For independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them
Like many of you, I'm looking ahead at 2012 and thinking of ways that I can improve the type of business owner/manager that I am. Anyone who is familiar with my office will know how much I struggle with the mounds and mounds of paper that go across my desk.
Like many single store independents I have chosen to act as my own book keeper. I contract out all of the journal posting, reconciliations and creation of financial statements, however, before anything goes to my accountant's office it goes across my desk.
Here's a few strategies that I'm trying to employ to keep myself more organized in the year ahead.
1) I've been switching as many of my payables to EFT push funds as possible. Luckily in Canada we only have a handful of major banks. As a result, inter-connectivity between banks is very strong an our online banking abilities have increased substantially over the last couple of years. I have probably reduced my cheque writing by 75% in recent months.
2) As often as possible, I ask my suppliers to provide invoices by email. As I pay an invoice I flag the email in my email program so that I know it's paid. Also, by keeping the emails for a few months, it's much quicker for me to recall an invoice electronically than to go look for it in hard copy.
3) Catalogues. I have one supplier of food merchandising equipment that would send me 5 or 6 copies of their catalogue a couple of times of year. I really like this company but I really only need one copy as all the purchasing decisions go across my desk anyway. When I tried to get the other copies canceled I found that a few months later I would inevitably receive another 5 or 6 copies. Alas I have found the solution! While placing an order and asked by the company representatives to update my staff information I told the representative that I had fired all my staff and that I am the only person working here. It worked! Last week I only received one copy of the 2012 catalogue!
Increasingly I find myself giving preference to suppliers that make my business easier, and not harder, to manage. Whether it's by allowing me to pay my account by pre-approved credit card, or by EFT push funds, paying these accounts is just more convenient.
Suppliers with robust on-line price books and order systems make finding products easier, and as a consequence I am more likely to look to their sites first as saving time is sometimes just as valuable as saving money.
At a time when many of us are making resolutions, some of them impacting how we do business, I hope that our supplier community makes similar pledges to improve how we do business together. I think we'd all profit from improvements in information efficiencies.