Budget cuts are the bane of every school. When spending decisions get tough something inevitably has got to go, but where to start? Tea, coffee, paper, cleaning products, even the loo roll – all essential for happy, comfortable staff. With happy, comfortable staff essential to a productive, successful school, it can often be a tricky path to navigate, but the following tips can help.
We live in a world of extensive choice, where seemingly every product category has at least two competitors claiming to offer better quality and price. One easy way to save a little is to remove that choice. Many schools departmentalise their budgets, which is fine for specialist equipment but can really drive up costs for general office and classroom supplies. Pick a few key products, maintain an internal supply of them and then ensure that every department uses the same basic items – pens, paper, glue, tea, bleach and so forth.
This will allow your school to purchase products in larger quantities, which almost always produces savings. Paper lends itself particularly well to bulk-buying, being typically far cheaper when bought by the pallet. Be sure to also look out for class packs and bundle deals, which are invariably cheaper compared to buying the constituent products in smaller pack sizes.
We all love a bargain, but it’s important to remember that if a supplier is selling something so cheap that they must surely be making a loss, then they’re likely making up for it somewhere else – possibly through the overall cost of your order. That one individual product might represent immensely good value Everything else… not so much. Remove the rose-tinted glasses and look at the bigger picture.
Another thing to watch for is misleading discounts. Look at the actual price, rather than the discount being offered, as you’ll often find large discounts applied to starting prices that are higher than than those offered elsewhere.
It’s also important to compare prices and calculate a maximum figure you’d be willing to pay for particular items. By benchmarking the prices of key items against different suppliers, you’ll be more likely to find the best deal. Be sure to compare like with like per item or pack size, and factor in delivery charges before deciding on a supplier. Don’t be tempted to pick ‘favourites’ – suppliers will constantly try to offer competitive pricing, so carry out these checks before every order.
Finally, it’s a tip you’ll likely know already, but switch to ‘own brand’. Branded goods may look better, carry a reputation and be widely used, but opting for generic products can make a big difference to your bottom line without having to compromise on quality.
With our intensely competitive pricing and impressive array of suppliers, we here at ESPO can help your budget stretch as far as possible.
Simon Herne is a sales manager at the professional buying organisation, ESPO.