It’s that time of year when athletic trainers start purchasing supplies for the upcoming season. By now you’ve probably completed your comprehensive inventory and have a good idea of what you have in stock and what you need to order. Make sure you get the products you need while getting the most out of your budget with these five tips:
Evaluate New Technologies
Just because you’ve been doing something the same way for the past ten years doesn’t mean it’s still the best way to do it. Take advantage of your off-season downtime by researching and evaluating new athletic training methods and products. Contact companies, athletic training supply reps, or other athletic trainers to inquire about free samples, scheduling a demo of new technologies, and learning more about how their product can help your athletes. For example, if you haven’t yet tried our Ultra Ankle ankle braces and are interested in evaluating our products before placing your bids this year – send us a message and see if you qualify for a free sample.
Compiling the Bid
From your inventory and conducted research you know what products you need and how many of each. Place these items in a list that is organized by category such as braces and supports, tape, rehabilitation equipment, sundry items etc., which will make it easier for the athletic supply company to review and price the items. Developing a spreadsheet is a great idea for this process as you can use this tool to help manage the inventory and reordering points.
Placing the Order
The best way to save money when purchasing athletic training supplies is to submit your entire order to several athletic supply companies so they can each bid on your order. Submitting your bid to three companies is a good rule of thumb. Once you receive your yearly bids, make sure to keep them on file to reference the next time you need to place a bid.
Be Specific When You Order
If you want a certain brand of product you must be specific when ordering that brand. State the specific brand and product name and specify “no substitution,” this way you ensure you will receive the product you want and not a generic alternative. Perhaps there are other products where the most important thing is not the brand, but price, like tape for instance. If you just specify “tape under wrap” the athletic supply company will provide pricing on multiple brands.
Shipping & Receiving
Request that shipping is included in the overall bid price so you only have one number to evaluate. Once items arrive, make sure that new inventory items are placed behind the same “older” items you already have. This way you can use the older inventory first and can smoothly transition from using one product to another. If you’re bringing any new products into the training room, make sure to take the time to explain each product and it’s use to your staff so they can properly access it if needed.
Compiling and placing bids is only one of many things athletic trainers are tasked with doing during their summer/off-season. The five tips above are an excerpt from our Athletic Trainer’s Guide to Maximizing the Off-Season and the guide (which you can download for free here) contains additional tips and tricks for making this upcoming season your best one yet.