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5 Tips for Small Businesses Coping with Soaring Gas Prices

Sep 12, 2008
As the price of gas for unleaded regular fuel continues to soar, small businesses are changing the way they do business. Many are evaluating costs and incorporating simple, yet highly effective changes to keep marketing budgets and profits afloat. This is a powerful example of guerrilla marketing in tough times!

Jay Conrad Levinson, the Father of Guerrilla Marketing, says marketing in a challenged economy requires knowing where to focus time and energy.

"The amazing thing about marketing during tough times is that high prices help," Levinson said. "Lower prices don't help because people with high prices get to say, 'During a rough economy the last thing you want to do is make mistakes with any money that you put out, and you can be assured by our price that you're not going to make a mistake such as you would be if you went with a lower priced product or service.'"

Here are 5 simple tips that small businesses can incorporate to save those hard-earned dollars while continuing to market products and services.

1. Increase prices of services or products. You must consider increasing prices in some aspect to offset the cost of fuel. A rise in fuel costs has been noticeable for transportation services. Some businesses may choose to ride out the storm in fear of losing loyal customers. This, however, may hurt their business in the long run. On the other hand, increasing prices may not be as noticeable to customers. It is a small change that could greatly affect your revenue.

2. Evaluate business vehicles. The cost of business travel definitely has a huge impact on your business. For starters, calculate the benefit of switching business cars to a hybrid or another smaller vehicle that gets better gas mileage. Also, keep the vehicle tires inflated to the recommended pressure, schedule oil changes at the recommended miles, and ensure overall proper maintenance. Even small changes will improve your gas mileage. Another option; follow the lead of business owners in Portland, Oregon, and use pedal power to get to work. Bike paths are springing up across the country and enterprising business owners are zeroing in on services for those taking to the road.

3. Add on a fuel surcharge to orders. If you are a delivery-based business, make your customers aware of the fuel surcharge that you are adding to all orders. Because customers are aware that the high cost of fuel affects everyone, they will be more amenable to the added cost. Adding on a fuel surcharge of only $0.25 per mile will save your business $100s, if not $1,000s in the long run, depending on how many miles are logged.

4. Develop more cost-effective systems. If you haven't already done so, it's time to switch to electronic solutions for many aspects of your business. Instead of physically sending paper, products, and people; go digital by hosting a Web conference. With technology, it is easy to set up a webcam to interact with the customer - even if they may be half-way around the world. Sending paper products by mail can also affect the cost of doing business. To save on postage and shipping, send invoices and documents electronically in a PDF (Portable Document Form). It's amazing how efficient business owners become when they develop alternative, cost-effective solutions for business meetings. Cutting back on business trips and embracing virtual teleconferencing are true blue guerrilla tactics to increase efficiency in tough economic times.

5. Allow a 4-day work week. It is important for small businesses to acknowledge gas prices and their effect on employees. Helping your employees with the cost of gas shows that you're a good employer, improving employee loyalty. During this time your business is trying to save money. Hiring and training a new employee costs money, so it's important to retain current team members. Offering creative work solutions may due just that.

Several companies are already adopting the "4-10" (4 day, 10- hour work week). Employees may be more productive from Monday through Thursday working 10 hours a day, compared to the standard 5-day work week. The thought of a 3-day weekend will keep employees motivated, resulting in huge cost savings for your business. If an employee feels valued and respected by his or her employer, it will show. This scenario cannot be adapted by some businesses, but it may work for yours.

Brainstorm money-saving strategies using the tips above and by creating your own. Incorporate Guerrilla Marketing tactics into your thinking and your action. You just might create a more streamlined and profitable business in the process.
About the Author
Certified Marketing Spitfire Leslie Hamp is the creator of Business Boost In A Box. To learn more about the step-by-step program, and to sign up for your *FREE* Marketing Mastery Success Kit, visit www.boostyourbottomline.com
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