Saving Money in the Office


By Richard E. Rogovin, D.C.

Refurnishing or starting for less.

There are a lot of ways to save money when buying equipment and furniture in your office.
Lets start with furniture.

There is a tremendous markup for new office furniture. Just look at some of the office furniture catalogs and you will see what I mean or perhaps you have already spent an arm and a leg on furnishing your office.

The first thing you want to do to save money is look in the classified ads in the Sunday paper under furniture or office furniture or office supplies. A lot of offices are going out of business or moving to an office with a different decor or just selling some unneeded furniture.

When I started looking I found a mortgage company that was going out of business. I bought 10 waiting room chairs, 2 secretary desks with chairs and 3 room dividers all for $400. Now they were asking for $600 but they wanted to get rid of the stuff so I asked them if they would take $400 and of course they agreed to it. They can always say no but you won't know if you don't ask. The furniture was in mint condition too.

Moving for less

Now if you are planning to move to a nicer office or a better location or just starting out, do you really want to pay $25,000 or more to build it out? Why not be like the hermit crab. Move to an office that is ready and waiting for you?

In other words drive around the area you want to move to and see if there are any for rent signs for office space. Or look in the classifieds again. My first office was in a space that had been used by an aluminum siding sales company. Six months before I moved in they put in new carpeting and wallpaper. They quickly went out of business as some of those kinds of businesses are prone to do and I moved in.

I had little to do except build a shelf at the receptionist's desk. Since I am not too handy with wood I hired a carpenter who did it for $100 and it looked beautiful.

Recently I did it again. A colleague had moved up the road in to a fine location. He spent $30,000 for the build out several years ago. I always had my eye on his place and when he recently built his own office I moved in to the really nice place that he had spent all the money on. We painted the walls and touched it up a little and that was all it needed.

Saving money on equipment

You can also save a ton of money buying treatment tables and equipment. A lot of local societies or supply companies have newsletters with equipment for sale. I bought several used tables and therapy machines, which worked just fine for many years. If you think your tables are getting ratty then have them recovered for a cost of around $150 to $250. You can have the firmness of the foam changed to your liking and it looks like new.

You can go to Chiroweb online where you will find plenty of equipment for sale and many willing buyers for your own stuff. I had several inquiries there for a table I had for sale and indeed I sold it to as DC who saw it there.

Recently I went to the warehouse of a local chiropractic supplier. I had my eye on a used Spinalight table with a $900 price tag. In the corner there was a nice used Leander table which was beat up looking but turned out to work fine. When I was told the price was $400 I asked them if they would take $300 plus I would let them recover it for another $175. And I now have a new looking Leander table that works just fine for $475 and yes I asked for and got free delivery.

Saving money and effective advertising

Would you also like to save a lot of money in advertising and get a lot of patients to boot? Yellow pages can work if done right! People plain and simple look for location in the Yellow pages especially if there are already a lot of DCs advertising. The best scenario is if you are in a suburb of a larger city or in a well-known area of that city.

What worked for me and others I have helped is to have a column ad not a picture ad. In a black square you have the area of town in large white or yellow letters. People see your area stand out amongst the ads and you don't have to have a large expensive display ad. I was getting 3 or 4 new patients a week that way until after several years I didn't need it anymore.

Save on the copier

Now for the copy machine. If you have ever had a long-term contract with a copy machine company for maintenance on their machine then you know how much it can cost you. Why pay for your own paper then have to pay again based on usage? And read your contracts. Not all parts are covered so you may have to pay for them anyway.

The solution? Go to Sam's Club or some other discount store and buy a nice copier and pay for the supplies, as you need them. It will be a lot cheaper in the long run. I bought a nice Xerox machine with a 3-year warranty and I buy the toner cartridges as needed. I have saved a lot of money over the old way of paying a company based on usage. Always buy your copy paper and computer paper in bulk. You save a lot of money that way. If you must have that copy machine the salesman showed you then look up the other copier companies in the phone book and call them and ask about their models. There is a good chance they may let you try out one of the models in your office. Of course you will want to call the other salesman and try out his model. If you try out all the copy machines companies for a few weeks each you may be able to go for a few months with free copying. This has been done.

Saving on great business cards

Would you like to have a magnetic business card? Don't spend a lot of money with a printing company to do it. Go to Staples or another office supply store that has magnets that have a cover that peels off and is sticky on top. All you do is place the business card on it and you have a great way for patients to see your name on their refrigerator every day.

Get online for free

A lot of people have saved money for online services by using one of the free software discs they send out. If you are one of the few who have never received one then just get a PC magazine with one enclosed in it. You get upwards of 100 free hours to try out the software. I know of some people who after the 100 hours are over have done it again using a new screen name. One acquaintance has never paid for online expenses. Once you have access to the Internet there a number of free email services available. You can send mailouts to your online patients and keep in touch with your colleagues around the world.

Bartering is the way to go

One of the best ways to save money is to barter. You have a gold mine for this with your patient base. I have bartered with patients for cutting down my trees, cleaning and resurfacing my roof, fixing my car, detailing my car, cleaning my carpets in the office and at home, painting the office, repairing machines, repairing the walls, putting up new wall and many more. You can also barter for specific items. I once bartered for 2 phones. The way to do this is to make your patients aware that this is available

I had a note we gave some patients that said what kinds of things we needed and have them on the lookout for someone who needed care and was willing to trade. As I write this I am bartering for golf lessons. When you barter you must set the price right from the start and I recommend putting it in writing.

Inexpensive patient education

A good way to save money and organize your patient education materials is to buy colored folders at one of the discount office supply stores. These cost about a quarter a piece and have a pocket inside where you can put all the educational pamphlets, exercise sheets or whatever else you need to give to all your new patients. It looks professional and saves whole lot money over getting personalized folders made.

Save on copying expenses

Whenever you have a large copy job to do of over 100 you will save a lot of money by going to Staples or an office supply store that does printing. The cost savings is significant over buying your own paper and using your copy machine. For stationery we have a printer make it but for patient notes we make copies which saves a bundle. We buy 500 copies at a time. The insurance company doesn't care if the stationary you print notes on is blue 20-pound bond or just black and white copy paper.

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