Here’s a hint: You should.
Do you know when to order and when to wait? How you can make the most of your limited dollars without sacrificing in other areas? Have you identified your usage cycle?
Let’s look at some examples of supply strategies that I have seen:
The “just in time” model:
- The rationale behind this strategy is “There’s always more.”
- These people keep just what they need on hand and no more. When they run out of paper, pens, paper towels, notebooks, cleaning supplies, materials or whatever, they pick up the phone or run out to the store for more. Why should I spend my money on buying extra when I can just get it when I need it?
- The upside – You don’t spend money or waste storage space before you need to.
- The downside – You risk paying top dollar by missing sales and quantity discounts, work is delayed when you run out of something and time and effort are required now to procure more supplies.
The “hoarder” model:
- The rationale behind this strategy is “Never run out.”
- These people keep stores of supplies so they will never run out of anything. They have full storage areas, shelves and basements. They order in bulk and buy at a discount whenever possible.
- The upside – You never run out and supplies are within arm’s reach.
- The downside – You spend money upfront that could be spent in other ways, storage space is required that could be utilized for something else and you risk “spoilage” – damp paper, dried up pens, obsolete supplies that are no longer useful or necessary.
Isn’t there a better way? A more sound supply management strategy? So glad you asked.
I suggest the “maximizing” model:
- The rationale behind this strategy is “Make the most of all available resources.”
- Asses your usage cycle – know how much of each type of supply you require in a given time period. I recommend 3–6 months.
- Purchase supplies when they are on sale or at a discount, but only enough to get through your 3-6 month cycle. Batch by ordering different supplies together to minimize time spent ordering and save on shipping or purchasing costs.
- The upside – You won’t run out, you reduce storage space, you save time and money and cut supply waste. You gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are maximizing your resources.
- The downside – Uh…You have to be careful not to appear too smug to your friends and colleagues.