Monday, March 15, 2010

The Power of Asking for More

My boss has been on maternity leave since December, and in order to help bridge the gap, I was given responsibility for the department budget. Personally, I love budgeting (I think this may be why I loved Accounting so much in business school--that or my terrific professor, Susan Hass). Even more than keeping track of the budget, I love saving money. Who doesn't, really?

But what I've done in the past three months has been pretty substantial. In October I made the case to dismantle a printed communications campaign that was well received but had no ROI. Next, I worked on a project to create a single layout for all of my company's data file deliverables. In the course of doing that, I re-examined our printing quotes. I discovered that when we switched our communications from quarterly launches to monthly launches, the quotes were never changed to reflect the revised volumes--meaning we were paying thousands in monthly minimums that were unrealistic.

At Simmons, I took negotiations with Deborah Kolb, and I used all the tools I learned in her class to work on re-negotiating those monthly minimums. I researched our past agreements, the prices per piece, and pulled all the figures for our print volumes, both past and projected based on the size of our portfolio. I sent my spreadsheets to our vendor, and we scheduled a series of phone calls. It took effort, but I got the minimums changed--saving thousands of dollars.

I remember the first budget I managed--I mostly just ordered what people asked me to order, and wrote down the amounts and watched our allotment diminish over the course of a year. Now, I'm smart enough to look at what we spend and say, "how can I get more from this?" Today, I got a new quote for another print campaign, and that will save another $7,000 over the course of the year. By keeping an eye on our postage balance, I found we were over-crediting the account, and we won't have to spend $50,000 that was set aside for postage.

All told, my department will be under-budget by over $120,000. This is one of my proudest accomplishments in my current role.