Joining a group purchasing organization can increase the operational efficiency of your dental office and has other valuable advantages. It can help your office with everything from securing discounts to selecting world-class suppliers for your practice. With many GPOs available to choose from, understanding how they work and how each might differ can help you learn how to pick one.
What to Consider When Choosing a GPO
If you want to join a GPO to save money as your company grows, you need to understand the factors that matter to getting a good return on your investment. It’s best to weigh your options carefully. Below are some factors you should consider as you’re in the process of picking a dental GPO.
1. Type of GPO
A vertical GPO focuses on one industry specifically and is typically the best choice for a dental practice. A horizontal GPO can also help if you’re looking for a way to save money on office supplies, janitorial services or other general items and services. GPOs such as Synergy offer a dual horizontal-vertical structure, so you can get the best blend of features in one service.
2. Associated Suppliers
To make sure your office is compatible with the GPO, look for a list of suppliers on the GPO’s website or contact them to ask for a list before you join. Some GPOs will partner with fewer suppliers than others, but quality is paramount.
When selecting a dental GPO, you should ideally be able to continue using your preferred suppliers. You might also want to do a preliminary consultation to see if you can get dental, medical and general office supplies at the affordable prices you’re expecting.
3. Savings on Products and Services
Compare what you currently pay for your supplies with the GPO’s offerings. Make sure you review the costs of distribution, shipping and other logistics in addition to the item’s material costs.
4. Culture and Values
Does a particular GPO reflect your clinic’s core values? Look at what kinds of businesses the GPO tends to partner with for clues. A GPO that works mostly with dental clinics will probably be more helpful to you than one tailored for retail industry professionals.
Find the GPO’s about page to learn about who they are and what they do. Ask yourself if this organization seems to understand your goals and if it will actively support your values and culture.
5. Additional Services
In addition to finding the best prices on supplies, many GPOs will also help with specific management tasks, and some can help you earn credits toward your continuing education and certification status. Consider what kinds of services your practice would benefit from the most.
Maybe you already have preferences about how to manage your practice, or you have already met all your education requirements. Avoid getting wrapped up in a sales pitch where most of the services would be less than ideal.
One of the most crucial aspects of a GPO is how affordable it is to join. Make sure you review how the membership would affect your budget. The pricing models for one GPO could be very different from another. See if you can initially join with a trial period to assess if the GPO is the right option for your practice.
You want to get the best possible ROI, so you should evaluate how your savings on equipment, supplies and services configure into what you’ll pay for the membership. If you find you will save more money than you spend on the service, it will bring you an excellent ROI. Otherwise, you will be losing money.
You want to work with a GPO that is transparent about its suppliers, policies and procedures. Ensure the pricing offer is consistent with your expectations. Members might get preferential treatment with some GPOs.
See if you can leave the organization on your terms or if you will need to sign a contract for a set period. Also, check to see if the GPO is transparent about what services your membership includes. If the GPO lacks transparency in this aspect, it might offer few benefits.
How to Select a GPO for Your Dental Office
You want to choose a GPO that fits your practice’s needs. Once you understand the essentials you should get from joining, you should start looking at specifics to help pinpoint the best organization. Below are some tips for selecting a GPO to consider before you make a final decision.
- Research the GPO: You want to make sure the GPO is as good as it appears and that it operates in your state.
- Review your spending habits: The GPO should provide access to the supplies and instruments you need. Look at your significant spending areas and plan accordingly. If the GPO offers plenty of discount options for the categories you frequently buy from, it is a good match.
- Calculate the total cost of joining: A GPO is only as valuable as the money you can save from becoming a member. Though you should avoid choosing the cheapest option without considering the available services, you should also make sure the GPO will fit your budget. Calculate how much you will save and compare that number to the membership fees.
- Inquire after easeofuse: A GPO’s services might be easy to access, but in some cases, the purchasing process is complicated. Will you have to fill out paperwork each time you make a purchase? If the GPO offers reimbursement checks, how long will you have to wait before getting one? It’s best to get the answers to these questions directly from the GPO.
- Know what becoming a new member is like: You might have instant access to your benefits with some GPOs, but with others, you will have to wait. You might also have to go through an onboarding process, which is much easier when the GPO has a system in place for guiding new members through it. In some cases, you might get an email explaining how onboarding works, but other companies prefer a more hands-on approach.