Golden Business Ideas

Focus on the Front Line

The most important people in your company probably are at the bottom of the pay scale and get little or no formal training. They are the company’s telephone operators.

Consider this: They are your front line—the initial contact for many of your customers, suppliers and clients. They present the image of your organization. When they answer a call, it could be with a smile or a frown; when they transfer a call, it could be to the right person or the wrong person; and when they answer a question about your company or its services, it could be either correct or misleading.

Reexamine the job description for that post. Consider whether operators should be knowledgeable about your business and its products or services and sufficiently mature emotionally to handle people who call with problems or complaints.

First step: Don’t think of them as entry-level employees—and pay them accordingly. In addition, train them thoroughly and be sure they get regular updates on company policy and products.

A Pox on Employee-of-the-Month Programs

It’s time to re-evaluate those time-honored employee-of-the-month programs.

While they may look good on paper, singling out an employee for public recognition often causes enmity within the staff. Winners may be viewed as “teacher’s pets.” Some workers dismiss the program as merely a popularity contest and not a measure of a person’s true professional performance.

So while the boss sees the award as a valuable way to recognize and reward exceptional work, many on the staff see it negatively.

One way it can work: If you have two departments in your organization that work closely, invite the members of one department to pick an employee-of-the-month from the other team. It gets management out of the voting process while building a mutually supportive atmosphere between the two departments.

Self-Insure Health Benefits?

If your corporate health benefit costs are skyrocketing—and whose aren’t these days?—maybe it’s time to investigate self-insurance using a third-party administrator. While such an arrangement generally won’t work for very small companies, it can be cost-effective for organizations with as few as 100 employees. In addition, be sure to check out the advantages of adding a network arrangement in which you link with an HMO’s doctors but not its insurance coverage.

A must for all self-insurers: a stop-loss insurance provider as umbrella coverage.

Let Suppliers Be Your Warehouse

Have you ever calculated the cost of storing your inventory? If your business is like most businesses, those costs make a considerable dent in the bottom line.

Here’s an idea that could save your enterprise a considerable sum: Seek to negotiate an arrangement with your suppliers in which they, rather than you, store your inventory. Naturally, they’ll want a quid pro quo for such an arrangement—after all, it’s going to cost them something. You might offer to place a longer contract with them, buying, say, a full year in advance. However, you won’t have to pay for the material until it’s actually delivered. By ordering so far ahead, you may even negotiate a lower price.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.


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