Small businesses may order supplies from a local big supply store, like Staples or Office Depot who service all the continental United States. Big businesses may put out bids to local office supply stores to garner discount pricing for buying in bulk. These tips can prepare you for meeting with office supply sales people to discuss your company’s office supply needs.
Create listing of most frequently purchased items
Build a sortable list, perhaps in Microsoft Excel, that includes the supplies you purchase most often. That list, in column A, may include things like copier paper, pens, notebooks, file folders, hanging folders, or binder clips. The list can be around 50 items that are ordered weekly or at least twice a month.
Create categories in a second column next to each item on your list. For instance, enter “Paper” as a category in column B that might include items in column A like legal and letter size paper, ink jet paper, colored paper, and 3-hole punched paper. Enter a “Fastener” category in column B to include any size of binder clips or paper clips, or staples listed in column A. Enter “Desk Items” in column B next to staplers, staple removers, calendar pad, scissors, and so on in column A. Continue to create categories for each item on the list.
In a third column, indicate how much of that particular supply that you purchase on a monthly (or weekly) basis, like 200 reams of letter size paper or 12 dozen large binder clips.
Evaluate supply companies
Utilize the Yellow Pages or internet to locate office supply companies in your area. Create a separate list of three to five local supply vendors. The list should include the name of the company, address, and phone number. Call each vendor and ask to speak to a sales representative. Ensure that they service your area and ask if you can fax or email them your listing of supplies for them to incorporate contract pricing. Establish a meeting with them to meet at your office to discuss the pricing.
When meeting with the supply vendor
The lowest bidder is not necessarily the best vendor to choose. At the scheduled meeting, ask questions like:
* What is the color brightness of the paper? (94 is good brightness level)
* Are desk supplies brand names like Swingline stapler or the office vendor’s own brand name? Ask to see samples of the vendor’s brand products.
* Delivery should be included; ask to make sure.
* What is the turnaround time for orders? Next business day delivery is customary for orders placed before noon.
* Will they deliver to your supply storage area of the suite (and not just to the reception area)?
* How are incorrectly filled orders or damaged orders handled?
* Who will your point of contact be, the sales rep or someone else?
* How is billing handled–monthly invoicing?
* What type of reports are available to show purchasing history? Reports should be available at no extra cost.
* Can you add a product to the list later on?
* Can the vendor create an order form that includes your categories with each item to make order processing easier?
Making the decision
Price, product quality and additional services will all play a role in the decision process. The review process may be repeated annually with several vendors, if desired, to ensure the best pricing.
Barbara Raskauskas worked for a large business with over 65,000 employees worldwide. One aspect of her job included ordering supplies for her office location of about 350 employees.
Paper Brightness Explained