How to reduce supply costs

How to reduce supply costs

The largest expenses in a medical practice – typically payroll, rent and malpractice insurance – are relatively fixed. You can save a bit on utilities by being energy conscious and cut cash outflow to a degree for certain services with sharp negotiation, but there is only so much you can do to reduce those expenses. Where you can make a difference in your budget and your bottom line is in how much you spend on supplies, both office and medical, by following these tips.

  1. Put one person in charge of ordering and maintaining inventory, or two if you have a large practice, in which case you can split the duties between front and back office supplies. The focus should be (in addition to maintaining proper stock levels) staying on top of which vendors are offering the best deals when, and taking advantage of special offers that crop up from time to time. If ink cartridges go on sale, order a few extra. When paper gowns or disposable exam gloves are offered at a discount for a short period of time, stock up.
  2. Invest in sufficient storage space so that you can, as noted above, order extra supplies when a discounted price makes it worthwhile to do so, and so that you can buy in bulk. You may save only a few dollars per case by buying items like copy paper, exam table paper and disposable patient gowns in multiples, but every little bit helps. Buying in bulk also saves time because you need to order less often. However, be careful when buying anything that has an expiration date.
  3. Maintain tidy supply closets and shelves so that you know what you have on hand and can anticipate ordering needs. This will help you save money because you can be on the lookout for specials as supplies begin to run low.
  4. Look for deals on shipping when ordering online or through catalogs. Medical Arts Press®, for example, offers free shipping on orders over $45. Most suppliers have similar arrangements in place. When ordering, try to reach that minimum level, even if it means adding one more regularly used item to your cart before checkout. It’s better to spend $10 on something you need, even if you don’t need it right this moment, than to pay that same $10 in shipping costs and have nothing to show for it.
  5. Check the clearance and sale pages of vendor Web sites and catalogs. You never know when you’ll stumble onto a good deal for something you need now or will need in the near future.
  6. Challenge your staff to a waste reduction campaign and see how much you can decrease usage. Cutting back even 10% on the amount of paper, ink cartridges or trash can liners you go through each month can make a difference.
  7. Create a checkout system for your supply closet to ensure that generic items like reams of paper and pads of sticky notes don’t end up in employees’ homes for personal use. No one likes to think that anyone on their staff would pilfer, but it happens more frequently than you might think.

When it comes to reducing overhead, whether it’s on supplies or any other item on the budget spreadsheet, remember that every dollar saved is a dollar that falls right to the profit line.