Now that you have reviewed your expenses (End of Year Checklist for Small Business) and understand how your money is being spent, what are you going to do with that information? For many small business owners office supplies seem like a minor expense. But every year, businesses in the United States spend billions of dollars on office products. If you do not manage and control your office supply expenses, these purchases can add up very quickly.
• Buy Generic: Name brand supplies have name-recognition but most of the time they are not always cost-effective. Many generic supplies are just as good and can be purchased for less. Generic or “house brands” are also more likely to go on sale.
• Dollar Stores: Dollar stores buy up products that have been discontinued, have packaging problems, or did not sell somewhere else. The stores purchase products for great prices and these savings are passed along to you. Making a special trip to a dollar store may not make sense but if you pass by one when you are out, you might as well stop in and check for discontinued name-brand supplies.
• Office Superstores: Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and other superstores frequently offer the lowest prices on supplies. Most major national retailers offer a discount by signing up for their free rewards programs. For example:
Staples Rewards: Members receive up to 5% back on everything except postage and gift cards. They have a price match guarantee, $2.00 back per recycled ink cartridge, and they offer members free shipping.
Office Depot/Office Max Rewards: Members receive 10% back on paper, ink, toner, copy, print, and shipping. They offer rewards for recycling ink cartridges with a purchase, member’s only coupons, and birthday bonus rewards.
• Negotiate with your Supplier: If you have a favorite supplier for office supplies, you may be in a position to negotiate pricing. It never hurts to ask!
• Shop Online: Check out discontinued and online specials before heading to the store. Online stores typically offer better discounts than in their walk-in stores. In most cases, shipping is quick and efficient, which means you can schedule automatic delivery of things you need on a regular basis. When you order online, Staples and Office Depot usually ship from your local store and you can get in-stock items delivered, free of charge, in 1-2 business days.
• Bulk Ordering: Look for items that you can purchase in bulk but remember just because something comes in a larger package does not mean it is cheaper. You may actually find it is cheaper to buy 10 small packs of 10 pens than it is to buy 1 pack of 100.
• Buy Ink Off-Brand: Perhaps one of the most common ways to save money is buying off-brand ink cartridges. A few suggestions before you buy:
1. Know your warranty: If you have a new printer, you may want to consider letting your warranty expire before you try off-brand ink. Not using the manufacturer’s ink cartridges can void your warranty.
2. Know your cartridge: Get a good look at your brand name cartridge and know the numbers printed on it. Be sure to purchase the correct cartridge.
3. Know your price: Depending on your printer’s make and model the off-brand ink may be just as expensive as the brand name.
Do you know how much you spent on office supplies in 2016? What can you do to save on office supplies?
About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207