And how similar it is to buying a car!
Purchasing a new equipment can be an intimidating experience for dentists, whether it is a soft-tissue laser or an OPG X-ray machine. The equipment will likely be a vital part of your life and the clinic for the near future. Yet, I find several of my friends and co-workers complaining that the equipment they bought a few months back is not the best suited. The feeling is more prominent among dentists who go for consultations to various clinics, and have access to more advanced equipment. They usually console themselves by thinking that they made the best possible decision in the given circumstances.
I get a similar feeling when I talk to my husband complaining about our four-year-old car. The car is very well-maintained, but on days when the city’s crazy traffic gets the better of him, he wonders if he could go back in time and change his purchase decision. Maybe get a car with automatic gearshift. Oh, how wonderful that would be!
When I start thinking about the parallels between the two, the considerations are surprisingly similar. So here it is, the list of factors you should consider before purchasing a new equipment for your clinic.
Decide if you want to buy a new equipment or a second-hand one
Consider how often you will end up using the equipment. For instance, you may use a soft-tissue laser less often than an X-ray machine. If an equipment is likely to be used sparingly, consider if getting a second-hand equipment would make sense. In large cities, you can also rent some equipment such as physio-dispenser and endo-motor on a daily basis.
Check out all available options
Spend some time in research. Check out all the available options online, and find out the prices of all variants. If possible, attend a dental expo in a large city to get a better understanding of the products and prices on offer.
Performance and feature requirements
Once you have a fair understanding of all the products on offer, list down the features you want in the equipment you purchase. Also consider your desired performance metrics.
Find out the working life and resale value of the equipment
It is important for you to know the average working life and resale value of the equipment. The terms of warranty, availability of spare parts, and after-sales service of the brand will be key factors determining the resale value of the equipment, and your ownership experience. The brand of the equipment will also impact the resale value of the equipment.
You may also plan in advance on how long you will be using the equipment. Use this information to find out the average ownership cost of the equipment per month. For instance, if an equipment costs Rs. 7,80,000 and has a resale value of Rs. 3,00,000 after 4 years, then your monthly ownership cost is (Rs. 7,80,000 – Rs. 3,00,000)/48 months, which is Rs. 10,000 per month. This calculation will change if you buy the equipment using a bank loan.
Validate the shortlisted items and brands from your friends and peers
Needless to say, but you should check with your friends and peers before making a large purchase. People who use an equipment every day will be better placed to tell you some unique advantages or disadvantages of the equipment, which will enrich your decision-making.
Consider all financing options, including a loan
Instead of utilizing your working capital or savings to buy equipment, you may consider other financing options, such as borrowing from family or taking a business loan. Especially for critical equipment, this option will limit your monthly expense, while allowing you to use the equipment to generate income.
Consider extending your budget
After you have explored multiple vendors and negotiated really hard with each one of them, you may be surprised at your own success and negotiating skills. At this point, reconsider your budget and see if extending it slightly can get you a better or more advanced product. This product may have seemed out-of-budget when you started your purchase journey, but now seems affordable, given your newly-acquired knowledge and negotiation skills. I have experienced this personally, and I ended up buying a better model considering that I will be using the equipment every day, at least for the next five years.
Get it insured
After you have purchased the equipment, get it insured separately or add it to your existing insurance policy. This will help you limit your losses in unforeseen cases such as a breakdown or an accident.
Train yourself and your staff on how to use it
Make sure you and your staff know how to operate the equipment, and have received adequate training on the same. If not, invest some time in demonstrating the use of the equipment yourself or a representative of the manufacturer.
About the author
Dr. Shilpy Bhandari is a Hyderabad-based Periodontist and the founder of Dentistry Insider. She has worked extensively across dental clinics of all sizes — from large corporate chains to small, independent setups.
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