It looks so good on paper: You can shave 5% of the procurement budget just by picking up a phone and returning that new, aggressive vendor’s phone call. That price he wants to give you on copy paper—holy cow, it’s sweet!
But many an office manager has gone down this road only to regret it. Keep these questions in mind before you make that bold move:
1. Will the discounts I get only be offset by increases elsewhere? It’s quite common for a vendor to dangle a “loss leader” in the hopes of drawing you in while conveniently forgetting to mention that the prices of other products are a little higher than you’re used to paying. Make sure you have the wherewithal to peek into all the corners of that catalog.
2. Is the administrative hassle worth it? This is especially important to consider when switching to a new package carrier, for example. When entirely new systems or processes must be learned and followed, the cost savings can be obviated by unexpected inconveniences. And all big changes bring new account reps, drivers and unseen contacts who might just turn out to be less accommodating than the old ones.
3. Will the staff kick up a storm? Before you bring in entirely different products, imagine someone influential in the office asking, “What the heck is this, and were you aware that we have an entire process based on the size and shape we’re used to—which you’re telling me we can’t get anymore?”
4. How much time do I really want to spend chasing that last dollar? You can replace one vendor with another, but guess what? There’ll always be someone who claims they can do even better. The free samples, teases and promises to price-match never stop. Constantly juggling brands and suppliers starts to produce diminishing returns pretty quickly, and at what point does the chase become a time suck?