ARE THERE SIMPLE WAYS WE CAN SAVE MONEY IN OUR DENTAL PRACTICE?
I do agree with the quote by Mahatma Gandhi that the “The future depends on what you do today.” I believe that this is the reason why we encounter so many problems today because we tend to be more reactionary rather than planning and implementing actions that can secure our future. This is very much applicable even to our dental business. We shouldn’t be just thinking of how to just survive now but we must be doing something in our dental practice such as steps that can sustain us against possible problems in the future. This is even more important especially if we intend our dental practice to be continued by the next generation such as your children or your dental business to have an investment value that can be sold when you retire. So, what is one of the significant steps that can actually sustain our dental business and be able to survive against future possible challenges that may come our way? The answer is doing as much as we can to strengthen its financial stability and security. And, how do we do that? Well, do you know that by doing just these 5 simple hacks of saving costs, these can already provide an increase on your clinic’s profitability and can be set aside as savings in rainy days?
I. BUILD A GOOD BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR DISTRIBUTOR
We often go from one distributor to another and generally consider price as the #1 priority or even the only factor to consider when we buy dental materials or equipment in our dental clinic. It does not matter sometimes to us whether the dental material or equipment is of quality or if the distributor is legitimate and reputable. What’s critical to us, most of the time, is just to save us a few pesos when we buy the said material or equipment. Now, I am not saying that this is wrong or a mistake on certain cases, however, in most cases, if you are this type of a buyer, you will only gain saving a few pesos on that transaction alone, but, nothing else in the long run.
Choosing the right reputable distributors to majorly supply your dental materials and equipment is as important as like choosing your staff or possible business partner.
Because these distributors are the ones fully studying and investing dental materials and equipment that can support us to make or break in our method to implement our dental treatments. So, in most cases, they know more than us on this field especially the ones that are on the works and coming soon.
It is in the best interest of these legitimate and reputable dental distributors to sustain their good reputation, thus, they make sure that the dental products they sell are of quality and that they can provide dependable support such as parts and services to their clients. Even more so make sure that all or at least majority of their key salespeople are well trained to teach us the best ways to maximize and make these dental materials and equipment truly effective when we use them. This is one of the key differences between reputable distributors versus distributors who are fly by night or into the business to just earn.
Lastly, WHY, is it significant to us?
Because if we choose at least 1-2 reputable and dependable dental distributor/s to be loyal to and provide support by building good relationship with them, they will automatically do the same to you. Personally, I have experienced this when I was just starting my dental practice. From the onset of dental practice, I tend to be a loyal customer particularly to companies that are reliable and honest in their transactions. Because I built a great business relationships with them, they even extend more than I expected for them to give. One of its effect to me is that one of them opened the door of opportunity to me and have an alternative path in my career I've been into for more than 25 years, and, that’s becoming a speaker and consultant of various dental manufacturers. This does not only enhanced my dental practice and knowledge beyond dental. In general, however, the benefits are many for a dental practitioner who builds this kind of relationship with their preferred distributor/s. One of the hidden gems of having a great business relationship with your chosen distributor/s is their openness to provide you price and payment flexibility. And, this my dear dentists is when in the long run you can actually save more money rather than in "one-time big-time" transaction.
II. IF YOU CAN, ALWAYS PAY IMMEDIATELY OR IN CASH
Unbeknownst to many paying immediately or in cash can actually save you more money rather than paying more than 15 days or doing installment especially when it is not even necessary. We have this idea that if we delay payment, we can use our current money for something more important now or something we immediately need to pay. Again, this is not all the time a mistake because there are indeed situations that’s more beneficial for us to delay payment and make use of our capital for immediate needs. This is more apparent especially if we are just starting in our business or just opened our dental clinic. Having said that, this rule shouldn’t be “the rule” but, rather be just an exception.
Because majority of the time when we delay paying items that we can actually afford to pay in cash or immediately, we are just paying more than we should. Majority of dental distributors already incorporates into their prices their cost of money on their selling prices. This is not because they want to earn more but because they know dentists have the habit to use them as a lending facility (which they are not) when dentists purchase dental products or equipment and even expecting 0% interest. Thus, to protect their business interest, majority incorporates their cost of money on their prices. Can you really blame them? This is just sound business practice if they want their business to survive. Thus, by having a reputation of paying what you buy immediately, they can normally offer you cash discount. This is actually the amount you don’t need to really pay, no need to waste and be able to save. Thus, you get your dental products or equipment, most of the time, at its actual price.
ADDITIONAL TIP: To protect you against some unscrupulous sales agent, if you will pay immediately, do it in dated check and payable to the name of the Corporation rather than placing “Cash” under the account’s name. This is for your protection to make sure that your payment is truly credited to you.
III. ATTENDING PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS
This is probably one of the most misconstrued and untapped benefits that distributors give that we don’t maximize before we purchase due to our wrong attitude. We sometimes build a wall and resistance on product presentations because we feel that we are just wasting our time attending them when they are just doing it to sell us their products. Again, just like #s 1& 2, it does not mean you are totally wrong if you sometimes feel this way. However, majority of the time, this is one of the secrets of what makes a successful and thriving dentist different from those who are flailing in their craft.
Because we have to accept the fact that as dentists we may know the principles and the knowledge to do our dental treatments, but, we will never be able execute them without dental products and/or equipment. That’s just a simple fact. And, who knows more information about the products and/or equipment we are using but the distributors who are selling them and the manufacturers who are creating them, isn’t it? Thus, it is always a good practice that before you buy a dental material and/or an equipment especially those that are expensive or technique sensitive that we attend their product presentation before investing or attend them for additional knowledge that you can use as reference for your future plans in your career. Knowing the products directly from these people will allow you to smartly decide what brand to buy or invest in and learn well how to use these products to your advantage in your practice as well as maintain them as far as we can for longer use and ROI.
IV. KNOW SHELF LIFE AND STORAGE
I must admit, I often lose money because of this when I didn’t have a system before and, sometimes, even now I am still guilty of committing this mistake. Personally, I have a tendency to have stocks of items that I frequently use and because I don’t have a system before to record my stocks, more often than not, they end up getting wasted because they reached their expiration date. Or, I buy them in bulk and try to minimize their use, so, I won’t finish them immediately, thus, when I finally need them they’ve expired. Or, I get tempted to buy them when on sale and didn’t realize that the reason why it is on sale is because they are near expiration date. I also waste dental products because I end up not storing them properly resulting to a change of their chemistry or affecting their beneficial effect. These are just some that you may also been doing in your dental practice and forget that these products that end expiring on us actually do have a cost and is a lost of money on us. It is, therefore, critical that we should be mindful particularly consumable products that we check their expiration dates and record them, follow the manufacturer’s instruction on storage and make sure that the quantity of how many we buy them for extra stock be parallel to how frequent we use them. If we are just going to waste them, then, it is much better that we waste them to our patients rather than just going to our waste bin.
There’s this person in my life that he probably didn’t know that I consider him as a mentor, but, I do. He is one of those people who became significant in my life because he taught me business principles, ethics, projections and the importance of “Documentation”. I remember when he told me a long time ago that what’s important in any business is “documentation, documentation, documentation”. One must have a system to track everything in our business especially our finances and stocks. I don’t know about you, but, with me, numbers has never been my strong area and this is a “no-no” in business. One must document things for one to be able to truly assess the status of one’s business or for us dental practice. Like most of us, we never took seriously and took the time to master practice management during our college days, and, this is very unfortunate because if there’s one subject we should have mastered when we were studying dentistry is Practice Management. A dentist who is fool enough to believe this is all about giving service is either being pretentious or stupid. Dental practice's intent is service but its core in order to provide this service is being good in managing its business. Thus, doing documentation in our finances and stocks; our ability to analyze, discern and decide the data that your documentation is giving you to navigate your dental business towards success is the key to achieve it.
These simple dental hacks are truly easy to do, but, it takes time to imbibe them depending on your attitude and goals in your dental practice. However, if you do implement the necessary actions to properly act on them, I guarantee you that you will save more on your finances rather than lose them. Establishing financial security in your dental business can start from these simple hacks and can be developed even further with other reliable and factual business principles that can sustain your dental practice and be able survive even during the worst times in the future, if ever.
Dr. Mary Jean Villanueva - Writer | Editor