Protecting Your DSO: The Best Practices That Protect Your Dollars

February 17, 2023

When you don’t know what you have, it’s hard to see what you need.

Historically, a lack of access to suitable inventory management tools designed for the industry hampered business improvements. However, as dental organizations struggle to remain profitable, standard inventory management practices can help secure the cost savings you need and make for good first steps in gaining control of your spend.

As we’ve said before, there are big costs to poor procurement, and good procurement starts with solid inventory management. Because when you don’t know what you have, it’s impossible to make smart, informed decisions on what it is you should buy.

Let’s take a look at the basics of inventory management and some of the best practices that will help guard those hard-earned profits.

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What Exactly is Dental "Inventory Management?" and Why is it Critical to Profits?

Inventory management is the tracking of your most critical supplies, including what you have on order and any movement in and out of your stockroom. The goal is to know how much you have on hand, when more will be delivered, and, most importantly, when it’s time to order. But the benefits don’t end there.

Good inventory management means you have control over your inventory and are able to make smart buying decisions based on facts and data, buying what you need, when you need it, in the quantity that makes the most financial sense for your business.

Inventory management enables you to keep enough inventory on hand for production requirements while avoiding the hefty costs and repercussions of carrying too much stock, such as impeded cash flow and assuming financial losses from expired inventory. It is the framework to the procurement processes that stop profit leakage and enable you to leverage your purchasing power and lower your cost of supplies and improve your profits—making it every bit worth doing.

Whether you opt to record your inventory counts and movements with a barcode scanner to increase efficiency and accuracy or start with a manual process such as Kanban, the critical part is that you start. In case you haven’t heard it before, unlike increasing revenue, every dollar of cost reduction makes it straight to your bottom line.

We’ve actually estimated that in a typical dental practice with a 34% profit margin, every $100 saved in overhead yields the same profit to its owner as increasing production by $290.

Best Practices for Better Inventory Management

At Method, we believe in practical, employee-focused real-world solutions. To ensure long-term adoption and successful implementations, it’s imperative you “keep it real” during project selection and execution with careful consideration given to your available human and financial resources. Remember the Kaizen philosophy, small but consistent steps forward will get you further faster, so set realistic goals.

Taking Stock

Not finding the supplies you need when you need them can be frustrating (and wastes valuable employee time). And counting inventory when your stock is in chaos is equally so. Establishing a streamlined process for stocktaking (the counting of your inventory) will help limit errors and ensure the reliability of numbers while reducing the time spent and lessening frustrations.

Although our hope is the below will help you streamline the process and thereby make it more manageable, we understand that regularly counting inventory may not be a realistic starting point for some dental practices. If this is the case, we suggest scanning your dental supplies as they are pulled from stock and then performing inventory counts when you are able or when large inventory discrepancies are found.

Organize Your Stockroom

Before performing your counts, we suggest you clean and organize your stockroom.

  • Pay attention to the quantity per box as it may vary by supplier.
  • Partial or open boxes should be opened and counted one by one.
  • Keep your most commonly used items in the easiest-to-reach areas.
  • Do not keep “just in case” inventory outside of your designated stock area.
  • If you carry products that have a shelf life, using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method will help you mitigate the risks of product expiring, leading to a financial write-off. This simply means you organize your inventory in a manner that places the oldest stock at the front and the newest at the back (much like the cans in a grocery store.)

Standardize, Communicate, and Govern

Once you’ve designed a process, standardize it by documenting it and training delegated employees. Be detailed enough in your guidance and provide step-by-step information. Now, set a stocktake schedule and adhere to it. Then, make sure all your employees are aligned on the above. They should know by who, when, and how your counts will be performed.

Remember, new processes take some time to take root and may be designed imperfectly. Follow up, and ensure the counts are completed as planned. Retrain or make adjustments to the process if issues are found. Reiterate until success is achieved.

Leverage Automation with A Cloud-Based Procurement Management System

We admit we may be biased, yet, the fact remains— leveraging automation with a cloud-based Procurement Management System (complete with inventory management, barcode scanning capabilities, and client support to help you implement streamlined best practices) is one of the best profit-improving decisions you can make for the health of your dental organization.

Standard, streamlined, scalable processes ensure effective procurement despite any turnover, so you can leverage your volumes, improve your cash flow, drive cost savings and ensure you pay no more than you should.

An electronic Spend Management Platform can Help DSOs:

  • Improve profits with everything you need to leverage your collective volumes.
  • Quote multiple suppliers through a digital RFQ process that helps you send, receive, and analyze quotes and quickly award business, all on a single platform.
  • Buy what you want and from whom you want with access to an industry catalog of over 800,000 products and over 2,000+ dental-specific suppliers.
  • Make intelligent, profit-positive buying decisions with real-time pricing and availability and a user-friendly Amazon-like marketplace.
  • Group-wide purchasing controls: Implement and enforce formularies and buying rules and stop rogue spend.
  • Gain tighter budget control: Monitor purchases against budget  by location and category and implement an order approval process so you can make budget .
  • Mitigate your supply chain risks and avoid stockouts.
  • Improve office efficiencies with streamlined workflows that save time and make life easier for your employees (avoid emails, phone calls, faxes, and dealing with multiple supplier platforms).
  • Standardize best practices, so you can safeguard your dollars, and your offices can run effectively, even with high turnover.
  • Monitor performance, identify areas of improvement, and establish benchmarks with deep analytics.

Ready to bring Method to your madness, so we can help you get where you need to go?

Request a Demo today to see our software in action, or contact us with questions!

Ready to build a better dental practice?

Method Procurement Technologies gives independent dental practices and DSOs the inventory management and procurement capabilities they need to succeed. With our full, end-to-end solution, ordering dental supplies is straightforward and hassle-free.

Learn how Method Procurement's spend management solutions can improve your bottom line. Get in touch with our team today or request a demo to see it for yourself.