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Step 4: Evaluate potential suppliers

Evaluate potential suppliers instead of taking their promises on trust if you want to save the practice money, says Nick Coleman.

Steps one to three of this series on cuttting practice expenses (see below) covered the basics of putting together a plan for cutting practice expenses.

But all this groundwork will be for nothing if you fail to fully evaluate current and potential suppliers.

Most GP practices only compare prices. Suppliers are well aware of this so offer some items at 'loss-leader' prices to hook you in.

Stationery and 'housekeeping' items are prime examples of product categories where suppliers do this. You may think you have found a low-cost supplier, but it is odds on that when you need a product you did not originally get a quote for, you will end up paying through the nose.

When you are checking out a supplier consider:

  • 'Assurance of supply': can the supplier actually deliver what it promises? Ask a couple of its customers for their experiences.
  • Whether the product quality and the level of service meet your needs.
  • If your needs change, is the supplier able to respond flexibly?
  • How its prices compare and how much money you will save.

By looking at these areas in turn but leaving price until last, you acquire more knowledge about the supplier and how the market it is in operates.

Price is then the remaining deciding factor.

Buy wisely plan

STEP 1 Gather information.

STEP 2 Build a successful money-saving strategy.

STEP 3 Know the market and how to find the right suppliers.

STEP 4 Evaluate suppliers to ensure they can meet your expectations.

STEP 5 Negotiate on price.

STEP 6 Put your money-saving strategy to work.

STEP 7 Review the savings made and find out what you can do better in the future.

  • Nick Coleman is a director of healthcare sector procurement specialists ProCure Health Ltd

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