One of the most significant expenses on invoices is the cost of supplies. It follows that any opportunity to save on supplies can have a dramatic effect on the final cost of a project. While labor and time charges can be altered by increased efficiency or at the contractor’s discretion, supply costs are not as easy to adjust. Below are four ways contractors can reduce supply costs.

1. Shop around

It pays to check prices with several different suppliers before making a purchase. While a few cents difference in cost may not alter the bottom line much on a small project, it can add up very quickly for jobs that require large volumes of items.

2. Ask about discounts

Never make a purchase without inquiring about a discount. Perhaps there is a promotion on the particular item you are purchasing or maybe there is a reduced price for buying in bulk. Many suppliers also offer graduated discounts where the discount amount increases by volume purchased.

3. Inquire about customer loyalty programs

If you frequent a particular company for supplies, ask if they offer customer loyalty programs. Customer loyalty programs can provide discounts or perks like free shipping for repeat business. When you use a supplier frequently those incentives can add up and keep more money in your pocket.

4. Consider substitutions

This one will likely require discussion with the customer. It is often possible to substitute a lower priced material for one conventionally used in a particular application without diminishing the integrity of the work. If the customer is amenable to the idea and the final product will still be of good quality, substitutions can provide significant savings.

Coming in below estimate on a job can allow you to pass on savings to customers and put more money into your own pocket. Clients are always happy to find out the job cost less than expected and will often repeat business with contractors if they feel they received a good deal. They may also recommend your business to family and friends, which can expand your customer base. When you save money on supplies, everyone wins.