The Secret To Saving On Maintenance Supplies

Saving on Maintenance supplies

Spending  $20 for a toggle bolt?   Apartment Managers can become obsessive about saving money on maintenance supplies.  Sometimes the efforts to justify pricing from supplier A over supplier B have grown to simply outweigh the savings that might have been achieved.  When you evaluate the savings, you need to include the hours of surfing and shopping.  Only to find that mystery supplier that saved you 5%.

Managers are very protective of their budgets.  They work diligently to stretch their budgets to cover the full 30 days of our operating month.  But there are some expenses that are sneaking their way into our  expense management that have a much deeper impact than we might realize.

Saving money on maintenance supplies

Photo by Jacob Campbell on Unsplash

How often is your team purchasing supplies from a local provider instead of purchasing through an account that delivers the supplies?

While there are benefits to supporting local businesses, but here are a few points that should be  considered.

National Discounts

First the local store does not offer your community the discounts in pricing that are negotiated through national contracts.  Occasionally, there is usually a compelling reason for that quick trip.  We need one little part to finish a repair, or there’s an emergency leak that needs a special supply line or fitting.  Its easy to justify this expense. This represents a situation that is an exception not the predominant source of maintenance supplies.

Time and Mileage

Saving money on maintenance expenses

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Most importantly, the cost of this item, is not the cost of the item.  Its not that we’re spending seventy-five cents for a package of washers.  That purchase that costs less than a dollar at the store register, is costing your community time and mileage.   Depending on location, ranging from one to five miles you could be adding as much as $3.00 to that purchase price, and now for the big piece, you’ve probably got at least an hour in time for making that purchase.  So now depending on the rate of pay for your technician you have just invested another $15 to $20 into the cost of the items purchased on this quick trip to the hardware.

Again, the are reasons and justifications for emergency purchases, but is it really emergency? And how often are these emergencies occurring?  Once a month, and any kind of occasional is not going to warrant the need to take a hard look at these expenses.

Comparing Costs

If we’re going to cost compare to justify the value of the local expense, again; we need to consider the national product (within most guidelines) includes the shipping cost.  When someone on your team is leaving the property to pick up supplies, you have to add in that time away, and the mileage expense if you truly want to create an apples to apples comparison.

For some reason, properties seem to fall into habits, believing its easier to make the quick trip to the store instead ohaving a sufficient supply at the beginning of a repair.

When we start to see three and four occasions per week where the hardware has been the resource.  The added impact of mileage and time lost becomes a concern.  In addition, we’re often faced with the not enough time to handle resident service requests, completing turns and preventive maintenance.  If we add back in two, three four hours a week that were dedicated to obtaining supplies what does that enable us to accomplish with that additional time, with 4.3 weeks in a month..or 52 weeks in a year.

We all seem to be quick to disparage individuals who pay too much for a product, or a service.   But if we aren’t paying attention to the disruption of the work day schedule with a trip to the hardware, we could easily be the victim that’s paying $20 for a package of drywall screws.

Lori Hammond
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