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The benefits of joining a group purchasing option

Feb. 20, 2023
After a recent lecture, Joshua Austin was approached by Jody Ames about his new GPO. Austin joined for free soon after, and wants to share the benefits it's afforded him.

Recently, after a lecture, I was approached by an attendee who told me about his new business, DDSUnited. I joined for free soon after and have experienced some great benefits. I wanted to learn more about Dr. Jody Ames, his business, and how it can benefit other dentists.

Joshua Austin: Dr. Ames, please tell me about what DDSUnited is and how it can benefit dentists.

Jody Ames: DDSUnited is a group purchasing organization (GPO), or a buying group as some call it.

As a GPO, DDSUnited allows private practicing dentists and specialists to partner together but still practice independently. The group status allows DDSUnited to negotiate better pricing for its members, which lets them compete on a marginal basis with the corporate dental model of supply pricing.

The negotiated savings are on the same supplies from the same manufacturers that the dentists are already using.

JA: How can DDSUnited benefit dentists?

Jody Ames: First, it’s completely free to be a member. That’s right, there is no membership fee, no contracts, or minimum purchase amount—no strings attached.

The typical savings of a DDSUnited member is 20%–30% of their supply costs. On an annual basis, this savings translates into several thousands of dollars. DDSUnited members can also take advantage of the negotiated savings with several national dental labs. The pricing negotiated will often be as much as a 50% reduction in total costs.

Those two savings opportunities are just the beginning of the savings potential. There are savings opportunities with several other areas in everyday dental office expenses from scanners and credit card processing to practice management platforms.

JA: Did you start DDSUnited? Where did the idea come from?

Jody Ames: I started DDSUnited four and half years ago with a business partner. I saw a formulary from a DSO and knew I needed to do something to help reduce my costs. The supplies I saw were the exact same as what I was buying from the same supplier. They were 40–60% less in costs!

Our office had bought a few items from a smaller supply company, Dental City, so I called them. Their special markets director, Jordan Lorenz, told me if I met him he could explain the steps I needed to take. We met at a DSO show in Las Vegas, and I started learning those. It was very interesting and seemed like a great opportunity and potentially a way I could give back to dentistry.

We started with discounts on supplies and credit card processing. As more of my friends started understanding the savings potential, we then added labs and other cost-savings opportunities.

JA: What are some of those opportunities?

Jody Ames: Those include scanner savings with Trios, clear aligner discounts with ClearCorrect, working on financing options for larger treatments, Straumann implants/components/biologics, and many others.

JA: Wow, what a diverse array of savings. What percentage are most of your members saving per month?

Jody Ames: The average savings on supplies is 25–30%; disposables can be in the 40–70% range. I would say labs are 40–50% savings. Credit card savings can be quite large out of the gate. If a practice hasn’t negotiated in some time, the savings will be impressive. It’s one of those things you often don’t think about because everything is working fine.

The opportunities are pretty diverse. I went to some DSO meetings to learn. If the people who understand business are doing this, why shouldn’t we as private practices follow their lead?

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It was very eye-opening at those meetings, which were focused on the business aspects of dentistry—vendors you don’t find at state association meetings or study groups. We have always been taught to focus on clinical aspects and let the business take care of itself, but I think both are very important! Most private practices don’t have the time to focus on the business side of things.

So we decided to do some of the research to be able help private practices understand how to compete. We introduced practices to companies, vendors, and manufacturers that can drastically reduce expenses and help run more efficient private dental offices.

JA: This sounds amazing. How can dentists get more information on DDSUnited?

Jody Ames: Check out our website. There are “join now” and “register” buttons. From there you'll receive a cadence of welcome emails from DDSUnited and Dental City (preferred supplier). A unique login and password will be created that allow you access to the supply pricing specific for DDSUnited members.

Be sure to inform your team about DDSUnited! Often dentists are happy to start saving money but they don’t inform their team. When these emails or a call comes, the team members have no idea about DDSUnited or the savings opportunities.

The savings don’t stop there. We have labs and other companies that will reach out at a later time. We just don’t want offices to feel like they are overwhelmed out of the gate.

If an office wants a specific vendor relationship, we can make an introduction as quickly as they would like. We also can be contacted with questions: [email protected] and [email protected]

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