Tips to Boost Productivity

Whether it’s you or your team, a lack of productivity makes it difficult to feel organized. This results in frustration, confusion, and can make a difference in your bottom line as well. So how can you establish patterns of productivity for everyone on your team? What are some practical examples to help you be more productive? This blog post will address these questions, so read on.

ONE THING AT A TIME

One of the easiest ways to derail productivity is to feel overwhelmed by multiple tasks on your to-do list. To counteract this, work on one task at a time without thinking about the other things you need to. This helps to keep you focused and less likely to make errors along the way.

TAKE BREAKS

Have you ever found yourself frustrated with a task and attempting to finish it over and over without success? Sometimes the answer is stepping away from your task for a few minutes and coming back to it later. This may seem simple, but taking breaks helps clear your mind. Whether it’s data entry or file organization, walking around the office for a few minutes can give you new eyes to finish your task. Breaks are especially important for more menial and repetitive tasks where it’s easy to overlook things.

PRIORITIZE

One of the reasons a large to-do list is overwhelming is because it can seem all over the place. If you and your team organize your tasks by priority, it can help make sense out of chaos. For example, maybe you want to tackle tasks with specific deadlines first, like bills and payroll. Other “less important” tasks – like the lightbulb in the waiting room that needs to be replaced — can be lower on the priority list for now. The key is not forgetting about them!

“WORST THINGS FIRST”

Some people find a “worst things first” approach to be helpful. Is there a task you need to do but really don’t enjoy? Tackle it first! This is especially true for things like decluttering office space and organizing patient records and other more “long-term” goals. You will feel a sense of accomplishment by finishing the more dreaded task first – not to mention a sense of relief.

ELIMINATE EXCUSES

Finally, the key to getting and staying productive is getting in the habit of eliminating excuses. Tempted to do something “later” that can be tackled right now? Don’t give it to those thoughts! If a task takes less than a few minutes, do it right away. While this can’t apply to every scenario, getting rid of excuses will go a long way to boosting your productivity, both individually and as a team.

For more productivity and dental practice management tips, pick up one of Dr. Coughlin’s books or email kcoughlin@ascentdentalcare.com.

How to Train Your Team Well

Your team plays an integral role in how well your dental practice runs. This might seem obvious, but if your team knows what’s expected of them and how to perform their tasks well, the more organized your practice is. An organized practice keeps everything flowing optimally for both your team and patients.

But what about new hires? How can you bring them up to speed while including them in the routine? In this post, we’ll look at four tips to train new staff well to get and keep them motivated and encouraged.

TIP #1: PAIR UP

Do ou have a seasoned member on your team? Pair your new hire with them for a few days! This is especially helpful since they will be working in the same systems, but works best if you have a larger team. Have your new hire spend time shadowing one of the more experienced staff members so they can have a better understanding of what to expect daily. Another benefit to pairing a new hire up with someone is that it helps establish rapport and connections from the beginning instead of waiting several weeks or months.

TIP #2: ALL SYSTEMS GO

With the rise of technology comes several different systems. In turn, these systems require proper access and login credentials. Depending on the job title, some positions rely more heavily on these systems than others. However, making sure a new hire has access to the necessary systems is a practical and time-saving tip to follow. Consider dedicating a new hire’s first day to helping them get set up and logged in to all systems. A small step like this can help a new hire feel prepared and included.

TIP #3: COMMUNICATE REGULARLY

Communication is especially important when it comes to onboarding a new member onto your team. For the first few weeks, be intentional about meeting with your new hire to see how they are adjusting. Even if you can’t do it every day, try and check in at least once a week as your new employee gets settled in. You are learning the ropes of working with each other, so use this time to get to know them and share about yourself and the team.

TIP #4: TAKE IT SLOW

Finally, remember to give your new hire a chance to learn without giving them too much responsibility at first. There is a learning curve to any new work environment, even if someone has spent decades in the industry elsewhere. Give your new employee the chance to ask questions and encourage more experienced team members to come alongside them as they do.

For more practical tips on how to manage the hiring and training process in your dental practice, pick up Dr. Coughlin’s book Just Enough to Be Great in Your Dental Profession: Processes and Procedures for Success.

Which Practice Management Software Should You Choose?

In today’s technological world, it’s not surprising that there are myriad options for dental platforms. Advancement in technology has made it simpler to run, manage and access virtually anything about your dental practice. Most software options popular with dental practices include cloud-based features, making it easy to access charts, appointment scheduling, and billing information from anywhere with an Internet connection. Thinking of trying out or upgrading to a new technology platform for your dental practice? Here are some features you should consider when evaluating which platform to use.

PATIENT RECORD MANAGEMENT

For any dental practice, the patient experience is vital. This is why choosing a platform that is easy to use, accessible and seamless for the patient is so important. The easier your patients can access dental records, scheduling appointments, etc, the more engaged they are likely to be. This kind of customer satisfaction affects not only your reputation but also your bottom line. By focusing on your patient’s needs and experience, you can set yourself up for success both now and down the line. For an all-in-one cloud-based practice management platform, consider Denticon.

ONLINE SCHEDULING AND TELEHEALTH

Given the impact of Covid-19, telehealth has become a matter of necessity for most service-based businesses, and dental practices are no exception. Teledentistry is an option that benefits both your practice and your patients. For your patients, teledentistry offers flexibility when making appointments that might not require in-person evaluation. The option to provide remote dental care gives you the ability to see patients that otherwise may not be able to come in person. Although these services are popular during the coronavirus pandemic, consider keeping them as a service going forward to differentiate from your competition. Teledentix is an easy-to-use, HIPAA-compliant mobile and teledentistry platform option.

REVIEW GENERATION AND MARKETING TOOLS

One of the benefits of technological advancement is how easy it is to market your dental practice. Gone are the days of having to go from door to door or sending out mailers. While marketing is made simpler and easier with the use of technology on its own, a platform that generates features to promote return on investment and/or grow your practice through word of mouth can go a long way. Look for features for software platforms with automated email campaigns, reminders and prompts for patient reviews, and even SEO tips to bring traffic and potential customers to your website. As an example, Dentrix offers these options through their Practice Marketing feature.

QUESTIONS?

If you’re looking for a new dental practice software or want to learn about the benefits they can bring to your practice, now is the time. Contact Dr. Coughlin today for more information and insight on the importance of marketing, growing, and sustaining your dental practice.

Four Traits of High Employee Engagement

Whether you manage your own dental practice or work in one, you know that happy employees make an office more effective and enjoyable. The term to gauge employee satisfaction is ‘engagement’ – how much your staff participates and relates to your practice’s productivity and values. The higher your staff’s engagement, the better results both in your practice environment and on your bottom line. Read on to learn four common traits of highly engaged employees.

PRODUCTIVITY

The first important sign of a highly engaged employee is productivity. If an employee feels supported, motivated and recognized by their employer, they are likely to respond positively in the form of overall excellent performance. This includes excellent attendance, meeting and or exceeding goals and expectations, demonstrating exemplary behavior, etc. It’s easy to see why this would be a benefit to your practice, but it’s really a sign of a healthy working relationship.

ENTHUSIASM

Like productivity, highly engaged employees are enthusiastic and motivated to show up and do their work well. While some aspects of enthusiasm rely on personality, if your employees are encouraged and supported effectively, they will respond with proper motivation. Alongside motivation is discipline, and the two traits often go together. One of the main goals of an effective manager is to encourage and foster self-motivated and disciplined employees.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS

What do most effective leaders have in common? The best management teams also have many overlapping qualities present in highly engaged employees, so it’s probably obvious that team members who exemplify these attributes also make great leaders. If one of your staff demonstrates consistent attendance and top job performance, their behavior provides a great example for other employees to follow. Think about ways to reward such positive contributions to the team and see where such an employee might fit in on the leadership level. Not only does this help create a good reputation among both your clients and staff, it also helps your employees feel valued and appreciated. It’s a win-win for both of you.

COMMUNICATION

Good communication is vital to any relationship, and especially so in the workplace. Highly engaged employees demonstrate the ability and skill to communicate not only with their peers but also those in other leadership and/or other departments. Engaged employees know how to communicate what’s expected of them both personally and professionally, in addition to positively representing their workplace. If your dental practice has an environment of effective communication, your staff are likely engaged in other areas as well.

HAVE QUESTIONS?

Employee engagement plays a big role in the overall success of your dental practice. To find out more tips on how to run a successful practice, schedule a consultation with Dr. Coughlin or pick up one of his books today.

5 Characteristics of Effective Leadership

It’s no secret that the most successful teams and businesses start at the top. When it comes to establishing a dental practice that goes the distance, one of the biggest reasons is due to effective leadership. If you run a dental practice, understanding the characteristics of effective leadership can make or break the success of your practice. Read on to see what components you can implement (or continue doing!) to boost your practice’s sales and reputation.

BE AN EXAMPLE

An important characteristic of any good leader is the ability to exemplify the skills, personality and motivation that you would expect from your staff members. This means that you demonstrate an ability to work with multiple personality types and are excited and motivated to drive results for your team. As a leader, your actions and behavior are watched carefully. Keep this in mind.

ETHICS AND INTEGRITY

A similar facet of effective leadership has to do with ethics and integrity. In order to earn the respect of your staff, following ethical best practices is of utmost importance. Stand by the values you want to have in your practice. Keep your promises, as much as is possible. Remember that a team is stronger if it’s unified rather than divided by office politics, drama or even intense personality clashes. The “Golden Rule” still applies to leaders: treat others as you want to be treated.

COMMUNICATION

Communication is a vital component of any successful relationship, including the workplace. Make every effort to establish a smooth and comfortable environment among your team. Transparency can go a long way to repairing and healing conflict, especially between managers and staff members. Effective leadership involves communication about both the successes and trials facing your dental practice. Collaborate and brainstorm on solutions and ideas together rather than keeping them only to upper management. By establishing clear lines of communication, you instill trust and openness in your team, which makes it easier to come together for the common goal of working to make your practice successful.

SKILLS

The dental industry, like many others, is not stagnant. New technology develops rapidly, which requires knowledge and skills. In order to be a truly effective leader and run a successful dental practice, you need to master and possibly even edge out the skills your competitors have. This involves study, research and time outside of your work in the office, but it is worthwhile.

INVEST IN STAFF

Finally, your practice would not be successful without the hard work of your employees. Your business will do better if you invest in your staff’s career motivations and work with their own set of skills. If possible, meet with your employees regularly. Understand the ins and outs of their daily role, how it benefits the practice, and recognize your staff for the work they do. The best leader knows how to honor the people who work and support them.

GOT QUESTIONS?

For more information on what makes an effective leader in the dental industry, browse through our website or book a consultation call with Dr. Coughlin today.

How to Prevent Dental Burnout

As a dental professional, stress often is the name of the game. Long hours, emotional and physical components, and potentially adding business management as a dental practice owner all adds up to a scenario where you’re chronically tired and overwhelmed. How do you know if you’re burnout – or on the way there? Can you prevent burnout from happening in the first place? If so, how?

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Dental burnout is extremely common, with some studies stating that over 80% of dentists experience it. It’s understandable given the emotional, social, and physical demands of dentistry, not including the added stresses of running your own business if you’re a dental practice owner.

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of dental burnout:

  • Chronic fatigue and inability to wake up easily in the morning
  • Lack of motivation
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of sense of fulfilment and/or purpose

Typically, these signs of burnout start to occur for some time prior to your reaching a breaking point. With the right tools and knowledge, you can confidently navigate your dental career with support systems in place if needed.

NAVIGATE SCHEDULES

As a dentist, your work schedule is often demanding and strenuous. If you own your dental practice, there are added factors to consider, including managing cash flow, staff, etc. Whichever position you find yourself in, establishing a consistent schedule with important breaks and downtime included goes a long way to boosting your mood and sense of purpose. Socialization is vital too – even in these interesting times – so make sure you’re connecting with loved ones as much as possible. Healthy diet and exercise are beneficial as well.

ESTABLISH A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

You most likely spend more time in your office than you do at home. The environment you work in contributes greatly to your mental and even physical health, so it is important to consider workplace stresses. Is there a gossip culture? Is everyone on the same page when it comes to duties and responsibilities? Do you feel supported? Consider meeting with your office staff to brainstorm and make any changes to help relieve some of the stress you carry.

COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

Effective communication between and among your team members is vital to managing professional boundaries. Delegate administrative tasks to your staff. Share expectations of your day to day workload with your team and family members. WIth proper communications and expectations in place, burnout is significantly less likely to occur.

NEED MORE HELP?

Looking for guidance to help prevent you or your staff from dental professional burnout? Pick up a copy of Dr. Coughlin’s book Just Enough To Be Great In Your Dental Professional for practical tips on building success in the dental industry.

3 Simple Characteristics of Successful Dental Practice Owners

As an aspiring dental entrepreneur, you know that being at the top of your craft is of utmost importance. But when it comes to managing your own dental practice, your chances of achieving success increases if you possess certain personal and professional characteristics. The good thing is — all of these can be learned and practiced!

Ready to learn three simple characteristics that all successful dental practice owners have? Read on!

VISION-SHAPED AND GOAL DRIVEN

I’m sure you’ve heard the discouraging statistic that 95% of small businesses fail within a decade of first opening their doors. While that does appear to be a bleak prospect, keep in mind that by getting (and staying) informed of the common pitfalls that plague business owners, you can take active steps to avoid ending up in a precarious situation.

To that end, one important characteristic of a successful business owner is to have a specific vision and goals that go beyond just the bottom line. Think preemptively about the many details that go into effectively running a business- things like staff, payroll, accounting, and software program solutions. The ability to balance your larger goals as a dental practice owner with the seemingly smaller day-to-day operations functions can go a long way to paving the way for your success.

ASTUTE AND EFFECTIVE MARKETERS

The difference between a successful business and one that struggles is often found in the way that they approach marketing. Do you know who your target market is? Similarly, do you have an ideal client sector you want to reach? Is your practice’s marketing messaging aligned with those goals?

If you are not able to reach the right customer with the right messaging, your business can end up suffering in the end. It might not seem obvious right away, but eventually, the need to narrow in on your desired target market becomes vitally important, especially in the face of any competition.

A successful business owner knows how to market their services to their ideal clients.

HUMILITY AND WISDOM TO ASK FOR HELP 

Entrepreneurship does require a level of self-reliance, which is in and of itself an excellent trait to have if you plan on opening your own dental practice. However, no one can do everything perfectly all the time. If you want to focus on your clinical efforts, for example, you need to rely on other people and/or systems to help manage the operations, marketing and other functions necessary to make your practice successful. It can be tempting to try and do it all yourself, but humility and knowing your limits helps protect you from burn-out and also encourages confidence in the members of your team. Dental practices do not consist of only the dentist. If you want your practice to be successful, humility is a practical characteristic that benefits not only you but the whole business as well.

WANT MORE GUIDANCE?

This post has explored three very basic characteristics of successful business owners. If you want to learn about more examples or feel there are areas you know you need guidance on, contact Dr. Coughlin today. Bridge the gap between knowing what it takes to run a wildly successful dental practice and actually doing it!

 

 

How Are Dentists Compensated?

One of the biggest questions that most dentists have upon graduating with their D.M.D is whether to join a Dental Service Organization (DSO) or open their own practice. Related to this is the difference in compensation plans that are available with each option. How exactly are dentists compensated in a dental organization versus as a business owner? Which option makes the most sense for you? These are the questions we will answer today.

GENERAL COMPENSATION OUTLOOK

Many dentists need to start generating income quickly to start paying off student loans or other expenses. The good thing is that according to Payscale.com, the average base salary for a dentist ranges from $82k-$200k, not including bonuses and commissions. How your salary is determined differs based on your location and whether or not you are self-employed or an associate in an established dental service group.

DENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

As an associate at a DSO or other established practice, you are typically paid by the hour or are salaried. You can also be paid as an independent contractor, and you would be expected to track income and set aside funds for tax purposes. However, you can also get a percentage of commission based on either the ‘production’ that you work on or, most commonly, of the funds that are collected after employer discounts, costs for office overhead, etc.

For example, if you are an employee at a dental group and you have several patients that have a 20% discount through their employer, you might only be eligible to receive roughly 50% of the remaining funds after they are allocated towards administrative expenses.

SELF-EMPLOYMENT

If you plan on or already run your own dental practice, compensation will look different for you as the owner. First of all, there’s no one over you determining your hours or commission rates, so your income potential can be higher than an associate. You also have more flexibility in terms of how you prefer to be paid – ie per production or a portion of total monetary collections for rendered services – which can maximize your compensation as well. One key benefit you have as a practice owner is to carry over your business as an asset when or if you stop working with patients.

However, like any business owner, you will need to take the overall overhead of your practice into consideration before compensating yourself. In addition to setting aside the appropriate amount of your gross income for tax purposes, several factors affect how you can claim as take-home pay. These include:

• Employee wages and benefits, if applicable
• Business Insurance
• Office space rental or mortgage
• Administrative systems like payroll, accounting software, etc
• Equipment
• Marketing

Once these main considerations are taken care of, then you can think about how much it makes sense to allocate for personal compensation. This number is often based directly on your overall success as a practice.

NEED MORE INFO?

Understanding the ins and outs of how you get paid as a dentist can be a little confusing. You might also be wondering if one type of compensation plan works better for your needs than others. If you have further questions about compensation or anything else related to your dental career, give Dr. Coughlin a call at (413) 224-2659.

Should You Lease or Own Your Dental Practice Building?

If you’ve decided to own a dental practice, there are lots of things to be mindful of to be successful beyond the day to day operations. Your time, money and other resources need to be spent on marketing, effective management techniques, and bookkeeping. In addition to all of these, you also need to factor the whereabouts of the physical location of your business. And with that comes the need to think about what your plans are for your practice for both the long and short term.

Do you want to have more flexibility for the physical location of your practice? Do you have access to funds for a down payment and mortgage for your practice space, if desired? These types of questions can help you hone in on the more practical option for your business needs and goals.

And these questions lead to a very important one.

Should you own or lease the office space for your dental practice?

 

PROS OF LEASING

Leasing is essentially the same thing as renting your office space. If location is of utmost importance to you, leasing allows you to have more flexibility than owning real estate. There’s a higher likelihood of being able to find short term leases, for example, if that’s something you feel you need. In many cases, leasing gives you more options in terms of property locations. Finally, you won’t need to have a large amount of capital to invest in real estate property if you decide to lease.

 

CONS OF LEASING

If you’ve had experience with renting at all, you know that one of the biggest drawbacks is that rental rates consistently increase over time. If you’d like your dental practice to remain in the same location for the long haul, signing onto a long-term lease might not be in your best interest. You also don’t get the benefits of property ownership, namely equity value and tax advantages, if you lease your office space.

 

PROS OF OWNING

Real estate ownership offers many advantages and benefits in general, and the same is true if you want to purchase property for your dental practice.  Some of the most compelling benefits are flexibility in controlling location and any future expansion projects, the ability to build equity as you pay down the financial terms, and to eventually earn a return on your investment.

 

CONS OF OWNING

In contrast, owning your dental practice location requires a significant amount of upfront capital. As a property owner, you would also be responsible for any upkeep and maintenance, including fronting the cost for any property-related damages. These responsibilities can take away from other tasks necessary to growing and sustaining your practice,like marketing, staff management, and accounting.

The decision to lease or own your dental practice property is based on a combination of your personal and business needs. It’s good to think through all of your options with either choice.

 

WONDERING WHERE TO BEGIN?

Are you just starting out with your practice? Sign up for Dr. Coughlin’s program that details the principles of success to learn what it takes to have a successful, thriving dental practice!

Benefits to Owning a Dental Practice

The decision to open your own dental practice versus working as an associate at a larger managed organization is one that only you can make. However, if you’ve never thought about owning your own dental practice, there are benefits to it that you just can’t get as a dental associate. 

Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each option to make the best decision for you and your desired lifestyle. 

Interested in opening your own dental practice? Here are some benefits of taking that entrepreneurial step. 

 

FREEDOM TO OPERATE AS YOU WOULD LIKE

Unlike managed organizations, if you own a dental practice, you’re free to run operations as you see fit. Practically speaking, this means that you call the shots of what goes on in the office; there are no middlemen making decisions for you. Even decisions like benefits for your team or customer service guidelines are in your hands. If you like the idea of truly being your own boss and enjoy detailed work, owning your own dental practice is a good option to consider.

 

MAINTAIN YOUR IDEAL ENVIRONMENT AND TEAM

A key benefit of owning a dental practice is the degree of control you have over the environment and team choices in the office. Instead of being forced to work with what you have, you can decorate the practice to your preferences. You can also hire employees that you have a personal connection with who may not otherwise be chosen in a larger organization. Because a dental office’s environment can play a big part in overall patient satisfaction, keep this in mind in the process of deciding what career path to take. If you value the ability to express your own individuality in the workplace, owning a practice could be a great fit.

 

SCHEDULE/FLEXIBILITY

Time: none of us seem to have enough of it, and busy dentists are no different, regardless of where they work. However, if you’re a practice owner, you ultimately get to decide the hours and schedule you want to work. Of course, dental practices are businesses. Things don’t always work out the way they should on paper – something inevitably always comes up at the end of the day. But the fact of the matter is that you still have the ability to choose and regulate the hours of your practice versus being forced to adhere to a set schedule each week. This kind of flexibility is appealing to many dentists.

 

WEAR MANY HATS

As an owner of a dental practice, you’re able to do far more than just interact with patients. You’re the decision-maker for the marketing, accounting, stability, and growth of your business – which means you wear a lot of hats. If you’re excited by the challenge of operating several different projects at once and get bored with performing repetitious tasks easily, owning a dental practice is right up your alley. At any given time, there’s always a different project to work on. Overall, your role as a business owner can be very administratively focused, especially when compared to an associate dentist in a managed dental organization.

 

FINANCIAL BENEFITS

Finally, owning your own business gives you significant financial benefits. Instead of working as an associate for someone else, you’re able to build wealth for yourself. There are also tax benefits to running a dental practice. Take advantage of the savings from writing off business-related expenses to maximize your financial gain.

 

WANT TO OPEN YOUR OWN DENTAL PRACTICE?

If you’ve decided to open your own dental practice, that’s great! Contact us today and let us help you grow and develop your business into a reputable and successful dental practice in your community.