Doctors often think they need to join a high-cost group to get the lowest rate, and that’s rarely the case. Many suppliers participating with group purchasing organizations will give you equally aggressive discounts if you negotiate directly with them as an individual. Just knowing where the “floor” is (i.e. their biggest discount) when entering these conversations gives you a huge advantage.
Ask Around for the Biggest Discounts Out There
It can be challenging to find out exactly where that floor is. The best resources to turn to are your closest friends and colleagues in the industry to inquire about any discounts they have negotiated with the suppliers you want to continue working with.
If that search doesn’t turn up any leads, you can turn to private groups and communities you’re a member of. We occasionally see this happen in our Pivotal Group members-only Facebook group. While this route is less likely to turn up results, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Finally, you can always pose as a prospect for some of the largest buying groups & alliances that are known for steep discounts and bring it up directly with the salesperson during your conversations. Although we believe we’ve made a strong case as to why these traditional group purchasing organizations have lost their “edge,” this is a good way to utilize them without getting dragged over the coals by their membership fees.
Once you find the bottom, don’t hesitate to leverage it against the supplier: “I know you’re providing discounts as high as ____, and I’d like to request our account receive that discount.”
If forced between giving you the discount or potentially losing your business completely, what do you think is most likely to happen?
Don’t Get “Thrown Off Their Scent”
Any seasoned rep or supplier is going to throw everything but the kitchen sink to find some sort of compromise: first order promos, temporary rebates, required minimums, etc. In the pursuit of discounts like this, you are in control of this negotiation, not them.
Don’t settle for anything less than a permanent discount.
Inquire About Buying In Bulk
If you’re still having trouble nailing down the exact discount you want, see if you can leverage bulk buying. Of course you’ll pay more up-front, but the costs will average out to your advantage over time.
Finally, Use Board Space As a Negotiation Pawn with Frame Suppliers
You can (and should) use board space as a point of leverage in negotiations with frame reps & suppliers. If you give their brands more board space, it can help the rep feel significantly better about improving your terms & discount.
It also helps justify smaller purchases in instances when they’re insisting you buy more: “I have 24 board spaces. I don’t need 115 frames.”