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Should I outsource? If I do, to whom should I outsource?

Sept. 1, 2018
Every dental practice is different. Some are successful at outsourcing while others can handle most things in house. What can help you decide whether or not to outsource or what to outsource in your practice? Here are some common guidelines.

Wynnie Zuchowski

DURING MY 25 YEARS IN THIS BUSINESS, the one topic that I’ve been asked about the most is outsourcing. The common questions are: “Am I better off keeping what I need in-house or getting help elsewhere?” and “Am I better off using one vendor/supplier or multiple vendors/suppliers?”

Both can be complex questions and applied to any number of business needs. I’ve worked in both single vendor and multiple vendor/supplier situations, I’ve led in-house teams, and I’ve outsourced. Every situation is different, and unfortunately, there is not always an easy answer.

Let’s start with the first question. When running a dental practice, you certainly have internal and external (outsourced) options when it comes to marketing, HR, call centers, insurance management, or any other practice need. Almost every day you have someone calling, emailing, or stopping in to try to sell you that their solution is the best. Should you keep what you need in-house, or should you hire a company to help?

Here are some things to consider when making that decision
  • Do you or your staff have the needed expertise?

  • If you outsource, will the company represent your brand the way you want it to?

  • Does the company have a good reputation?

  • Have you run the numbers–hiring the staff versus hiring the company?

  • Are you looking for short-term help or long-term solutions?

  • Do you require full control of every aspect?

The main benefits of outsourcing can be narrowed down to three things: time, savings, and access to expertise. Not all roles are right for outsourcing and not all roles need to be full-time in-house staff. I encourage you to consider your customers first. How will your decision affect their experiences with your brand? Is your decision for short-term needs and, therefore, less likely to be worth the investment in staff hiring and training? When it comes to making the decision to seek help elsewhere or, quite frankly, to purchase any type of product, supplies, or services, should you look for just one supplier or should you look at multiple? (See Table 1.)

Which do you select? Ask yourself these questions
  • Do I have time to manage multiple suppliers?

  • Do I trust that my supplier has my best interests in mind?

  • Does my supplier have the needed expertise? Am I aware of the full offering?

  • Do I have a relationship, and if so, how is it going?

You may decide to do a combination—outsourcing most to one supplier while noting that there is one element that requires specific expertise in a certain area, so selecting a second supplier for that service or product. There really is not a wrong answer, just the answer that works best for you and your business.

I encourage you to make a holistic decision. Evaluate the service, support, brand reputation, and other elements that can be hard to quantify while also evaluating the price. Saving a little but losing out on the other factors can be more costly to a business.

The decision-making factors I shared here can be applied to any purchasing or outsourcing decision, whether it’s help with marketing or business services assistance, or purchasing equipment, supplies, and other practice needs. Sometimes the decision is obvious. When it’s not, consider all factors involved and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people you work with have an interest in your success and will do what they can to help you get where you need to be.

Wynnie Zuchowski is head of marketing for the Henry Schein Business Solutions portfolio. She has more than 25 years of experience setting the strategies and overseeing the marketing efforts in organizations of all sizes. Zuchowski has managed teams internally and counseled clients in all aspects of marketing, including procurement of agencies and other solutions, and is motivated every day by evaluating the best strategies for increasing a brand’s relevance in the market. Contact her at w[email protected].