You’ve just loaded up your shopping cart with must-haves for your business. And you’re about to complete an online order that you believe is saving your company a bundle if you’d gone to a brick-and-mortar store (or stores) for everything.
The total looks good and you’re about to hit the button to send a payment. But wait! That box asking for a coupon or promo code is empty. And there could be a simple code you can enter that could save you and your company considerable cash.
And all it takes to find one of these codes is a quick Web search.
Before you hit that payment button, open a new browser tab and run a quick search for coupon or promo codes for the site you’re shopping. It’s likely you’ll get some results. Whether those codes you get in the search results work is another matter. But taking those few extra minutes before checkout is worth it.
This strategy works for many online purchases. And there are some sites on the Web dedicated to collecting these discount codes. Here are a few proven sites that have valid codes as well as other coupons and discounts for small business that could save your business considerable money in the future.
Coupons and Discounts for Small Business
RetailMeNot.com has a large collection of coupons and codes you can use for your business. For example, at the moment its Office Depot coupon codes include a one-day offer of $20 off an order of $50 or more. The promo codes have a user “success rate” posted, so you can see which ones are more likely to work.
The sidebar on the left side of the page allows you to add more criteria to your search. For example, you can locate just printable coupons, in case you’ll be shopping locally rather than online.
At Coupons.com you can go to the “categories” tab and click on “office and electronics” to find business-related coupons deals. Be warned however, the selection is usually slim. You’ll find more if you click through to the coupon code section and use the search box to locate codes for specific vendors.
Val Pak has been sending out coupon booklets by mail since 1968, so you might still get these from time to time. Now you can also go to ValPak and click on “Local Coupons” near the top of the page to find printable coupons for places near you.
Many of these are for consumer-oriented retailers and service companies, but there are usually a few that are relevant for small businesses.
On Groupon you can click “Local” on the navigation bar at the top of the page to find nearby deals, and then pick through the categories.
But it may be more efficient to use the search box, by entering “office supplies,” “advertising” or whatever search phrase best describes what you’re looking for.
Cash Back Websites
These websites rebate part of the affiliate commission they make. In other words, they get paid by retailers for bringing you to them, and then give most of that money back to you. The cash you earn is typically paid via PayPal or in the form of a gift card.
The savings at these sites can be substantial, and setting up an account is almost always free.
For example, with TopCashBack, you can shop online at Walmart and get 4 percent cash back on most purchases. Purchases from Office Max earn you a 6 percent rebate, and some services (advertising, web design) will get you 15 percent cash back. Here are some other cash-back websites:
Hotel Business Clubs
If you find yourself using the same hotel chains when traveling on business, check for a membership program that offers discounts. For example, Best Western Business Advantage members get perks including a rewards program, plus 10 percent off the best available rate.
Also, when your employees use the membership, as the company owner you get 10 percent of all their points to use at your discretion.
The Choice Business Program gives members preferred corporate rates at more than 5,000 hotels around the world. The 11 hotel chains in the plan include Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Clarion, and Econo Lodge. Here are a few other hotel memberships that can give you either immediate discounts or points toward discounts and free rooms:
Some of the best discounts for hotel rooms are still found in highway coupon books. Look for these in gas stations near freeway exits. Pay attention to the fine print, though. Sometimes the coupons are good only for certain days.
Automobile Club of America
AAA is known for its roadside assistance program, but also for the many places that give discounts for members. A typical hotel discount is 10 percent for AAA members. You can also get a discount at many restaurants, including Denny’s and the Hard Rock cafe.
America’s Best Companies
As an ABC member you can get discounts on “insurance, office supplies, health care, shipping, technology, utilities, financial services and more,” according to its website.
For example, they have arranged discounts of up to 28 percent on UPS overnight shipping, up to 40 percent off many Staples products, and 20 percent off ADP payroll processing services.
Membership costs $35 per month or $420 per year, so check to see if the discounts you anticipate will justify that cost.
Credit Card Discounts
If you choose a good business credit card, you may get a signup bonus and points for purchases. According to TurboTax the cash back you receive is considered a discount by the IRS, and is not taxable as income.
On the other hand, you are supposed to adjust the expense amounts claimed to account for the cash you earn, so cash-back credit cards can complicate accounting for tax purposes.
One of the simplest ways to get discounts for your small business is to check any invoices you regularly receive. Many vendors, including insurance providers, offer a discount for early payment. Check all of your vendor contracts for these trade terms as well.
Discounted Gift Cards
Most small business owners wouldn’t think of buying discounted gift cards to save money. And it may not be worth the trouble unless someone in the office is very organized and efficient in handling the details. But it’s an interesting way to save up to 10 percent on regular purchases. Let’s look at how this strategy works.
Gift cards are issued by all of the major office supply chains and most of the restaurants where you might eat business meals. When people can’t or don’t want to use the cards they sell them to websites like Gift Card Zen and Gift Card Rescue, which resell the cards at a discount from the remaining balance. The shipping is free.
For example, at the moment, among the numerous gift cards listed on Gift Card Rescue there is a $250 gift card for Speedway gas stations that is selling for $238.75, a 4.5 percent discount. Some office supply gift cards have discounts of up to 12 percent.
There are physical cards that you can have sent to you and electronic gift cards that can be used for online shopping, too.
This strategy might be too time-consuming to use with many vendors. Instead, identify the few places from which you regularly buy that have discounted gift cards regularly for sale online. Then buy cards with large balances, and buy several at a time. If you get a routine going you might spend only a few minutes to save a lot of money.
Stacking Your Discounts
Stack your discounts — it’s a powerful strategy to save money on small business expenditures. For example, if you’re buying basic office supplies online, you might find a coupon code good for a 10 percent discount, then shop through a cash-back website to get 6 percent back, and finally, pay with a credit card that gives you 2 percent cash back. Your total savings would be about 17 percent.
In the case of business meals you could combine a coupon with the use of a cash-back business credit card. For gasoline discounts you might buy discounted gift cards using that cash-back credit card, and maybe also combine that with something like the Shell fuel rewards program. For any given expenditure look for all potential coupons, discounts, and cash-back options, and use as many coupons and discounts for small business as you can at the same time.