supplies

Browse Tag: supplies

Supplies And Cost Optimization

Since we have picked up a subject of money in the previous post, I thought I’d pick up where I left off. Obviously, having enough supplies is important – while you can get away without a thing or two, in general supplies are what makes your business running. It’s the grease for the wheels. As with all logistical issues too many can be just as bad as too few.

At the beginning of operations we have agreed not to spend much time on supply hunting, preferring the convenience of fast delivery to price. With that in mind we signed up for Amazon Prime and that solved our problem of ordering when we “almost ran out” of something. Most of supply items are eligible for Prime and, therefore, delivered for free through two-day shipping. They would be overpriced items, at least at the beginning, but we have decided that given small space we were allowed to operate in and inability to stock up (and take advantage of wholesale price) might as well be offset by prompt delivery time. This was especially true during certain promotions, when we started running out of things differently than before.

Once the business had a full schedule and had run through the motions a few times, the time has come to the point where we could optimize the costs. Knowing what we needed and how often allowed us to order certain things in advance forgoing Prime shipping, but winning on the cost of the items. Additionally, certain items were being replaced with their less expensive equivalents: do you really need one of the most expensive paper towel s to wipe equipment clean after disinfection or can you do away with cheaper brand? Having certain predictability allowed us to forgo Amazon completely and order from other merchants, who don’t quite adhere to such strict shipping policies.

Yet another thing on our savings list was to verify if we, indeed, needed to use certain things at all. For example, we always offered single use razors for patients who forgot to shave the treatment area prior to their appointment. It sounded like a pretty neat idea at the beginning, taking care of your clients and all. What we’ve discovered was that it significantly increased the length of individual appointment (what could have taken 10 minutes dragged for full half hour), is totally unpredictable (we only learned of the situation at the moment a client walked in) and person who decided to shave on the spot still felt very uncomfortable. This led to major schedule shifts, people waiting excessive amounts of time or even leaving without receiving a treatment. From almost any point of view this benefit was creating more trouble than it was worth. We decided to ditch razors altogether. We changed the language on any promotional items requiring the shave and stating that person who didn’t shave will not receive the treatment and lose their appointment or session (in case of a voucher from a deal site). While it may sound a bit tough on customers we actually received a positive feedback on this move as schedule became just a little more predictable. And we dropped purchasing one item off our supply list.

The always fluid nature of offers on the market creates a never ending quest to seek the most efficient way to supply your own business. This takes time and goes along with “deal hunting” (that I was frowning upon in two previous articles). The upside is that you are getting merchandise, not services, and therefore can always objectively assess whether you are getting a good deal or not.

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      Before Opening The Doors

      Before The Launch - iStudioWeb blog about small business By the contrast from all the fuzz before launch, opening the doors is, probably, the quietest time there was. After securing our space there were other things to do. Securing insurance policy was one of them. Turns out (we didn’t know that), that it is tied in to the actual address and landlord name. Therefore we could not get even general practice insurance until we got the space. And landlord said that he cannot let us enter the space without proof of insurance. Luckily, this was the easiest to resolve – we confirmed our insurance coverage with insurance agent, signed the lease, provided the address to insurance company, obtained the proof and were allowed to operate inside.

      Getting stocked on all the supplies and having equipment in order before opening was another challenge that had to be managed. You need to stock on all things upfront, then you need to lay them out in an efficient manner and most inevitably you get to forget a thing or two. Not exactly knowing when you will run out of one or another is also a problem, because you may stock up on one thing but quickly run out of the other. This, of course, creates a storage problem as you want to maximize whatever storage is available (which in Manhattan is always a problem). For example – paper towels. They run out very quickly, so we needed plenty of them in stock. But the pack of paper towel rolls is the largest item (physically) out of everything else. So we decided to stock less and replenish often. We have also signed up for Amazon Prime to be able to order and receive things quickly. It may not be the cheapest route, but when you discover that you are on your last roll of table paper or last box of gloves on Monday morning – it’s really easy to place an order right then and receive the item on Tuesday or Wednesday the latest.

      Last but not least was the technical part. We had an amazing web site up and running, but wanted to retain a full control of the schedule since it wasn’t full yet. It made most sense to fill up full days and just take a break on the rest. As it turned out it was a good decision, although somewhat counter-intuitive. Additionally, we had an issue with online calendars as a whole. All procedures take up different time. Many procedures take 10 minutes to complete, a lot of them take 20 and some hour and a half. – that’s why cookie-cutter calendar apps and plugins for the web sites aren’t good enough for scheduling such procedures: almost all calendars use 15 and 30 minute slots as the most convenient for developers’ minds. As a result you end up adopting to the calendar instead of calendar adopting to the best practices. This leads to either rushing client out (because her time slot is ending) or taking unnecessary break (because the time slot was too big). Given the sheer number of other issues we decided to keep an old fashioned paper book of appointments. It bit us in the back half year later, but we were good for now.

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