Busy veterinary practices require myriad products and supplies. Getting the right items at the best prices is key for both patient care and business success. But the time and energy required can seem like a full-time job in and of itself. For AVMA members, there’s a powerful, free, member-exclusive tool that simplifies and optimizes the purchasing process.
AVMA has teamed up with Vetcove to offer this practical member benefit: Direct Connect. By consolidating all vendors onto one platform and adding exclusive features like a price comparison tool, Direct Connect makes it easy to quickly research products, check prices and stock, and manage orders in a single place. The practice’s negotiated and group pricing is applied automatically, providing a seamless and simple process. We talked with Alexander Kates, founder and CEO of Vetcove, about how AVMA members can use Direct Connect to increase profitability and make purchasing more strategic.
How does Direct Connect work?
Direct Connect was built specifically to address the challenges that veterinary practices face in the areas of supply and purchasing. These include opaque pricing, frequent back orders, lack of product information, and juggling many different vendors.
Direct Connect makes supplying a veterinary practice faster, easier, and more economical.
Built on the Vetcove platform, it brings together all of a practice’s vendors—including distributors, manufacturers, compounders, diagnostics suppliers, and office supply providers—onto one website. It enables a veterinary purchaser to search once, compare options, build a single shopping cart, place orders, and track shipments across all vendors—from a single location.
The result is incredible convenience. Direct Connect makes supplying a veterinary practice faster, easier, and more economical.
What sets Direct Connect apart from other purchasing tools?
Direct Connect incorporates all the features of a standard Vetcove account, plus powerful benefits—available exclusively to AVMA members—that enhance convenience, efficiency, and profitability for veterinary practices. These include:
- Real-time price comparison tool, enabling you to see prices at consumer pharmacies and bring sales back into your practice
- Powerful analytics to better understand your practice’s purchasing trends over time and make strategic business decisions
- Exclusive promotions to help you save even more, including manufacturer coupons, rebate programs, and free samples
Direct Connect enables practices to minimize product acquisition costs, gain real-time insight into product availability (or back order), and move toward more effective product pricing.
Why is efficient purchasing so important?
Efficient purchasing helps a practice save both money and time – and it also helps ensure the practice has the right inventory on hand when it’s needed for patient care.
Patient care is the top priority of everyone on the veterinary team, and in order to provide the best care, a practice needs to have the appropriate supplies. A well-run purchasing system makes it easier to ensure doctors have the right inventory on hand – medications and other supplies – to practice the best veterinary medicine possible.
Inefficient purchasing and inventory procedures can be incredibly time consuming and drain a practice’s resources—especially if the practice doesn’t have a dedicated inventory manager. By using one streamlined purchasing platform for all inventory, a practice can free up more time for team members to treat patients and serve clients.
Inventory purchasing is typically the second largest cost to practices after staff salaries. A small decrease in inventory spending can result in a substantial increase in profitability. Since profit is a fairly simple calculation of revenue minus expenses, lower purchasing costs are immediately reflected in the profit line.
Notably, this also means the practice’s value goes up. That's because value is commonly calculated based on profit. That means you can make a practice significantly more attractive to potential buyers by reducing purchasing costs. So even for practice owners who are nearing retirement, this is an important consideration.
How can Direct Connect help practices meet the challenges of an ever-changing veterinary landscape?
Veterinary practices are facing increasing competition from online consumer pharmacies like Chewy and Pet Meds, and Direct Connect can help practices be more competitive in ways that really matter to clients. One of the unique features of the platform–available only to AVMA members–allows you to compare your practice’s wholesale cost on products with the real-time prices pet owners see online at consumer pharmacies. You can use this information to ensure clients are getting the best possible price on the products they need, and start to close any price gaps with online retailers.
Perhaps even more important is the convenience this lets you offer clients. An AVMA survey found that during COVID-19, over 75% of practices reported that their clients had started buying pet food or medication online. Direct Connect makes it easy for you to identify and take advantage of the lowest prices available. For consumer products like medicines, food, and other supplies, you can pass those savings right on to your clients while offering the convenience of purchasing directly from their veterinarian and not having to hunt online.
What sets local veterinary practitioners apart from big box retailers and online providers is the personal relationship that veterinary teams build with each patient and client. Helping your clients get the products and medications their pets need, at competitive prices, from the people they trust, helps solidify and strengthen that relationship.
What about practices that have no interest in selling products?
Even if your practice isn’t focused on (or interested in) selling products to clients, Direct Connect can still help you save on the day-to-day operational items your practice needs—whether that’s medical equipment, office supplies, or other inventory items.
What size must a practice be to reap the benefits of Direct Connect?
Direct Connect can benefit practices of all sizes—but what the benefits are, and how quickly they appear, may differ based on practice size.
For practices with one to two veterinarians, Direct Connect can be especially transformative. That’s because these practices typically receive less favorable vendor pricing and have higher purchasing costs per doctor. Furthermore, smaller practices are less likely to have a dedicated team member assigned to purchasing. It’s usually someone doing double duty—the practice owner or a technician, for example, for whom time is already scarce. They don’t have time to evaluate options, check pricing, and compare products across suppliers, so they generally spend more time and money on purchasing. They’re more likely to rely on vendors to provide the best prices and product advice, rather than analyzing the practice’s individual purchasing needs and behaviors to make data-informed decisions.
Larger practices have a different advantage. Practices with a dedicated hospital manager or inventory manager are often able to adopt Direct Connect faster and with more agility than smaller ones. Implementation is quicker, and there’s a shallower learning curve.
But in both cases, there are real benefits to using Direct Connect. In fact, there probably isn’t a veterinary practice in America, of any size, that wouldn’t benefit from Direct Connect.
Plus, it’s completely free for AVMA members, so there’s no reason not to make use of it. To learn more and get started visit avma.org/DirectConnect.