Every early years setting needs to buy consumable supplies regularly. Here are five tips to reduce expenditure and give you better value for money:
Know what you want
Decide what you want, why you want it, and what price/quality band you’re looking for. Avoid suppliers who offer products that they want to sell. A good supplier understands the sector and the products and will have the systems to manage ordering, invoicing and regular service management.
Whatever you’re buying, check that it’s fit for purpose. E.g. restrict the use of high-quality paper to letters and leaflets and use a more basic product for internal use. For play items, make sure of
their safety and correct accreditation.
- Stationery: select the core products required (e.g. paper, filing, pens, etc.). Identify the anticipated volumes and negotiate with the suppliers to get best value.
- Cleaning products: identify a list of core products; make sure that you’re comparing like with like: check dilution ratios, how many sheets on a roll of paper towel, overall quality.
- Food: ensure that hygiene and the nutritional value of the products meet the requirements of your children, and that there is full traceability of the food.
- Resources, including toys, art materials and play furniture. Look for those that bring good play and educational value and can be used in a coordinated way.
- Printers/copiers hold a number of risks. Ensure that you know what you’re paying for – are cartridges and maintenance included? How many copies will a cartridge provide?
Maintain an Inventory
That way you know what you’re using,and how frequently. This enables wasteful usage to be identified.
e.g. minimum order values, delivery times, how back orders are handled.
Beware the VAT Trap
Catalogues often quote the net unit price and VAT is added on at the end of the invoice…
The article “Buy Wisely, Reduce your Costs” was first published in Teach Nursery Magazine.