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Dental Supply Walk-in Reps vs. Saving Money Through Internet-Based Supply

December 20, 2021

Whether you’re new to buying dental supplies or have been working with the same suppliers for years, the internet poses an excellent opportunity to shop for savings. Yet, even today, with so many convenient modes of communication available, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a sales rep at your door. And of course, they come armed with a great sales pitch, make sure to get to know you and your staff and make ordering easy on you. Although perhaps not cheaply.

For busy office staff, the temptation to take the path of least resistance may be hard to resist. But should you? Can you really save time and money by ordering online? We’ll help you decide what’s right for you by walking you through the challenges of managing dental supplies, the disadvantages of working with a sales rep, and what you may have to gain by ordering online. So keep reading to figure out if it’s time to make the switch to internet buying.

The Challenges of Maintaining Dental Supplies

From cotton balls to patient bibs and Kn95 masks, the list of supplies you need to run your dental practice is a long and technical one. Ensuring you have what you need when you need it and at the right quality is imperative to optimal client care and maximizing production rates.

On the other hand, ensuring you buy no more than what you need and controlling the cost of dental supplies is critical to profitability and maintaining the cash flow you need to support growth.

In a busy dental office where staff can easily misplace things as their focus tends to be on servicing patients, knowing what you have on hand and, therefore, when you need to order can be, well, not easy. Also, lead time can vary by vendor and by item, making it even harder to make sure you order on time and avoid the extra costs of rushed shipments.

With no systematic way for managing supplies and consolidating orders, your staff is often left in reactionary mode, ordering whatever they just realized they might run out of at the last minute. This can cause administrative costs to skyrocket as each order needs to be placed, monitored, received, and paid for separately. You may also incur additional expediting costs.

Requesting and managing multiple quotes for that long list of items through emails, phone calls, and supplier visits is overly cumbersome and makes comparing pricing time-consuming and difficult. And, of course, pricing never remains stagnant. Monitoring price changes to ensure you aren’t being gouged and are paying no more than you should is another essential task that often falls by the wayside for more pressing matters. Meanwhile, your profits suffer.

The Disadvantages of Working with a Sales Rep

Your dental supply rep works for the company they represent and is there to make them money. Although they aren’t likely to say so, it is their job to look out for their own and their own best interests; your employees need to ensure they look out for yours.

We know how it goes. They say they are there to support you and care about what is best for your dental practice. They may even try and win your business by offering “free” perks such as lunches, gift bags, gift cards, or even golfing trips and movie vouchers. It’s a common way for sales reps to buy goodwill and establish a relationship. They’ll even spend time getting to know your practice and your employees. This helps them to build trust.

Unfortunately, this trust is then exploited to sell you what they want at the price they want. Sales reps, and the companies they work for, know the industry well. They understand just how busy dental assistants are. They also know how difficult it has historically been to properly manage the sourcing and purchasing of supplies, hygiene products, and dental equipment. Just getting your eyes on competitive pricing for your long list of supply requirements can be a challenge. It’s why they become a one-stop-shop and make it easy for you to rely on them for all your needs.

It’s important to remember that all perks come at a cost, and those costs are built into your prices. Unfortunately, they also tend to put you at a disadvantage, leaving the sales rep in the driver’s seat and your employees’ bias. It’s a common trick of the trade for a good reason. It works to their full advantage.

However, a wide variety of brands on the market may be offering superior products and much more competitive pricing. So, by coming to you, they may be preventing you from seeing what you are missing out on- which is precisely the point.

It’s important to take a moment to think about how they are genuinely helping you. What are they bringing to the table, and are there now faster, better ways of doing things that may save you money?

How Working With a Sales Rep May Be Taking a Bite Out of Your Profits

  • A sales rep’s salary, plus all the “free” perks they offer, all come out of your pockets through increased supply prices.
  • Despite what they say, sales reps must ultimately prioritize the best interests of their employer.
  • The bottom line is, the more you save, the less they (and the companies they work for) make.
  • Free samples are limited to the products their companies provide and are looking to market.
  • Internal company markups mean “sale” prices are typically based on highly overpriced products and aren’t necessarily competitive.
  • Working with a sales rep limits you to the options they provide, causing you to miss out on possibly superior products available on the market.
  • Product samples handed out at no charge are meant to push what the company is currently marketing, not what is best for your practice.
  • You may be selling yourself short on both financial and service level advantages. Consultation services offered by reps are entirely based on products, equipment, and services they can provide or have agreements to sell.
  • Repair contracts and other “value ads” are often leveraged to tie you to supply purchase quantities and end up costing you much more.

How Purchasing Dental Supplies Online Saves You Money

If you’re tieing your practice solely to one supplier or buying from whichever rep walks in your door, you’re likely spending too much money on dental supplies and putting your company at risk. Although there was once little option, the powers of deep tech such as AI, big data, and cloud-based software have transformed the world of dental procurement, making it easier for you to shop smarter and faster.

Just like Amazon simplifies online shopping by bringing the market to you, you can now shop for all your dental supplies online in one place with a dental procurement platform.

Let’s take a look at how shopping online for your dental needs can save you money.

Better Manage Your Inventory

Critically, by leveraging the right software and implementing some simple inventory management techniques, you’ll know what you need to order when. This ensures you keep as much money in your bank account as long as you can, as well as mitigating the risks of taking significant financial hits that come with damaged, lost, or expired supplies.

Compare Current Market Pricing and Availability Across Suppliers

In minutes you can create a list of all the supplies your dental practice requires and have access to current pricing and availability for your entire list of dental supplies from all the suppliers you currently work with and over two thousand more.

Better yet, you can choose to purchase each item from the lowest-priced supplier or group orders to limit administration costs and save on shipping. This makes it easy for your front office to make the right buying choices for your practice, easing things for your dental staff while saving you money and improving profitability.

Increase Efficiencies

Method’s procurement software streamlines workflows and leverages automation to help improve your efficiencies throughout the purchase-to-payment process. So you can save on labor and improve your practice margins while freeing up your employees so they can spend their time on more critical tasks, like taking care of patients.

Request, Receive, and Analyze Quotes

Have a long list of supplies you need? A digital procurement program can help you request, receive and analyze quotes so you can realize even deeper cost savings.

Requesting quotes also allows you the opportunity to push suppliers just a little harder for other benefits outside of price. For example, you could gain improved payment terms, which alleviates cash flow or receive discounted shipping rates.

Spend Analytics

Suppliers are often willing to provide better than list price for volume requirements. All you have to do is ask. The right procurement platform will help you analyze your spend so you can leverage volumes for even more savings.

Create a Healthy Competitive Environment for Even More Cost Savins

With digital procurement software, you get complete control of your purchasing and unlock the hidden value in your spend. Diversifying your supplier base also makes for a healthy competitive environment, motivating suppliers to watch their margins and ensure they offer their best possible price to gain your business.

Mitigate Risk with a Diverse Supplier Base

Having all your eggs in one basket puts your practice at risk. Establishing a broader supplier base and having the ability to quickly and easily order from a long list of suppliers with visibility on their current stock as well as pricing ensures you can move quickly to cover your requirements in case of a disruption.

Whether a supplier suddenly goes bankrupt, their lead times are extended due to supply issues, or perhaps your requirements spike; many risks lay within the purchasing process that may leave you short. Purchasing online with a product catalog of 500,000+ items gives you the power and control you need to ensure your practice avoids stockouts and maintains optimum service levels.

Knowing If You Should Make the Switch

Diversifying your dental supply sourcing plan may take a little legwork. You’ll want to plan to invest a little time in trialing new products and vetting new suppliers. You may wish to establish a formal trialing process and ensure critical personnel can offer their feedback. You’ll also want to monitor suppliers’ performance and pay attention to if they deliver the right products in the right quantities and invoice at the right price. Hint: you should be doing this regardless as suppliers will often invoice incorrectly or increase prices without notice.

However, a little work upfront can save you a lot in the long run.

Companies everywhere have begun to realize the power of procurement to drive improved profitability because, unlike revenue, every penny you save goes straight to your bottom line.

Besides improving your profitability and cash flow, as we’ve already shared, you’ll mitigate the risk of stockouts while creating easier ways of working for your employees so they can get on with other more critical tasks. If your dental practice is fighting to claw back margins due to increased cost and face increased exposure to supply risk due to covid, how you purchase the supplies presents an immense opportunity for improvement.

You may wonder if your practice is too big, or too small, or just not quite ready to take on digital procurement. And what about upfront costs?

Compared to legacy ERP systems like SAP, cloud-based platforms offer almost no barrier to entry as they are based on a pay-as-you-go subscription model and are quick and easy to implement. So whether you are a single or multi-practice, or even a DSO, there is a monthly package to suit your needs and you to scale profitably.

Regardless of where you are on your procurement journey, as Dan Traub, Vice President of Product at Method Procurement, explains, Method works shoulder-to-shoulder with clients to help find solutions and ensure quick onboarding.

How to Purchase Supplies Online

A simple automated process to help you plan and make purchase supplies can save you from costly mistakes. While moving to a single platform that multiple users can use can save your employees the hassle of having to scavenge through emails and deal with multiple supplier platforms by providing full visibility of orders and current status to the entire team.

All that said. How exactly do you purchase supplies online? Let’s give you a quick run-through of how you would purchase supplies online with Method Procurement Technologies.

Rapid order request

Using Method’s procurement software, you can quickly and easily create new requests either from prior orders, inventory, or catalogs. By decreasing manual entries, auto-filling product details, Method saves you time and minimizes mistakes.

Prior to submitting the order request, perform a cost analysis to compare pricing and availability and select the right vendors for optimal pricing and delivery. To ensure accuracy when comparing pricing, make sure to include each supplier’s surcharges like shipping and handling costs

Want to order from multiple suppliers? That’s ok, you can include all the items on a single order request. Upon approval, Method will then automatically create and send the orders to each supplier! To see what has been approved or ordered, you can track the status of all requests from a single screen.

Don’t forget, you can also:

  • Make notes and attach documents like specification sheets either for your internal team or externally for suppliers.
  • Assign a proper department or accounting code for each request.

Approve the order request

Method provides you with the full order details for each request including quotes, specifications, billing method, and the cost analysis so you can make informed approvals and avoid expensive mistakes.

To decline an order request: Select a pre-set reason for a declined request, or write your own, and return to the submitter.

To partially approve an order request: You can select to decline certain items on a request while approving the others.

Have some questions, would like to see some changes, or just want to verify accuracy? Easily collaborate with team members or view what you need by viewing the comments, quotes, purchase notes, and attachments attached to each request.

Place your orders

Automated, electronic ordering makes placing orders easy. Even ordering products from multiple suppliers is a one-click process.

Once approved, Method will automatically convert requests into the necessary purchase orders and send them to each supplier. No work, no delay! And by electronically submitting orders directly to suppliers you reduce the chance for errors and delays.

Keep track of your orders with complete order visibility

Worried if an order will arrive on time? Online shipment tracking allows you to easily see what has shipped and when you can expect delivery. As the order proceeds, you can also view receipt and invoice status by item and in one location, regardless of the supplier.

To see the full history of an order request you can review the audit trail including orders, receipts, invoices, and payments.

Method Procurement Technologies can help you better manage your spend so you can make more informed purchasing decisions. Gain visibility into current market pricing, request quest, and analyze quotes so you can leverage volumes and create a competitive environment so you can get the pricing, products, and service your practice deserves.

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