Ep. 94 | My 3 Favorite Ways to Know When Hospital Supplies are Low

What is it about “back to school” season? It just feels like a great time to start fresh! And if you’re a veterinary inventory manager, that probably means taking control of unnecessary guesswork – and stress! Nicole Clausen, host of The Inventory Nation Podcast, gets us started with a strategy for reliably managing reorder points. You’ll learn about tried-and-true methods for keeping your inventory operation running smoothly, with some help from things like reorder tags, bins, or shelf labels. Find out about simple – but game-changing – ways to establish best practices and preserve your peace of mind. Much of it comes down to what works best for your team’s culture and with the flow of your daily veterinary procedures. If you’re looking for a terrific step-by-step approach, consider trying Nicole’s Reorder Tag Magic. It’s an online course that walks you through how to implement various options, secure your team’s buy-in and ensure your system’s long-term success. (The course is only $9 and includes all kinds of videos, templates, and other amazing resources!) Managing the goods our practices consume and dispense is a never-ending job, but there are ways to ease that burden. Small measures make for big reasons to celebrate the support inventory managers provide their practice team and patients every single day! 

Are you up to date on everything Veterinary Care Logistics has to offer? Click here to learn about our 1:1 consulting and strategic services, online education and certification options, and to keep up with Nicole’s upcoming programs!

You can also join the Inventory Strategy Network – our free virtual neighborhood for inventory managers and other veterinary professionals – by visiting this link.

Do you have any feedback or stories to share about what works (and doesn’t) in your practice? Nicole loves hearing from you, so please reach out to her @Instagram or via this email.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Struggling with a Capital “S”: About Nicole’s introduction to inventory management – a mix of random info, cluelessness and dysfunctional systems.
  • Game-Changers: How order points transform chaos into systems by quantifying what “low” means without relying on others to report the data. 
  • Understanding Different Kinds of Order Points:
    • Things that are dispensed or sold (like pain relievers or e-collars) are relatively easy to track in your inventory management system.
    • Things that are consumed or used in practice (like tongue depressors, gauze, gloves, syringes or sutures) are often left out of online systems and reliant on hearsay through things like your “want book.”
  •  Ways to Marry/Combine Reorder Points and Inventory Organization:
    • #1: Reorder Tags – a flag that’s rubber-banded to the low point (or minimum level) and can be torn off and collected to indicate that it’s time to restock.
      • Why this system is helpful: 
        • It’s low-tech!
        • No counting required. 
        • Takes the guesswork out for staff.
        • All that’s required is your team’s cooperation in depositing tags when the time comes.
        • No need to interact with practice management systems, which can exclude many items (like office supplies or in-house lab supplies).
        • Easy to incorporate outlier or less frequently used (but no less critical) supplies. 
    • #2:   Shelf Labels – sets up guides that indicate minimum and maximum levels for both consumable and dispensable items.
      • Why this system is helpful: 
        • Levels are visible at a glance.
        • Alerts can be added to indicate back orders.
        • Helps staff to return items to the correct locations.
    • #3: Reorder Bins – a container in which to collect specific items.
      • Why this system is helpful:
        • Helps further sort and organize shelf labels or reorder tags.
        • Provides an easily visible flag when supplies are low.
  • Ways to Use Reorder Flags:
    • Through order point checklists.
    • Integrated within your practice management system.
    • Via team input on a voice-activated system like Amazon Alexa.
  •  Questions to Help you Help Yourself Determine How You’re Doing with Reorder Points:
    • Are you digging through cabinets and drawers?
    • Do you have a system for figuring out what’s low or soon to be low?
    • Would Nicole’s online Reorder Tag Magic ($9) help you establish a sanity-saving, stress-reducing process?
  • Insider Tip: You can request reorder tags for free from your distributors – an easy way to get your new inventory system organized and established!

KEY QUOTES

  • “My only training as an inventory manager was: When you shake a bottle and it feels low, you order more. And I remember sitting there in the pharmacy and thinking, ‘But what does that actually mean?’ ” (Nicole)
  • “Figuring out ways to know when we’re low (on medications or supplies) and how to order easily and quickly can be so, so helpful.” (Nicole)
  • “We can’t run in-house lab work if we don’t have the proper equipment or supplies for that. So if we leave it up to our team to tell us when things are low, we’re playing somewhat of a dangerous game.” (Nicole)
  • “Think about what your order flags look like now … not only for your most commonly used items but for those items where we might use them only every one or two months but that are super-critical to our practices.” (Nicole)
  • “One of the things about inventory is that there’s never an endpoint … It never stops. We always have to replenish. We’re always trying to make improvements and adjustments.” (Nicole)

MEET NICOLE CLAUSEN

Hi, I’m Nicole Clausen, and I started Veterinary Care Logistics with the dream of changing the way we manage inventory together.

With 15+ years of experience in the veterinary industry, I have worked in several positions from receptionist to operations manager for several different hospitals.

While no two practices are ever alike, I noticed one common problem: a lack of inventory management and control. If you are tasked with managing inventory, I understand first-hand the challenges you face.

When I first started managing inventory, I struggled with the same things that many of my clients experience: a to-do list up my chin and a pretty persistent case of imposter syndrome. But jolting awake in the middle of the night, wondering if you remembered to order rabies vaccines is no way to live.

I knew something had to change.

Veterinary Care Logistics was born out of the demand by several industry leaders to utilize my inventory system as a model throughout the country. Whenever I tell people what I do, I usually get a puzzled reaction: Why would you want to do that? I hate inventory!

Truthfully, I love the puzzles, the numbers, and the strategies of inventory. But what really sets my soul on fire is creating lightbulb moments.

New clients who often come to me tell me that they feel like they are drowning or that they think they are just not cut out for this. Then once we start working together, putting systems in place, theres always, always an ah-ha moment.

And at that moment, a shift occurs. You know exactly what you need to do. Your confidence rises. And the confusion, overwhelm, and worry all begin to melt away like a bad, backordered-rabies-vaccine dream.

These are the moments I live for.

LINKS + RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

 

ABOUT VCL:

Veterinary Care Logistics serves veterinarians and their teams who are frustrated that their current inventory system is not functioning correctly and are facing out of control inventory costs and improperly stocked hospitals. VCL helps veterinarians through inventory analysis, comprehensive step-by-step action plans, and thorough team member training. My clients experience great success and rave about my work because I roll up my sleeves and get dirty working with your hospital to improve your inventory as if it was my own hospital.

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