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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.