Compared to other expenses you have in your small business –rent, utilities, salaries, etc. the money you spend on office supplies may not seem like a big deal. However, it can quickly add up. Industry experts from growmap.com believe that a company with four employees will spend around $1,800 per employee on office supplies, while a medium size company will pay approximately $1,069 per employee. By carefully looking at what you spend on office supplies and finding ways to reduce this amount, you can save a lot of money in the long run.
15 Tips to Save on Money in Office Supplies
1. Buy Generic
You don’t need to buy brand-name office supplies. Some simple items like sticky notes, highlighters or paper cups will perform the same regardless of their brand. But you have to be careful with others, like toner cartridges. If you buy them generic use a trusted supplier to make sure they are good-quality.
2. Buy in Bulk
Bulk-buying keeps your spending in check. Suppliers are likely to offer significant discounts if you buy in bulk and you may even enjoy the reduced cost of shipping. Have in mind that office supplies involve not only the stationery items used by your employees at their desks but also things like paper towels, hand sanitizer, wipes, paper cups, soap and toilet paper. Make a list of these items and try to buy them once every few months or even once a year in your local wholesale store, like Costco or Sam’s Club. Doing one single trip will also save you some valuable time.
3. Make a Spending Plan
Most employees in charge of buying office supplies have no idea how much money the company spends on these items. That’s where your business budget comes handy: it should include a section for office supplies. Be as detailed as possible and stick to your planned budget. If you need to go over your budget, study the reasons so you can cut on unnecessary expenses next time.
4. Have a Supply Station
Instead of distributing one punch holder, stapler, tape dispenser, etc. per employee, set all these materials in one station. For everyone’s convenience, it should be close to your printing and fax station. This simple trick will also save space on your employees’ desks! Also, employees can bring here some reusable supplies like used folders and bins.
5. Adopt Online Shopping
Stores that only operate online tend to be cheaper and many will offer you 20% off your first order. Also, ordering online will save you transport costs and time. Bookmark several online stores and compare their prices on common items you use. Spending a few minutes of your time doing this simple research can save you hundreds of dollars.
6. Buy the Basics Only
Make a list of the basic and typical office supplies you would find in any office and adapt it to the number of employees you have. Purchase those items only. If any of your employees need something different than the standard, they can place a special order.
7. Consider Recycled Products
Usually, recycled materials are not cheaper than the regular ones, but adopting a green mentality in your office can save you money in the long run. The use of recycled items can raise awareness among your employees: when they realize that the supplies they use are limited and not renewable, they may tend to use less. Plus, you will be saving trees!
8. Don’t Frown on Freebies
Same way as you can opt for free accounting software or free antivirus software, you choose to use some free office supplies. That is if you find them first! It’s not as hard as a treasure-hunt; actually, there are dedicated websites where you can find a variety of free stuff. By scrolling down their products and offers you surely can find something free to use in your office. You can start by checking TotallyFreeStuff.com and freecycle.org.
9. Open a Corporate Account for Small Business
Large office supplies stores like Staples, Office Depot, Office Max and Best Buy offer loyalty and rewards programs when you open a corporate account. You can use this account online or in store.
10. Save on Printing Costs
Make sure your printer or printers are set to double-sided, black and white, and draft mode as your default settings. Without reducing the quality of text or image, this is the easiest way to control paper usage and save on toner purchases.
11. Embrace a Digital Office
Your employees should use only digital documents and files. The purpose of this goes beyond saving in office supplies: the digital transformation of the workplace is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Going digital will simply streamline your work and improve the overall efficiency.
12. Assign a Gatekeeper
A study conducted by vault Inc. found out that 67% of employees take office supplies home. To avoid this situation, assign one staff member to be in charge of distributing materials when employees request them and refilling the supplies in the kitchen and bathroom. This person should also keep records that can be used when working on your budget.
13. Check Quantities Regularly
Doing regular and quick check-ups to calculate when you need to refill your supplies will allow you to think ahead and compare prices before the next order.
14. Visit your Dollar Store
And if for some reason you run out of any key item and it’s not worth it buying it in bulk or online, simply drop by your closest dollar store. While you won’t be able to buy large quantities, you may be surprised by the low prices in a wide range of items.
15. Consider used furniture
Your office furniture, along with your technology equipment, is probably the most expensive thing in your office. If you are a startup or you are redecorating your office, it’s well worth it researching where you can buy used, good-quality office furniture. If your office is not open to the public, try to go for sturdy and durable pieces instead of design ones.
We hope this article gave you some insight on how to save money on your office supplies. Think that you can invest that wisely-saved money in other more important areas of your business: technology, marketing, and even incentives for your employees. Talking about them, and if you are seriously considering cutting expenses on office supplies, involve your whole team in the process. Encourage your employees to use fewer supplies and, if the goal is met, reward them as needed. Always remember –and remind your team, that the idea behind saving on office supplies is not to limit the use of resources, but to maximize profit.
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