In the heat of the summer, many people drive around with the AC cranked up and smile as they pass lemonade stands scattered around town with handmade signs and wide-eyed children standing beside them. The next time you spot one, don’t speed past those beckoning youngsters. They have become proactive with available resources, even if those resources are in the form of lemonade-flavored powder and water. Whether they possess an entrepreneurial spirit or have just simply found themselves bored or wanting some money, they are making the most out of what they have been given.

When it comes to companies, a little more effort is expected. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” right? But what if you have been given a single lemon only? There won’t be enough lemonade to quench the company’s thirst. Therefore, companies, specifically Purchasing Professionals, may need to seek out solutions beyond the “lemon” they have been given, especially if higher expectations have been placed on them to generate savings with fewer resources. This is the challenge facing many companies given the current economic conditions. Companies will benefit once they become proactive and creative rather than reactive to a situation. And by creative, I don’t mean making pink lemonade. Other fruit or processes may create a more refreshing and tastier beverage and in a higher quantity. As discussed in the previous blog, “You just can’t benchmark plastics!”, the “can’t do” mindset is similar to a reactive one; and the “can do” is almost synonymous with a creative mindset.

Those companies that find themselves parched vary in size and structure. As fuel prices continue to soar, many companies who have outsourced their operations to China are now considering the option of moving production closer to end markets to avoid the burden of rising shipping costs. The newly selected distribution channels may be unable to handle such a large fluctuation in the marketplace. If so, these companies will have to keep on shippin’ rather than truckin’. Managing logistics is a difficult task, but it is an essential one, considering the price of fuel these days.

Some companies, specifically smaller ones, are taking a creative approach in order to avoid the burden of high fuel prices. Some firms have established programs for their workers to save money on gas. A compressed work week has been implemented by some firms, resulting in lower stress levels and improved lifestyles. To stress the urgency of the situation, it is rumored that some school districts are considering a four-day school week that could eventually be a possible solution for school districts to eliminate a portion of their transportation costs. Some more obvious solutions, such as car-pooling and allowing employees to work from home, have become increasingly popular. Companies are reaping more benefits than they had expected. Significant savings have been associated with these efforts. A four-day work week has also lowered electricity costs for operating office buildings.

One company found its bottom line threatened by costly reimbursements paid to its employees for visiting clients. The company is now offering its employees a generous $1500 toward the purchase or leasing of a car that is more fuel-efficient than the car they currently drive. Many companies do not want to lose their employees, and therefore, make every effort to keep them with the company while still trying to save money. Many job offers have been turned down due to the long commutes necessitated by such employments.

An article from The Wall Street Journal titled “Company Programs Help Workers Save on Gas” may provide you with solutions to your problem at hand. If you need more guidance in lowering costs, Procurement Service Providers may have the answer. These costs do not have to be exclusively associated with fuel. Equipped with market data, subject matter expertise and on-demand resources, service organizations can provide companies with something to sip on.
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Kathleen Jordan

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