Child care center supply closet is stocked and organized with bottles, paper towels and cleaning supplies

Stocking the Supply Closet

Surefire Avenue for Saving Money at Your Child Care Center

If there is one thing every center director strives to do, it is save money. And even though you need items like office supplies that you need to run your center, there are “other things” that you could use that money to buy.

So how do purchase the materials you need but save as much as possible while doing it? Consider these ideas that have worked for others.

Research your office products supplier.

Compare prices. Don’t just assume that the place you think has the best deals on what you use does. What supplier do other centers use? Child care centers may use a far different list of supplies than a typical office so the same place those organizations use just may not offer the best pricing for your needs. Talk to the supplier about what your needs are. They may have suggestions about your best route for getting the best deals.

Ask around and see what other similar companies use and how much they order. “When you’re just starting out and don’t have first-hand experience knowing how soon you’ll deplete supplies, call owners of similar businesses and ask if they wouldn’t mind telling you how much they use in a typical month,” suggests Attard. “Focus on business owners who serve a different geographic area than you do. Many successful business owners are happy to share what they’ve learned, as long as you won’t be competing with them.”

Buy in bulk when It works best.

Research bulk buying. Make sure any bulk buy make sense from a price and a logistics standpoint. For instance, bulk buys in paper products may look like a good deal but if you have no appropriate storage for these items, it just doesn’t make logistical sense for your center. Ask other centers about their office supply use and buying habits. How have they found it best to handle purchases of the things they need and use the most and the quickest?

Again – include the supplier in this research. They may know the best ways for you to take advantage of price and work within your storage limits. There may be items that they can advise you of that are offered in special deals or at seasonal rates.

Participate in customer loyalty programs.

Sign up for rewards programs – especially those that are free for participation. You can get valuable coupons, recycling offers and points that translate into cash for compiling purchase totals. Use coupons but be careful to use them only on items that you would purchase anyway. Don’t purchase things you don’t need just to use the coupon. That isn’t saving money!

Be a re-purposer.

Not only does this save you money, it helps you to be environmentally friendly. As a re-purposer, you can reuse materials for packaging and shipping – especially those non-labeled boxes and packing peanuts that you receive in items that are shipped to you! Shred non-sensitive paper to create your own packing filler. Some re-purposers even reuse paper that has only been printed on one side!

You can get creative with this by just watching what and how items are used and disposed of in your office. Or create a contest for your staff to come up with ways to re-purpose.

Another way to be a re-purposers is to purchase furniture or other office needs that have been barely used by someone else. Ask around, do a little Internet research. Look on Craigslist and Freecycle. These items are often deeply discounted – or even free if you haul them off.

Don’t think that seemingly small changes won’t add up to savings. You’d be surprised at what monthly office supply savings can total over the course of a year! Small, lean running businesses like your child care center can leverage savings in areas such as office supplies to invest in other areas that can make a big difference to the children who spend their days in your center.

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