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When trimming an office budget, one area that is sometimes overlooked is the office supply budget. For those not familiar with office supply prices, it may not seem likely that focusing on this area would produce much savings, but the reality is that office supply prices have an extraordinarily high variance depending on when, where, and what is purchased. Supplies are a necessity, but they needn't gouge the budget to the degree that some businesses experience.
For example, a seemingly innocuous box of pens on the supply shelf can cost anywhere from $3.00 US Dollars (USD) to $50.00 USD. Considering how many pens are used, lost, and misplaced by workers in a given day, this can add up quickly. The solution is to track expenses and look for discount office supplies.
There are several ways to acquire discount office supplies. The first step is to assess prior supply purchases and create a standardized list of what is truly needed. Determine the quantity used each year, then schedule bulk buying of discount office supplies in August. This is the month the discount department stores reduce basic office and school supplies. Pens, notebooks, erasers, and paper can be purchased for a fraction of the usual cost.
For specialty items not found in the discount department store market, don't disregard the small, independent supply dealer. Though prices will likely seem higher when comparing catalogs, the smaller supply dealers are often open to special pricing. Just as retail prices will vary, wholesale prices also fluctuate and though the larger chain stores seem to have the lowest prices, small stores will give competitive pricing anytime they're able. If given a supply list to bid on, they'll give the quantities that would result in a reduction of cost, and they can also make suggestions on the best discount supplies for a particular business use.
For those sharing office space with other companies, consider forming a co-op or buying group. Almost everything is cheaper purchased in bulk. Copier and printer paper are ideal for this type of purchasing group as paper prices fluctuate throughout the year. The facilities manager in a building is the person to speak to. If a building has extra storage space, the facility management team can organize bulk purchases when prices drop, so everyone in the building benefits.
Always check cartridge, ink, and special item pricing required with the purchase of new equipment. Some machines use generic products that can be found as discount office supplies, and some require unique pieces that can only be ordered from the manufacturer. This can have a huge impact on a supply budget, and the great deal on a piece of equipment can quickly begin depleting the office supply budget. Printer cartridges are one item that's often cheaper purchased online. Companies that specialize in ink and toner usually offer the best price in this area of discount office supplies. Just be sure to add in shipping charges when comparing costs.
Lastly, don't throw out or push to the back of the supply closet those items that are no longer needed. Stick them on a list accessible to other businesses in the area and swap supplies rather than tossing them. Many offices end up with excess items purchased in multiples for one-time projects. Recycle these by sharing. The environment will be thankful, as will the supply budget monitor.
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