How do you run your office? Do you buy office supplies as if they were temp workers, picking up one pen every time you need one, or do you plan ahead and order 100 black ink pens at the beginning of every business quarter?

There are as many ways to manage an office as there are office managers -- and streamlined offices and reduced hiring mean that each of us are often our own office managers, relying on trips to the local Staples or overnight Amazon Prime orders to keep us stocked on printer ink and Post-Its.

This also means that, in a small staffing agency without a dedicated office manager, each of you may be ordering office supplies in a slightly different way, and failing to combine orders to increase savings. If Anna is making lunch-break runs to Staples to grab pens, Bob is using his own Amazon account and submitting the receipts for reimbursement, and Cathy set up an Office Max account for your staffing agency but neglected to tell the full team, you're losing money.

Make sure everyone buys supplies the same way
If Cathy wants the entire office to use her Office Max account, that needs to be an office rule. If your office prefers for everyone to buy supplies out of pocket and then submit for reimbursement, that's fine -- but know that you are losing money that way. Every purchase of a single ink pen, a single roll of Scotch tape, a single ream of paper costs you money. Every time a member of your staff uses their own Amazon or Staples accounts instead of sharing an office account, that costs you money, too.


Make office rules about how to buy supplies, so that everyone is working as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Don't hire temps; buy armies
Don't ever just buy a single pen or a single pair of scissors. That "just in time" theory might work for the temp employees you place in other organizations, but you need to think of your office supplies as armies. Don't buy one pen for $4.99 when you can buy 100 pens for 20 cents each.

Buy everything you think you might need, even if you don't plan to use it right away
What are you going to need right away? What about down the road? Keep an inventory list with an updated schedule, so people know when certain supplies need to be ordered. And don't wait until the last minute. If you have the big holiday swag packages going out to clients in two weeks, there's no reason to wait to place the order. Don't panic, but remember that running out to the post office for a few individual shipping box wastes time and money. It's much more efficient to have a stack of all-purpose corrugated shipping boxes in your office, bought in bulk and ready to go.

This goes for all supplies. Buy everything you think you might need, even if you don't plan to use it right away. This includes labelmakers, 11' by 17" paper – even those inexpensive wine glasses that you don't plan to use until you decide to throw an office party. The more you have on hand, the less money you have to spend acquiring last-minute items.

Keep front-facing positions in mind
One of the best ways to present a good face to clients, organizations, and job seekers is to make sure all your front-facing office supplies match. Something as simple as making sure everyone uses a branded, matching binder and notebook communicates volumes about your company and its commitment to both its staff and to the small details.

Even though your business is dedicated to placing people in other offices, don’t neglect your own office and its needs. A bit of attention paid to ordering office supplies has the potential to save you a lot of money over the long run, as well as to create a clear, unified visual to potential clients and job seekers. Don’t treat your office supplies like temps; treat them like tools.

Tags: Business, Amazon, Office Max, Office supplies, Staples, Post-Its