Patient Referrals – Grow Your Dental Practice

Marketing your dental practice can be time-consuming and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the resources you already have – patient referrals.

Existing patients will always recommend a dental practice they love to their family, friends, and co-workers. Still, the key is to make certain all of your existing patients are happy and satisfied for them to do this for you and your practice.

PATIENT REFERRALS – GIVE THANKS

Always let your patients know how much you appreciate them and reward them for their patient referrals. Place yourself in the shoes of a brand new patient; what are some things you would look for in a dental practice that you were visiting for the very first time?

THE WAITING ROOM

Start with the waiting area; this should be an inviting, peaceful area. Talk with some of your existing patients and see what they would change about the waiting room. Remember, the waiting room is the first impression of your dental practice. The purpose of an inviting, peaceful waiting room is not to keep your patients waiting.

BE ON TIME

Make it your number one goal to always see patients at the time of their scheduled appointment. Patients should never wait for more than 10 minutes.

GET TO KNOW YOUR PATIENTS

When seeing a patient for the first time, always introduce yourself and ask them questions to get to know them. For example: Do you have any big plans this weekend? Never get too personal at a first meeting; keep it simple and let the patient open up to you. This will allow you to feel the patient out and see how much they want to talk or not. Some patients will want to get the appointment over with and want nothing to do with “small talk.” Learn to read your patients, as every patient is different.

ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS

Make sure you never make your patients feel stupid or uncomfortable. There is no such thing as a silly question. Try your best not to call your patients out. About 50% of your patients will lie about flossing, so if the patient says they floss and you can tell they do not, then explain some tips to floss more accurately. Treat every patient the way you would want to be treated. Every patient should feel like the most crucial person in your office. If you and your staff are successful in making all of your existing patients 100% happy, then this will be your number one recourse for inexpensive marketing for your dental practice.

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Routine Appointments – The Key to Client Retention

Getting your patients to schedule routine appointments is extremely important to make your dental office successful. Having a scheduling system that flows smoothly is the key to patient satisfaction and building revenue.

SEPARATE ADMIN OFFICE HOURS FROM PROCEDURE HOURS

No matter the office’s size, the Doctor must set several hours each week he or she would like to see patients. This time is separate from office hours; this is strictly seeing and working on patients. Once the hours are determined, the Doctor can decide how to staff the office to ensure each patient is taken care of promptly. Never double-book your patients. Each patient deserves your undivided attention; this makes the patient feel very comfortable in an uncomfortable setting. If you see a new patient for the first time, allow a little more time in your schedule for them. It’s important to explain everything in detail to brand new patients; this will keep them coming back.

ORGANIZE AND APPOINT YOUR STAFF

Try and organize your day by patient type/procedure type. For example, if you have your regular patients who need a simple cleaning, schedule them in the mornings to create easy patient flow, and schedule patients who need procedures done later. Dedicate one person or a scheduling team to make appointments, avoid just any employee having the capability to schedule appointments; this will reduce scheduling conflicts.

EDUCATE YOUR STAFF

Make your staff aware of the importance of getting your patients to schedule routine appointments. Having good patient flow creates good revenue, which is what pays the employees’ salaries. Never let a patient leave your office without scheduling their next appointment, whether it’s a cleaning or a crown/bridge seat.

REMIND YOUR PATIENTS OF THEIR ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS

Cleanings are scheduled every six months, which is a long time in your patient’s busy life, so create a system to mail a postcard one month before the patient’s appointment and then give a courtesy call the week of the appointment. Your patients will love you doing the work for them. If your office follows these strategies, you can quickly get your patients to schedule routine appointments and increase office flow and revenue.

Flossing – Show Your Dental Patients How

Most patients will either find excuses not to start flossing their teeth or see it as a very inconvenient process. Most dentists like to think this is a part of everyone’s morning and nightly routines, but this is usually pushed aside. Most dentists would say there are convenient ways to floss to address any excuse your patients might have. Some patients will only floss right before their dentist appointment and think that is sufficient to prove to their dentist that they do floss – Wrong!

A recent survey found that only 49% of Americans floss daily, and 10% never floss. This statistic is very disappointing to dentists since they believe that flossing is more important than brushing.

Flossing is the number one way to help prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss. The number one excuse why your patients do not floss is because they think that the only time you need to floss is if you feel like there is food stuck in between your teeth, this is not true. The main reason you floss is to remove plaque, which causes tooth decay, inflamed gums, periodontal disease, and eventually, tooth loss.

A lot of patients will claim that they do not know how to floss. Make it part of your patient’s dental exam to show them how to floss their teeth appropriately. Just getting the floss in between the teeth is not the key; you must follow the teeth’ contours and form a C shape once the floss reaches the gum. Do not ignore your back molars; this is where most decay occurs. Daily flossing your teeth will not only give you a beautiful smile but will also help prevent much more serious diseases, some of which can be life-threatening.

Routine Appointments – The Key To Patient Retention

Getting your patients to schedule routine appointments is extremely important to make your dental office successful. Having a scheduling system that flows smoothly is the key to patient satisfaction and building revenue.

Separate Admin Office Hours From Procedure Hours

No matter the office’s size, the Doctor must set several hours each week he or she would like to see patients. This time is separate from office hours; this is strictly seeing and working on patients. Once the hours are determined, the Doctor can decide how to staff the office to ensure each patient is taken care of promptly. Never double-book your patients. Each patient deserves your undivided attention; this makes the patient feel very comfortable in an uncomfortable setting. If you see a new patient for the first time, allow a little more time in your schedule for them. It’s important to explain everything in detail to brand new patients; this will keep them coming back.

Organize and Appoint Your Staff

Try and organize your day by patient type/procedure type. For example, if you have your regular patients who need a simple cleaning, schedule them in the mornings to create easy patient flow, and schedule patients who need procedures done later. Dedicate one person or a scheduling team to make appointments, avoid just any employee having the capability to schedule appointments; this will reduce scheduling conflicts.

Educate Your Staff

Make your staff aware of the importance of getting your patients to schedule routine appointments. Having good patient flow creates good revenue, which is what pays the employees’ salaries. Never let a patient leave your office without scheduling their next appointment, whether it’s a cleaning or a crown/bridge seat.

Remind Your Patients Of Their Routine Appointments

Cleanings are scheduled every six months, which is a long time in your patient’s busy life, so create a system to mail a postcard one month before the patient’s appointment and then give a courtesy call the week of the appointment. Your patients will love you doing the work for them. If your office follows these strategies, you can quickly get your patients to schedule routine appointments and increase office flow and revenue.

Patient Referrals – Grow Your Dental Practice

Marketing your dental practice can be time-consuming and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the resources you already have – patient referrals.

Existing patients will always recommend a dental practice they love to their family, friends, and co-workers. Still, the key is to make certain all of your existing patients are happy and satisfied for them to do this for you and your practice.

Patient Referrals – Give Thanks

Always let your patients know how much you appreciate them and reward them for their patient referrals. Place yourself in the shoes of a brand new patient; what are some things you would look for in a dental practice that you were visiting for the very first time?

The Waiting Room

Start with the waiting area; this should be an inviting, peaceful area. Talk with some of your existing patients and see what they would change about the waiting room. Remember, the waiting room is the first impression of your dental practice. The purpose of an inviting, peaceful waiting room is not to keep your patients waiting.

Be On Time

Make it your number one goal to always see patients at the time of their scheduled appointment. Patients should never wait for more than 10 minutes.

Get To Know Your Patients

When seeing a patient for the first time, always introduce yourself and ask them questions to get to know them. For example: Do you have any big plans this weekend? Never get too personal at a first meeting; keep it simple and let the patient open up to you. This will allow you to feel the patient out and see how much they want to talk or not. Some patients will want to get the appointment over with and want nothing to do with “small talk.” Learn to read your patients, as every patient is different.

Answer Their Questions

Make sure you never make your patients feel stupid or uncomfortable. There is no such thing as a silly question. Try your best not to call your patients out. About 50% of your patients will lie about flossing, so if the patient says they floss and you can tell they do not, then explain some tips to floss more accurately. Treat every patient the way you would want to be treated. Every patient should feel like the most crucial person in your office. If you and your staff are successful in making all of your existing patients 100% happy, then this will be your number one recourse for inexpensive marketing for your dental practice.

10 Dental Lies That Need To Stop in 2021

As humans, we tend to believe things that are not necessarily true because they fit our view of the world. Even one dental lie or innocent self-deceptions may seem harmless but can be very costly to professional practice in time, money, and satisfaction. As advisors to dentists, we have found the following to be the most common “lies” dentists tell themselves:

Dental Lie #1. “I am a doctor, not a business owner. Success is guaranteed.”

Many dentists struggle with the challenges of owning a business. Some will proudly tell you that they didn’t become a dentist to profit, but rather to help people treat dental diseases. Being a financially successful dentist and being a good doctor is not mutually exclusive. To be there to treat your patients, you or your employer must make a profit. In today’s world, you must devote time to the business side of your practice.

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Dental Lie #2. “Budgets are a waste of time. I check whether I’m doing better than last year.”

Just the sound of the word “budget” sounds confining and restrictive. We all want the freedom to spend as we please. Ironically, when budgeting is proactive, the process “frees

up” money that tends to get wasted. Budgets provide the dentist with three significant benefits:

  • Budgets set revenue and expense goals. Studies have shown that people are more likely to accomplish written goals than those that are not.
  • Budgets ensure the efficient use of resources. Setting and reaching revenue goals ensures that cash is available to meet all obligations. Expenditure goals ensure that resources are directed toward those activities that will move the practice forward toward a well-defined goal. Finally, a dentist is less likely to impulse buy because expenditures have already been budgeted. 
  • The budgeting process helps the dentist internalize the practice goals, resulting in better practice management decisions.

Depending upon last year’s numbers, managing one’s practice is like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror. Start budgeting and experience freedom.

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Dental Lie #3. Scheduling for production is all about money.

One of the most dramatic improvements you can bring to your practice is to learn to schedule for productivity. Often, practices confuse being busy with being productive. Scheduling for productivity is about time management. A sound scheduling system maximizes the efficient use of both doctor and staff time. Done well, scheduling can reduce patient’s and staff’s stress, improve patient satisfaction, and reduce the time a patient will need to spend in your chair. A few dollars spent with a qualified consultant can pay big dividends.

“One of the important lessons doctors must learn is that each and every one of their staff contributes to their success or failure. […] Being appreciated is one of the top reasons employees continue to work for a particular employer.”

Dental Lie #4. “I have more important things to do than plan my equipment purchases. I can wait until it wears out and then buy what’s currently “hot” at the dental convention.”

Planning equipment purchases seems like a mundane task. However, the money saved by doing this planning can be pretty exciting. Most practitioners finance the purchase of dental equipment if the amounts are significant. However, by planning and saving rather than borrowing, the results are positive and dramatic. If a dentist expects to acquire $50,000 of dental equipment in three years, merely setting aside the funds in an equipment reserve account can save $8,200 (assumptions are 5% rate of return, 40% tax bracket, 7.5% interest rate, 60-month repayment term for equipment loan). Money-saving ideas occur when the dentist develops and works a good business plan in partnership with an accountant that understands the dental industry.

Dental Lie #5. “Staff is all overpaid and don’t appreciate their job – or me.”

One of the most critical lessons doctors must learn is that every one of their staff contributes to their success or failure. Studies have shown that 68% of patients that leave your practice do so because of something your team has done. It would help if you created a culture where everyone works towards practice success. Being appreciated is one of the top reasons employees continue to work for a particular employer.

Dental Lie #6. “Leadership training doesn’t apply to our practice. We’re all professionals and know what we’re doing.”

How would you feel if you were boarding a flight to London and overheard the pilot say, “We don’t need a flight plan today; we can just ‘wing’ it?” Most people would feel nervous and uncomfortable because they want the pilot to know the best course, be aware of bad weather, and anticipate air traffic conflicts, so they arrive at their destination safely and on time. Likewise, patients and staff want the dentist to have a clear idea of where the practice is going and assume a leadership role. When everyone is pulling in the same direction, astounding results occur. If each person on your dental team cannot be articulate and enthusiastically support the practice goals, the practice has a leadership vacuum. You are the person responsible for filling that vacuum. Improve your leadership skills, and your practice performance will soar.

“Waiting even five years [to plan for your retirement] can cost you a large amount of money, and putting off funding retirement indefinitely will most assuredly put your ability to retire at all in jeopardy.”

Dental Lie #7. “Staff meetings are a waste of time and money.”

One of the symptoms we see when a practice is struggling is the lack of communication between doctors and staff. Well-run practices understand the value of staff meetings. Staff meetings take several forms. Each day should start with a morning huddle to review the day about to take place. At least monthly, the practice should set aside a couple of hours for a full staff meeting. The staff meeting is an excellent opportunity for training, problem-solving, reviewing systems, and holding team members accountable.

Dental Lie #8. “Our practice is not experiencing any problems. We can afford to coast.”

After working hard to build a practice, a dentist must guard against complacency. Little thoughts creep into one’s mind, “Everything is going well. I think I’ll coast for a while. I deserve it.” In times past, people manufactured horse-drawn carriages, steam locomotives, slide rules, and typewriters. Today all of those once-useful products are obsolete. We sometimes forget that the world is continuously changing, and if we are not constantly changing, our dental practices become outdated. If your practice looks the same as it did three years ago, it is likely a red flag warning you to innovate, upgrade, and improve. A dynamic business plan will include innovation and improvements. Create or update your project, and use it as a daily guide.

Dental Lie #9. “My bookkeeper will never embezzle my company.”

Of course, we trust our employees; we would never hire a person we don’t trust. Trust is crucial to running a successful business. As prudent business owners, we always insist on honesty and ethical behavior. Despite the best intentions, a substantial number of dental practices (15% to 20% by most estimates) unfortunately experience fraud or embezzlement. To protect business assets while simultaneously maintaining high employee morale through mutual trust and support, a dentist must implement and maintain “internal controls.” Internal controls are self-checking systems that frequently alert the owner whether business assets are handled responsibly. Internal controls can include a record like a day sheet, a procedure such as checking daily production totals against the schedule, or a policy such as “the dentist must always sign checks.” If you are unsure whether your internal controls are protecting you, contact your dental CPA.

Dental Lie #10. “I can wait until later to start funding my retirement.”

We believe the first day a dentist should begin planning for their retirement is the first day of practice. Developing the discipline to save for retirement early is the best way to meet your retirement goals. Consider five different dentists who contribute $25,000 per year towards retirement but started at different ages (35, 40, 45, 50, and 55) and earn a rate of return of 6%. The dentist who begins at age 35 contributes a total of $750,000 and accumulates $1,976,455. The dentist who waits until age 40 only earns $1,371,613. Waiting to start at age 45 only allows the dentist to collect $919,640. Only waiting until age 50 results in only $581,899, and $329,520 if you wait until age 55. Waiting even five years can cost you a large amount of money, and putting off funding retirement will most assuredly put your ability to retire at all in jeopardy. There are many qualified plan choices for dentists today that provide flexibility and tax advantages. Your dental CPA can help you choose the best plan for you to meet your retirement planning goals.

Dental Practice 2021 Guide – Start With Success

Starting a dental practice can be scary and intimidating for most graduates right out of college. Creating your own dental practice can come with costly mistakes if your business plan isn’t in order. To avoid these expensive mistakes, you must first research, plan, and prepare yourself for success.

Prepare yourself

What will it take to run your own business and be your own boss successfully? Meet with as many current practice owners as possible. Try and get both good and bad information. Talk with successful practice owners and those who have failed. Collect as much information as you can to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Be prepared to meet many people when opening your dental practice. Meeting these people will help you build a network of advisors that can be trusted.

Dental practice financing

Just like purchasing your own home, there will be plenty of banks out there willing to loan you money. Pay attention to interest rates; you want to avoid high-interest rates if at all possible and lock in at a fixed rate. Stick to a 10-15 year loan, and remember you can always pay more towards your loan if your business is doing well.

Create a successful business plan

Familiarize yourself with the dental business. Your network can and will help you save time and money. Get yourself involved in dental seminars and magazines that will have essential information about the dental industry. Always keep up on your research even if you have already created a successful dental practice.

Budget

Managing your budget when first opening your dental practice can be challenging. Apply for a little more on your loan to cover equipment expenses. Once your practice is ready for success, hire someone that can take care of your budget/costs for you. Seeing patients full time and budgeting your expenses is not the right mix.

Set goals for yourself when opening your dental practice, stay focused, and have patience. Don’t expect to be successful overnight, be prepared to spend a lot of time, money, and energy. As long as you have your financing to design a successful business plan and budget, you will succeed in opening your dental practice.

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