Equine inventory: How excess drugs and supplies make your practice sick
An epidemic is sweeping through equine veterinary practice. You know you're sick with it if you pay only one vendor each month. You're showing symptoms if your drug distributor demands cash on delivery. Other signs include sweat-inducing stress over accounts payable, a sinking feeling that your practice is going under, and perpetual thoughts that you're just not good enough to manage your finances. That's right. It's the dreaded EII: equine inventory irritation.
Luckily, I've got a three-step program to tackle this pervasive illness, a prescription to ease your practice's pain. It's time to take your drugs and supplies seriously: Your mental well-being and your practice's future financial success depend on it.
STEP 1: TREAT INVENTORY AS MONEYWhen you pop open a bottle or peel open a package, currency doesn't pour out. But you need to act as if it does. The first step to inventory wellness is to look at inventory as dollars on the shelves, not just products. And remember that the value of your inventory comes from using or selling it for a profit, not having it sit on a shelf. If you don't sell the product, it doesn't appreciate in value—it expires.
Treat inventory like cash and keep it safe. It costs you a lot of hard-earned money to buy products to resell. It makes sense to protect that investment by securing it under lock and key. You won't need to a build a bank, though. You'll need a central pharmacy with limited access by staff.
STEP 2: SET UP A CENTRAL PHARMACY
A central pharmacy helps protect inventory from theft by employees and clients. It's also a great way to manage your inventory. With a central pharmacy you gain more control over product selection and more knowledge of quantities on hand, and you reduce drug expirations.
Most equine practitioners keep their pharmacy at home. That's fine—but it needs to be locked. And you need a system, a way to decide how drugs and supplies will be requisitioned from the pharmacy to a practice vehicle or for on-location over-the-counter sales.
A well-run central pharmacy and a consistently used requisition sheet can do a lot for a practice's finances and an owner's peace of mind. As an example, Springhill Equine in Gainesville, Fla., reduced its inventory by nearly 55 percent, or $50,000, in the first nine months of 2010. Here's how they did it:
> The practice's staff helped the two doctors map the location and quantity of products in the mobile equine practice's trucks.
> The veterinary technicians check each truck daily and prepare requisition sheets for needed products. They turn in these sheets to the inventory manager.
> The inventory manager fills the requisitions from the central pharmacy, places the drugs and medical supplies in the trucks, and records the movement in the computer.
> All invoices from the vehicles are checked for accuracy: Does what's left in the truck plus what's shown on the requisition sheet equal the original total inventory for the truck? If there's a discrepancy, the inventory manager figures out whether the product is lost or broken or if a team member or doctor failed to include it on a requisition sheet.
The system takes a little time to get used to, but it pays dividends in unmissed charges and shrinkage.