Who are your top suppliers? Who are you writing a significant check to each month? Take a look at your credit card statement and business checking account and make a list of your top 10 dental vendors.
One of the principles of the national Baldrige award (http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/) is to develop a long term win-win relationship with your “key suppliers/partners and collaborators”. They ask questions such as:
- What role do these suppliers play in delivering your services to patients?
- How do you communicate with these suppliers?
- What role do they play in implementing innovations in your office?
- What are your key requirements for these suppliers?
Once you know who your top 10 suppliers are – you can ask the above questions. Starting with the last question, do each of your top suppliers know what you expect from them? How would they know?
One of the major expenses in a dental practice is dental supplies. Benchmarks show this expense usually runs 6% – 8% of your total collections. For a practice with $500,000 in collections, you’re spending $30 – $50,000 on supplies each year! At this level of investment, it makes sense to sit down and meet with your dental supply representative to discuss your account. From your accounting reports, you can show them how much you’ve spent with their company in the last year and you can talk with them about the performance you have observed. Are there products that you are unhappy with – either the quality or the price? Ask about alternatives and request samples. Look at the top 10 dental supplies you’re spending the most money on – find out if there are less expensive yet comparable products. Talk about delivery – are the products arriving on time? Are you happy with the ordering system in your office – perhaps the rep can provide some training to your staff? You can ask about the representative’s perspective of the practice – this person visits dental offices all day long and has a real grasp of the dental field in your area. How do you stack up? Dental supply companies also sell technology – the representative would be happy to set up a demo on the latest intraoral camera or diagnostic tool right in your office.
Holding an annual meeting with your top suppliers to review expenses, new products, communication and performance reviews plus general feedback is a great way to develop a long-term, professional relationship. When you invest not just money, but also time to learn what products/services are available from your suppliers, they know you are interested – and that you want to know when new opportunities arise. They appreciate that you see them as valuable partners in your practice and they will work to meet your needs (especially in a pinch).
For example, I have a lovely relationship with MidMark Corporation. In fact, I was quoted in an article in the June 2011 Dental Products Report regarding their Dry PowerVacG system (this is a dry vacuum system that also varies energy usage – saving both water & energy!). Here’s a link to the page with my quote (the article starts 2 pages earlier): http://digital.dentalproductsreport.com/nxtbooks/advanstar/dpr_201106/index.php?startid=108#/138
This is a great example of a win-win relationship between a dental practice and a vendor. Offering to give a positive testimonial for a high quality vendor can be extremely valuable in today’s age of social media. Plus, you want your good vendors to do well so they will stay in business and continue to support you!
Working with dental suppliers is just one way you can run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog:
One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.