You know you’re heading down the right path when the people spending the money are interested and the people making the money are worried.

 When the concept of the OrthoBroker was first been formulated it seemed a very simple and very effective idea. Find out what people are paying and get them cheaper prices. Simple as that. You tell me what you pay for a certain product and we tell you if you have a good price or a bad price. If your rep/supplier has genuinely looked after you or if they’ve just looked after themselves.  The reality is that at the moment the seller has the power and the buyer doesn’t. Can we shift the balance?

I remember listening to a lecture at the British Orthodontic Conference a fair few years ago now (possibly Brighton) and a guest speaker did an entire presentation on how suppliers and distributors worked to massive margins and how they should be constantly challenged on the prices they give you. It was an interesting lecture that certainly ruffled a few feathers, raised a few worrying glances and created a little bit of hustle and bustle from the “old boys” of Ortho. I remember seeing the huffing and puffing of seasoned reps and company directors getting together and  claiming how ludicrous and outrageous it was to say such a thing and then heading back to the office to have a meeting about a meeting about a meeting to form a contingency plan.  And then………..Nothing!! This guy had basically laid it bare!!! There was a good chance you were overpaying, had scope for renegotiation and reps were sat primed by the phone waiting for the call demanding a better price……… and still nothing!! It was like it never actually happened

I’m fortunate in that I have a memory like a sponge and once I’ve seen or heard something I never forget. Memories come and go when needed but that moment stayed with me throughout my career and was almost always on my mind whenever I would speak with or visit any of my customers. I got to asking why! Why was it never followed up on? Why wasn’t there a huge revolt?  Why did business just carry on as normal? Even if the statement was false, why did nobody make a bigger deal out of it or at least question it?

Was it a case of serious “Britsh-ness”? When we feel aggrieved, we feel we haven’t got the service we expected or the price we think we should, but rather than make a scene we just carry on as normal because let’s be honest we’ve been paying these prices anyway and are doing ok with it and we don’t want to upset anyone or offend anyone!

Or was it time and trust? Was it that nobody had the time to sit down and look into it? Did you just take your reps word for it that you were getting a good price and carry on as normal because you’ve been seeing them for years and they always “look after you”

The amount of people who would say to me “well I know I’m getting a good deal cos I’ve known them for years” was usually what I heard. I remember one lady very clearly, she was very friendly and very pleasant and was always up for a coffee and a natter but she flat refused to consider switching products or supplier because she was so well looked after. I can almost quote her word for word when she always said “there’s no point talking price with me, my current supplier says I’m the best negotiator around and I’ve hammered them so low on price that they almost wish I’d go elsewhere.  They tell me nobody gets prices like me and I’m more like a friend than a customer so they will always be my number one supplier”

 After she retired I got access to her prices and guess what? She was paying on average 40% more than any other practice in the same region.  The Nurse who took over the ordering duties saved the practice a fortune and was well rewarded for it. I’m pretty sure there is a moral to that story but that’s not for me to say.

One more quick story to add weight behind our argument before I sign off. About two years ago I was talking to a rather fed up ortho rep at some study group or exhibition.  They’d had a tough quarter and had lost market share on a product they were well known for after competitors had targeting them with a cheaper alternative. It happens!  This isn’t why he was so fed up though. He went on to explain that his company had gone back to their manufacturer and said they were losing market share based purely on a cheaper alternative. The manufacturer agreed to reduce the price to help them compete and try to regain the sales they had lost. The company gratefully accepted the price reduction but then still kept the sell price the same, pocketed the additional margin they were getting  from now having a lower buy price and then put pressure on the sales team to sell on product quality and service rather than price. And it’s at moments like this that the concept of the OrthoBroker began to take shape

So how do we work?  As I said at the start, it’s simple. All we need is access to your last 12 months order history (pre Covid). Every company can supply you with this in one simple email and excel spreadsheet. Most practices ask for this kind of information at least once a year so it’s nothing new to be asked to provide it. Once you have them you just email them to us and that’s it. It normally takes about a week to carry out a full analysis then you will receive a full report back highlighting all the cost savings we have made for you. Initially we will only consult with the suppliers you are currently using but if they become awkward or belligerent then we will offer other companies the opportunity to quote for that business.

So there we have it. That concludes the first OrthoBroker blog post and one of many to come. Next week we will be doing a few top 5’s including products you are probably over paying for and also the very topical subject of how the OrthoBroker can help you when your supplier discontinues products that you have been using for a long time.

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