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How to Create a Dental Procurement and Inventory Strategy

November 29, 2021

Picture this — you resume at your dental practice one morning energized to get to work only to realize that you’re out of nitrile gloves and you’re down to your last nose mask.

To make matters worse, you have more appointments that day than you’ve had the entire week.

Or, if you’re at a dental support organization (DSO), what would you do if you discovered you’re out of dental supplies just when your members need them?

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    Whether you run a dental practice or operate a DSO, every time you do not invest in proper inventory and manage your spending for your dental practice or organization, you waste funds and neglect a lot of opportunities to save on costs and improve your profitability. In fact, research reports that every dollar you save in your practice is equivalent to $2.80 you make in revenue.

    However, you might face roadblocks. Sourcing for the best vendors and negotiating the best price takes time that you may not have.

    Creating an effective dental procurement and inventory management strategy for your practice or organization can ensure you always have the supplies you need at the best possible price.

    How to Create a Dental Procurement Strategy

    An effective dental procurement strategy for dentists will help you purchase the right supplies, in the right quantities, in their best conditions, at the best price and at the right time.

    How will this benefit your organization?

    Among other benefits, a proactive and effective purchasing strategy can help you save between 6%-12% on your supplies purchases. This savings goes straight to your bottom line.

    Here are seven more ways an effective purchasing strategy benefits your organization:

    1. Better pricing: An effective dental purchasing plan helps you discover opportunities to get the best deal for your supplies.
    2. More cost-saving: With better pricing, you can reduce the cost of purchasing dental supplies. This can help you save substantially in supplies purchase.
    3. Competitive advantage: Better purchasing deals and cost-saving enable you to offer competitive pricing to patients. This advantage can drive more patients to your practice.
    4. More free hours on the chair: A smooth procurement process saves you lots of hours that you can spend treating patients and increasing your revenue.
    5. More effective practice: More time to yourself, cost-saving and better pricing mean you always have the supplies you need to get the job done and you have the mental freedom to handle other areas of your practice and organization.
    6. Easier fraud detection and elimination: A simple procurement strategy including standard practices can ensure supplies are ordered and paid for in a way that prevents fraud.
    7. Better profitability: More revenue and higher profit for your practice results in better pricing, cost-savings, effective appeals to patients, more free hours to serve patients, no hiding place for fraud or errors and a practice that runs smooth as butter.

    How can you create a dental procurement strategy that brings all these benefits to your practice or organization?

    Here are 9 steps to creating a dental purchasing strategy for your dental practice.

    1. Create a Budget

    How much of your total revenue do you want to spend in purchasing dental supplies?

    Specify a budget and try to stick with it.

    Because market prices change, without a budget, you may spend too much of your funds on acquiring new supplies and not have enough for other areas of your practice. Creating a budget can help you control spend.

    So start with a budget for purchasing supplies, and lay out exactly the items you want to purchase, the brand and the quantity.

    2. Decide the Right Quantity

    How much of each supply do you go through in a day, week or month? Collecting some data on your usage might help inform your decision on the amount of each item you should get.

    Why should you do this?

    Getting specific on your purchase quantity helps you to ensure you purchase more of the items you always use — like hand gloves — and less of what you don’t always use — like implants.

    To help you order the right quantity, you need to look into your inventory to understand how your practice uses supplies. This will provide you with insight into the items you use the most, how much of them you have left and what your future needs may be for those items.

    3. Streamline Your Ordering Process

    What steps do you follow to place your orders?

    Document a simple supply ordering process for your practice or organization. Make your ordering process easy, remove the bottlenecks and bureaucracy in your practices procurement process to speed up item ordering and payment.

    For example, some practices allow selected members of their organization to place orders by themselves — up to a given purchase amount — to eliminate delays in ordering and receiving supplies.

    Also, ensure everyone in your organization knows who’s in charge of purchasing. Make the purchase review and approval process fast, easy and simple so you don’t create roadblocks in your dental procedures because of standard practices or due diligence.

    To enforce this, you can lay out an organization-wide purchasing guideline so that new members will understand how your practice purchases new supplies.

    4. Source for Multiple Vendors

    Avoid relying on just one vendor, as it can impede your workflow if that vendor disappoints you or can’t follow through on your orders.

    Also, sourcing for multiple vendors will help you get the best price and deals and help you save substantially in cost.

    You can start by doing a comprehensive search of all the vendors for the item you want to purchase, cross-checking them and requesting proposals or quotes.

    After you receive the quotes, compare prices to see the deals that provide the best combination of quality, efficient delivery and price to make your purchasing decision. You can make it a part of your organization-wide purchasing guide so that it doesn’t become a one-time affair.

    5. Ensure You Get the Right Products

    Receiving expired — or near expired — products and the wrong quantity can make you bleed money.

    Always cross-check your order and invoice with the supplies you received to ensure they all match.

    Some practices have specific team members dedicated to ensuring the invoice, order and delivered supplies match to the last count. This ensures you get what you pay for, what you need to serve your patients and do not get defrauded by vendors.

    6. Automate the Process

    Dental procurement software brings all of your purchasing activities into one place.

    The best dental supply price comparison software will enable you to source for vendors, find products, compare prices across different vendors and request proposals, efficiently and effectively purchasing the supplies you need, saving you time and money.

    For example, procurement software likeMethod provides you with over 2,000 vendors in an e-commerce-like shopping interface where you can source, compare prices and place your orders easily. That’s not all — with purchasing software, you can also automate your invoice payment, receipt collection and supply tracking all in one place.

    This means a faster supplies purchasing process, convenient pricing, more cost-savings, competitive price comparison and more free time for you and your team.

    7. Put Someone in Charge

    A procurement manager can be a dedicated head of purchasing or one of your team members that can do the job. This person will be in charge of sourcing for vendors, receiving quotes, placing orders and receiving the delivered product.

    With someone in charge, everyone will know who to run to when in need of an item and your team will benefit from better communication and efficiency.

    8. Consider Joining a DSO or a GPO

    Dental Support Organizations (DSO) and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO) can help you save time and cost in dental supplies purchasing.

    For your private dental practice, a DSO will enable you to outsource all your supply purchasing to a third party who handles everything and gives you the freedom and mental space to focus on helping your patients.

    A GPO can help you leverage the price negotiating power of a group to reduce your cost of supply purchase.

    Just like you may have gathered from the name, a GPO brings members together who purchase the same kind of products or services — for example, a group of pharmacies, hospitals or dental practices — to combine their needs and buy as a group. This enables them to purchase at a group price.

    With this, you can purchase your supplies at the lowest price possible, utilize the negotiating power of the group — compared to purchasing alone — and save substantially on your purchasing.

    9. Form a Relationship With Your Vendor

    Forming a close relationship with your vendor can help you enjoy better deals, get pre-informed on market changes and get you the best price for your practice.

    How to Create a Dental Inventory Strategy

    A simple and effective dental supply inventory management strategy will ensure you always have important dental supplies when you need them.

    In this section, we show you how a simple inventory process benefits your dental practice and how to create a simple and smooth inventory management system that gives you peace of mind.

    Here are six ways an effective dental supply inventory system will benefit your dental practice or DSO:

    • More cost-saving: You may be surprised by how much you have lying idle on your shelves. A smooth and simple inventory management system will shine a light on this wastage and help you save costs in purchasing and storage.
    • More efficient procurement: A clear and transparent inventory management system will provide insight into which item to purchase, how much of each item to purchase and help you make accurate forecasts of needs and demands for your supplies.
    • Consistent availability of supplies: An effective inventory management system will enable you to consistently have the items you need most for your practice.
    • Efficient service delivery: Consistent availability of supplies translates to more efficient and seamless effective service delivery to patients at all times.
    • Better use of supplies: A proper inventory management strategy helps you to track your inventory usage and helps you control misuse, wastage and overuse of your supplies.
    • Better profit margin: Better use of supplies, consistent availability of supplies to serve your patients and more efficient purchasing all translate to better profit margin for your practice or organization.

    How do you create a dental supplies inventory system for your practice?

    Here are five steps to creating a dental inventory strategy for your practice or organization.

    1. Choose an Inventory Manager

    Choose a specific person or persons in your organization to take charge of your inventory.

    It will be your inventory manager’s job to manage your order delivery and the movement of items in and out of your storage. As well as making orders for needed supplies.

    Having a dedicated inventory manager helps ensure you don’t order the same item twice, helping you save substantial costs. They also ensure you have accurate information on the dental supplies you have in store, what supplies you need to purchase and how fast you need to get them before it gets below the critical level.

    2. Create an Activity Log for Your Inventory

    Keep an active record of what comes in and what goes out of your storage to provide you with quick insight into the items that are available in your store. Also, it can help you understand the items that you use the most, how it relates to other items, usage from past periods and help you make accurate purchasing forecasts.

    For example, if your record shows that your implants usage increased compared to the past months, you can conclude that your practice will need more implants in the coming months. With this, you can place a higher order for implants in your next purchase.

    Your inventory manager will manage this log and can keep this record on a spreadsheet or use inventory management software like Method to track your use and stock of your practice supplies.

    3. Consistently Review Your Inventory

    Create a schedule to consistently review your inventory so you understand your supply usage pattern and behavior, how much you spend on supplies purchase and create plans to better optimize your inventory management.

    Using dental inventory management software that gives you insight into your usage can help you effectively compare usage and inventory levels for different months, better understand how your practice uses different supplies and make the most accurate forecast to replenish your inventory.

    Also, this can help you uncover items that your practice no longer needs, remove them completely from your ordering list or reduce their purchase to help you save cost and maximize your storeroom.

    4. Create a Simple and Orderly Inventory Storage

    A properly arranged and orderly storage room will help you access every item easily, keep track of inventory level and provide visibility into all you have available in your storeroom.

    Create a clean and ordered storeroom to enable you to keep proper track of your inventory level and make the best buying decisions.

    5. Automate Your Inventory Management

    Dental supply software, like Method, can enable you to track your inventory level, know when to purchase, make effective forecasts and track usage of supplies all in one place.

    Some inventory management software can also help you set notifications levels for different supplies to alert you when they go below certain levels so you can place new orders to fill them.

    With automation software, you can also make orders from the same platform, source for vendors, make payments and track your delivery with ease. This will help you save time, avoid wastage, provide visibility into your inventory and help you stay on top of your supply inventory at all times.

    How to Pick the Right One for Your Practice

    Which is best for your practice or organization, managing your inventory and procurement manually or using purchasing and inventory management software? Also, should you go for doing it yourself or signing up with a DSO?

    Below we lay out three strategies for deciding which is right for you.

    The Size of Your Practice or Organization

    If you run a small dental practice, with only a few staff and a handful of patients per week, you may be able to handle your inventory manually, without using automation software or working with a DSO.

    On the other hand, if you run a mid-size to large practice with more dentists and medical staff other than you, your inventory system is more complicated and may require more attention. You should consider working with a DSO and using inventory and procurement management software to manage your inventory and purchasing.

    Also, if you’re with a DSO that uses manual spreadsheets to serve their numerous dental practices and medical institutions, you might not be getting the best deal. Consider investing in inventory and procurement management software to truly benefit from your investment.

    The Revenue of Your Practice or Organization

    Working with a DSO and using automation software most times requires a fee. Your practice’s revenue should be able to conveniently pay these fees.

    If you’re just starting out, you may consider doing everything in-house and scale up to software or DSO as you grow. But if you have been practicing for some time and rake in substantial revenue month-over-month, a DSO and automation software can help you increase your revenue faster. Your dental inventory management software price comparison will help you save money and get the best return.

    The Growth Forecast of Your Practice or Organization

    How fast is your practice or organization growing? As a dental practice, if you forecast substantial growth in a few months’ time, signing up with a DSO and setting up automation to manage your inventory and supplies purchasing can help you prepare to meet the needs and demands of your growth.

    Also, if you expect a greater membership and higher inventory management for your DSO, integrating inventory and purchasing software into your operations now can help you better prepare for the expected increase in demand for your services.

    How Method Can Help

    Method is an end-to-end inventory management software purpose-built to help you eliminate the wastage and losses associated with managing inventory and procurement manually in your practice. According to our findings, when you switch to using Method, you can save anywhere between 25-30% of your purchasing costs. Additionally, those practices that invest in automation software can achieve up to 53% more growth than those that don’t.

    That’s not all. Here are more ways using the best dental supply price comparison tool can power your dental purchasing and inventory strategy:

    • Eliminate delays in purchasing through rapid and automated order placement to suppliers.
    • Compare prices easily among different vendors to make the best buying decisions and buy at the lowest possible price.
    • Gain complete visibility and enable you to track your order every step of the way.
    • Manage inventory digitally to help you eliminate wastes due to expired or obsolete inventory and inaccurate supply orders.
    • Access over 500,000 unique dental and medical products with accurate and up-to-date information in an e-commerce store display.
    • Provides robust history and activity logs to enable you to make effective and correct reports.
    • Manage the back end of your organization to prevent cash bleed.

    All in an easy-to-use interface for an affordable annual contract with lots of training and customer support.

    Contact Us for a Demo

    Want to see how Method can help you be more competitive and profitable in your dental practice?

    Contact us today to book a demo or discuss your procurement and inventory management needs. Our team of experts can help you set up the best strategy for your practice. You can also visit our product pages for a dental system software price comparison on our pricing page.