Smart inventory management—how to streamline your ordering system

Managing all the products that a dental office uses isn’t an easy task. There needs to be a certain “happy medium” between not having product when it’s needed and having a surplus of supplies that potentially ends up going to waste.

To make sure your office finds that middle ground follow these simple tips:

  1. Have one person in charge of ordering supplies and thoroughly checking inventory – multiple people in the office may chime in with product needs that they may have, but they should all be communicated to the same individual for ordering. That way you can ensure nothing is ordered twice or someone doesn’t assume another team member did it. Also, this person should be tasked with going through the supply closet and noting how much of each product remains. A co-worker may be certain you’re out of Ultrasonic Tablets but may not know that the purchaser moved their location. By having one person in charge of knowing the inventory inside and out they can provide accurate information for timely purchases.
  2. Have a written manual with your ordering process – this ensures that even if your purchaser takes an extended vacation or even leaves their position you will have a fairly seamless transition to your next purchaser. This manual should include directions on what vendors you purchase what supplies from, the budget the purchaser is expected to follow, specific dates if/when applicable for purchasing, locations of resources on products, contact information, etc.
  3. Establish a routine inventory check – at least once a month your purchaser should take a detailed inventory of your supplies. By doing this you not only make sure you have the products on hand when you need them but will also help you establish the amount of certain products you use per month to help form a predictive ordering cycle. For example, if after a few months of ordering you realize you always have a slight surplus of composite you can safely assume that you can lower your ordering quantity.
  4. Keep a catalog of all products used and update it at the start of each year – this may seem tedious but having accurate records of products used, where they’re purchases from, for how much, etc. will save time and confusion in the long run, particularly on products you order infrequently. Refer to this catalog when doing your inventory checks and make notes for future orders.
  5. Make sure to stay within your ordering budget – according to your supply budget should be 5-7% of your average monthly collections. Make sure to track this carefully, noting the months that may be higher if you order some items in bulk for multiple months of use and then balancing them out by attempting to come in under budget in the months you aren’t ordering those supplies.