A few years ago I would not have bothered to look up an online coupon for a B2B service. Why? Because I would not have expected to find many. Fast forward to today. Now it’s SOP – standard operating procedure – for me to check for online coupons before making significant purchases online. I estimate I have saved literally thousands of dollars over the past two years just by searching the deepest corners of the Web for discounts.
Yet, even though I now think more frequently about searching for online coupons, I know I have overlooked savings opportunities simply by not being mindful enough of where and how to look for discounts. And discounts take the form of more than online coupons. Here are five steps to take today to find discounts for your business – both offline and online:
1. Check all recurring invoices and billing statements for discounts – You’ve heard of trade terms, right? Trade terms allow you a discount for early payment of an invoice. Check each and every vendor contract to see if discount terms are indicated in the invoice or other documentation. Don’t forget insurance premiums and other types of recurring payments. If discounts are available, do what it takes today to take advantage of those discounts. Schedule automatic electronic payments so that you don’t miss early-payment deadlines. If you pay by paper checks, schedule reminders to make sure the checks go out in plenty of time. Instruct your staff or your outside bookkeeper to put through payments promptly to take advantage of discounts. Likewise, be aware of late payment charges and when those kick in – you want to avoid those, too.
2. Ask for discounts – If your ongoing vendor arrangements do not contain discounts, evaluate each to determine whether you have enough bargaining power to get better terms. Typically you will have to offer some kind of concession in exchange for a discount – such as committing to minimum purchase volumes or agreeing to pay 6 months or more in advance. To keep a valued customer, some vendors will gladly offer a discount. As long as you keep your requests businesslike, you have little to lose – so ask.
3. Save by consolidating – Look at all your existing service providers to see if you can consolidate services under a single provider. By bundling services you may get significant savings. Telecommunications and Internet services are examples of where it is possible to save through bundled offerings or buying from the same provider. Insurance premiums are another area – you may be able to save by having multiple types of insurance through a single insurance carrier.
4. Seek out vendor partner program savings – Visit the website of each of your existing vendors to look for vendor partner programs. Somewhere in the site – perhaps on a page labeled “partners” – you will find information about discounts provided by your vendors’ partners. Providers that frequently offer partner savings are: credit card and charge card issuers; telecommunications providers; financial institutions; online communities including forums and discussion boards.
5. Sign up for vendor newsletters – I know, I know… we all have email inboxes bursting at the seams. But vendors often send out email communications with special offers and discounts for their own products – and those of their partners. Those emails can save you money.
If you are like many of us, you will be surprised at how many discounts are available for your business if you just start looking for them. Being conscious and mindful of discounts is the first step to saving thousands of dollars.