Published 11/1/2010
Adam D. Soyer, DO

Tips for cutting office expenses

Using discounts and rewards to reduce front office costs

Efficient acquisition and distribution of office supplies is a good way to control overhead. In most practices, the front office uses most of the office supplies. Postage, paper, and printer supplies quickly can add up to high monthly expenses if not monitored closely. Although these expenses are usually attributable to the cost of doing business, there’s no reason they can’t be controlled. The following examples show how to reduce some of these expenses.

Shipping and postage
Postage rates will continue to rise, but there’s no reason to pay full price. Discounts for postage are available through multiple online vendors. You will need to set up an account and then purchase postage online. You will be able to print and organize your outgoing mail efficiently.

The advantages of these accounts can be recognized in a reduced charge for each postage purchase and special discounts for priority and express mail. Additionally, you will be able to track your packages and confirm delivery status online. This is important when dealing with any state or government agency and/or legal offices. Although online vendors may charge a monthly maintenance fee, the cost is quickly recovered in savings on discounted postage.

Office supply discounts
Office supply warehouses such as Staples or Office Depot usually have “rewards” plans that enable you to accumulate store credit as a percentage of your purchase; credits are redeemable on a quarterly basis as a rewards card.

Most office supply stores also offer free next-day business shipping for online orders of $50 or more. You can receive up to a 10 percent discount on printer cartridges and printing services. Depending on your volume, these savings may add up to several hundred dollars per quarter. You will also qualify for further discounts as a preferred customer. In addition, some qualified businesses may be eligible for larger corporate discounts of up to 30 percent.

Don’t forget that the AAOS Group Purchasing Program powered by eSurg enables you to purchase office supplies in addition to medical/surgical supplies.

Equipment purchases
In a small office setting, commercial grade copiers are not cost effective. Most large copiers are leased and the lessors charge high rates for paper volume. Purchasing a used copier or investing in a high-quality, small office all-in-one copier/scanner/fax may be a better solution. These all-in-one units can be purchased at office supply stores for about $500. They are Internet capable and the replacement printer cartridges are readily obtainable. Higher volume printer cartridges can also be purchased for these machines.

Comparison shop
Comparison shopping is a great way to recognize cost savings. Although convenient, large vendors tend to have both competitive and noncompetitive pricing, depending on their stock. Identifying the most competitive prices will enable you to recognize greater cost savings annually.

No more paper records
You’ll recognize your largest cost savings if you move to digital recordkeeping.

Organizing and maintaining paper records is costly. Paper charts have been estimated to cost $8 each to establish and $4 each to maintain over the course of a year. Additionally, you have to factor in the cost of labor for pulling, copying, and mailing or faxing records. The storage of records is also costly on a square foot basis. More than 20 percent of usable office space can be occupied by medical and radiographic records.

Digitizing records frees up office space, which can then be used for clinical purposes. With more clinical space in your primary office, you may not need to open a satellite office or undertake an office expansion.

Adam D. Soyer, DO, is a member of the AAOS Practice Management Committee. He can be reached at adam.soyer@nyumc.org