The 3 (really 4) Practice Numbers I Look At Daily

Episode 004

Do you know when your slowest time of year is and your busiest time? Do you know what your collections rate is every month? To keep your practice moving in the right direction there are important numbers to know and look at every day.

On this episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast I share what those numbers are, how I look at them daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to make sure my practice is on track – and how you can do the same.

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There are a few primary areas I make a point of checking regularly: production, collections, adjustments and accounts receivables. My staff pulls these numbers for me on a daily basis because I believe it’s important to know if your business is growing, stagnating or declining.

I set a goal for my practice’s growth every year and the only way I know if we’re on pace to reach that goal is by looking at each of these areas.

Production
The first area to know your numbers in is production or what is being charged for the daily work done in your practice. Once you know that you can set goals for your practice, which is what I do.

For example if my growth goal for the practice is 5% for this year I will look at productivity from last year. I’ll take the total days worked and divide productivity by the number of days worked. Next I will look at potential days to work this year and the number we need to hit. From there I work backwards to determine the monthly goal, then the weekly then the daily goals.

Collections
Next is collections or the actual money that has come in that day either through in person payments or the mail. To me this is the most important number to look at because you use this to pay bills, your staff, your own salary, equipment, technology, and to generally cover your overhead and generate a profit. So you need to know your collections numbers on a daily, weekly, yearly basis – and how they compare with previous years.

Our in-house rate is about 95%, and yours should be at least 88%. My office ensures this number stays high by collecting co-pays upfront, patient portions are paid ahead of time and insurance is verified on the day of surgery or a procedure. It’s been my experience that it is easier to collect payments before services are rendered versus waiting for the patient to pay the balance later!

Adjustments
Third is adjustments, or the amounts you are writing off. This number can include any charity donations you make, any cash discounts you give or other professional discounts as well as any insurance company write-offs. If you add adjustments and collections you should be near 100%.

Accounts Receivables
And finally is accounts receivables, or the amount of money that you are waiting to be paid. The idea here is to keep this amount low – I like mine to be less than 1.5x the monthly collections. I keep my numbers down here by having patients pay their portion ahead of time and not billing them after services have been rendered.

Those are the four areas I routinely look at on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. My challenge to you is to do the same: what are your numbers telling you? Is your practice growing? If so do you know why?

If it’s declining or plateauing do you also know why? After you listen to today’s episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast I’d love to hear what your numbers are telling you!

“Look at your bottom line to make educated decisions and move forward.”

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Doing Dentistry You Like

Episode 003

Would you like to develop your practice around the procedures you like the most while still maintaining productivity? I wanted to do just that, and so I did.

On this episode of the Business of Dentistry I explain how I went from doing numerous procedures to focusing on five key areas. And I also explain how doing so has allowed me to increase my producitity while growing my practice and my profitability at the same time.

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Not so long ago I was reaching the point of burn out in my practice. I was doing any number of different procedures on any given day, and finding myself to be less and less happy and more and more tired at the end of the day. I even dreaded some patient visits – not because of the patient but because I didn’t enjoy the procedure they needed!

So I sat down and made a list of all the various procedures I had done in my 10 years in private practice, I wrote down all of them. From there I chose the five I liked the most out of that list.

It took some internal searching but I narrowed it down to five: wisdom teeth with sedation, dental implants, bone grafts/soft tissue grafts, other procedures with sedation and pathology. I knew after honing in on those five if I could spend the majority of my days doing that work I would enjoy myself.

Naturally I was concerned about staying profitable and productive, I worried if I focused on those five activities my bottom line would suffer. To avoid losing money in my practice I had to dig a little deeper and look at what procedures were generating what amount of income, and then compare those with my top five.

Using my Oral Surgery Executive software to find all of my procedures, the money we charge for them and the money we collect for them. From there I could look at the numbers and decided if focusing on these five procedures could still be profitable for the practice.

Happily the numbers reflected positively; we could continue to be both profitable and productive if we focused our days doing those five key activities. We could also streamline our days better, and that’s what we started doing. I asked the staff to start scheduling our days differently: we would spend our mornings doing the more profitable activities and then our afternoons would involve other necessities like post-ops and general office visits.

Of course we still would have to make exceptions to this (and we still do today) but overall that is the schedule we use two years later, and it has made a world of difference. We are all happier, and have more mental and physical energy at the office. No one is stressed out trying to find instructions for a procedure we haven’t done in a long time, and we all can plan better.

Making the change in our schedule and focusing on these 5 procedures didn’t happen overnight. We had to gradually ween our patients off of the other procedures, and we did this by limiting the number of appointments we would take for other procedures every week. We also found good referrals for the other procedures we weren’t going to do any longer.

Once we were booked out 2-3 months in advance for any of those non-five areas people asked for referrals to go elsewhere. Changing our availability along with our marketing, advertising and promotional materials meant eventually we just stopped getting calls for other procedures.

On this episode I share more details and examples of how we did this, and also how long it took for me to really notice a difference in the practice. If you’ve ever wanted to be more productive, happier and still profitable in your practice you’ll want to hear all of the details on this episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast!

“You can find a balance, and I think that’s important.”

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Understanding Patient Objections To Treatment

Episode 002

In your dental business, you’re likely to come across patients who hesitate to agree with your proposed treatment plan. As I’ve learned in recent years there are three main types of objections we as dentists will hear, and ways we can help overcome them..

Objections To Treatment Photo

On this episode of the Business of Dentistry podcast, I’m elaborating on these three areas of objection, including examples and solutions for each category. By changing your perspective and viewing the situation from the patient’s viewpoint you can take your dental practice to the next level!

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The first objection we need to overcome is time. We all have busy schedules, and your patients are no different. Often your timeframe for treatment may be inconvenient for your patient. Perhaps they expect immediate results, or their availability does not correspond with your office hours.

I suggest addressing this concern by specifically laying out all the details for your patient, and trying to accommodate them as much as possible. If you can explain the long-term value of their dentistry work, and how you will make each appointment as productive and efficient as possible your patients will feel reassured.

The second objection is fear, which I think we are all aware of. Many patients have a fear of dental work, whether it be a learned behavior, or because of a negative experience in the past.

If you can learn how to manage their fear and understand where they’re coming from, you will gain respect and trust. I believe that as dental professionals we can become desensitized to patients’ fear because we are exposed to it on a daily basis. But if your patient seems fearful listen to them and address their exact concerns. This might mean calming their fear, or it could mean referring them to another dentist.

Money is another objection that many patients have and is the third one we will talk about. Some of your patients may not have the means to pay for your service, or they might not see the value in what you’re providing. Another possibility is that they are overestimating the cost of treatment.

Address this concern by providing the amount for their treatment. If your patient knows the cost upfront, they will be more likely to make necessary arrangements. Another option is to provide payment options, but I do not recommend in-office financing. I also think it’s important to explain the value you’re providing, whether that means anticipating what can happen to their teeth if they delay treatment, or how much they will have to pay down the road if they forgo treatment.

By taking a look at these three areas from your patients’ perspective you will be better qualified to offer solutions and provide them with reassurance. For more about addressing patient concerns listen in to this episode of the Business of Dentistry Podcast!

Tweetable: “We need to focus on the value and the benefits.”

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Dr. Bruce Ouellette
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3 Hats Of A Private Practice Dentist

Episode 001

Have you ever dreaded going into your own office or felt burnt out by your practice? A few years ago that is exactly how I was feeling.

On today’s episode I’ll be sharing how I overcame burn out by understanding the three hats concept, and the specific actions I took as a result. I’ll also share with you this week’s for-action item, a concept I’ll be using in every episode of this show. Listen in for all of that and more on this inaugural episode of the Business Dentistry podcast.

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It wasn’t that long ago I used to dread coming into the office. It didn’t matter what was on my schedule for the day because I simply wasn’t excited about my practice anymore. I was frustrated and nearly burnt out.

But then I started talking to my colleagues about what I was going through and one of them explained a concept to me he called “The 3 Hats”. He told me as dentists in private practice for ourselves we wear any one of these three different hats throughout our day. And when we are in one hat and have to make a decision using tools from another hat we become frustrated, even anxious and it often leads to burn out.

To understand how to avoid burn out it’s important to know what these three different hats are and why we wear each of them at different times.

1. The Technician.
The first hat is the hat of the technician. When you’re wearing the hat of the technician you are a dentist and are doing the actual work of dentistry. This hat is where most of us are comfortable because we invested so much time and energy into learning the practice of dentistry.

2. The Manager.
The manager hat runs the operational side of the practice. You’re wearing this hat when you are asking and answering questions like: What is our budget? How do we contain costs? What is our schedule this week?

This hat also maintains supplies and customer relationship/customer service. Even if you have an office manager you can slip into this hat when you’re asked about or thinking about anything related to any of the day to day aspects of your practice.

3. The Practice Owner/CEO.
The CEO hat is what you wear when you’re thinking of the big picture of your practice. Do you want multiple locations? Do you want associates or do you want a solo practice? Any time you are taking a 50,000 foot view and planning for the future you are wearing your CEO hat.

As you can judge for yourself all of these hats are necessary. Conflicts and frustrations arise when we are in one hat, say for example the hat of the technician, and someone asks you a question related to the hat of the manager.

This happened to me often: I would be going into see a patient and one of my staff members would ask me if we should reorder some supplies. I would give them an answer but it would take me out of the role of the technician and into manager mode for a few minutes.

I noticed that even after I answered the question and was seeing the patient my mind would still wander back to the answer I gave; I’d be distracted and not fully present with my patient. If I wasn’t asked a question on my way in to see a patient I would be fully present with them. Since I wanted to be fully there for my patients I found this frustrating.

After learning about these different hats I talked to my staff about when to ask manager-type questions. Now they only approach me when they know I’m working on administrative tasks, or am not on my way into seeing a client! It works better for everyone on staff and for our patients.

I give a few more real-life examples like that one on today’s episode as well as your for-action item! I’d love your input after you listen, this show is here for you so I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think after you listen in on this edition of Business Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Switching hats can cause friction and other issues.”

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