Whether you’re setting up your first office, expanding into a new location or simply replacing outdated office equipment and furniture, investing in new equipment can be a big expense for a small business.
Here are 11 ways to save money without compromising quality.
1. Go cloud. Subscribe to cloud-based software and services instead of purchasing software or hardware that will need an upgrade in a few years. You’ll not only cut costs, but also ensure that you always have the most updated technology at your fingertips.
2. Choose VoIP. VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) is a money-saving alternative to traditional phone systems. Subscribe to the service, then make phone calls over the Internet. Upgrades and maintenance are handled on the VoIP provider’s end, so you also save on support.
3. Assess your needs. It’s nice to have all the bells and whistles, but don’t upgrade just for the sake of having the latest model. Investigate whether the latest version of a computer, tablet, smartphone or software will enhance your business’s productivity, speed or capacity enough to justify its cost.
4. Consider leasing instead of buying. Leasing equipment enables you to obtain the latest model of a product, get service and support when things go wrong and upgrade when your lease is up. Upfront costs are lower than purchasing, cost are spread over the life of the lease, and you won’t be stuck with an outdated piece of equipment at the end of the lease. Get more information about negotiating a lease.
5. Ask about bulk savings. If you’re buying multiples of office equipment, such as equipping your entire sales team with tablet computers or desk chairs, ask manufacturers, resellers or office supply stores about bulk discounts.
6. Sign up for business memberships at warehouse stores. In addition to discounts on office furniture, supplies and equipment, warehouse stores such as BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club offer their business members other benefits such as financial services, cash-back credit cards, health insurance and access to low-cost business loans.
7. Investigate equipment financing. Unlike traditional bank loans, where you pledge your assets as collateral, in an equipment loan the collateral is the equipment you plan to buy. If you don’t pay off the loan, the lender repossesses the equipment. Many equipment lenders finance 80 to 100 percent of the purchase price.
8. Consider tax savings. You can depreciate equipment purchases over time or take the Section 179 deduction, deducting the entire cost of business equipment (currently up to $25,000) in the year it is purchased. Ask your accountant how buying equipment could affect your tax bill. Spending more money this year may save you money at tax time.
9. Purchase used office equipment and furniture. Search online for factory liquidation, business auction, going-out-of-business sales or asset remarketers to find overstock, repossessed, used or surplus business equipment. You can also purchase equipment at government auctions and surplus sales. Visit GovSales.gov, GovDeals, GovernmentAuctions.org and USA.gov for more information, including listings and locations.
10. Look for floor models or factory seconds. Although you should avoid floor model electronics, you can save substantially by purchasing floor model office furniture, provided the flaws are only cosmetic.
11. Take advantage of alerts, codes and deals. Sign up for emails from office furnishings, office supply or electronics manufacturers or resellers. Amazon, eBay, Staples, Overstock and OfficeMax, among other retailers, regularly promote deals of the day or deals of the week. Visit deal aggregator or coupon sites such as RetailMeNot, Coupon.com and FatWallet for online coupon codes. While these sites are primarily consumer-focused, you can sometimes find discounts on office furnishings and electronics.
When purchasing office equipment:
- Understand return and exchange policies, including the length of the return or exchange period, the conditions and the documentation required.
- Ask about warranties, especially for computers, printers or other electronic devices. If a used device is certified “refurbished” or “reconditioned,” ask exactly what that means.
- Does the company charge restocking fees for returns? This is a common practice with technology equipment.
- Buy only from reputable, well-known companies or top-rated auction sellers.
- Test equipment in person before buying; if you can’t, don’t buy without a good return policy.