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  • Writer's pictureWarren Bobinski

A buyers club NOBODY can beat...

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking”

~Henry Ford

The Roosters of Kauai

Work life balance is so important, does it make a difference if you take your office with you while on “holidays”?

The most productive and creative times for me are on what others would consider down time, or time off. This doesn’t exist in my life since my brain gets most fired up during these times (not to mention the 200 texts, emails, phone messages I still have to deal with daily-no one takes over for me when I am out of town). When I am away from the -50C, wind, bugs, appointment days, nights, weekends….the perpetual thoughts that were dormant come to the frontal lobe. Erupting with a great burst of ideas quickly jotted down into a series of emails, podcasts, blogs. The lava flowing constant and creating a mountain of ideas that generate a tropical rainforest of life….

There ‘aint no easy button!

Motivation occurs for various reasons. Some think that competition spurs progress. For many people it’s true! You work hard to get to where you are at! The many years of studying, practicing, perfecting your craft. Feeding your brain, starving your body, no pain no gain.

You reach that pinnacle. You are the best! The creation is finally done. The goal has been reached….but for many of us – this is never the case! For many of us, that just means you have reached a plateau.

Boredom sets in, and you need to progress. Continual improvement. The goal that was so hard to reach now becomes mundane and you crave more. It may be that you crave more out of life!

This is a good thing. It keeps us alive! We need to crave and improve. If we don’t, we die……

The Googler

Have you ever had a patient that just watched a movie on Netflix come to you with “information” about how you should do your job? They are the google searchers who know that treatment plan you just recommended can be had in another country for 10% of the cost you just quoted. The patient who pulls their own tooth. That doesn’t believe they need to floss.

The ones who just spend two hours of research and now know more than you do after a decade of dentistry?

This is the story of life!! In a quest to “save money” we often try to “do it ourselves”.

Social media proves over and over that the “answer is out there”. Just google and you will find the answer you want!!

The Buyers Club you can’t beat.

I HATE blogs that are self-serving. One of the goals of this blog is to be DIFFERENT. The goal is to provide information that helps the reader. Give un-biased advice. Consider every exposure.

You only know what you know! Even after 35 years of challenging myself to expand, read, learn…there are things I am good at and others that I know are better left to the experts. Like dentistry. I will not challenge any dentist on the treatments they provide, as I have not been educated on this subject. I know enough to be dangerous. My expertise is more in the business of dentistry! 35 years of day, night, weekends.

Author Malcolm Gladwell stated it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. What happens when you have 72,845 hours of constant improvement?

When you are in the dental industry – it may just lead to becoming a cynical critic. Cynical as you realize how many blogs and podcasts and educators are simply self-serving. With an outward appearance of “helping others”, they sincerely believe it’s pretty ok to simply “help themselves” at the same time.

We ALL have to do well by ourselves in order to do well by others.

If you became a health care provider, and you want to enjoy what you do – it will NEVER be the money that makes you happy. The money will be secondary to the success of your career. If you become an EXPERT and constantly improve what you do – the success will come. If you do what you do for the right reasons…you will find happiness and success.

If you want to be unhappy, focus on and micro manage the things that you have little control over. Insurance and benefit plans. The suggested fee guide. Your team…or as Lisa Phillip from Transitions Group calls them in her seminars the “staph”.

Google educated patients. The landlord. The lab. The supplier….

Trust does not mean naivety

You hate the dentists that over treat. The ones that give bad injections and hurt people. The ones that are greedy. That drive a ridiculous car, live in a ridiculous house, have a ridiculous life that you just know are paid for by “suckers” for their treatment….

These are the reps in my business that sell clothing to nudists, ice to Eskimos, snake oil…..

All these people that give the business a bad name.

Trust is a big factor in a happy and productive life.

The Buyers Club

I sincerely believe that many buyers groups were formed for opportunistic reasons. The Dentists forming looking to profit (either directly or substantially at their own clinic). How many of these buyers groups end up prejudiced and use only one company – and why would that happen? Mostly because it’s logical and you really should be able to get there yourself with a little homework!

It’s also my belief the buyers groups were formed by a lack of transparency in the business…the “business of dentistry” could and should be applied in principal to many of those telling you they are good at “the business of dentistry”. Instead of focusing on becoming experts in their field of dental supplies, the very service you are paying them for, many focus on the value added. The “things they do for you” – which I will take a biased view of since I am one of those people! This is worth mentioning and discussing. You already KNOW what I did for you, and those other reps – the times you get bailed out of trouble (or maybe they let you down!!)

Do we take for granted that you want or need the value added services? Perhaps you want to hire a trusted and trained accountant to help you with understanding your numbers. You trust your peers that help you find products and techniques to improve your skill more than a prejudiced salesman.

Why you should join a buyers club?

55-80% of the cost of a dental procedure is labour.

25-30% for team

30-50% for you.

Your supply costs are too high….do you actually understand the cost of your supplies relative to your business? You hear about how supplies should be a certain percentage of your overhead, and they should be. But you need to understand how this is relative!! What are the other bakers using for their bread compared to you?

This is like comparing grocery bills at home. We don’t all eat the same.

Hire a personal trainer if you want to lose weight. Commit to a long term plan – not just short term gains.

These “clubs” can work, but you can get the same results with a consultive rep.

I call it the “dental rep” buyers club.

Like hiring a personal trainer. One that you will likely have a lifetime personal relationship with, that even comes to you on the weekend and is always watching what you are eating – and also motivating you to get off your ass and get your butt in gear!!

This is a GOOD dental rep. The one that knows you are trying to blame the food for being fat. They KNOW you don’t eat right, and have been trying to get you to change for years. Then you read about a “club” that can help you “lose weight” and you believe that this is going to work for you….

Yet you still don’t know what your actual costs are for an exam or a filling or a hygiene appointment. You only know if you reduce your “food costs” by 30% that this will fix the problem, when the real problem was a matter of the 55- 80% that needed to be addressed….

If you want to join a buyers club – I welcome the idea. It is creating an environment I have been advocating for many years!!


I think this will lead to many more reps paying attention to supplies that will actually reduce your overhead. They will become better consultants because they will be forced to compete with what they are paid to do first and foremost….sell dental supplies.

The beautiful thing will be whether we will work together to create an amazing experience for patients that is affordable and profitable or if we will simply have a race to the bottom…..

How Buyers clubs and DSO are changing supply costs.

-Challenging the old fashioned “buy/get” sales formula. Larger purchases by groups eliminate this since the purchases are ALWAYS at the high end. Instead of a small office having to “buy/get” a ridiculous amount of inventory – they can buy 1 at a time with their friends to get the discount. Manufacturers NEED to address this! I’ve said this for years….there COULD be an EASY button for free goods automatically supplied. There COULD be a system where retailers ALWAYS supply free goods, there COULD be a reduction in retail prices with manufacturers taking a formula for their BUY/GET in the equation to HELP ALL.

-Challenging the manufacturers. It’s interesting how retail gets blamed for high costs, and buyers groups form when the companies that sell direct to end users are rarely challenging the retail prices from distributors. The “name brand” large companies that directly sell endodontic products, ortho products, highly regarded and recommended products are OFTEN just as expensive or MORE expensive than the products sold through a retail outlet.

The cost of distribution, education, marketing is HUGE. It COSTS MONEY, not much different than you, to educate customers about products. Millions of dollars spent to hire dentists to train dentists.

Understanding the costs and how we can become MORE EFFICIENT as manufacturers and distributors will be the key! We need to reduce the costs of bringing products to market, while maintaining quality and constant improvement….

-House Brands. Many of the trusted brands used in retail are proven by leaders of the industry. That simply costs money. If you want to use a Titleist golf ball, you will likely pay $5 a ball of which $2 is likely going to the top golfers in the world to help promote the brand. Not different in our business. If you want savings, then you MUST be willing to look outside of patent products, or the leading cutting edge. It MAY be a compromise, but with correct guidance and education from your coach, you may just find that you can hit the ball just as far and score just as well as you did using the Titleist….

-Real Savings, not make believe. Buyers clubs only know what they know. They are likely trying to find Titleist golf balls that wholesale to ALL GOLF RETAIL STORES for $3.50. It’s hard to get 30% savings unless the people selling the product had a suggested price of $7.50 ball to begin with. WHAT ARE SAVINGS?? Who is consulting the individual buyers group members on alternatives – and will EVERYONE actually like the alternative?

-There is a cost to running a club. In order to negotiate better supply cost terms, there is usually a commitment to volume. To get a better discount from a manufacturer – the distributor also has to make commitments on purchases which can lock in the buyers group to using a volume of product. What happens when a less expensive product hits the market, is there flexibility? How is the cost of management addressed for the buyers club? Is it a democratic buyers club? A loyalty discount that you have to pay in order to receive?

The Rep Buyers Club

-Trusted Personal Shopper. A consultive rep is aware of your product use, and your concerns of overhead. They SHOULD be challenged to constantly improve your bottom line – it’s their job! The biggest challenge I face as a consultive rep is trust. Many dentists think their reps work for the “big company” and are only motivated to “sell the more expensive” items.

The good “reps” are working for a full time position on the team!

That means that when the boss asks for something – they do ALL the research, and provide the answers. If the results are good they develop a trusting and long term relationship…

Relationships work both ways. If you just want cheap, you are very likely to find cheap. If you want VALUE and TEAM you may need to have a relationship of trust with those people on your team that are the experts….

-Savings you didn’t expect. A consultive rep has a network of valued relationships. They can often find opportunities for your brand loyalty that you didn’t realize. Free goods offers that you didn’t see. Clearance items, equivalent products.

-Returns. I see so many people get stuck with items due to the terms of the sale. The good rep always finds a way to make a customer happy. They make it easy.

-The Value Added. What is the value of that team member you added because your rep helped you find them on short notice? What about time you needed a locum? The time you had a patient coming in and you ran out of whatchyamacallit and the rep brought it to your office on short notice? The time your compressor went down on a Monday morning and within an hour you were up and running? The many times you were consulted on a fantastic new product you can’t live without? The times you wondered what everyone else in your neighbourhood was doing about the new regulations?

If you have a crappy experience – you SHOULD get rid of those people.

The fact is that 3 out 4 (maybe even higher in Canada) LIKE the people they work with. There is ALWAYS opportunity to improve – for all of us!

I welcome the challenge of helping our friends reduce costs and provide a better experience for their patients.

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