What gets measured gets managed. Peter Drucker

“The Six Steps to Success: 1) Define Success 2) Devise a Plan 3) Execute and Overcome Adversity 4) Measure Results with Key Metrics 5) Revise the Plan 6) Work Hard” 
― Ken Poirot

I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes stories


Well, folks, another year is in the can. I won’t wax philosophical about New Year’s resolutions because they have a short shelf life. But I would suggest that, if you were to make just one business resolution, it would be to find just one thing in your practice, the improvement of which would have the greatest effect on the management of your practice.

Now, naturally, I’m going to pound on inventory control. How can you manage and improve the management of your inventory if all you do is bust your head over finding the lowest price on supplies?

I can guarantee you than if you will set a goal, make a plan for accomplishing your goal, measure your progress using the appropriate metrics, revise or adjust the plan as needed, and work to maintain what you’ve gained, you’ll be successful.

If you don’t manage and measure inventory, it will remain unmanageable.

I found a few discussions on Dentaltown (Dentaltown) that I’d like to share:

“My assistant is cleaning house and found a large amount of expired Dental Materials”

“…my hygienist decided to reorganize and stock everything that the assistant used to take care of....and discovered at least $2000 worth of expired anesthetic she had stashed in the closet!!!  Now I am just sick to think of throwing away all that anesthetic and wasted money!!!!”

“(I have) 15 kinds of prophy paste (!)”  - “I just want to have everything organized and streamlined.  Because if you've got 15 kinds of prophy paste to choose from - that takes up a ton of room in your operatory cabinet drawers. “ - “Unfortunately, with hygiene supplies, they just tell me what they need me to order and it gets done.  I'm far more familiar with the stock and needs for the operative side of things, as I use those products daily.  With hygiene, I have always relied on them to stock their own rooms, track their supplies, and let me know what they need me to order. “

“I had an issue 2 years ago I think where we had thousands of dollars of expired dental materials. They kept ordering new ones and kept pushing the old ones to the back.”

“We've owned our practice now for about 3 years. The previous owner used (vendor x) for all supply orders. The 'lead' assistant put together an order and twice per month she placed the order with a rep that came into the office. I know many of the number for his practice but I don't know exactly what his supplies percentage was. If I had to make an educated guess I'd say 6-7%.” (I included this one because it uses the term “educated guess”. What educated it? What metrics? Where would he go to run a report? How much time does it take to pour through invoices?)

“Instead of thousands of dollars sitting on my shelf to possibly outdate and tying up cash (and I know a HUGE number of dentists throw tons of (expletive deleted) out that they bought "in quantity". That's not saving anything), it's in my bank account, for me to use it for other things during the course of the year.”- “It’s about cash flow, that either works for a person or it doesn't, whichever way they believe. Either way is fine, it's not going to make or break a career. “

You see, folks, too much time is spent wringing hands over price, while ignoring cost. “What cost?” you say?

  • 15 kinds of prophy paste, all purchased at the best price?
  • Expired product, all purchased in bulk on promotion?
  • Money tied-up in inventory that could be used for other things, but “I got such a great deal by buying in bulk!”
  • Using valuable time:
  •      Counting and monitoring inventory.
  •      Going through invoices to see our spend vs. billables.

Why wouldn’t you, if you could, get a way to see in one glance what you have in stock on any product you want? Take 60 seconds to find out what you’ve bought over any period of time you want, as well as what you’ve actually used? Be told 2 months ahead of time that a product is going to expire? Have a system that tells you just how much stock is ideal on any given product?

Happy New Year! You know where to find me! (ghmouse.com)

Works Cited

Dentaltown. (n.d.). Retrieved 12 30, 2016, from http://www.dentaltown.com/