When cutting costs becomes counterproductive
When business owners begin to think about developing profit improvement strategies, we often find they are expecting to embark on what is principally a cost saving exercise.
But there is a lot more to profit improvement than simply cutting costs. Indeed, there is a danger of cost cutting strategies becoming counterproductive if too much reliance is placed on them.
In our experience, once businesses have identified and realised major cost savings, the law of diminishing returns dictates that any further attempts to make savings will be less effective. If too much emphasis is placed on cost reduction there is a risk of cutting into productive capacity, and even inadvertently increasing costs.
Moreover, a sustained cost-cutting exercise can damage morale and create an atmosphere of pessimism. After all, you cannot grow by cutting back.
But perhaps the greatest danger of overemphasising cost cutting is developing tunnel vision and missing out on more creative, and often much more effective, strategies for improving profitability.
Profit improvement is a process that ranges across every aspect of your business. And often the most successful strategies develop from the most unlikely places. Profit improvement is as much, if not more, about increasing revenue, as it is about reducing costs.
Focus on profitability, not just cost
This is not to say that cost reduction has no part to play in profit improvement strategies. On the contrary, when included in a comprehensive and creative programme it can result in considerable improvements on the bottom line.
However, the key to successful profit improvement strategies is to ask not how much does a particular process cost, but how profitable is it?