3 Tips for Negotiating With Vendors
From pens and stationery to heavy equipment and medical supplies, most practice managers and dental bookkeepers are used to working with vendors and suppliers. It’s a symbiotic relationship that—when properly fostered—can be beneficial for everyone involved. It’s also a source of great stress for many people, especially when it comes to keeping prices low and cutting costs. The process of negotiation comes natural to some, but for others, it causes nothing short of severe anxiety.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure you’re getting the best prices from vendors and suppliers without having to get confrontational on the phone or in a meeting—here are just a few tips to get you started.
1. Focus on Building the Relationship
Relationship-building can go a long way when it comes to getting vendors to offer you great pricing, and it all starts with solid communication. Being able to properly identify and articulate the needs of your practice can go a long way, showing the vendor that you’re not there to spin his or her wheels. Staying on top of the conversation with follow-ups can also go a long way, as it shows that you’re serious about maintaining a strong working relationship. By treating the supplier as if they’re a part of the team, you can lay the groundwork for low pricing in the years to come.
2. Know Your Costs
It’s incredibly difficult to negotiate costs on an item if you don’t already have a solid understanding of what it should cost. Some vendors will apply significant mark-ups to their pricing, and being able to spot this before signing a contract or “okaying” a delivery can save you unforeseen amounts of money. Be sure to research online competitors to gain a sense of what other vendors are selling the same items for, and don’t be afraid to tell your supplier why you believe they may be quoting you too much.
3. Offer a Deposit for Large Discounts
There are few things that vendors and suppliers appreciate more than the offer of a deposit—especially on large orders. Suppliers are just as concerned about their own accounts receivables as any other type of business, and if you can make things easier on them by providing a deposit, they may be willing to give you a deal on the overall purchase. Be sure to make this a stipulation before going ahead with a 50%-60% deposit, however, and don’t just make an agreement over the phone—get it in writing.
Negotiating with vendors takes a certain amount of experience and effort, but it’s far from impossible if you play your cards right. Make the right moves, and you’ll be rewarded with lower pricing.