Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Hitting your Head on a Wall Hurts, Why Don’t You Stop? Talk to an Expert, it’s Free!


So, What’s your pain? Everybody has some, it may be in the home or the garden but it’s there and it eats at you everyday. For most of you reading this rant the pain is at work. A private dental practice is more than just a business, it is a healthcare business that needs constant attention and flexibility for change. It needs your protection!

I Need More Patients … I hear this in almost every office I work with. Some of my clients talk about buying another practice to increase volume. But, unless your are merging the patients into your current location it may not be the smartest idea. Why spend money on another headache when you can invest in what you already have. This is a new world of healthcare and patients have more choices now than ever before. Why should they choose you? Being a nice person is not enough.

Insurance is Starting to Kill Me … Get used to this one because this is as good as it gets. Survival of the average dental practice will depend on patient insurance management. Patients don’t understand that dental insurance is not like their medical coverage. Having a clear vision of a patients dental coverage and communicating it with the patient will allow the maximum benefit of resources for both the patient and the practice. In 2017, PPO Management seminars can be very informative and you should attend a few with your office manager.

Employer / Employee Rights and Management … When I had my company this was the area of management I disliked the most. Dozens of personalities and issues all confined within departmental settings. Battles flaring up almost everyday and you can’t just tell someone to go home. Law and regulations make it very easy to be sued for wrongful termination and don’t think that your records or good intentions will save you because there will always be a settlement to stop the bleeding. Employee record keeping is essential and needs to be updated annually. You don’t know what you don’t know. I have very few clients that address this “time bomb” issue correctly.

Disaster Recovery … What do you do when you arrive at work and 5 fire engines are surrounding your building? What do you do when a partner or key team member becomes ill or dies? What does your family do tomorrow if you get crunched by a cement mixer on your way home tonight? You need to have a plan. You need to have a current evaluation of your practice with written instructions on how to execute a recovery plan and who should oversee it if you can’t.

Making Payroll … This is what makes the difference between an employer and employee. This is why you get to drive the nice car and take nice vacations. This is also what keeps you up at night . How many of us held back on cashing our checks because cash flow was slow. If you have never sat in this chair you can’t understand.

Fix the Pain! … In 2017 you can’t run a dental practice on your own. You need to consult with experts that stay current on changes in law and regulation. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. It’s time to make a plan.

Henry Schein 2GKASTooth2


January 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OK, One More Time! When Everyone Goes Right, You Go Left!

On Thanksgiving morning last year, the first thing I noticed when I walk down the driveway to get the morning paper was that there were two separate deliveries. This blog post, or news letter to some of you, is about marketing effectiveness. What are people looking at?

OK, back to the deliveries. Why were there two? There were two because of all the printed advertisements,. Why? Because human nature will trump technology, at least for the next few years. That is a bold statement coming form an old guy like me, but if you look at the reality and not the hype you may agree.go-it-alone

How many e-mails do you get per day? 20, 50, 100? How many do you read? How many do you delete? But, when you get home and look at the mail, you look at every single piece before throwing them on the table to sit there looking at you for a few days. Hey, we are all human and share the same traits, we don’t want to physically through something away. Marketing is all about Name Recognition and reputation. How you deliver your message and wrap the package will determine the effectiveness of your program. Also, never advertise discount prices, it does not attract quality patients and effects your PPO reimbursement.

The Web Page … Yes, everybody needs one. Your presence on the web gives a patient the chance to meet you and feel comfortable before they request an appointment. What the patient sees on the web needs to compliment what they hear when they call and see when they walk into your office. Telephone communication skills set the first level of comfort for a patient. Office décor needs to meet all patient expectations to achieve the next level of comfort.   Patient comfort is the first phase in treatment plan acceptance. The real question is how to get people to look at your page. What makes you different from the other 25 offices they see on a Google search.

The Marketing Plan … Marketing budgets should be set at 5% of the previous year’s collections. A marketing plan consists of several programs working together and complimenting each other. Printed advertisements are very effective in creating Name Recognition. Attractive signage (if possible) and coordinated mailings all contribute to establishing your brand. Yes, your Brand! Marketing is all about branding yourself (Name Recognition).

Selective Mailing … The U.S. Postal Service offers selective neighborhood delivery. With this service you can target specific areas that are local to your office. The cost of printing and mailing varies on the number of addresses but sending oversized postcards, every 3 months maybe one of the most effective ways to drive the public to your website. However, don’t think that the phone will ring off the hook, a successful rate of return is only about 3%. This is a marathon not a sprint. But if 1000 mailings done 4 times per year (4000 pc) at a cost of $6k generate 30 phone calls, well, you do the math. The lower range of the average patient value in northern NJ is $700.00/year. If all your marketing is coordinated correctly and the office’s patient communication skills are good, you could realize $21k in revenue for the $6k investment for the first year.

When everyone goes right, you go left … Don’t be afraid to be different. If you look like everyone else you will be lost in the pack. Your message needs to be communicated in the areas your competitors don’t go. Everyone follows the cyber path but how many engage in the old methods? The general public still checks the mail box and they are you target! You want that postcard sitting on the dinning room table for a couple of days. Just a thought.


January 8, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment