When it comes to reducing the costs of your consumables, it’s the little things that count, says Stephen Gaubert…
Every nursery needs to buy consumable supplies – from stationery and cleaning materials to play furniture and food. The spend on each of these items can be small, but overall the costs will mount up. So, to keep expenditure to a minimum, here are a few general guidelines to follow:
- Decide what you want, why you want it and what price/quality band you’re looking for. The choice of products rests with you; it should not be a case of the suppliers offering you products they want to sell. Your choice of supplier is critical, as a good supplier who understands the sector and the products it is selling should also have systems to manage ordering, invoicing and regular service management.
- Check products are fit for purpose. For example, restrict the use of high-quality paper to letters and leaflets and use a more basic product for internal use. For items used for play, make sure of their safety and correct accreditation. They should be robust and durable, easy to clean and have no sharp edges.
n Maintain an inventory so that you know what you’re using, and how frequently you use it. This enables wasteful usage to be identified.
- Understand the Terms and Conditions – minimum order values, delivery times, how back orders are handled, contractual commitments/periods, etc. Remember that VAT is often omitted from the unit pricing and is added on at the end of the invoice.
There are some specific tips for different categories, too:
- Stationery – select the core products required (e.g. paper, filing, pens, etc.). Identify the anticipated volumes and negotiate with suppliers to get best value. Beware free gifts used to disguise price increases…
- Printers/copiers – these hold a number of risks, so ensure you know what you’re paying for. Are cartridges and maintenance included? How many copies will a cartridge provide? Avoid long leases/contracts, and make sure there is a clear breakpoint in any agreement signed
- Cleaning products – as with stationery, identify a list of core products; make sure you’re comparing like with like (what are the dilution ratios, how many sheets on a roll of paper towel?) and check quality. Avoid wellknown brands unless they provide competitive value.
- Food – the key issues are to ensure that the nutritional value of the products meets the requirements of the menus, and that there is full traceability of the food, in case of problems.
- Resources – such as toys, art materials and play furniture. Look for those that bring good play and educational value, and that can be used in a coordinated way.
When selecting products it is critical to look at the quality, amount of usage and price. These initiatives will reduce costs and return better value.
Stephen Gaubert helps organisations manage their overhead costs. For more information, call 020 8482 1370 or 07785 340 280, email stephen.gaubert @auditel.co.uk or visit auditel.co.uk/stephengaubert
- Subject: Finance
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