The overall economy is tough these days, and nowhere is the pressure greater than on small businesses. Expenses continue to rise for everything, and many companies have taken to office supplies as an area to cut costs. High dollar purchases like new printers, office desks, conference room chairs or file cabinets can easily be put on hold. However, companies need every day office products to get the job done. An office without hanging folders, copy paper, pens and Post-It notes is an office in disarray. While those costs can never be eliminated, here are some surprising insider tips as to how to reduce your costs on office supplies.
It’s common sense that most people assume searching hard for the lowest invoice price assures you of getting the lowest cost on office supplies. In fact, the actual time (therefore money), spent scouring websites, newspaper ads or retail superstores for the absolute lowest price usually costs your business more than the cost savings you see on that sales receipt. Taking advantage of that “in-store” special at Office Mega-Store so you save $.75 on a box of hanging file folders does not relate to savings to your bottom line.
Shopping tip number 1. Never have an office worker make a trip to the “Office Big Box” superstore to shop around for your business needs. There are significant hidden costs you aren’t accounting for whenever this is done. The employee salary expense for a 1 hour shopping expense is usually $12 minimum, not to mention gas, the possibility of an accident, and we all know shopping trips never take only one hour. Instead, you can easily find a trusted company with office supplies online; one who has free next day delivery and eliminates the need for costly shopping excursions.
Here’s a tangible real life example. John the new office manager makes $17 an hour, and has been given a typical order for office products – some Pilot pens, an HP ink cartridge, Smead classification folders and some Universal binders and report covers. The order total is $82, and he’s been told to find the best deal. He hits the internet and compares 3 different sites for each item taking 30 minutes. He then reviews the Big Boxes Sunday newspaper specials for 10 minutes looking for coupons. On top of that 40 minutes scouring for the best “deal”, John decides to go to “Office Mega-Max” because they had the lowest prices. A trip to the store, shopping, etc. adds another hour, (that’s conservative – driving to and finding what you need at a superstore NEVER takes an hour). So total, John spent an hour and 40 minutes trying to save you money and get the lowest prices — or $28.39! That’s 34% more than your receipt will tell you!
Now comes the biggest secret I’ll tell you. People are shocked to learn the office superstores like OfficeMax and Office Depot no longer have the lowest prices for the office products you need. Today, you can find online office supply stores who are independently owned that guarantee their everyday prices are lower. It’s free next day shipping and lower prices – that saves you money. But how do some of the better run new internet companies have lower prices than these huge corporate chains? The primary way is much lower operating overhead. The successful internet companies that Do Good Work don’t have hundreds of retail stores to maintain, all the inventory to keep, and all the employee costs to run those stores.
Some final helpful hints. You will always save money in the long run if you find a trusted supplier who gives you guaranteed low prices every day and doesn’t use price gimmicks or change their prices every week. Find a company with good customer service, one with people who actually answer the phone not a machine, and trust them to save you money and get you the products you need on time with free shipping. A big thing – never buy office supplies from an internet company that hides or does not prominently display their toll free number on the website. Companies that do good work to save you money will have personal service, easy to use websites, and some even give back to great charities.
In summary, don’t forget these simple tips to save money on the office products you need, and can’t cut out entirely during these tough economic times. The first rule is to remember employee time spent obsessing on finding that lowest price is unproductive time, and costs you money. Second, never send someone to that office superstore unless it’s an emergency. When looking at your total costs, that always costs you money. I know it’s hard to believe, but the superstores do not have the lowest prices anymore. Find and trust the right online office products company to service your needs. Of most importance to me is to find a company that does good work in the community. It helps build trust, and I’ve found a cool company that even donates 50% of their profits to great charities. And the biggest benefit is I save money!
The reality is it’s not possible for your small business to cut out all office supply spending. Standard every day products like staples, paper clips and view binders are necessary to keep the normal work flow moving. But, if you rely on these simple hints, and search out a trusted internet office supply company that does good work, you’ll not only save time, but save money to your bottom line!