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Kevin Henry was formerly the group editorial director for Advanstar Dental Media and has more than 15 years of experience in the dental publications field. You can follow him on Twitter (@kgh23).
Editor’s Note: We recently posted an article on Dental Practice Management about what you need to know about buying dental products through a secondary marketplace. We had some requests for more information come in regarding the topic so we went back to Jim Aycock, director of marketing and business development for Midmark, to ask him for some further guidance on the subject.
“I often use the analogy that this is a lot like buying tickets from a scalper on the side of the street rather than the box office,” Aycock said. “The ‘deal’ may seem better â¦ but is it? Is it better when you find out the tickets are actually counterfeit?”
Aycock provided us with a series of questions to really help set up the difference between a good deal and one that you’ll deeply regret.
Q: Do you know if the product is really what they claim?
New versus used. The product might be the right brand, but is it “new?”
Is the product a current model or is it a discontinued old style?
Is this company’s “new” really a refurbished product?
Is the product a slightly different model that will have different features?
Is the product a cheap knock-off from overseas (yes, they do exist)?
Does this secondary reseller have the expertise to assess your office’s operations and resources to correctly identify the right product and applications for your office?
Does this secondary reseller have the expertise to offer and recommend the correct support products, ancillaries and materials to ensure effective proper use of the product?
Does this company have the expertise to ensure that only FDA-approved products are offered and that all of your local and professional requirements/guidelines are followed?
If you have no relationship with this company, make sure you do your due diligence before giving it credibility.
Q: Who will deliver the products?
Who will take the products off of the truck and get them inside the door (many products require large freight carriers)?
Who will handle filing the claims if there is any freight damage or problems?
Who will schedule the time to meet the truck for delivery at your preferred day and time?
Be sure that all of the delivery expectations are met and understood. Mistakes made here typically turn into hidden charges and fees back to the office. Local authorized distributors have great systems in place to deliver their products professionally without hidden fees.
Q: Who will install the product?
Who will physically do the work that will be required? The lifting, assembly, mounting, leveling and calibrating can all be very time-consuming.
Who will ensure the installation issues are correct? Be certain that mounting brackets, networking, plumbing, electricity, data connections, drains, vents, medical gases connections, etc., are all done correctly and meet your local codes and standards.
Who will remove and dispose of the packaging and skids?
Who is the expert that knows what comes with product and what doesn't? Many times there are disputes about whether a feature of a product is an option or standard. You need to have a guarantee of not just the product, but that all of the components that will make it work will be there when delivered.
Who will follow up with you to inspect the product and ensure it is working as it should after the installation and sale?
A correct installation is important for any piece of equipment to work correctly, ensuring your compliance with local codes and guaranteeing safety for you and everyone in your office.
Q: Who will support and in-service the product?
Who and/or what method of training is available for you and your staff?
When new employees join, or when you want a refresher, who will handle the training and support?
To whom should you direct questions that should arise after the product is in place?
When the product needs updates, there is an upgrade or if there is ever a recall, how will this support be handled for your office?
Who is available for periodic checks and inspections to confirm the products are performing at optimal levels?
Often the local authorized dealer has people and processes in place to take care of all the support needs after the sale for a dental office.
Q: What happens if you buy the wrong product, don’t like what you get, or get the wrong one?
If you or your office decides any purchase from this reseller is a “lemon,” or not the right product/model for their office; too big, too small, too slow, too noisy, too heavyâ¦ what is the process and costs to return the product?
If the office simply doesn’t like the product or finds it did not live up to its hype, what will the office do and at what costs to return the product?
Who do you contact for the credit? For the packing and pick up? For the transportation? Who pays for each of these steps?
Because of our enthusiasm for a new product and the many benefits it will bring us, there is no thought given to the process if the product isn’t what we wanted. Oftentimes we tend to think everyone’s service is as great as our favorite place.
Q: How will warranty be handled for the product?
Should the product fail under warranty, what is the process you must follow with this reseller to get the needed service?
Is there a rental or loaner program available with this reseller during warranty service work? What is the process to get this completed?
How will any parts that are needed during the warranty period be handled?
Warranty issues are pushed back to the dealer of purchase, so the office must go through the dealer they bought the product from to get the warranty work.
Q: Have you thought about future service for the product?
Three years from now, when your office needs service work done, who will be in the office doing that repair? At what cost?
What does the reseller’s loaner/rental program look like?
How will you get the regular maintenance and service parts you need for the product?
If your office does get a rental, how long do you have to wait to receive it? What are all of the costs? If the services and shipments are all expedited, what’s that cost to the office?
A long term view of the operation and maintenance of the product has to be considered so that there is a complete understanding of the true cost of ownership for the office. Low upfront costs sometimes mask the higher costs that will come later.
Q: What are the payment terms?
Do you have to give a credit card number before the product will be ordered?
When will your credit card be charged?
When you consider the expense to your card and the potential risk to giving your information to an on-line reseller, are the standard terms with your dealer a better way to go?
If the reseller is willing to mislead customers by claiming they are an authorized dealer, or not being honest about being a dealer, should they be trusted with your office?
If the reseller is improperly representing the product, should they be trusted?
Should any company that promotes themselves as, “We cut corners to save you money” be trusted with something as important as the operation of your office?
Often you have an incredible points and reward program with your local authorized dealer. You also have established a line of credit and expectations in how you will be billed. You should leverage these benefits to bring a real advantage to your office.
Q: Are you aware of the exclusive promotional offers that are available?
Through your local authorized dealer you will be notified if there are any special promotions being offered by their company or the manufacturer. The dealer is also tuned in and knows about upcoming tradeshow promotions or maybe that there is a display model/product available from a recent show.