How to Save Money with Office Products
To run a profitable business, you must do either of the following: increase sales, (AKA: grow your revenue) so much so that it outstrips your outflows. Or, keep a tight nose leash on your expenditures.
Often, the attention for most entrepreneurs is to grow revenue – there’s nothing wrong with this – however, the downside is: you are not 100% in control of how much sales you can bring in within a given period.
On the other hand, focusing on cutting costs, saving, and keeping expenditures as low as possible is 100% within your control. You can decide to spend money on an item or not. You can choose to hire full-time staff or work with freelancers. You can determine the type of office equipment to invest in. Decide whether to reuse old stationeries or even forgo brand office products for less known ones.
So, instead of sweating over things you don’t control; let’s look at how you can save money for your business.
Office supplies – think: papers, stationeries, clips, staples even printers and ink – well, they are a cost category every business, whether small or big have to grapple with; and, the bad news is, it is an ongoing recurrent expense that if left unchecked can spiral into a substantial operational cost.
To get a handle of how much office products are costing your business; you need first, to understand how to calculate office supply cost.
The rule of thumb is to identify the cost per employee. This number as you would expect varies from business to business, and it depends on several factors including company size, industry, company policies, nature of business as well as organizational culture.
In a 2014 article by writer Jack Francis written for OPI.net, he stated that “companies with 1 to 4 staff spend approximately $1844 per employee annually on office products.”
And out of this amount, 50 to 60 percent were on consumable supplies like Printer ink, pens, and paper.
A further breakdown of this number shows companies spending over $920 on office stationeries per employee annually or $77 per month. And this number rises significantly as the number of staff increases.
Now, the question begging for an answer is: How do you reduce the costs of office products?
Here are some practical and creative ways to minimize office supply cost.
Be sure you’re getting all the discounts, bonuses and gifts you can get from your vendor.
Most vendors often have running loyalty programs for their most loyal customers. To take advantage of this, you may want to consider purchasing all your office products from one or two vendors.
Plus, staying loyal to a few vendors means you can even become friendly with their company reps to ask for deals or ways they can help you cut costs.
Also, consider moving office products by contracts as this ensures you’d be getting many items for low prices. Take care however to go through the invoice details, to spot price creep as is often the case; vendors start off quoting low rates to get your business and then gradually increase it.
Vendors do this with the hope that you wouldn’t notice. Another variation to this is the price round up which in most cases adds up to significant sums.
Encourage repurposing of items in the office. Take, for instance, those bubble mailers you often get in the mail; instead of discarding them, why not reuse them for the items you ship out?
If you are not comfortable with the idea of reusing items; think of it this way – you’re helping to preserve the planet.
Not enough? Better still, get those “we proudly use recycled materials” stickers from your office supply vendor and slap it onto your outgoing packages.
Another way to bring down the cost of office supplies is to get your team to commit to reducing the number of office supplies they use. How?
Well for one, start with cutting down the amount of paper flying around the office. Implement a process to go paperless – this, of course, depends on the nature of your business.
Law firms are the only exception since the nature of their work requires printing of documents, filing and serving lawsuits for their clients.
However, going paperless eliminates several costs including shredding services for sensitive information, archiving, and lost work-hour shuffling paper.
Encourage your team to ask questions such as: do I really need to have this document in printed format? Whenever they want to make a copy of any document; this way they can break free from the habit of just printing or having a copy in case.
Finally, to stay on top of how the office supplies are used consider sticking a sign-out form on the supply room door and ask everyone to write the date, their name, and what supplies they took.