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Practice Administration

Advice from Dr. Aldridge: Building Your Practice (Part II)

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This is the second in a two-part post by dentist and CEO/President of Aldridge & Associates, Dr. Duke Aldridge. 
  • Is your Dental Practice presentable? How does your practice look from the outside? Is your signage visible? Do you have adequate parking? Is your carpet and/or hard surface floors clean? Are your ceiling tiles stained? Patients who are seeking a new dentist are addressing all of these issues and will not hesitate to leave their reviews on Yelp of Google for all to see. Maybe you could ask each employee to review your office and make a list of deficiencies. 
  • Have you reviewed your reimbursement with your PPO’s? Is it time to look at your fee schedule and renegotiate your fees? This should be done on a yearly basis at a minimum. You owe it to yourself to know what is happening in your business.
  • Cash is KING! Cash flow is critical to your success. Most accounts receivable are representative of the practice philosophy. Third party, 3rd financing (CareCredit, 0% interest rates on credit cards, etc.) should become an option for all patients. The economic effects of 2008 have changed the way that dentist should do business if they expect to realize the benefits of their hard earned education and labor.
  • Eliminate misunderstandings with a payment policy that is easy to understand and provides clarity. New patients will appreciate your thoroughness by knowing what is expected of them before commencing treatment.
  • Does your schedule allow time for dental emergencies? Each morning you and your staff (morning huddles) should evaluate your schedule and find time to accommodate “emergencies.” Your patients will not hesitate to tell their friends about your ability to accommodate their emergency needs.
  • Are you keeping track of your external marketing with a Call Tracking Dashboard? If not, you are wasting money. Call tracking is an absolute necessity to evaluate the success of all external marketing efforts. 
  • Dental hygiene should account for at least 25% of your practice production. A successful soft tissue program is critical to the success of your dental hygiene program / practice.
  • Periodontal disease is one of the most “under-diagnosed” infections in medicine. The American Academy of Periodontology warns of a significant public concern that 47.2% of all patients 30 years and older have periodontitis A comprehensive exam should always include 6-point probing of all adult patients. While it may take a few extra minutes your treatment plan will be more accurate and your profits will soar. Each and every patient deserves the best dental care available.
  • The General Dentist average dental supplies should account for approximately 3-5% of their collections. When preparing your monthly / annual budgets you should allow for this expense. 
  • Do you know what is in your inventory? Take the time to spend a couple of hours and look inside every cabinet. How about going in on Saturday and making a list of extra supplies/consumables? Your staff will be surprised and you will too! It is amazing what you may discover. If you have extra materials then use them so you don’t have money sitting on your shelves. It is your business. Donate it if you don’t use it anymore. 
  •  We have all heard of scripting and how important it is. Is your staff prepared to answer your patient’s questions while developing a positive rapport and promoting your business? Is everybody on the same page? Does your office role-play at monthly meetings? A well trained staff can handle any question with an enthusiastic and confident smile. 
  • The patient hand-off from the dental assistant to the front office (and vice versa) is one of the main transactions in your practice. This is another example of where communication is critical. Does your dental assistant walk the patient to the front desk and explain today’s procedures, recommended next dental treatment and thoroughly explain what was done chairside? Is the hand-off flawless of do they fumble the ball? A highly trained and motivated staff will enthusiastically welcome or dismiss the patient while creating value to your office.  


Advice from Dr. Aldridge: Building Your Practice (Part I)

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This is the first in a two-part post highlighting tips from dentist and CEO of Aldridge and Associates, Dr. Duke Aldridge. 

  • When you answer the telephone you have an opportunity to leave a wonderful impression and establish a long-term relationship.  The tone of your voice and your enthusiasm are key to this relationship.   
  • Smile before you answer each and every telephone call. Your confidence, enthusiasm and genuine concern for each and every patient will be heartfelt.   
  • It is critical to track all of your external marketing efforts (newspaper, direct mail, radio, TV, newsletters, website, etc.) so you can determine your true ROI (return on investment). Be careful with your new patient “acquisition cost” as most marketing companies will fail to include your overhead leading to inaccurate information. Your external marketing budget should be 3-6% of your annual production.   
  • Internal Marketing is the key to building your practice. Patients expect “excellence” in all areas and anything short thereof will fail to provide optimal results for your business. 
  • Is it truly realistic to see 4 patients a day as opposed to 20 and be more profitable? Indeed it is! Work smarter not harder. Our full proof scheduling system, “Scheduling for Your Success” will help you become a more comprehensive clinician with less stress and substantial profits.   
  • The average dental staff member is employed for less than 2 years. Your staff is a reflection of you. Most dentist hire the first or second person to apply because they need an employee (dental assistance/front office) to fill the space. Employee screening, job descriptions and comprehensive training for all employees will help alleviate constant “turn-over,” stress and sleepless nights for the owner. If you don’t take the time to train and develop a great team then your patients, family and colleagues will pay the price.   
  • Communication is the number one breakdown in a dental office or should we say “the lack thereof.” If your staff doesn’t communicate with you and each other how can you possibly convey a consistent and cohesive message to your patients? Morning huddles and regular staff meetings are a great opportunity for team members to hone their skills and enhance their communication techniques. If you want to develop excellence in your business skillsets start with a monthly staff meaning that includes input from all personnel. Morning huddles should be mandatory.   
  • Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image in the consumer’s mind. Whether you are a small operation with 4 employees or a large group practice, branding helps identify your business and separates you from others. In an industry which has become so competitive your “Brand” and “Value Proposition” should be apparent to every potential patient.  
  • Do you know your “magic” number? Profit and Loss (aka income statements) statements are a necessary in any business including a dental practice. The only way to know if your dental practice is truly profitable is by preparing this statement on a monthly basis. This “business tool” will help keep you on track and reach your financial goals and objective.    
  • You have your phones ringing, now what? Your front office personnel must CONVERT the call to an appointment or you have lost money and business! It is critical your staff learns how to convert potential patients into real patients. There is no substitute for professional training. A poorly handled telephone call will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars and lost business.   
  • Internal marketing should be your #1 source of referrals. As we all know the best complement our patients can give us is to refer a family member or friend. Do you just expect your patients to share their dental experiences with others or do you ask them to? You and your staff should be trained to ask for referrals. Especially after the patient makes a favorable comment about your services or personnel.   
  • Successful marketing (both internal and external) has become a key component to building any dental practice. The ability to track your telephone calls, website visits and other media types has never been better. Each and every business should address employing a “Marketing Coordinator” (2 days per week) who is responsible for all internal and external marketing efforts.   
  • The dentist time is a precious commodity and it should be spent generating income for your business. Learn to train your team and let them do their job. If you feel you cannot trust your team then you might have the wrong personnel or maybe you haven’t spent adequate time training them? Continuous training, role-playing and scripting are paramount to a successful dental practice. The dentist is required to attend and complete a number of Continuing Education Courses each year. Why is the staff any different? In-house training on a monthly basis can be very enjoyable and beneficial to all team members.