For medical and physician practice managers, efficient use of your budget is a primary part of your job. Oftentimes you may find that you have to get creative to cut expenses, stretch resources, and maintain the effectiveness of the practice to satisfy patients.
An efficient purchasing process is a good first step to controlling your expenses. In virtually all practices the front office staff use the majority of office supplies. This includes printer paper, envelopes, ink, and more. These items, while seemingly small individually, can quickly add up if they’re not properly accounted for. That’s why you must set up systems to address their costs and optimize their usage. Here are a few tips on how to manage these kinds of office expenses and keep them under control.
Check into postage and shipping discounts
Costs for mail and shipping continue to rise, but there is no reason to pay the standard amount. It’s possible for a practice to negotiate a discounted shipping rate, especially if you search through online shipping vendors. The first thing you must do is set up an account and purchase postage plans, you’ll then be able to print postage stamps and control your outgoing mail. Typically these plans reduce costs because they are discounted, especially for priority mail and express packages. In addition to discounted shipping rates, most services provide tracking at no extra charge.
However, you have to beware of monthly account fees, some companies may require these, but they’re often negotiable. Don’t let the monthly fee scare you away though, in general, you will still see savings even after the fees are added on.
Small office equipment can be a major budget buster. Depending on the equipment, you might be stuck between choosing a large commercial-grade piece of equipment or an underpowered home-use one. Understand your needs before making a decision. For example, commercial printers usually require service contracts and expensive supplies to operate. If you print, fax, and copy only a handful of papers daily, this is not an efficient use of your budget. On the other hand, smaller home-use equipment may not stand up to the rigors of an office environment. These types of purchases can tax your budget if you are replacing them multiple times per year.
Instead, consider used equipment purchases and research multi-function “all-in-one” pieces of equipment. Some units can be purchased, with a warranty, for as little as $500. If you’re concerned, purchase a quarterly service contract that covers parts in case repairs are needed.
Seek out office supply discounts
Office supply stores have rewards and discount programs for small businesses to allow you to gain store credits based on your recurring purchases. These credits are usually redeemed quarterly and can be easily tracked with budgeting software. In addition to these discounts, big-box retailers typically offer next-day business shipping. Depending on the volume of purchases you make, these credits and shipping discounts can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.
Another great option is to sign up as an Amazon Prime member and schedule purchases through there. Many times Amazon has the lowest prices on supplies and Prime members receive free two-day shipping on any purchases over $25. The annual cost for Prime membership can often be recouped with the first office supply order.
Digitize as much as possible
Paper based records and documents are a waste of time and money in the 21st century. Paper waste and printing in addition to the space needed for files and the manpower used to maintain files quickly make this an inefficient operation. You could recognize immediate cost savings if you digitize as much of your records as possible.
By digitizing your records, you create more efficiency in your processing and your staff can be better optimized for other office tasks.
Follow up on scheduled appointments
Although this isn’t technically a cost-saving measure, the pure value of ensuring scheduled appointments are being met adds to the budget benefiting end of a practice manager’s job. By making sure time slots are being scheduled, followed up on, and filled out you ensure more revenue for the office. When you increase revenue, you ease the burden on your budget and the stress on your practice. Also, by creating more efficiencies in your budget, you free up your staff to do more important things like patient care and patient follow-up.
Maintaining a budget for your practice is stressful, but there are common sense ways to get expenses under control and add to bottom line revenue of the practice. If you have any other tips for controlling office expenses, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below!