One Dental Billing

Most Effective Ways to Control Your Dental Supply Costs

Dentistry has one of the highest overheads of any profession. The rising cost of rent, equipment, lab fees, staff salaries, and numerous other costs can easily take over your bottom line. If you are an insurance-based practice, you can only raise fees so much. Being in network with an insurance company limits what you can charge.

Even overly busy dentists have heard about the supply chain issues plaguing ports and shelves worldwide. The long list of disruptions caused by not only the global pandemic but acts of God and man-made disasters such as the Evergreen being stuck in the Suez Canal continue to ripple through supply chains.

Since the onset of the global pandemic, manufacturers have struggled to adjust to extreme changes in demand, lost production time, and decreased efficiencies due to COVID-related shutdowns or labor shortages, the unavailability of raw materials, and logistical challenges. All of which have led to price increases making their way through almost every industry.

Set a budget

Look to see what percentage you have spent on average over the last 12 months in supplies, then take your average monthly production and come up with a budget for supplies that makes you comfortable. If you were at 7%, then shoot for 6 or even 5%. If you were at 6%, go for 4! Last month, with more than $150,000 in production, we were able to keep our supply cost just under 3%

Assign one person to manage inventory and ordering supplies

Having one single person ordering ensures that nothing is ordered twice and it isn’t assumed that another member of the team is ordering certain supplies. Having that same person managing inventory ensures that there is less chance of anything being left out of the order, and provide accurate information for timely purchases. Your allocated person will know your inventory inside and out, and will be you go to if ever in doubt of where a particular product is. By having one person allocated to the purchasing of supplies they can also form a trusting relationship with your suppliers, which can help in getting the very best deals and learn about new products.

Perform routine inventory checks

At least once a month the practice purchaser should take note of product stock levels and update the inventory whilst comparing levels to previous months. By doing so you can forecast the demand for each product and evaluate whether more or less of the particular product should be ordered. Ensuring that you have the products you need on hand and the products you don’t need aren’t cluttering your limited storage space. For example, if after a few months of ordering you notice you have a surplus of polishing paste, you can assume that you can lower the amount you are ordering each month.

Look for Alternatives

It’s easy to order the same brands and types of supplies every month. But there could be alternatives that are just as good but at a lower price.

Many products could be similar no matter who produces them. Save on costs by looking for alternative manufacturers or different versions of the same product from your favorite manufacturer.

If you need new dental equipment, consider buying used equipment. Avoid equipment that’s outdated, but buying gently used equipment that’s still in excellent condition can save you money.

Take Control of Ordering

Ideally, you’ll have one person who handles all of the ordering. This allows you to hold that person accountable. It also makes it easier to avoid double ordering supplies or making mistakes on orders. Take control of the supplies your office orders.

Make sure everything that goes onto the order is necessary. Set procedures and expectations for ordering so that the person who handles it has guidelines.

Consider Payment Methods

The way you pay for your dental supplies can help save you money.

If you use a credit card to pay, look at the interest and fees you’re paying. If you don’t pay off the balance each month, you’re increasing your dental supply costs with the interest being paid.

Not paying your account on time can add to your expenses. Vendors often add charges if you don’t pay within a certain time frame.

Assess Quality vs Cost

The cheapest option isn’t always the most cost-effective in the long run.

Look at the quality of products in addition to the cost. Paying more to get a product that works a lot better and lasts a lot longer can help your long-term supply budget.

Patience pays off

As with anything new, it takes time to initiate the process, establish a routine, and see results. Sure, it will take time and effort, not to mention some growing pains, to successfully integrate these strategies into your practice. But don’t despair. Work with your team to create a supply management process based on these four strategies in a way that best works for your practice. Make adjustments and enhancements along the way, but these four strategies are the foundations to managing dental supplies and reducing overall spending successfully.

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