about a penny saved is a penny earned holds true. By saving on small things, you can increase your profit margin. (See related story, p. 15.) Here are 20 ideas to get you started.

1. Ask your vendors if they give discounts for prompt payment. Some offer as much as 2% off for payment within 10 days. You may get even steeper discounts if you can pay in cash.

2. Purchase pre-stamped envelopes from the U.S. Postal Service. You can order these with your return address preprinted on them for less than from your local printer. They come in two sizes — regular or window varieties.

3. Forget about deductibility on your taxes. Only purchase those things you need.

4. If you have more than five employees, consider using a service to do your payroll. Such companies can often do it cheaper than you can in-house.

5. Smaller practices may want to form a purchasers’ co-op with other practices to take advantage of volume discounts.

6. Ask for a better price or if there is a cheaper rate available. Sometimes, particularly with travel and hotel costs, the price you pay is the highest they have available unless you specifically ask for a lesser rate.

7. Shop around for insurance rates annually. Don’t get stuck paying more because you feel a sense of loyalty to a particular carrier.

8. Keep your memberships in professional organizations limited to one or two, and make sure that ones you belong to provide you some benefit.

9. Don’t pay the postal service to send a letter to someone in your building. Walk the letter down yourself!

10. Turn off the lights when you go home. It sounds simple, but if you are responsible for your electricity bills, turning off lights, computer printers, and monitors — if they are separate from your central processing unit — can save you several dollars per month.

11. Turn off your computers on the weekend, too. But don’t turn them off every day. This can waste the internal batteries that run your computer’s clock. This component costs about $50 and must be installed by a technician. The total cost: about $60.

12. Save on your printing costs by faxing directly from your computer on letterhead you create or scan into your system. If you have a high quality printer, you can even use this computerized letterhead for hard-copy letters.

13. Use e-mail, when possible. If you send out reminder cards to your patients, consider gathering e-mail addresses from them and using them to send out reminders. Verify whether patients prefer to receive messages at work or at home.

14. If you have faxes that need to be sent to long distance numbers, program your fax machine to send them after the telephone rates go down. If you normally pay 25 cents per minute for daytime faxes but pay cheaper rates during off hours, for example 10 cents a minute, you can save 15 to 30 cents per fax by sending them late at night or early in the morning.

15. Shop for better long distance rates, too. Because the market for long distance calling gets bigger and bigger, it pays to check out the competition regularly.

16. Ask for compensation when vendors fail to keep promises — such as delivery by a certain time or having a repairman at your office within a specific time frame.

17. Use your fax machine to send prescriptions to pharmacies. Unless it is for a narcotic or Class Four drug, most pharmacies and patients love the convenience. And you save time on phone calls.

18. Remember: Time is money. Finding ways to save time is the same thing as saving money.

19. Keep track of how your office supply stock is holding up. If you wait until you are nearly out of something, you will probably have to pay more to make a run to a local office supply store, rather than making a larger bulk purchase later.

20. Don’t laugh at saving pennies. The pennies can add up quickly.