Business Management

8 Ways to Stretch Your Lab Budget

The folks from M2 Scientifics share some tips, in no particular order, for maximizing your lab's budget.

M2 Scientifics

scientist in the lab
M2 Scientifics

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published Jan. 18 by lab supplier M2 Scientifics on their website. The following is an edited version.

1. Shop Outside Your Comfort Zone

We all get into a routine. We shop where we are most comfortable and familiar. Though it is great to build a relationship with only select suppliers, it can also be limiting. Every supplier is trying to provide great products and service. Competing companies have different programs, policies and products. You won’t find two that are identical. Knowing that, it is fair to say that you might enjoy a product from one while you prefer a service from another. But does that mean you’d be breaking loyalty to use them both? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Sourcing from multiple vendors and taking time to shop around allows you to discover all the things you need that you might not be getting from your exclusive partner. This can translate to reduced costs, increased efficiency, a decrease in work load and so on. You shouldn’t limit yourself to the options that are available. I’ve heard and seen it a thousand times. Organizations and individuals get used to working with a source and that is where they continue to go. Why? Because it is easy. But just think of the possibilities that could be out there for you. Think of the potential savings, reduced headaches and increased productivity! The fact is, if your current vendor doesn’t provide it all, there is no reason you can’t look elsewhere. That should only give them incentive to build upon their products and services. But make sure you let them know.

2. Purchase in Bulk

This one needs very little explanation but it can really save you some big coin. Any product that you use often and that will be used for an indefinite amount of time should be purchased in bulk. ALWAYS. The only downside to purchasing lab supplies in bulk is the additional storage space they take up. But where there’s a will, there’s a way! Lab supply stores offer standing order programs that allow you to make blanket purchases but only receive what you need when you need it. If you need to be restocked on a monthly basis, suppliers will only ship them out to you on a regular schedule that you choose. There are other ways to escape the woes of holding large inventories as well. The best way to find out is to ask your vendors for help. If you don’t see bulk pricing, just ask!

3. Request Samples

Requesting samples is a great way to reduce costs and ensure effectiveness of a product. In order to explain this easier, visit this link to read all about how samples can help you save time and money.

Protect Your Equipment

You invest a lot of money into the equipment and supplies you need to make your lab run smooth. So isn’t it a good idea to protect what you have? It sure is. Many benchtop lab equipment products can be easily protected with covers, storage products, and equipment shields. Covers protect equipment while not in use and equipment shields protect them during operation. Larger lab storage products like carts and workstations can be used as storage and provide a fantastic way of making your lab more mobile.

Reducing the risk of damage, contamination and loss can help you lower costs. Though it may not be a significant short term savings, the long term effect can be huge.

4. Use Free Software

There are seemingly a million and ten software products out there to help manage a lab more efficiently; data logging, lab management software, inventory programs and the list goes on. However, many of these products require a monthly subscription or a substantial up-front investment. But have no fear! There are really amazing companies out there that’ll help you streamline your work flow for free. Take Quartzy for example. Quartzy provides free lab management software that allows you to request quotes, manage documents, keep track of inventory and much more. For vendors, they offer catalog hosting which is great for companies like M2 but offers you a great way to source for your lab. They are definitely worth checking out! And besides, who doesn’t like free?!

5. Hire a Procurement Company

Procurement companies can actually help reduce costs and increase sourcing efficiency even with a fee. Small and large organizations can benefit from some of the services offered by a procurement partner. Logistics, maintenance and invoicing can be a huge hassle. If it is affordable to do so, hiring someone to relieve these burdens can really help stretch a dollar. A great company to consider is Lab Procurement Services LLC. They offer products to help your lab streamline the procurement process before, during and after the sale.

6. Shop Smart

Before shopping, consider all the things that could go wrong with your purchase; the product may not perform the tasks you need, warranties may be sub-par, customer service may be slow to respond and any other number of instances. All of these variable can zap time and increase long-term costs. 

7. Design Your Lab to be Efficient

Before anything else, a well-thought-out laboratory can set the standard for how your budget will be managed. Strong planning can really go a long way when designing a new lab. There are a ton of ways to increase efficiency by properly organizing every aspect of the space. There are so many things to consider before, during and after the build process that it can become a bit overwhelming. But the benefits of doing so are not to be understated. Building a sustainable lab can really drive down unnecessary loss. Lab Manager published a fantastic article that you can read here. Though the article was published in 2013, many of the trends still hold true today. Check out their series of articles surrounding this topic.

8. Stretch Your Lab Budget Further

These are just 8 ways to get more out of your laboratory budget. However, with some creative thinking and careful planning you can really manage to knock down costs and increase efficiency. Focus on your goal and find ways to get there cheaper and quicker without sacrificing quality. It can be done!