As a small business owner, it is important to be economical, efficient, adaptable and prepared. Of course, it sounds a lot easier than it is. These core values are easily put to the side facing the demands of day-to-day business. That said, there is one strategy that will save you money and time, improve your office efficiencies, keep you prepared, and allow to you quickly adapt to change... it's mastering your office supply logistics.
Many managers and business owners overlook the importance of office supplies at their own peril. Not only are these items critical to keeping an office running, but they can add up to a significant cost. Your office supply policy deserves more than a passing thought. It is a strategic business decision. Here are a few tips for making sure your office supply policy is efficient, effective and economical.
Buy your office supplies online.
As simple as it sounds, buying your office supplies online can have a significant impact on your business. Legitimate online supply stores offer the most competitive prices, ship quickly and make time-consuming visits to over-priced mega-stores unnecessary. As market conditions change, you can quickly (and easily) change supply orders. Run out of something unexpectedly? You can place an express order at 2 in the morning.
Keep necessities on hand.
Keep a surplus of essential supplies on hand. What constitutes an "essential" will depend on the specifics of your business, but some popular essentials include paper pads, printer ink cartridges or laser toner cartridges, paper clips, staples and whiteboard pens. Keep this cache of these essential supplies in the office at all times.
Manage access to supplies.
Office supply theft seems harmless enough, but in adds up. Manage your employee's access to supplies. Have lower level employees request office supplies through their manager. This will make them less apt to waste supplies or take packs of pens and envelopes home for personal use.
Document your supply use.
Keep a monthly log on the supplies used and ordered. This practice will allow you to order replacement supplies when needed, as well as track usage and expenses. You can spot areas of excess and perhaps find a less expensive alternative. For example, if you are spending quite a bit on printing, consider purchasing discount cartridges in bulk. It can save you hundreds - even thousands - of dollars over the course of a year.
If you delegate this duty to an employee, make it clear that the goals are efficiency and cost effectiveness. Reward them for coming up with creative ways to save the company money on office supply expenses. Every couple of months, review the office supply log with this employee and discuss developments or areas of concern.
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