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36. Managing your dental supply inventory like a pro

With Jordyn Levitas

Nothing moves through a dental office faster than supplies.

Managing inventory is a huge job with major impacts on the bottom line.

If something runs out — work in the practice could grind to a halt.

Far too often; however, the inventory management system is held together by one person, a ton of Post-It notes, and some phone numbers in a smartphone. Albeit to say it's less than ideal and could leave you exposed.

Receive a $300 credit with Torch Dental by scheduling your demo here!

Meet our guest

In this episode, we're talking to Jordyn Levitas from Torch Dental, an all-in-one supply ordering platform where dental offices can discover, research, order supplies, and pay for everything all in one place.

When Jordyn started with Torch Dental five years ago, they were fewer than 10 people in a WeWork space in New York City. Today, they have more than 100 employees across the country helping dentists take control of their practices, operations and supply ordering so they can focus on what matters most: their patients. 




In this episode

  • The different ways many practices manage their supply inventory
  • How to benchmark and optimize your inventory spending
  • How to spot the best supply discounts from manufacturers
  • How practice owners should delegate supply management
  • Whether it's worth it to try and negotiate prices with manufacturers

Episode transcript

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Jordyn Levitas
You need to have a system in place for inventory because you don't want to be a dentist who's like, shoot, I don't know where we order dental supplies from. I don't know what we order because it is stored in that employee's cell phone or, you know, in their brain.
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Corey Brown:

Welcome to the Path to Owning It podcast by Provide, hosted by me, Corey Brown, a marketing leader at Provide with over a decade in the healthcare industry. If you've found us, you're likely an aspiring or established health care practice owner looking for tools and advice to begin your journey or take your practice to new heights. And you're not alone.
So to help you achieve your practice ownership dreams, twice monthly we’ll tap into our unparalleled network of industry experts who will join us on our quest to provide the answers to your most pressing questions. Like what you hear? Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you listen. 

Today, we're here at the Greater New York Dental Meeting in Manhattan, and I have the pleasure of interviewing Jordyn Levitas, head of partnerships at Torch Dental.
When Jordyn started with Torch Dental five years ago, they were less than ten people and a WeWork space in New York City. Today, they have over 100 employees across the country helping dentists take control of their practices, operations and supply ordering so they can focus on what matters most, their patients. Jordyn, thank you so much for joining me today.Very happy to have you.

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Jordyn Levitas
Thank you for having me.
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Corey Brown:

Absolutely. Can you just tell us what is Torch Dental and how did you guys get started from the WeWork space to kind of where you are now?

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Jordyn Levitas
Yes. So Torch Dental is an all in one supply ordering platform where dental offices can order, discover new items and pay for everything all in one place. So when I say an all in one platform, think of all of these manufacturers and distributors at this dental show on one consolidated marketplace. One consolidated website. Peace of mind dental supply ordering.
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Corey Brown:

That's amazing. My background is in dental offices for the past decade or so, and ordering has always been kind of a challenge that we've seen. So what other challenges, just besides how hard it is to keep track of, is Torch solving for health care providers?

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Jordyn Levitas
Yeah. So this kind of has to do with the story of how Torch Dental got founded, like where did the idea come from. So the founders of Torch Dental are two identical twin brothers. And they started Torch because one of their sisters was starting her own dental office in New York City. 
The two twins before building Torch, one of them was working in private equity. The other one was working at a startup. And the private equity firm that he was working at was working on the Heartland Dental Deal. So he was on the team doing all the due diligence. At the same time, he was helping his sister build out her dental office in Tribeca in New York City.
His sister is struggling to get the best deals, find the best supplies. She's so overwhelmed by so many different companies and products and manufacturers. So him and his twin brother were helping his sister and they were like, there's a better way to do this. Heartland Dental is doing it in some professional way. How can we build out a solution that's going to help private offices like my sister's practice?
Not all practices are part of big DSOs and have the resources to have procurement teams. Let's build a professional procurement platform to help private practices. So that's how we got started. So then fast forward, they built the software and I joined the team.
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Corey Brown:

Okay.

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Jordyn Levitas
So I did a little bit of market research, product research in addition to how do we sell Torch Dental to dentists. So I was going door to door in New York City. 
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Corey Brown:

Oh, my gosh. 

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Jordyn Levitas
Yeah. So I would check my steps every single day on my iPhone. And we would, you know, sign up practices and they'd start using Torch Dental.
But what we realized was price is a challenge, but we realize there's a lot more challenges in a dental office that the staff deals with outside of price. So 90% of dental offices, the staff does the ordering and some issues that they run into is back orders, finding products available, spending too much, ordering from multiple companies, spending too much time price tracking from ten different companies, doctors dealing with staff turnover.
How do you train new staff if your staff who's been ordering all the supplies, has all the contacts and text messages and conversations with all of the different manufacturers in their phone? Yeah. How do you train someone else to do that? So there's been so many other challenges that we've been able to solve by putting a professional system in place for procurement, in dental supply ordering.
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Corey Brown:

I think that's an amazing story and it is very needed and from my experience that I've had as well. We'll get into how Torch can help solve some more problems a little bit later. But I also want to talk about just how to manage your dental supply inventory like a pro, right? So let's start from the beginning.
What are maybe some signs that you might have an inventory control problem and that you might need a solution like Torch?

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Jordyn Levitas
Yes. So I would say if you're always running into back orders and you're not getting your products on time is definitely a sign that you may have some procurement issues in your system. And then another is just in terms of price. Take a look at what percentage of collections is being spent on dental supplies. It used to be 5%.
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Corey Brown:

I was going to say, what's the, is there a benchmark that we should shoot for?

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Jordyn Levitas
Yes. Supply spend should be under 7% of collections.
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Corey Brown:

Okay. And do you find that most dentists are above that when you speak to them?

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Jordyn Levitas
Yes.
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Corey Brown:

Like, a lot above it, or?

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Jordyn Levitas
Sometimes they're at 12%, sometimes nine. It depends. But we definitely want to get them down to below seven.
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Corey Brown:

Sure. Sure. What's the first step towards an effective supply inventory management, in your opinion?

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Jordyn Levitas
I think the first step is understanding what products do you love to use on your patients. What products are a must have in your office? And taking a look at like, where are you ordering from? Because I'll talk to dentists all the time and I'll ask them, where are you ordering your dental supplies from? And they'll name just the one dental distributor that they've been ordering from for a long time.
And then I'm like, great, but what about your whitening? What about your burrs? What about your implants? What about your bone? And they're like, oh, yeah, I do order from X, Y, Z, and all these other companies. So first, taking a look at like, how many companies, suppliers, vendors, distributors are you actually ordering from? Are you ordering from them efficiently?
And how do you know you're getting the best price? Everyone's going to tell you they're giving you the best deal. But everyone's paid on profit margins. So how do you know you're getting the best price?
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Corey Brown:

And how often should someone be managing the inventory supply? I mean, is this something that we should be checking like weekly, biweekly, monthly? What would you suggest?

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Jordyn Levitas
It all depends on the size of your office and how much supplies you actually need and the space in your office. A New York City office does not have the space that a, you know, suburban office has. So in New York, if you can get it down to once a week, that's good. You definitely want to consolidate it.

I've been to offices where they're ordering every single day. They run out of one product. They're ordering it again, which is not the correct way to be ordering dental supplies.
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Corey Brown:

And how often should someone be managing the inventory supply? I mean, is this something that we should be checking like weekly, biweekly, monthly? What would you suggest?

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Jordyn Levitas
Doesn't sound like an efficient use of time, Right.
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Corey Brown:

No. Biweekly, monthly or weekly.

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Jordyn Levitas
I'm also wondering if there's any, just coming out of Thanksgiving and it's been Black Friday, right. Like there's always like special sales in retail environments. Is there a season that it's better to order certain items than not or does that not exist in this world?
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Corey Brown:

They do. The manufacturers come out with different promotions quarterly. You'll probably see some greater New York promotions coming out, whether you're in New York or not in New York. So anytime you see like a buy three, get one free. Do that promotion. Because if you look at the net price on each box, it comes down a significant amount.

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Jordyn Levitas
And what's an effective way to keep track of your supply inventory and kind of manage your spend? Right. You know, if no one's found Torch Dental yet, how how do people do it now? And what would maybe be a better way to do it?
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Corey Brown:

I actually don't know how people do it if they don't have Torch. I've worked with practices that order from 30 different manufacturers directly or different distributors, and then they just have all these paper invoices on their desk and go through it and check their credit card bill. But at least on Torch, what we do is you can set a budget so that your staff doesn't go over that budget.

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Jordyn Levitas

And what's an effective way to keep track of your supply inventory and kind of manage your spend? Right. You know, if no one's found Torch Dental yet, how how do people do it now? And what would maybe be a better way to do it?

It actually stops them unless someone with owner access on the account lets them override that and go over the budget. And it also tracks all of your spend from each company. So it will say you spent $10,000 this month, you spent $1,000 at Ultradent, you spend $1,000 at Kettenbach. It just lets you know exactly where your dollars are going.
And then all the analytics that you could possibly need to maybe improve that and your savings from pre Torch to using Torch.

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Corey Brown:

Yeah, that's awesome. Jordyn we've discussed many ways to keep your supply inventory in check, but when we come back, I'd like to get into who should be responsible for managing supplies and the tools that you have that can help. More with Jordyn right after this. 
I'm Corey Brown, and this is Provide’s the Path to Owning It podcast. We're back with Jordyn Levitas, head of partnerships at Torch Dental, to discuss ways to manage your dental supply inventory like the owner you are. 
Jordyn, we've talked about this a little bit, but and I know in my previous history, the dental assistant was the one who was in charge of ordering or, you know, tasked with managing supply inventory. Is that who you typically see as in charge of that in an office now?

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Jordyn Levitas

Yeah, maybe sometimes an office manager. Rarely the doctor. They should delegate the task to someone else in the practice. But 90% of the offices I've worked with, the dental assistant is in charge of that task.

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Corey Brown:

And how much time do you think that person takes out of their day to complete this task for the doctor?

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Jordyn Levitas

It's a stressful task for the dental assistant. Their job is to make sure that they do not forget any products that may be out of stock in the practice or possibly in backorder somewhere so that the practice can continue running and seeing patients. So if they forget a product, they do not want Dr. to be mad at them that they're missing a product.
So I've worked with practices that they'll have a dedicated person. That is the entire job is just to order supplies. Another example is I work at the dental assistant recently, she had 10 hours dedicated weekly to order dental supplies, which is crazy to me because the doctors paying her hourly to be there. You should be paying them hourly to be there to see patients and production. Supplies are super important, but there's a more efficient way to do it than the way majority of the practices are ordering dental supplies right now.

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Corey Brown:

And we were talking a little over the break, you know that whoever this person is that's ordering kind of develops a relationship with the supply reps that are out there from however many companies they're ordering from. How important is that relationship with your rep to, I guess, get what you need in time or at the right price?

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Jordyn Levitas

It really depends on the product. So for example, 3M, we love 3M and they make some of the best products in the dental world. Those reps are going to teach you about all the new products that they have, and it's really important to have that relationship with them to learn about the new products because they're always constantly changing them to get them better and better.

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Corey Brown:

Yeah, that's a good point. And, you know, we're seeing a lot of doctors have a hard time with retaining employees in this kind of environment. So what happens when that person who has built these relationships maybe moves on to another practice?

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Jordyn Levitas

The issue is that you need to have a system in place. I can't stress enough. You need to have a system in place for inventory because again, you're ordering from five, ten, 15 different manufacturers and vendors directly. You need a dashboard that centralizes all of the supplies that you order from. You know, you have one consolidated representative that can help you from all of those companies.
And that way, if that person does leave the office, you know, life happens. People go on maternity leave, people move states, whatever it may be. You don't want to be a dentist who's like, shoot, I don't know where we order dental supplies from. I don't know what we order because it is stored in that employee's cell phone or, you know, in their brain.

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Corey Brown:

Yeah. No I'm sure. Exactly. And speaking of reps, do you recommend or do you see advantages and attempting to negotiate prices with them every so often? Is that successful at all?, that's a good point. And, you know, we're seeing a lot of doctors have a hard time with retaining employees in this kind of environment. So what happens when that person who has built these relationships maybe moves on to another practice?

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Jordyn Levitas

No.

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Corey Brown:

Just no?

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Jordyn Levitas

No, at the end of the day, everyone's in business to make money. We're all in business to make money. But understanding the business model is super important because if they're paid on profit margins, it's in their best interest to increase the price from the bottom line because they need to bring money home. 
And at the end of the day, you're a dentist. You're running a business. You both are trying to spend less. You're both trying to bring home money. So you're not on the same team. 

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Corey Brown:

Yeah. It's kind of diametrically opposed in whichever way you look at it, right? So can you give an example of how smart and intentional ordering of supplies really make a difference or how that really can make a difference in a dentist’s bottom line?

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Jordyn Levitas

Yeah, definitely. So an unbiased solution that is part of the Torch Dental solution. But basically what we do is we use the data based on what dentists like, not what's going to make a representative the most commission. What's best for the dentist, what's best for the business. So a few examples that I can give. 
Like gauze for example, Vendor A might sell their 5000 pack two by two gauze for, going to make up numbers here, $80. And then what Torch Dental can offer to dentists is when you add those gauze to your cart because maybe that's what you've been used to. Or maybe that's why a representative has pushed you to buy, automatically when you add those to your cart, we’ll make smart recommendations for you. 
It will basically say, great news, we can save you an additional $45 on the same two by two 5000 pack of gauze. Here's five other brands that you can choose from. Same with back orders. You know if one whitening material from one manufacturer is on manufacturer back order and no one can get this product. We can give you a recommendation based on what do other doctors in your area prefer to buy.
We can give you some a recommendation based on something more cost effective, based on what's sold most often. And it could be from a different manufacturer, a different company, because we're going to give you that unbiased data recommendation.

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Corey Brown:

Yeah, that's so smart. What types of supplies can practices order on Torch? Is it just everything they can think of?

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Jordyn Levitas

Pretty much. We have 120 different vendors and manufacturers available on Torch and we're constantly adding more.

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Corey Brown:

Okay. What does the setup process look like for something like this?

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Jordyn Levitas

So every office has a customized portal specifically for them. The setup process is you'll have a conversation with someone at Torch so they can understand where you're ordering from and create that custom inventory portal for you. I'll use a ortho office as an example, but that custom inventory portal is going to have every brand disposable that you like.
All of the brands of ortho products that you like, your brackets, your wires, your bands, maybe your patient bags, everything, maybe even some office supplies that you use. But every single item that's in your practice, the exact brand, the exact SKU number, everything's apples to apples customized for you. And then we quickly train you on how to actually use the software, how to actually use the website.
It’s very simple to use, but we like to train people because it is a new system.

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Corey Brown:

Yeah, that's smart. You still do need somebody in charge of this, but what kind of time savings is that person now seeing?

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Jordyn Levitas

Practices who use Torch Dental save 64% of the time spent ordering dental supplies, they reduce it by 64%.

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Corey Brown:

That’s amazing. Big question, what does it cost?

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Jordyn Levitas

Great question. I love that question. So, the way Torch Dental works is every dentist who uses Torch is paying the same price. Doesn't matter whether you spend $20,000 a month on dental supplies or you only spend 1500 dollars a month on dental supplies. You're paying the same price. We don't give anyone preferential treatment just because you're spending way more. We built this for private practices.
We charge a 5.5% on every single order. So if you're saving 25% by switching over to Torch Dental and we take 5.5%, you're still saving. You're saving bottom line and you're saving on time. Your time is probably the most valuable part. You're saving on time.

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Corey Brown:

Okay, smart. And if somebody listening wants to sign up, how can they do that?

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Jordyn Levitas

So you can go to Torchdental.com and just click on schedule a demo but because it's Greater New York, we're going to give a special offer for the Provide listeners. We are going to give everyone a $300 Torch credit if they use the link that is provided with this podcast.

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Corey Brown:

Oh, that's amazing how generous of you. Thank you very much. I'm sure our listeners will take advantage of that. Jordyn, thank you for joining me. You know, we're here live on the Greater New York trade show floor meeting. You've given us a ton of info on supply orders and it sounds like Torches is a great product, so can't wait to see what you guys do next.
Thank you.

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Jordyn Levitas

Thanks for having me.

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Corey Brown:

Thanks for joining us. Because you’ve listened to this whole episode, we assume you were entertained or at the very least, learned something new. If so, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Have a topic you'd like discussed in a future episode? Drop us a line in the comment section or send us a message on social media. If you're ready to take your practice ownership dreams into your own hands, be sure to visit, GetProvide.com to pre-qualify and browse our practice marketplace or check out our news page for more helpful resources.
The Path to Owning It is brought to you by the team at Provide, and it's produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses. PodcampMedia.com. Producer Dusty Weis, Editor Matt Covarrubias, Sound Engineer Beatrice Lawrence. 
For Provide, I'm Corey Brown. Thanks for being on the journey with us.

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Provide is a division of Fifth Third Bank, National Association. All opinions expressed by the participant are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of Provide, its affiliates, or Fifth Third Bank. The participant’s opinions are based on information they consider reliable, but neither Provide, its affiliates nor Fifth Third Bank warrant its completeness or accuracy and should not be relied upon as such. This content is for informational purposes and does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, tax, or investment advice, or other professional services by Provide or any of its affiliates. Please consult with appropriate professionals related to your individual circumstances. All lending is subject to review and approval.

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