Stretching Margin Dollars Even Further

Stretch your margin dollarsEvery penny counts, especially when the economy is uncertain.

Whether it’s finding equipment and supplies at a discount or staying on top of receivables; managing margin is in the spotlight more than ever.

Here are three resources that may help you keep a close eye on your profit margins:

(1) One place to check for discounts is the Government Liquidators website. It takes a little searching but if you are in need of big ticket items from computer equipment to heavy machinery to vehicles, you might spend a little time browsing the surplus site. They have locations around the country as well as Internet Auctions. An interesting find.

(2) Ryon Gambill has founded Bill Collector in a Box. It’s a billing and collection software designed for small business owners. Ryon offers biz owners a few suggestions for improving your ability to collect:

– Add a bold due date to your invoice
– Make certain customer service issues are addressed
– Get a customer’s signature acknowledging acceptance of the terms of your agreement
– Start collection efforts immediately when an invoice becomes past due

(3) Time is money, especially for freelance consultants whose primary product is their time and knowledge. Jan Lukacs “marketing guy” and friend of Small Business Trends let us know about an online service called Paymo designed to help business owners track the amount of time spent on a project. When estimating how long a project will take — using the hard data from a time management system will help you more accurately set your price. Paymo offers a free service for life for small businesses tracking time for less than three employees. If you have more employees — the fee is reasonable — $3.99 a month. Sign up is a breeze — I just signed up for a free account and it is currently ticking away how long it takes me to craft this post.

What steps are you taking to stretch your margin dollars? Have you seen a slow down in customer payments? Are you holding off on making large purchases? Or is it business as usual?


9 Reactions
  1. Great links. There is tons of neat stuff listed on the Government site that would be especially useful to a lot of construction type companies.

    Paymo also looks like a really great tool and seems super easy to use. I can’t believe it’s free for under 3 employees…..bargain!

  2. So far we seem to be bucking the trend, but I’m really focusing on niche markets and other revenue streams lately.

    Just bought some new computer equipment, and lot of little programming projects, but I do keep a much closer eye on the ol’ war chest.

  3. Deborah,

    Fine tips, my fave is the Gov’t Liquidator Website – However, I’m a non-US resident 🙁

  4. Martin Lindeskog


    1) I attended auctions in order to buy antique furniture. We bought computer stuff at online auction stores.
    2) I sent out invoices with short terms of payment according to an agreement with the customers. One smart solution is to use a factoring company.
    3) We had a customer at our Business Center who has a similar service as Paymo. It is a web based log book that keeps reports in a timely manner.

    Personally, I will start to trade on the forex market in order to compensate on the fluctuations between currencies, e.g. the exchange rate between the Euro and the USD.

  5. Deborah, thank you for mentioning our time tracker Paymo. We hope our tool will make your businesses more efficient and we’re delighted to offer a free version for all you small business owners out there.

  6. Great tips. Especially the liquidation site.

    Also remember that matching expenses to income in seasonal businesses is very important. If you buy a major piece of equipment, such as construction equipment as listed on the Government website, consider working with a lender who can offer lower payments in the Winter when the equipment is sitting idle.

  7. That’s a great tip, RC. I had no idea lenders could offer that kind of payment plan. I’m always learning new things here.

  8. Great tips! Really useful info. If I may, I’d like to add something I’ve done recently to save a little cash and drive traffic to my biz.

    I was recently contacted by a credit card processing company and before everyone stops reading I want to say it was a good experience! I had no idea my “low rate” was on biz that comprised about 5% of my total customer base. I switched over to these guys and managed to get a better rate on my core customers. I also signed up for a gift card program where I got customized cards for my biz at no cost. I’m saving a little cash and I’ve found a way to increase traffic. I don’t want to sound like an ad for these guys but they have saved me money. If anyone wants to know, the company name is Encore Payment Systems –

  9. Semi Truck Financing

    Thank you very much for the government surplus website.