FREE Consults – What Say You?

Episode 086

What are your thoughts on FREE consults for patients? This is a question I tackle (sorry, I don’t have the definitive answer) in this week’s episode of Business of Dentistry.

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We are dealing with a concern about free consults in my practice. In general, I’m not a big fan of giving free things from my practice. Some people think free consults are loss leaders. The idea is to give free exams to get people in the door and when they meet your staff and you and go through your customer experience  they will come to you for their future dental needs.

While I understand the concept, I think if you give something away for free people will value it and perceive it as not being worth anything. Plus consumers today are savvy, they know there is a catch to giving away an exam for free. And I think we are diminishing the value of the service we provide.

I say all of that to get into why I brought this up in the first place: we are giving away free consults for anyone looking to do dental implants.

We do a free CT scan and a free consult which is typically close to an hour to 1.5 hours of our time. Most of that is done by Meredith, my implant treatment coordinator. I come in and go over specifics as it is necessary. But regardless of who is with the potential patient we don’t charge for any of our time or our efforts.

Now our office is unique in that we do oral surgery and we get referrals from other practices for oral surgeries. We do free consults for those referrals.

But somewhere along the line people started to think we did free consults for everything. We don’t. But we have policies that conflict with each other: if you come in to talk about removing your wisdom teeth then you’ll get an office visit and will be charged for it.

But if you come in for a dental implant visit then you will get a free consult. There’s a conflict there.

In addition to the conflict in policies, another problem with free consults is we diminish the value of the implant itself.

Compounding these two issues is yet a third problem: today we get a lot more traffic online and we are getting more direct referrals as a result. We are getting people, people I call “free agents”, who are interested in dental implants and sign up for the free consult right away.

But a lot of these people don’t show up for their free consultations, as opposed to the people who are referred to us. Referrals typically show up, but the people who find us online often are no shows.

We don’t have a good process in place to pre-screen dental implants. If we had a better pre-screening process I think we could find out from people if they can afford to pay for the implants or not, and talk to them about how they expect to pay for it. Many people think Medicare will cover it because it’s a surgical procedure, but that’s not always the case.

So if we pre-screened potential dental implant patients better we’d clear up these issues and we’d avoid the no-shows and giving away our time for the consults.

What we are thinking about implementing is a consultation fee, a flat fee that includes our time plus the CT scan. People in my area are charging anywhere from $250 to $350. We are considering charging a fee in that range, but then crediting that fee back to the cost of the implants after people have the procedure done.

In essence it’s a free consult but it’s on the back end of the procedure, after the patient has followed through. But if the person opts not to do the consult then it’s a fee they have paid, and at least we have been compensated for our time and efforts.

We are considering doing this so I’d appreciate your feedback and would love to hear what you are doing and what your experiences are with free consults. Shoot me an email or leave a comment below and let me know if you have been through this and what you have done after you join me on episode 86 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “We have to bring value to our patients.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
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Dealing With “No Show” Repeat Offenders

Episode 085

Some frustration behind the mic this week as I discuss having a repeat “no show” offender that found her way back on my schedule on episode 85 of Business of Dentistry.

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This is about a patient interaction I had, I want to know how you would respond. I have a policy we created a year or two ago so my team would know what to do in the event of a no-show or last-minute cancellations. It’s simple: 3 strikes and you are out. If you can’t be here, you cancel, or you don’t show up 3 times then you can’t get back on the schedule. I don’t think it’s harsh, even though some may think so.

We do have exceptions, if someone understands the impact of not showing up and want another chance we’ll allow them to prepay for their visit and reserve time on my schedule. Many people have done this and we haven’t had too many issues.

But this past week we hit a little bump. We had a patient on my schedule again after this person had cancelled or not shown up for 7 appointments over the last year or so.

You can imagine I almost went bonkers when I saw this person was on my schedule. I couldn’t understand why because I had specifically put an alert into our practice management software for this person’s name. The alert said this person was to receive no more appointments! And it had my name attached to the alert so my team would know the directive came from me.

My team overrode that alert and put her on the schedule anyway. When I asked around why this happened no one could give me a good reason. As I put this episode to air I still don’t know why this patient was on my schedule, even though I explicitly said not to allow her in again.

So this patient came in and I talked with her. I asked her several times if she is ready for this treatment and ready to follow through this time. She said yes.

I asked her to be sure because she has cancelled at the last minute or not shown up for 7 previous appointments. She again said yes she was ready to go ahead. I said okay, and told her my team would be in shortly to talk with her about insurance coverage and the like.

I then told my team we needed a 50% nonrefundable deposit for this patient’s procedure before setting an appointment date. I thought that would ensure this patient had some skin in the game. But at the end of the meeting when all was said and done, this patient didn’t set up an appointment.

I’m bringing this up because these are the types of things that kill me on the business side. I understand taking care of patients is important, but sometimes people don’t respect our time or the value we bring.

So don’t be like me and see someone who has cancelled 7 times previously.

My other issue with this experience is that my team basically ignored me and couldn’t give me a reason why they allowed this person to be on the schedule again.

By our office rules this person should not have been on the schedule. And I understand it can be difficult, sometimes people on the phone are pushy, or they give sob stories or all kinds of other reasons about why they need to be on the schedule.

But we can’t allow this, unless we have a very good reason. As the owner of your business you should be allowed to make an exception to a rule or policy or guideline in your practice. Be sure to write it down with input from your team. Don’t make changes based on emotions but on objective data, otherwise it will confuse your team, your patients and potential referrals.

So visit or revisit your policy on no-shows, cancellations, missed appointments. Do cancellations need to be done more than 24 hours before the appointment? Three days before? A week before? How do you define an acceptable cancellation timeframe? Whatever your window for cancellations, you also need to look at how effective you are at refilling that slot in your schedule and adjust accordingly.

These are important areas to look at in your practice and they are also important for your mental health!

To wrap up today’s show I share the three responses to have in a situation like this and the most important thing to learn from these types of experiences. Join me to hear those takeaways on episode 85 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Perfection is a journey, not a destination.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Leave a review and subscribe on iTunes

What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Practice Dentistry?

Episode 084

A happenstance meeting in a Mexican restaurant prompted this question. How would you answer? Listen to this week’s episode of the Business of Dentistry as we discuss my take on this topic.

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There’s a little Mexican restaurant near my office and a few times a month my office manager Paul and I go there to talk politics, business, shop, etc. We did the other day and a conversation we had with our waitress opened my eyes to a few things.

This woman was someone who had waited on us before. She spoke broken English but spoke Spanish perfectly. Something about her made me think she was from somewhere other than Mexico, somewhere like Central America or South America, and I said as much to Paul.

Because Paul is pretty direct and to the point he asked her where she was from when she returned with our drink order. She said she was from Venezuela. Paul continued talking with her and asked about her country. She described to us how it was poorly run, the food supply wasn’t great nor was the water, and the electricity was spotty.

As she left us to take care of another customer I thought she said (in Spanish) that she had been a dentist in Venezuela. When she came back to check on us, she used her phone to show us photos and videos of her working as a dentist in her home country. From what I could understand from her story, the military had come in and forced out all the civilian dental care providers and took over the hospitals. They sent her packing, basically.

Listening to this woman’s story put things in perspective for me. It wasn’t a great week at my office, we had some patient issues and other things. But hearing what she went through got me thinking about what would happen if I couldn’t be a dentist next week or three months from now.

Imagine if you were to go from a good profession like ours to not being able to do your work. Where would you go? What would you do? Some of us would be devastated if we couldn’t continue in our profession. Personally, I began wondering what would I do if I couldn’t do this. Would anything pay as well as this career? What kind of work would I do – would it have to be manual labor or could it be something more intellectual?

It also made me think, as a single practitioner in a private practice at the age of 50, what is my long play on this? I realized I don’t have a secondary source of income or another source of income. I’ve got all my eggs in one basket and I started wondering about different ways to add to my income streams.

This conversation made me think about this topic a lot: how would I add another stream of income? Would it be a product I could sell, a different business, a hobby? Is there something else I could monetize?

I have a few things I’ve thought about but never taken action on, and this experience is helping me shift my focus a bit to those things. And of course I know there is truth to doing the one thing and doing it well, but the conversation with this waitress has got me thinking about other options.

And I’m interested in hearing from you on this: what would you do if you couldn’t do dentistry tomorrow? How else would you generate revenue? Do you already have other streams in place? Do you have any other eggs in your basket? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you after you listen to episode 84 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “At what point do we start thinking about a different revenue stream?”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Patient Interaction And Reputation Management With Podium’s Nico Dato

Episode 083

This week I sit down and talk with Podium’s Nico Dato to discuss customer interaction and reputation management. He offered some great advice that apply to us as private practice dentists. Go give it a listen on episode 83 of Business of Dentistry…

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Podium is a software as a service company (SaaS) out of Utah. They work with a variety of industries, including dental practices, to help with customer interaction, communication, and online reputation management. In our conversation on today’s episode of Business of Dentistry we talk about improving our communication, his tips on how we can use Google chat and three steps to dealing with negative reviews.

We begin by talking about what Podium is and what it provides for businesses. Podium software offers everything from setting appointments to feedback on the appointment to online reviews. Podium’s software exists as more of a platform with the focus being on interaction between the business and the consumer and is meant to help the practice and patient develop a stronger relationship.

To elaborate on that point I asked Nico to spell out what he sees dental practices not doing, and how they can improve regarding communication with patients.

There are a few common mistakes or missed opportunities he sees regularly. The first is how a practice communicates with its patients. What will determine the preferred method of communication is who your demographic is, so you must find out what is convenient for the patient AND for your practice. In general, the easier it is to keep in contact with your patients the more money you will make. You will have fewer no shows, more appointments will be kept and more patients will become repeated patients for the long-term.

As far as feedback and online reviews: getting positive reviews is good but the piece so many practices miss out on is the actual feedback within the reviews. So dig in and understand what the patients says in their review, and then make changes within the practice. This is what the really smart practices are doing – it is gold for them!

Being focused on those two things is what the best practices are doing: communicate with patients how they want to be communicated with and adjust your practice based on the feedback you get within your online reviews.

We also talk about Podium’s Google click to chat feature. This is Google’s attempt to add another way for consumers to interact with businesses. From Google’s search results you can call, get directions, go to the web site or now with the click to chat feature you can message the business. It’s basically a text message sent to your practice.

Podium plugs right into this feature so you can manage it through their software, versus going to an individual’s cell phone. Nico says they’ve seen a lot of dental practices receiving messages after hours from this feature. Patients communicate and ask questions at their convenience, and the convenience aspect is important because it means it is easier for a patient to come and see you. The easier it is for them the more likely they will be to choose you now and in the future.

I also wanted to know what he recommends doing when you get a negative review. He broke it down into 3 steps:

1. Respond calmly and from a detached perspective.
The person responding to the review should be detached from the situation and not emotionally involved. If that is not possible then make sure the person responding is level-headed and doesn’t get defensive. Of course it’s easy to become emotional about it because it’s your business and your livelihood but it won’t help the situation if you become defensive in your response.

2. Apologize and move the conversation offline.
As we said in step one, avoid defensive responses when you respond. Also when you respond apologize for the person’s experience and move the conversation offline. Offer to talk about it offline or via email. Give them a phone number and email address so they can communicate with you and your office.

This is good for the relationship with the reviewer but it also shows potential patients you will address their needs and work with them to right any wrong that may happen when they come to you.

3. Actually have the conversation offline.
Chat with patient offline either via email or on the phone, and hopefully come to a resolution. At this ponit you can often have them add another review or leave a follow up comment on their original review sharing how the issue was resolved.

On this episode we also talk about where you should focus on getting more reviews online, what it means to “gate” a patient and why you shouldn’t do it, and why collecting reviews should be done on an on-going basis. We finish up with details of Podium’s services including costs and contracts. Join us to hear all of those details on the 83rd edition of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Adjust your practice based on feedback from online reviews.”

Episode Resources

Podium’s web site
Podium’s blog
Email Nico
Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Capitation Woes And #SmallThanks

Episode 082

This week on episode 82 of Business of Dentistry we talk capitation plans when working as an associate and #SmallThanks from our friends at Google My Business…enjoy!

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Today’s first topic comes from a conversation I had with a young dentist who is new to his own private practice. Recently we talked about his journey from dental school to working for a corporate dental entity to now into having his own practice.

His path was very similar to mine and it was interesting to hear his reasoning for the decisions he made. What really intrigued me was the employment agreement he had with the dental group, what surprised him and what he struggled with and what he wasn’t aware of before going into the agreement.  I wanted to pass along the lessons he learned because I think they are valuable for anyone considering going into this type of arrangement.

One day while working for this company, the office manager asked him if he could see an emergency patient after hours. The person had broken #16 at the gumline and was in a lot of pain so naturally he agreed to take care of the patient. He did the right thing and it all went fine, the patient was happy and grateful to have been treated.

Here’s where it gets interesting: bearing in mind that this man was getting paid on collections, he had a certain number he had to reach every month. He was given a guaranteed salary plus incentive bonuses along the way based on his collections.

After this patient left he thought he’d have a little extra from the work he had done. But when he asked about it he found out the patient was on a DMO plan, a capitation plan.

I’ve never worked with a capitation plan so I asked him to remind me how they work exactly. He explained that the corporate entity gets paid a certain amount of money for each person in that plan. Basically the patient comes in, the dentists do the work and the fee is paid to the corporate entity. But he as the dentist doesn’t get any share of it, meaning he basically worked after hours for free.

But he was never told about this type of situation ahead of time, it was this case that showed him how capitation plans worked. When he told me about this I asked if I could share his story, and he agreed. While I’m not going to give his name, I wanted you to know this is something you should look into when you consider going to work for these corporate dental entities or any associate type arrangements.

If you’re going to take care of patients and treat them, but not get a portion of the fees that’s a bad deal.
Be sure to ask questions and talk to your potential employer about situations like this so you know what you are getting into on the front end. It could negatively impact your income as an associate but it won’t hurt the corporation or the owner of the practice. You want to know something like this in advance, not find out when you get paid!

Shifting gears I also want to talk about another topic: reviews. Every month I get an email from Google My Business. It sends me a dashboard overview that tells me how many have visited my site, asked for directions, made phone calls, etc. It’s a good overview of how the site is doing and how the reviews are helping my practice.

I got an email the other day and I thought it was my monthly overview, but it wasn’t. It was something called #smallthanks. I looked it over but didn’t give it much more thought and moved on – until I saw Dr. Alan Meade post about it.

I revisited it after he posted about it, I think there is some potential from it. To hear what they offer, why it may benefit you and how it works join me for episode 82 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Know what you are getting into on the front end.”

Episode Resources

Small Thanks with Google
Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
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Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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A Problem Focusing

Episode 081

In episode 081 of Business of Dentistry I revisit the topic of maintaining focus. We discuss getting things done while simultaneously keeping our eye on a single idea within our practice.

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Recently I had a meeting with a young man who just finished his undergraduate degree in Media Studies. I brought him in to discuss some marketing ideas and side projects he could work on for my practice.

Our meeting lasted for almost 2 hours, and as we talked we went down the proverbial rabbit hole. After he had left I reflected on what we had talked about and made some notes so he and I could move forward. I realized that we talked about a lot of ideas, but we didn’t focus on one thing. I noticed I have a problem with that: focusing on one thing.

I have difficulty in focusing on what I need to do in the moment. I’ve been working on it in my practice and I’ve gotten better at it. but I bring it up on episode 81 because I’m wondering if anyone else has that issue or if it’s just me.

I find that we get more accomplished if we focus on one thing and go after it til it’s done. For example, my focus one day might be on completing my office notes in my electronic medical record before I leave the office. some days I’m great at fulfilling this and some days I am not so great at this task. I believe it boils down to a lack of discipline along with a lack of focus on the task.

I struggle with focus and discipline quite frequently to be honest. And I realized I did this during my conversation with this young man. During our meeting I didn’t even allow him to respond to one idea before moving on to the next. That’s problematic!

If you have that same issue consider this episode as a reminder to focus on the one thing until it’s completed. To be effective, you have to go through and decide what is the most important thing in your day or in your meeting – and then get that one thing taken care of and addressed before moving on to something else.

Sometimes that one thing you are focused on isn’t the fun thing, but you have to buckle down and do certain things to keep you on track. Otherwise you leave a lot of things undone, there are days when I look around at the end of the day and feel like I got nothing accomplished.

And the reason I feel that way on those days is because I didn’t focus on the one thing that I needed to do. I’ve really struggled with this lately because we’ve had a lot of things going on here. I mentioned this in my last episode: I found out certain things weren’t being done that I was told were being done (and these were things I was paying to have done).

When that happened I decided to revisit other people I’ve been in business with so I could verify we are getting what we are paying for from them. Things like that can really negatively impact our businesses so I wanted to trust and verify all of our existing business partnerships.

That’s something not everyone understands – that we have to wear many hats and do many things as private practice owners. I’s easy for us in our situations to lose focus because we shift our focus a lot. So my pep talk on today’s show is don’t lose focus! Pick what you need to do and knock it out.

And I’m talking about this to call myself out. This is not meant to be me preaching to you, it’s about reminding myself to be conscious of what I’m doing and focus on one thing at a time. I hope this is something you are good at or are working on improving, too. I appreciate you being here to listen! After you’re done I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Pick what you need to do and knock it out.”

Episode Resources

Episode 80 – IT issue episode
Episode 01 – 3 Hats of a Private Practice Dentist
The One Thing, by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018

Email me

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter
Leave a review and subscribe on iTunes

VOD, Trust And Crispy Fries

Episode 080

This week I make my pitch for the Voices of Dentistry Live Summit, talk about trust and crispy fries…all on this episode of Business of Dentistry.

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There are a few things we’re going to talk about today, one of the first is the Voices of Dentistry live summit. It will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 26 – 27, 2018. I was invited to speak last year and I’m excited to be there again this year as a speaker!

There are a number of great reasons to attend: you get 16 hours of CE credit, great information and, what I think is the most valuable, the networking. Last year I learned as much in the hallways talking to people as I did in the sessions.

I’ve also heard the podcast lounge is going to be bigger and better. I look forward to sitting down with you and to hear your ideas, your thoughts and maybe even interview you when you’re there.

If you’re a student (like Jackie from episode 79!) there’s special pricing for you. You can find more of the details at the Voices of Dentistry web site.

Switching gears now, we’re going to revisit my recommendation to trust but always verify. If you’ve listened before you’ve heard me say this and today I’ll reiterate why. Personally, I failed to follow my own guideline this past week. As a result, I’m disappointed in myself and the vendor. We’d been working together for 16 years and I thought we had a history I could rely on.

But i found out this week I was wrong; I had paid this vendor for things that hadn’t been completed, so I’m disappointed in myself and in this company. Now I’m going to find a replacement before I tell the rep that we’re not going to work with them any longer.

But the lesson I want you to learn is you have to verify you are getting what you paid for. We’re often targets as dentists because we’re all learning the business ropes. So I’m sharing this lesson to remind you to trust but verify. And I’ll revisit this particular instance as I make the transition in my office.

Our final topic this week is crispy waffle fries at Chick-fil-A. My kids love this place so we went there this weekend. When we have gone in the past I’ve always had them make my fries extra crispy, they’re basically burned because that’s the way I like them.

So this weekend when we went, I placed my order and was shocked when the woman said they no longer make crispy fries. It was so surprising because their customer service has always been amazing. They have always been exceptional at asking what they can do for you and then doing it, whatever it is that you ask for.

I’m sure there is a valid business reason for this change, but in my mind this was a huge shift in their policies. And it got me thinking about how and where I might be doing this in my own practice.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of my patients and think through our process to see if there is anything we do that could be perceived as bad customer service. Is there anything we do in our practice that we could alter to make the customer happier? Are things like early morning visits, block scheduling, filling out forms, after hours forms, etc., not helpful to your patients? It’s a question worth asking and worth investigating.

So to recap today’s show, make sure you are revisiting your vendors and make sure you are getting the products and services you pay for. Be sure you are consistently reviewing your customer service and what you are saying no to them about.

If you have any questions feel free to email me or leave a message below, after you listen to episode 80 of Business of Dentistry. And be sure to join me at the Voices of Dentistry summit in January of 2018!

 

Tweetable: “You have to verify you are getting what you paid for.”

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018
Jocko Podcast

Email me

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

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Leave a review and subscribe on iTunes

Speaking To Jackie

Episode 079

This week we discuss an email I received from Jackie. She took time out of her studies at the Texas A&M College of Dentistry to ask a couple of questions. Listen in to find out what she asked on episode 79 of Business of Dentistry…

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First Jackie, thank you for your email, your kind words and your questions. I’m going to go through your email line by line so I speak to each of your points.

In your email you first share that you listen to the show on your way to and from dental school. And you are encouraging your friends to listen so you can all talk about these topics together. That fact alone tells me a lot about all of you – trying to learn more about the business of dentistry on your own outside of school says you are motivated and you have initiative.

You go on to say you get close to zero hours of training on the business of dentistry and I can tell you not much has changed: that was true when I graduated in 1994.

I remember we had one private practice management course during my dental school years, and I think it was taught by a guy who hadn’t even had a private practice. I’m pretty sure he taught from a book, and I don’t remember if the people who wrote the book had even been in private practice! Unfortunately the business education side of dental school hasn’t changed much. But I am hoping dental podcasts can change that fact.

Your next comment was about the rise in corporate dentistry. I’ve never been in corporate dentistry so I can’t speak to whether the lack of business education is leading to its rise. However, there are people out there who see the beauty in dentistry and see the monetary upside of it, and they are capitalizing on that because they understand business systems and business overall.

The second part of the rise in corporate dentistry might be happening because of dental school debt. I heard a statistic the other day that over 60% of new dental school graduates are hired by corporate dental entities. Maybe that’s because of the debt load you’re having to carry right out of dental school. Going into even further debt to open your own private practice puts an even bigger strain on new graduates.

There also may be people out there who just want to be clinicians and don’t want to deal with the business side so they sell their practice and work for dental corporations. I think there are a few factors that are contributing to the rise of corporate dentistry.

Your next question asks if I will do an episode about how best to secure an associate position and what I look for in someone fresh out of dental school. I’m going to be totally transparent: I don’t have an associate in my practice and I’ve never hired an associate.

But I will tell you the questions I ask when I talk to recent dental school grads: I ask questions about what they are interested in professionally. I don’t buy into the “I like it all” answer; I think deep down if you are honest there is some aspect of dentistry you like above the others. For me, I liked oral surgery best, which is why I went into it!

I also ask questions to see if you are opening to learning: you don’t stop learning the day you graduate. I want to see if new dental graduates are open to continue learning. I still learn every day. We have to keep learning not only in our practice, but in our lives, too.

You are learning techniques and other things today that I would have no idea about – I can learn from you, and of course, you can learn from me.

Next you ask about resumes: resumes are really a list of your accomplishments and achievements. Personally, I will glance at a resume to see if there is anything unique to talk to you about.

Things that have impressed me in the past: a woman who was an air traffic controller in the Air Force. This woman was looking for a position in my office. She was only in her 20s but I knew she could handle stress and I knew she could handle my front desk if she could handle air traffic control!

I’m more about life experience, education is important but it’s not everything. I’d rather have the person who has 3.2 average who was involved in activities outside the classroom like community volunteering, mission trips, military experience, etc. I’d prefer that person over the person who does nothing but study and has a 4.0 GPA and gets a 98 on their boards because that person with the outside activities and lower GPA can relate to others.

If you aren’t there right now, that’s okay. I’m encouraging you to get out and experience life. Good grades are important, but I feel like the folks who excel are the ones who have experienced life in a variety of fashions.

Continuing in that vein, I tell a story of a guy I was on a mission trip with. He wanted to go to dental school and asked for my advice. Listen in to hear the question I asked him, and why it’s a question you should be asking yourself.

And I wrap up with a discussion on failures, how to look at them and why having them and accepting responsibility for them is a characteristic I look for when talking to new dental graduates.

I hope this helps you, email me if you have more questions and I’m happy to talk more. Thank you for being here, I appreciate you for listening and being part of the discussion on episode 79 of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “We can learn from each other.”

Episode Resources

Gary Takacs’ Thriving Dentist podcast
Dentalpreneur podcast with Dr. Mark Costes
Start Your Dental Practice podcast with Jason VanHorn
The Dental Hacks podcast
Email me

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter
Leave a review and subscribe on iTunes

We’re Doing OK

Episode 078

This week was a bit bumpy and I started to make this an episode with me venting. But instead, I put a positive spin on things and had some fun based on the income of an average private practitioner. Check it out…and, we’re really doing OK.

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As I mentioned, my week was a bit bumpy. All of our surgeries went fine and our patients are doing well, but there were some difficult interactions I didn’t see coming. I had some after-hour communications and overall things weren’t as smooth as I would’ve liked them to be.

So rather than getting down on our profession like I may have in the past, I looked for the positive. I went to the American Dental Association web site and looked at their 2015 financial income on dentists, from general practitioners to specialists.

According to their site, the average net income for a private practitioner was $179,960 – just shy of $180k. Specialists make about $320,460. Now that’s net income – billings were just shy of $650k for general practitioners and specialists generated a tad over $1 million. What’s interesting about that is those incomes are solid, even considering this is the average.

And I took it a step further – I found a site that allows you to plug in your income or your net worth, and it tells you where you stand compared to the rest of the world.

Now I don’t know how accurate this site is but it’s still interesting to explore. It’s called the Global Rich List. So you go to the site, put in your location, and your annual income or your net worth/your wealth. They’ll find your net worth for you by asking for the equity in your home, the value of your possessions and assets. Then they compute your results and show where you stand compared to the rest of the world.

So if we take the average net income for a private practice general dentist in 2015 – $179,960. If you add that to the site, next choose the United States as the location (if that’s your location, it is mine) and hit calculate. What comes up next is a graph of people that shows you where you are versus the rest of the world.

Based on the number we gave it – $179,960 – this web site says that income puts a person in the top 1/2% of the world’s richest people by income.

Think about that – the average dentist is in the top percentage of the wealthiest people in the world. We’re in a damn good profession! I lose sight of that sometimes, and when I do, I revisit this site and it puts things in perspective.

That site also gives more data, it says we make $93.73 on average per hour. It then compares that number to other parts of the world. For example, the site says the average laborer in Zimbabwe makes 50 cents an hour.

It also compares your annual income and tells you how long it will take people in other parts of the world to make that same amount. For instance the site says the average laborer in Indonesia would need 242 years to earn the $179,960 you earn in a year. It also says your monthly income could pay the salaries of 1100 doctors in Malawi.

Can you see the good in that? By telling you about this site I’m trying to help you see the positive. We’re fortunate to have the opportunities we have thanks to our profession. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel that way! We get disgruntled and discouraged, and it is a stressful line of work, but there is good in it too. When I get down on what we do I go to this site and it reminds me of that fact – I hope it will do the same for you.

Let me know what you think about this site and any other things going on in your world, positive or negative. I look forward to hearing from you and getting your feedback, after you listen to episode 78 of the Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “For the time we work we do pretty well.”

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Collect and Spend Trends

Episode 077

Do you have slow months in your practice? How about busy ones? Are your spending trends in line with the busier ones? These are the topics we discuss this week…thanks for joining me on this episode of the Business of Dentistry.

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It’s Labor Day weekend here in the U.S., so I’m keeping this episode short. But I’m also talking about the holiday because it relates to our topic today: comparing your practice collection trends or patterns with your purchasing trends or patterns.

To compare these two trends review the historical data you have collected from the time you’ve been in practice. So if you’ve been in business for three years, you can look at the collections per month for three years. Open up your practice management software and see what have you historically been collecting in January, February, March and so on.

Then find out what your average collections are per month across the board for the past three years. I take a look at the past three Januarys, make an average of that data and then I know what we will probably generate in January of next year. I do the same for all of the other months.

When I have that information and I have an idea of what we’re going to collect, then I know the months that will be busiest in my practice. For me those months are March, July, October and December.

I know those months are solid for me, so when I get the average collections for those months I can start looking at my purchasing trends. I want to know when am I buying the most, when am I making my largest purchases per month. I compare that data with the previous data of the months with the largest collections, then I’ll know if these are matching up or not.

We were not, now we’re trying to make those adjustments so we are making our biggest purchases in the months when we have the most collections.

I do so because there is more cash on hand. If I’m making a big purchase I can slide it into the time frame when I have the most cash flow, which reduces my monthly overhead. But I can only do that by looking at the data and knowing my spending trends, collections trends, etc.

Doing so also helps me to set aside cash for bigger purchases that will need to be made in the future. Typically I like to pay cash for things whenever possible, unless it’s a very big ticket item like a $150k CT machine. I would opt for financing versus paying cash on something that costly because I don’t want to deplete my reserves to that extent. But you might, and that’s okay.

The main thing is to evaluate, analyze and plan the way you are making purchases so it works for you and the way you run your business and your practice. This is just how I do it and I’m telling you so you put some thought into how you’re doing this rather than just flying by the seat of your pants.

Another thing I want to talk about is planning ahead for the slower months. I know that September is typically slow for me and every year I tell myself I’m going to do some kind of marketing or advertising to change that and stimulate my practice’s number. Although I say this every year I have yet to do it!

I hope you are better about this then I am, if you have certain months that are slower than others make a plan on how you will handle them.

Maybe you plan your vacation time for those slow months, or you attend conferences like The American Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons has their annual meeting every September because they know we are all slow so we can all attend. You can also condense your schedule in the slow months, or plan a marketing campaign to boost your numbers.

Do whatever you can to balance your collections out across the months to make them as close as possible. This will make your overhead better month per month, which ultimately results in lower overhead and better profitability for your business and practice at the end of the year.

If any of these episodes have helped you in any way, go over to iTunes and leave a review. For those of you who have left reviews, thank you! You’ve helped me on this show and in my practice. I appreciate you and again I thank you for listening and being here on previous episodes, and on today’s edition of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Know the trends and patterns in your practice.”

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