Making the Cuts: More Tips to Consider

  • Maximize your photo shoots. Increase productivity by choosing locations carefully — easily accessible places near airports save you time and therefore money. Also, if you use model shots, you get the maximum productivity from working with two models a day as opposed to one or three, says Glenda Shasho Jones of New York-based creative agency Shasho Jones Direct. And you could try to incorporate more lay-down shots in lieu of model shots to further lower costs.

  • Use your order-takers to try to migrate buyers to the Web. Chivalry Sports, a cataloger/retailer of Renaissance-inspired items, pushes its telephone reps to get customers’ e-mail addresses. At the same time, the Tucson, AZ-based company has cut the number of catalog editions it produces annually from two to one. The savings are put into Website graphics and promoting the site to increase traffic, says owner Gael Stirler. And with the e-mail addresses, “though we are only sending out one catalog we can e-mail them updates and get them accustomed to visiting our site,” Stirler says.

  • Invest in NCOA. Chivalry Sports does spend extra money, however, on running its entire file against the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOA) file. Although running NCOA costs about $1/M-$3/M, “we see savings in preventing undeliverable catalogs,” Stirler says.

  • Redesign your catalog for greater density. Fisher Scientific, a cataloger of laboratory, safety, and healthcare supplies, offered 44,000 SKUs in its 2,625-page 2001 core catalog. The Hampton, NH-based marketer decided to increase the number of SKUs it offers to about 50,000, but the last thing it wanted to do was increase the weight and cost of its 9.6-lb. book. So Fisher sought to redesign the catalog instead to accommodate more items per page. Increasing page density can be risky — if a page is too cluttered, readers are less likely to look more closely. So the cataloger tested several design alternatives with customers and staff before changing the creative grid and switching to a type font that takes up less space.

  • Review your distribution center layout. Wolferman’s, a food gifts cataloger, spent about $23,000 in 2001 reconfiguring its warehouse, including $12,000-$13,000 on equipment for double-stacking inventory, says vice president of operations Mike Ruchenski. The investment enabled the Shawnee Mission, KS-based mailer to staff 10% fewer people on the fulfillment line, saving about $150,000 a year.

  • Build Websites or create intranets for vendors. This allows you and the suppliers to communicate via the Internet — a cheap, speedy alternative to faxes, parcel delivery, and phone calls, says Jeanice Croy, chief financial officer of South Whitley, IN-based multititle mailer Stump’s.

  • Ask employees for suggestions. Lois Boyle, president of Shawnee Mission, KS-based consultancy J. Schmid and Associates, notes that the workers on the floor often have a better sense of where reductions can be made. You might consider a competition to come up with the best cost-savings ideas, offfering incentives such as a party or a vacation for those who come up with the top ideas, she says.

  • Develop and maintain excellent working relationships with your vendors. How can this help your bottom line? Say you need extra time paying a bill; a vendor with whom you have a solid, long-standing relationship is more likely to give you some leeway. Also, you’ll probably have better luck renegotiating terms. As Allan Share, owner of spa products cataloger New Life Systems, says, “You’ll have no leverage if you don’t pay your bills.”

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