Many times when we talk with small offices about their office and janitorial products, they tell us they just send someone out to pick them up. Running out to a big box store to take advantage of the flyer price for BIC pens might save you a few cents, but it will cost you in staff time and potentially expose you to risks associated with having staff on the road rather than in their place of work. The prices at the dollar stores sure are hard to beat…but what do you know about the quality or source of that box of highlighters that just saved you $2?
Given enough time and resources, you can eventually find a lower price on almost any given item. But we have to ask – at what cost? The time and expense is obvious, but the associated risks are no less troublesome, and questions abound. What happens if your employee is in a car accident while shopping? What is the cost or risk of them being away from their assigned duties? What do you know about the origin or quality of those impossibly cheap supplies? Are you really saving anything when you have to replace your whiteboard markers three times as often? And the phenomenon of impulse buying is real – how much are you spending on unnecessary items because they were well displayed in a store?
To have a more realistic picture of the true costs, we have calculated the labor costs below depending on what the employee makes per hour. - see our chart below.
Click Here for Price Increase Letters from Manufacturers
The first thing someone might tell you if they hear you complain about paper prices is to go paperless. Unfortunately, that isn’t the answer for everyone, especially in the business world. So, why is paper so expensive and what can you do to mitigate the costs?
What is causing pricing issues?
With the rise of ecommerce, corrugate is more in demand (aka those boxes your online order comes in). Companies are switching their paper making focus to corrugate, which means less supply of regular old paper.
Previous reduction in demand = elimination of many papers AND mill consolidations. Fewer mills = rising paper pulp costs. According to Strategic Sourceror, the price of wood pulp is forecasted to increase at an annualized rate of 5.1% through 2019. Another source, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the Producer Price Index for pulp, paper and allied products has risen from 177.2 to 216.9 in the past year and is NOT expected to slow down. (June 2017 to May 2018)
Inflation & Input Costs
In addition to pulp price increases, chemicals and diesel prices have also gone up significantly. According to International Paper, NBSK Pulp prices were up +37% vs last year in June, Producer Price Index for Chemicals were up +5.6% in Q2 vs LY and diesel Prices are up +28% in June vs LY. Higher input costs means higher output price.
Single stream recycling has resulted in contaminated paper. China used to buy our recycled paper for pulp, but they banned the use of mixed grade waste paper. This means they can’t use it for pulp, and this fact alone drove pulp prices up 40% when it hit last year.
Irma and Harvey resulted in the shutdown of up to 18 pulp and paper mills in the United States. It also led to costly supply chain disruptions such as transportation on railroads, roads and at ports and the cost of wood.
This perfect storm brings up memories of college Econ 101. Supply vs Demand. And now that demand outweighs supply, the mills that are left are in control and can raise their prices to become profitable again. And, if paper brands don’t want to accept the price increases? Well, too bad for them because another brand will and they won't be able to produce their paper (aka all brands are accepting the inevitable).
Ways For YOU To Save Money
If you printed something out that you don’t need, use it as scratch paper!
Print Double Sided
Print double sided to cut your usage in half if you weren’t already doing this. If your printer can’t do this, see below for a great quality printer option from Twist.
Think before you Print
Stop and think if you really need to print something out. Does each person at a meeting need a copy of your presentation, or can you project it/email it out? Does that receipt need to be printed out or can you just screenshot it and archive it in a folder?
Use Quality Printers
Quality printers don’t jam as much. Less paper jams leads to saving money on wasted paper. Other printer features such as printing multiple pages on a single sheet or shrinking website data to one page also help reduce paper usage. Check out this great Brother Printer here that is great for small businesses or contact our team if you would like to find the best printer options for your company’s needs.
Use the Right Type of Paper
Do you need fancy glossy paper for something only you are going to see? Make sure that you are using the right paper for the job. Check out the guide below for choosing the right paper!
Office supplies may seem like a minor expense compared to the other costs of doing business, such as equipment or employee salaries. However, over time, the costs of office supplies can add up, especially as your company grows in size.
According to a study by United Stationers, businesses spend $186 to $544 on office supplies per employee per year depending on the size of the company. No matter what size your company is, reducing unnecessary expenses will help streamline your operations and increase your bottom line.
Here are 7 ways to save money on office supplies.
1. Buy Generic
Instead of buying name brand supplies, consider using generic or store brand products, particularly for office supplies such as sticky notes, folders, and staples where any difference in the quality of the products won’t have much consequence.
For example, a set of 3×3″ brand name 3M sticky notes with 12 pads of notes retails for $19.99, while the generic version is 36% cheaper at $12.71.
2. Refill supplies before they run out
Proactively replenish your supplies so that you can reduce costs by buying in bulk. It costs less per unit to buy 10 boxes of paper towels, than to buy one roll at a time. Buying in bulk will also allow you to place fewer orders, saving both time and delivery. Pick a specific day every month, such as the last day of the month, and make a habit of placing orders for office supplies on that day so that you are regularly restocking.
3. Buy quality remanufactured toner cartridges
Remanufactured toner cartridges for your printer or photocopier can be 30% cheaper than the price of new toner cartridges, while providing the same print quality.
For example, the price of a new Hewlett-Packard CE4127X cartridge is $218, compared to $50 for a remanufactured cartridge, a savings of 77%.
4. Save paper and ink when printing and copying
Set your office printers to be double-sided by default and change everyone’s default print settings to draft mode and to print in black and white. This could cut your paper usage by half, as well as save you up to 25% on toner/ink.
5. Create a reusable supplies station
Have an area for employees to leave supplies that they no longer need but that are still in working condition, such as binders, folders, writing instruments. You’ll help save the environment by recycling while reducing your company expenses.
6. Have an office supplies gate keeper
According to a study on office supply theft by Vault Inc., 67% of employees have taken office supplies from work for personal use. 60% of those who admit taking office supplies go for pens and pencils, and 40 percent take Post-Its. Other popular items stolen from the supply closet: envelopes (32%), notepads (28%), paper (27.5%), paper clips (26%) and highlighters (24%).
To ensure employees don’t access to more supplies than they need:
· Have a staff member, such as the office manager or receptionist, be the gate keeper of supplies
· If you prefer having some supplies out in the open, stock less and keep the majority locked away
7. Buy From 1 Source
Combining purchases to one source cuts down on procurement costs within your organization. Studies show that it costs a minimum of $30 to cut a PO – these costs included cutting the PO, ordering the merchandise, receiving and processing payment. By eliminating multiple vendors you save both time and money.
Contact a Twist Associate for a FREE no obligation analysis of your purchases and start saving money today!
Taxes are due April 18th this year - DON'T FORGET!
Once your taxes are done, take these final steps for a successful season:
Check your refund status, make a payment, find free tax preparation assistance, sign up for helpful tax tips, and follow the IRS on Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube - all in the latest version of IRS2Go. Available via Google Play and iTunes.
ItsDeductible Charity Donation Tracker
ItsDeductible is an easy way to keep track of your donations and get back the maximum deductions you deserve for your charitable acts. Now owned by Turbo Tax.
Available via iTunes.
Whether you are traveling for business, medical, or charitable purposes, it can be hard to remember to write down your mileage. MileIQ lets you track your mileage quickly and easily with automatic tracking and provides a record of past trips.Available via Google Play and iTunes.
QuickBooks Self-Employed: Track Mileage, Invoices
QuickBooks Self-Employed finds tax deductions and keeps your finances organized by categorizing your business expenses, automatically tracking mileage, and attaching receipts to business expenses. Available via Google Play and iTunes
GoDaddy Bookkeeping (formerly Outright)
GoDaddy Bookkeeping syncs your bank account, PayPal, Amazon account, etc and the transactions are automatically pulled in to your account. So, you don’t have complex adding or importing transactions. Available via Google Play and iTunes.
Freshbooks Cloud Accounting App
Simply take a picture of your receipts, create client invoices, and follow up on payments, right from the app. Plus, you can print month-end reports and review financial income, expenses and more. You can even give your accountant a separate login (with restricted access) so they can get all the info they need. Available via Google Play and iTunes.
The Best Fun and Free Summer Activities Summer’s here! Time to get out and enjoy. Best of all, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to do it. Here are a few low or no-cost ways to have some fun.
Go Attend free workshops at your local craft or hardware store. Many retailers regularly conduct free classes on everything from knitting and floral arrangement to gardening and basic home repair. It’s the perfect time to learn something new and ask questions without embarrassment. Some retailers even hold special Saturday clinics for children.
Go on a picnic. Pack some sandwiches, fruit and snacks and head over to your local park with a blanket, books and games for an afternoon of fun and relaxation.
Check out local events. You’re probably not aware of all your town has to offer for free – antique car shows, art fairs, historic re-enactments, band concerts, film festivals in the park, and more. Check your community calendar online for a listing. And don’t forget museums, science centers, zoos, and even bowling alleys. Most have a free or reduced admission one day a week.
Visit a state park. Each state has several, so it’s likely there’s one in your neck of the woods. For a nominal entrance fee – sometimes even free – the park is yours to explore.
Fish in a local pond. Even if you don’t catch anything, fishing lets you enjoy nature, teaches patience, and creates summertime memories.
Go to the library. If you haven’t been to your local library lately, you’ll be surprised to learn it has more to offer than books. Most have extensive audio, video, and newspaper collections along with a weekly story time for children, special interest clubs, genealogy rooms, book discussions, and music lectures.
Do Camp out. Go to a local state campground or pitch a tent in the backyard. Make s’mores and watch the stars.
Set up a neighborhood field day with races for running, jumping, cycling, ball throwing and other competitive games. Reward the winners with gold, silver and bronze-colored ribbons.
Rediscover your neighborhood by taking digital photos of anything you find interesting – flowers, sidewalks cracks, lawn ornaments. Take lots of them using different angles and settings. At home see what you’ve captured. Great images make unique greeting cards and artwork.
Clean up your neighborhood. If you’re tired of seeing empty soda cans and papers on the side of the road, this one’s for you. It’s good exercise and beautifies your street. Others may even join in or become more aware of their own littering habits.
Join a book club. Some are informal affairs held at a coffee-house and some are sponsored by the library. A book club gives you the discipline to consciously read and finish a book.
Start a nature collection and keep a journal on your observations. Put on your hiking books and spend time outdoors studying rocks, leaves, trees, or birds. Jot down notes, dates and observations.
Volunteer your time. There’s no shortage of need. A day spent volunteering makes a positive contribution to your community and rejuvenates your spirit.
Play & Make Sign up for community sports. Many towns have community sports for both adults and children. If you enjoy being around the sport, but aren’t much of an athlete, volunteer instead.
Play board games, cards, dominoes. There’s a reason games like Monopoly, Pictionary and Yahtzee have stood the test of time – they’re fun! Crossword puzzles and card games like bridge, pinochle, hearts and spades are intellectually challenging as well.
Hold a craft day. Get supplies from your local dollar store or use what’s in the house – paper plates, cups, popsicle sticks, empty jars, glitter, wrapping paper to make greeting cards and holiday gifts. Find creative ideas online or make it up as you go.
Bake up some cookies, make lemonade and set up a stand. Good for hours of fresh air and for meeting the neighbors you typically only wave to.
Have the kids put on a talent, skit or magic show for the adults. Create a stage with a cardboard or wooden frame and hang a sheet for a curtain. Encourage friendly competition and vote for the best.
Don’t let a tight budget keep you from enjoying all that summer has to offer. By simply taking the time to come up with new ideas or recycling some favorites from your own childhood, you can create memories that will last for many years. Get out and have some fun!
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