Inventory management can be the Achilles' heel of any equine practice. Keeping shelves adequately and efficiently stocked account for up to 25 percent of total practice expenditures, making it one of the main areas where income is lost. Deborah Reeder, RVT, executive director and former president of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT), says establishing—or in some cases, maintaining—an effective inventory protocol is crucial to success.
Reeder says a successful inventory control protocol consists of:
Overseeing inventory control can be a tall order because it demands a lot of time and energy, as well as routine maintenance, Reeder says. To increase efficiency, Reeder says many technicians already possess the skills to better manage inventory, which in turn increases the bottom line.
Designating a qualified technician
- monitoring the drugs and supplies ordered and used
- researching and handling communications with distribution companies
- establishing protocols for ordering, receiving, stocking, and supplying
- establishing fees; creating a budget and organizing the pharmacy area.
Reeder says many technicians are very organized, detail-oriented people who have the time to dedicate to creating and enforcing good inventory control practices. More specifically, technicians can attribute the most to the position for the following reasons:
Pharmacology knowledge. "A credentialed technician has received pharmacology knowledge," says Reeder. "They know about drugs and vaccines, their classifications, DEA regulations, and usage."
Work experience. With field experience under their belt, technicians have a good grasp on the supply and demand of drugs and supplies. They know what items are used in which areas and for what purpose. They also understand how to stock, order, supply, and count inventory items, which eliminates the risk of running low on supplies. "They know what it's like to be out on a call and not have the proper supplies, or to run out of fluids when there is a colic in the barn," she says. "Chances are they've been in the middle of surgery and not had access to a drug or bandage material," Reeder explains.
Knowledge of lost income. Technicians understand the devastating affects missed charges and incorrect pricing have on a practice's bottom line. "Technicians understand that missed income affects the money available for their raises, the equipment the clinic could purchase, or the practice upgrades they would like to see," says Reeder. "By giving technicians the responsibility of finding those missed charges, keeping track of pricing, and being in charge of ordering, they can maximize the turnaround and minimize the costs of inventory sitting on shelves."
Ability to handle more responsibility. Everyone tries to find their niche in the workplace—a role where they can contribute and get noticed—and technicians are no different, suggests Reeder. With their knowledge and experience, technicians will be able to catch things others might miss and prevent problems attributed to insufficient inventory management, such as backorders and over and under ordering. They're also privy to new drugs and devices on the market.
Reaping the benefits
Proper inventory control is essential to running a successful equine practice. By instituting a well-oiled inventory management system, a practice can quickly assess their inventory margins, track profits and losses, and in turn, make the necessary changes to run a tighter, more profitable ship.