Saving Money On Office Supplies
No matter what the size, every business has operating costs that are associated with running the business. Although there are some exceptions, office supplies are most always one of those costs. Having been in the office supply industry for some time now, our customer service representatives have customers who are always asking "How can I save money on my office supplies?" Based on our experience in the office supply industry, here are a few suggestions that can help save money on your office supplies. Some are simple, while others may require some extra work.
Track your office supply spending - While this seems like a general suggestion, it's extremely important. Most every business will have an accounting entry line item that covers "office supply" spending. Unfortunately, most businesses lump the spending into a single entry. In order to reduce your spending, it's vitally important to understand the type, quantity, and frequency of the specific office supply items you are purchasing. It's also vitally important to establish a baseline average on this spending. Once a baseline has been established and you have some idea of what you are buying, take a moment to review that data. You may uncover some interesting trends that you can immediately impact. I had a customer who was purchasing paper by the case every week. Once they had an idea of exactly how much paper they were purchasing on a monthly basis, they were able to save some significant money by buying paper in bulk.
Oversee spending - No matter what the size of your business, allowing an employee or employees to purchase office supplies without any oversight or spending limits is a recipe for problems. Implement a budget or spending limits at some level to control overall spending. Depending on the structure of your business, these limits can be applied at a number of levels including a management level or even at an employee level. However, spending limits at the employee level seems to encourage them to spend right up to the limit regardless of whether they need supplies or not. This process assigns some level of accountability and provides at least one level of review.
Consider "house" brands or alternative brands - A number of large office supply manufacturers produce house brands of certain common products like pens, paper, etc. Most of these house brands are nothing more than the same product that has been re-branded. As they don't carry a "name" brand, you can generally save some money on these house brands, especially if you buy in bulk.
Buy bulk - When possible, try to buy in bulk or larger quantities. Packaging costs are built into every office supply item you purchase. You can reduce those costs by making bulk purchases where the packaging costs have been reduced. The trick here is to buy what you generally use in bulk. Buying non-essential items in bulk usually results in overages that end up costing you money.
Take advantage of coupons or discounts - Many office supply vendors offer coupons or discounts for various products. Some also offer discounts for bulk purchases. Even if coupons or discounts aren't listed or suggested by an office supply vendor, ask about them. The office supply industry is extremely competitive so you can use that to your advantage.
Multiply Your Discount - This one is a little more complicated but well worth the time. Shop around and open a business credit card that has some kind of rewards. Cash back and air miles are the two biggest rewards programs right now. Once you have secured a reward based card, use it for all your office supply purchases. This way you leverage a necessary expense to save some additional money. My company utilizes this technique with air miles and we haven't paid for a business flight in the last two years.
By following these simple steps, you can start to impact your office supply spending. The key to saving money on office supplies is consistency. Maintaining a consistent office supply purchase plan will result in long term success.