This post was written by guest blogger Michael Dolen.
You've probably heard the quote "take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves". This especially holds true in business. Sometimes the difference between a failing business and one that's wildly successful is just a few percentage points of profit. Walmart is an example of this, with a net profit margin of only 3.77%.
Obviously though, none of us have a Walmart-sized company. Not even close. However the lesson still holds true whether you are a one-member LLC (like I currently have) or a corporation with hundreds of employees. If you don't seek out the absolute best deals on your inventory and supplies, even the slightest differences can add up to real money over time the difference between being in the red of not.
Are you buying enough online?
One simple way that just about any business can reduce their expenses is to buy online. Of course, the impact that will have on your bottom line will depend on your industry, but here are 5 examples to demonstrate how this approach is something all of us must consider.
Toilet papers, seat covers, paper towels; they're not the most pleasant items to think about, but you should because you're probably overpaying big time if you buy them from a brick and mortar store. Take these wholesale Health Gard seat covers. At the time of writing, DollarDays is selling them for only $78.87 per case (that's 5,000 covers total) to Platinum Members. Compare that to the retail price of $219.80! Doctors’ offices, restaurants, and just about any business with a heavily-trafficked bathroom will save a lot of money here.
#2. Shipping/Packaging Supplies
Years ago I used to run an eBay business and as you can imagine, I was buying quite a bit of packing supplies (my Staple's credit card bill each month was quite high!). Doing that was a big mistake, because I can buy envelopes, bubble wrap and more for only a fraction of the price online. Compare DollarDays wholesale envelopes to what the office supply stores charge and you will be amazed at the difference!
It may be 2011, but fax machines are still a vital accessory for many businesses. When I started my website for credit card reviews, I assumed a fax machine would never be needed since it was an online business. However the credit card companies I work with like Chase, American Express, and Discover often ask for the advertising agreements to be signed and faxed back. All those trips to Fedex Office where I had to pay $1-2 per page for faxes really added up. Eventually I caved in and bought a cheap fax machine, but after checking out the ones on DollarDays it looks like I could have gotten it a lot cheaper. As I write this there are good, name brand wholesale fax machines for less than a hundred bucks.
We all know how expensive coffee has gotten over the past couple years. If you provide free coffee to your employees, that increased cost really adds up. Of course, the solution is to not to do away with it, because that coffee can help invigorate employees (boosting productivity). A better solution would be to buy it online. Not only will you find it's a lot cheaper than the stores, but you can also snag additional savings with the closeouts found in DollarDays wholesale coffee and tea section.
A good friend of mine is a property manager for a fairly large complex of 80 or so apartments. Whenever light bulbs, tools, etc. are needed, the higher-ups at corporate tell him to go to Home Depot and charge it to the business credit card they provided him. This is a huge waste of money considering that many of the same items can be bought online for much, much less. Check out the wholesale hardware section and you will see just how significant the savings can be.
Michael Dolen is the founder of Category Media LLC, which is the parent company of CreditCardForum.com. He started this forum/blog in 2008 as a place for consumers and business to ask questions and get answers. Speaking of credit cards, he uses the Chase Ink and AmEx Business Gold for his company, but stresses that there's not a "one size fits all" answer when it comes credit cards.