Purchasing Office Equipment and Supplies
Before you are ready to start the process of setting up your treatment rooms, you need to get all the basic office equipment and supplies ready to launch your business. Why? While it may be more fun to look through sales brochures and talk to sales reps about the latest dental equipment, you can do that much more easily in a well-equipped office.
Your first hire should be an administrative assistant who can help you manage meetings with these salespeople and follow through with managing the orders once you decide what you need and want. Therefore, you will need a desk and office supplies for that employee and your own desk and supplies. Start with the following items, at least:
- Phone system
As you work to get the office set up, you can use this basic equipment to make the process more comfortable and efficient. If you would like to go even more minimalist and possibly get a great deal on a total office package, you can get just one desk and use your own personal laptop and phone until your orders arrive.
If you are working with an interior designer, you will likely coordinate buying office furniture through him or her. If not, you will need to manage the selection and ordering. There are some items that could be handled as a part of remodeling or building the office, such as supply cabinets, file cabinets and desks, which can be built-in or free-standing. If you are buying file cabinets, remember that in the modern office, most records are kept electronically. The amount of paper you store will be much less than dentists needed to store in the past. Other office furniture you need might include:
- Desk chairs
- Filing cabinets
- Supply cabinets
- Waiting room chairs and end tables
- Magazine and dental literature rack(s)
- Break room table(s)
- Refrigerator and microwave for the breakroom
- Coat rack
Think about the types of office equipment you will need to manage the paperwork involved in running a dentistry business. You will need to be prepared to communicate with patients, insurance companies and dental suppliers. For this, you need to have a copier, printer and fax machine as well as a phone system for your office. You need some type of security system to protect your office investment and safeguard patient information. The following office equipment items should get you started with a well-functioning office:
- Fax machine
- Dictation macfhine
- Credit card processing terminal
- Fireproof safe
- Postage meter
- Paper shredder
- Alarm system
- Fire extinguishers
- Office signs such as “Exit” or “Restrooms”
- Toys for children
- Patient entertainment equipment such as sound system and/or TV
Since you will always need office supplies as long as you have your business,now is the time to build a working relationship with an office supply representative. Speak to several at the outset to get an idea of what it will be like to work with them. Get several quotes on the office supplies you need. Compare the quotes not only by price, but also by quality and variety of supplies available. When you are satisfied you have the best deal, place your order for all the supplies you need, including items like:
- Standard printing paper
- Check printing paper
- Printer ink cartridges
- Desk organizers
- Tape dispensers
- Note pads
- Prescription pads
- Appointment cards
- Business cards
- Letter-sized envelopes
- Mailing labels
- Larger padded mailing envelopes
- Patient education literature
- Payroll and tax forms
- Referral slips
- Rubber stamp and stamp pad
- Standard insurance forms
- Receipt paper
- Medical/Dental history forms
- Patient file folders
- Periodontal charts
- Registration forms
Dealing with Suppliers
Before you go into a conversation with a supplier, make your own assessment of what you need. Consider all the jobs you and your staff will do as a part of the business and what equipment and supplies they will need to do it properly. Make your own list and stick to it as much as possible. If the supplier suggests items you had not considered, think about whether the benefits you and your staff will get by having them is worth the cost.
A supplier’s main purpose in business is to sell you as many supplies as possible and to sell you the products they profit most from selling. You will want to work with a supplier that takes a long-range view of this business relationship. When the supplier is thinking of how to win your loyalty and keep you coming back for repeat orders, you will be more likely to stay within your budget and get the supplies you truly need.
As soon as word gets out that you are opening a dentistry business, you are likely to get many calls from suppliers who want to set you up with a total office supply package. Evaluate the packages offered, taking into account any discounts you might get as a new business owner. Remember that you are working towards a long-term relationship, so also compare the regular cost of items you purchase.
Avoid suppliers who try to pressure you into purchasing with them by telling you you must order on the spot to get the best deal. You get greater value in the long run by working with a supplier who offers honest discounts that you can take advantage of when you are ready.
Keep Up with Changes in Needed Office Supplies
As the business world continues to evolve, computers are taking over more and more of the functions of simple machines. For instance, when speech recognition software reaches the level of sophistication in which it can be as effective as a dictation machine, those machines will no longer be needed. You can print many of the forms you require yourself if the cost of paper and ink is less than purchasing the forms. In fact, many forms that were once required are now handled directly on the computer screen. Prescriptions are often phoned into the pharmacy rather than being written out. In a later chapter, you can learn about purchasing computer software that meets these needs. At that point, you can decide whether to purchase the physical item or use a software application to take care of it digitally.