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

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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
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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.”

Episode Resources

Global Rich List web site
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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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