Jonathan Ford, DDS
At a time when dentists nationwide are feeling the impact of dental benefit pressures and growing competition, the California Dental Association (CDA) has responded to member needs by creating a subsidiary called The Dentists Service Company (TDSC). Offering business planning and leadership training, human resources and marketing services, and a new group purchasing program for dental supplies, TDSC empowers dentists by giving them control of their business options.
Dental service organizations (DSOs) provide business services to the dentists they support or employ to aid them with areas of practice management that are often difficult for solo practitioners to handle due to economies of scale. With the launch of TDSC, CDA member dentists have another choice for support in those areas of practice.
In addition to offering comprehensive practice management advising services, The Dentists Service Company began offering TDSC Marketplace to its members in the summer of 2017. The Marketplace is an easy-to-shop site that offers dental supplies with significant savings afforded by the purchasing power of the CDA’s large membership. The Marketplace offers a wide range of dental supplies, including composites, bonding agents, burs, cements, gloves, and other disposables. Every item available through the Marketplace is supplied by a trusted, authorized source.
A box of gloves through TDSC Marketplace is priced at $3.59, compared to $6 via a major dental supplier. That’s a savings of 40%. A bonding agent that costs $146 through other suppliers is only $117 through the Marketplace—a savings of 20%. The savings range from product to product, but shoppers are seeing an average savings of more than 20%. Since dental supplies account for 5% of a practice’s overhead, those savings can have a significant impact on a dental office’s bottom line.
DSOs have held a competitive advantage in ordering supplies. They can sign contracts with specific suppliers for discounts on supplies that can reach 20% to 60%.1 When one of the largest DSOs in the United States, supporting 1,100 dentists and 750 dental offices, reached an agreement with a single supplier,2 it became clear that the discounts were significant enough to create a competitive advantage over solo-dentist practices.
Dentists serving as CDA leaders realized that if a DSO could leverage discounted supply costs for its 1,000 dentists, the association could do the same or better for its 27,000 members. This progressive thinking led to the development of a significant free benefit for members in the area of group purchasing.
TDSC Marketplace saved my practice in excess of $4,800 during the first six months. I know other practices have reported savings of up to $1,000 per month compared to what they would have spent by shopping with their previous dental suppliers.
A single online source for dental supplies makes purchasing so much more convenient and efficient for my practice. Being able to quickly compare products and prices, create and save shopping lists, and even subscribe to automatic delivery of frequently used items are all things we take for granted when shopping for groceries or home goods. Buying online has affected every other facet of the retail economy, so it’s no surprise that as the digital and dental worlds have evolved, e-commerce has found its way into the dental supply landscape as well.
Organized dentistry is at its best when we can leverage the shared strength of our membership to find innovative ways to stay ahead of a shifting landscape. With The Dentists Service Company, the CDA has done just that.
1. Shah-Khan M. Supply chain management: Why use a GPO versus a traditional dental dealer? Dental Economics website. http://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-106/issue-4/practice/supply-chain-management-why-use-a-gpo-versus-a-traditional-dental-dealer.html. Published April 19, 2016.
2. Heartland Dental selects Patterson Dental as distribution partner [news release]. St. Paul, MN, and Effingham, IL: Patterson Companies and Heartland Dental; October 11, 2016. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161011005520/en/Heartland-Dental-Selects-Patterson-Dental-Distribution-Partner.
Jonathan Ford, DDS, is a general dentist at Ford Dental Group in Huntington Beach, California. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2007. He served on the board of directors for The Dentist Service Company in 2015. He currently serves on a council for the California Dental Association and is a board member of the Orange County Dental Society. You can reach him by email at [email protected]. Visit his website at FordDentalGroup.com.