3 Reasons A HappiLabs Virtual Lab Manager is quicker than the average Lab Manager

It is our intention to put a lot more importance on a very undervalued position.

The lab manager.

It shouldn’t be a position mixing operations with too much science. A lab manager needs to focus on operations, and if they are doing experiments too, your lab is going to be less efficient than the ones using a Virtual Lab Manager to support the people focused on science.

A good lab manager should be extremely proficient with a computer and apps. They will be receiving many emails, toggling through supplier websites, and communicating with everyone in the lab.

There are many reasons why a HappiLabs VLM is more efficient, but here are 3 reasons that have to do with technology:

Keyboard training

quick_keyboard_skills

 

We put our Virtual Lab Managers through training to become masters of a keyboard.

We estimate this saves a VLM at least 15 minute per day, simply by using  (Command + Tab) or (Command + ~), etc. We can scroll through windows, tabs, and programs at lightning speed.

Copy, paste, scroll to the top, scroll to the bottom, undo, redo, and on and on. We aim to compete with a software developer’s mastery of a keyboard.

Remembering passwords

Logging in and out of supplier websites has never been easier, or more secure with password saving apps. Passwords don’t need to be retrieved from Excel or physical paper every time we order through Quartzy, Sigma, NEB, etc. They are automatically known. This saves 10-25 minutes per day for a busy lab.

Raudel_Sandoval_Happy_Virtual_Lab_Manager

Using multiple monitors

Every VLM has at least two monitors. One for monitoring communication (email, gchat, Slack, etc.), and the other is for other activity (googling, shopping online, analyzing quotes, etc.). By keeping a constant eye on communication, a VLM will respond quicker to all your scientists’ needs.

And a small shoutout to Moom. When analyzing multiple windows of data or comparing several quotes, resizing windows so you can see them all on one page is fast…HappiLabs fast.

 

THANK YOU FOR READING

The Scientist Purchasing Cycle – Time Lost from Science

In your lab, who is responsible for negotiating prices, placing orders, following up on them, and tracking receipts for proper accounting?

If you answer “the scientists”, your lab is in a lot of trouble. For people who are not trained to manage money, negotiate, and understand accounting…does this make sense? No. And your lab is losing time (and boatloads of money) over it.

Welcome to the future! Where the purchasing role of the lab, and most lab manager duties, are available for outsourcing, allowing scientists to spend more time on science–what they are trained to do.

happy scientist at happilabs virtual lab manager purchasing

 

How to use a HappiLabs Virtual Lab Manager

Some feedback we’ve received recently was about new hires in the lab we work for. Scientists new to HappiLabs do not always know how to use their Virtual Lab Manager. Everyone knows us as the purchaser (“Hey HappiLabs, can you order more gloves?”), but don’t know our other features.

Therefore, let us clarify 4 things you can use us for. Our main goal is to absorb as many 5-20 minute tasks as possible for scientists. We staff PhDs who have been in the lab, understand the language, and have empathy for the difficulty of your job. Therefore, we want to help you, and it’s in our mission.

Product research

Purchasing and Customer Service ScientistDo you find yourself googling or scanning supplier websites for pricing info, specs, availability, or features of products? Leave that to us. Don’t waste 20 minutes on the phone with tech support. Ask us to help. You can have that time to get back in the lab or in your office analyzing data.

Sample questions to ask your Virtual Lab Manager:

  • Can you find out what the limit is for centrifuging Greiner 96-well flat bottom plates?
  • Can you look into fridge shelving options for these microcentrifuge tube racks?
  • Can you find a phosphoric acid source that sells by molarity (instead of volume)?
  • Can you help me find a distributor for this glass/metal adhesive?

Getting quotes or pricing information

There are so many sales reps trying to win your business, it can be a distraction. They will all tell you they have the best price or offer a “deep discount,” but who do you believe? HappiLabs shops for a lot of companies/labs, therefore we know what a fair price is, and have internal knowledge about what works and if there are quality control issues with any brands.

When it comes time to finding the price of an item, let us take care of that.

This ties into budgeting. If you have to budget an experiment or equipment purchase to get approval from a manager, tell us what you want, and we’ll price it out for you.

Calling customer service

Never worry about calling 1-800…Your virtual lab manager will do it. Whether you want to follow up on an order, return an item, or complain about a product (Did you order something and it’s broken?), we will do this for you.

Ultimately, a scientist working with HappiLabs should rarely have to interact with suppliers (customer service, sales reps, and tech support).

CASE STUDY: Pricing of Lab Supplies

HappiLabs performed a small case study to evaluate the pricing of common lab supplies. It has become clear to us that some suppliers use the term “discount” as a tactic to convince scientists to buy their product. When in fact the “discount” provides no savings compared to competitor pricing.

This blog post will have little discussion; we’ll let the data do the talking. We compared pricing from small “Mom & Pop Shop” suppliers; large, publicly traded, well known suppliers; and Amazon.

Amazon is included because our purchasing history shows significant growth with them as more suppliers are selling their products in the Amazon marketplace.

METHODS

  1. We selected 9 lab supplies that HappiLabs commonly purchases for its labs.
  2. We found identical or similar equivalents of those items from at least 5 suppliers.
  3. For each item, we compared pricing from Fisher, VWR, Amazon and 2-3 smaller suppliers.
  4. We documented the supplier catalog # and/or manufacturer #, website link, item description, price, and unit size.
  5. Documentation was done in a spreadsheet, and screenshots of the product pages were taken.
  6. We compared List Prices and reported our findings. (data is as of April 1, 2016)

List Price is the cost of an item as listed on a supplier website. This does not include the price you pay after negotiating a discount, and does not include shipping or taxes.

RESULTS

Figure 1 shows the price ranges for three of the nine items. (Graphs for all nine items can be found at the very bottom of this post)

3 Price Comparisons
Figure 1

Large scientific suppliers have the highest list price. Fisher has one of the highest two list prices for 7 out of 9 products. VWR is in the top 2 highest list prices for 5 of 9 products.

Figure 2 shows the cumulative cost at List Price if a scientist purchased all 9 items individually from Fisher, VWR, and Amazon.

Fisher V VWR V Amazon
Figure 2

The total difference between Fisher and Amazon is 54%. Significant. For lab tape, it’s 77%!

Your lab might get discounts from Fisher and VWR, but do they average 54%? Isn’t it easier to go to Amazon or a small supplier like E&K Scientific or P212121?

Amazon aside, many of the small suppliers will always match pricing from large suppliers, and they usually have more exceptional customer service. This is where HappiLabs excels–finding and managing relationships with small suppliers to make sure your lab is treated well.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

  1. Don’t believe a “discount” is a fair price. Always double check pricing against a competitor, Amazon, or by asking HappiLabs.
  2. Comparison shopping will save your lab money.
  3. Build relationships with small, regional suppliers.

RELATED LINKS

ThermoFisher reported Net Profit of $400,000,000 in Q1 2016.

The Relabeling Racket: How what we don’t know is hurting biomedical research.

The Cost of Moving a Lab Out of a Biotech Incubator

FULL DATA

List Price comparisons and catalog numbers via HappiLabs

Price Comparison (10)

For questions or more details about operating an efficient lab, CONTACT HAPPILABS.

We’re hiring a Virtual Lab Manager

Virtual Lab Manager at a growing life science company

If you have experience with lab management, purchasing, or customer service apply!

ABOUT HAPPILABS

HappiLabs is a small business in Chicago, still in the early stage but past the startup stage, that provides a service to scientists called the Virtual Lab Manager. We are similar to an outsourced purchasing department (some might say a Personal Shopper) for biotech companies and scientific research labs.

Our focus is on customer service, and we’re for-profit but have a non-profit mentality.

Our mission: to improve the happiness of scientists and the quality of their research.

By helping scientists do their job, we are helping all the people on the planet who benefit from inventions, creations, and knowledge that scientists create.

Purchasing and Customer Service ScientistYou will co-manage a minimum of two labs. We are “virtual” so your job consists of sitting in an office and communicating with scientists, in other parts of the world, about what they need to run their experiments.

You will be trained to be one of the best lab managers in the world.

EXPERIENCE

A strong candidate will have one or two of these backgrounds:

  • Lab manager or postdoc who has managed scientists, experiments, and budgets
  • Purchaser in a non-science setting
  • Sales rep in the life science industry

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Maintaining a daily ToDo List
  • Utilizing apps and software for managing labs
  • Communicating with scientists to understand their needs and experiments
  • Communicating with suppliers (sales reps, technical help, & customer service) to obtain pricing and technical info, place orders, retrieve order updates, and solve logistics and supply chain problems
  • Scanning the internet for new apps, technologies, or products that make science faster
  • Keeping detailed accounting records, such Purchase Orders and Invoices
  • Reporting progress and solving problems at team meetings

TIMEFRAME

Looking to start early next year, preferably in Chicago.

COMPENSATION

  • Full-time-ish, 30-40 hours per week,
  • $50-60k, depending on experience
  • No health benefits, yet.

SKILLS AND TRAITS YOU SHOULD HAVE

We want a long-term commitment, someone who will help a small company grow into a large one.

  • Tech savvy (very good with a computer, its keyboard and multiple monitors)
  • A Mac user, comfortable with Google products and spreadsheets
  • Be proactive – help without being asked to help, and ability to predict problems
  • Quick, mental flexibility – we’re a growing company, always changing, and a good candidate must be willing (and excited!) to change pace.
  • A passion for science and desire to make a difference in the world.
  • Tough – customers and suppliers can be difficult to deal with. You need to take the hits, be calm with your interactions, and move on.
  • Confident presence on the phone. We make a lot of phone calls to suppliers.

===== APPLY NOW! ======

CLICK this link –> HAPPILABS JOB APPLICATION (VIA A GOOGLE FORM)

It will not hurt to connect with Tom on LinkedIn.