Making do with less

During the current recession, I doubt there's a company—small or large—that hasn't contemplated laying off employees. And in the roofing industry, where skilled workers are hard enough to find, the decision to let employees go can be particularly painful if you know you'll have a difficult time finding such employees when the economy improves.

According to a recent BusinessWeek article, salaries and wages typically account for 60 to 80 percent of a small company's expenses. Such figures make it difficult to avoid considering layoffs as a cost-cutting measure.

But in most cases, layoffs are a last resort: Employers start shedding employees after all other cuts have been made, such as nonessential travel, office perks such as free coffee, and postponement of big-ticket purchases.

But there may be other expenses you can cut that you haven't yet considered. During a recession, most employees are grateful to be employed and would rather sacrifice something in the short term to ensure their jobs remain intact. So making deep cuts without losing employees may be an option.

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