Carole Kitchen offers some practical advice on ways to save money in your dental practice.

To run a successful business, in any sector, there must always be some focus on the bottom line in order to ensure you are maximising profits year on year. Many people spend a lot of their time thinking of extra ways to make more money, which often results in an increased workload and the need to take on extra staff and/or provide training for the existing team.

While adding more to your service offering can be enriching both financially and personally, it is always worthwhile considering the ways in which you could make cost savings. This may sound less exciting, but being frugal can allow you an extra monetary boost that can either be enjoyed simply as a profit or used to justify investment into the business, such as adding those extra services, refurbishing the practice, or even buying an additional site.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at a few cost-saving ideas that could give your dental business a boost over the forthcoming year (and beyond)…

Buy smarter

With lots of dental sundries suppliers around, all of whom will be vying for your custom, it is always worth scouring the market to see whether you are getting the best value. There are two schools of thought on this one, some feel that loyalty to one supplier saves money in terms of discounts, whereas others prefer the option of shopping around to make the most of the best special offers from each company. One thing to be aware of is postage costs, if you opt to buy from various sources just make sure your savings aren’t swallowed up by delivery charges.

It is often felt that buying in bulk saves more money, but this isn’t always the best way to go about ordering your supplies. For starters, some dental products have a use-by date and you don’t want to end up with leftover items that you are unable to use. Added to that, bulk buying means you will have a lot of money tied up in products sitting on your shelves, which would be more useful as available cash in your bank account. Getting into the habit of regular, but smaller orders is better for cash flow but also encourages you to better assess what you’re actually using and to make smarter purchases. This will also encourage staff to instinctively be less wasteful and could result in using less product overall.

Use your rep

Whether you’re simply buying day-to-day dental sundries or considering making a bigger purchase, like a new dental chair, each company has sales representatives that are there for your benefit. These people are trained to have a deep understanding of the dental industry and they can usually offer a different insight and advice that can be invaluable.

Instead of continually ordering the same products that you always use, try discussing the different options with your rep instead. There are so many innovations constantly coming onto the market that it can be hard to keep up; there may be something new that does the job better or is more cost effective, and your reps are there to provide this information, so tap into it. Building up a good rapport with your reps will also mean they will be more likely to offer you special deals – and maybe even some freebies – and if they don’t then don’t be afraid to ask.

Review your patient magazine subscriptions

Having magazines in your waiting area offers your patients a perfect way to switch off a little while they wait for their appointments. However, we all know that having out-dated, dog-eared magazines available doesn’t look clean or professional, so these need to be constantly replaced to ensure they are fresh and interesting.

This can all add up and become a costly exercise. Buying from your local newsagent rather than paying for subscriptions not only costs more, it also means you have to remember to change them (rather than having a handy prompt when the post arrives) and requires taking time out of either the practice or your spare time to complete the task. There are websites that offer discounted subscriptions of varying titles all in one place, so it is worth taking the time to browse the internet for the best deals.

Why not carry out a patient survey to find out what magazines your patients actually want to see in your practice? This is a free and easy way of ensuring you are providing the right reading material and by acting upon the feedback you receive it shows your patients that you care about the experience they have with you. It might also provide the chance to streamline your subscriptions to save even more money.

Review your utilities

We live in an age of comparison sites so make good use of them. Just as we do in our homes, there are savings to be made from reviewing the market and shopping around for the best gas, electric, phone, and internet suppliers.

When it comes to these types of services, showing loyalty very rarely pays off, they are often big companies and there is no rapport to be built up to use to your advantage. So be brutal and make the switch if it saves you money, it’s always better in your own pocket.

Switch your payment plan

Most practices have no idea how much the exact administration charges are on their patient payment plans, if you don’t know the exact figure per patient, per month then go and find out. The reason I suggest doing this is because there may be significant savings to be made. Many plan providers offer extra services alongside the actual administration of the plan, such as compliance or other business training, which effectively bumps up the price you pay per month; if you are not using these additional services then it may be worth seeing what other plan administration options are available.

At Patient Plan Direct, our administration fees are just £1.20 per patient, per month and we offer a high level of customer support to go alongside it. Switching your patient plan can often feel like a daunting prospect, but once you realise the money that could be saved by doing so, it will become a very appealing option. Visit our Cost Saving Clinic on stand B70 at The Dentistry Show to discover how much you could save.


Patient Plan Direct offers a low cost, simple, flexible and practice-branded solution to running patient payment plans, with a focus on delivering first-class support and expert advice to ensure you reach your plan objectives. For more information please visit www.patientplandirect.com, email info@patientplandirect.com, or call 0844 848 6888.