E138: Interview with Cary Gahm and Ed Thomas of TempMee – Part 2 (Feb 25)

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E137: Interview with Cary Gahm and Ed Thomas of TempMee – Part 1 (Feb 11)

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E135: Interview with Paul Mackiewicz – Part 1 (1/14)

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Ways to Have a Stress-Less New Year In Your Dental Practice

A new year is always an opportunity for growth, fresh perspectives, which can lead to added stress. While dentistry is rewarding, running your own practice comes with a long list of to-dos, systems to put in place, and it can be overwhelming.  It might feel unavoidable at times, but stress doesn’t have to take the front seat in your practice. Here are a few tips to prepare you for a stress-free new year.

Check-In with Your Systems

Automation is key to simplifying your stress. Of course, this means using smart systems within your practice to streamline your patient experience, but you can also automate your own life. Consider automatic bill pay, having groceries delivered, and anything else that can be outsourced.  While this is not directly connected to your practice, it takes some things off your plate so you can unwind and recharge when you’re not at the office. 

Have A Daily Meeting With Staff

Start the day off with a morning meeting. This is an excellent time to check in with your team, set the tone for the day, and be prepared for the upcoming appointments. Getting everyone on the same page at the start of the day sets you all up for success for the rest of the day. 

Build Self-Care Into Your Day

Don’t forget to add some daily movement or recharge time into your schedule. It’s easy to get caught up in patients and your practice, causing you to forget to save some time and energy for yourself. When you feel your best, you do your best- and can handle stress more productively. 

Find Your Why

It’s easy to get into the daily grind and forget why you started in the first place. Take some time to appreciate how far you have come and integrate things that bring joy into your practice. Maybe that’s new technology, expanding your knowledge, or any other goals you have. Reflecting back to where you started can positively impact where you are now. 

Reduce No Shows

Having unfilled appointments can derail your day so try to have systems in place to reduce canceled appointments. Make sure to check in the day before the appointment and send reminders. You can also reduce cancelations or no-shows by having same-day dentistry options. This is a major selling point to patients because it reduces the number of visits they need to make to your office, and it will allow you to offer a more streamlined experience for them.

Get Help

While dental schools give you the tools to become a dentist, they do not always teach you about the business side of dentistry. Having someone in your corner who has the expertise and experience to help you will reduce your practice’s stress and learning curve.

 

[Book A Coaching Appointment With Doctor Coughlin]

 

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.

Creating a Special Practice

Dr Kevin Coughlin discusses creating a special practice.

The Importance of Reviews for your Dental Practice

Did you know that 87% of consumers won’t consider a local business with low online ratings, 44% pay attention to the quantity of reviews, and 69% only find relevance in current reviews? These statistics play a significant role in a potential patient’s decision-making process when they are evaluating dental offices and deciding who to call. When consumers are looking to decide on a local business, they trust what others have to say about their experiences and the reviews help to build credibility. It is important to be on top of these reviews, and if you time does not allow, hire someone to manage this for you.

You can spend money on advertising, but if your online reviews are not good or non-existent, you are decreasing your chances of a patient choosing your office as their dental office. In order to effectively manage your online reputation, you need to focus on three things; review monitoring, review responding, and review generation.

• Review Monitoring: Monitoring your online reviews is important so you know what people are saying about your business. There are many review sites that patients could be going to and leaving feedback and without monitoring, you would be unaware of these reviews. Plus, the feedback is critical to your online rating. If you don’t know what is being said, then you cannot respond, engage, learn of areas to improve, or address any concerns.

• Review Responding: It is in best practice to respond to all comments about your business, both positive and negative. Responding to the positive reviews publicly shows you appreciate feedback and opens the lines of communication for future engagement. Responding to any negative reviews is important for damage control and continuous improvement.

• Review Generation: There are many ways to collect new reviews from patients. You can post your review links to your social media outlets, asking current patients to review your business. You can also train your staff to ask patients to leave reviews while they are in your dental office. The most effective way is to make it easy for patients to review you by giving them the direct link for the review site by either emailing or texting them a direct link. Using direct links make it easy for them and results in the highest acceptance rate.

A dental office’s online reputation plays an important role in generating new patients for your office. This can be done internally by setting up systems or by hiring an agency to handle the processes for you. With 90% of consumers looking at online reviews before making decisions, it is important to make managing your online reputation a priority.

Do dentists need a business coach?

What goals did you set for yourself and your practice last year? Most small business owners, and that includes dentists, are often so busy trying to keep things from going off the rails that creating a plan and sticking to it is really hard without some sort of accountability.

A goal without a plan to achieve it is just a dream.

You may want to double your income, but how are you going to do it? What strategies are you putting in place to make that goal a reality?

This is where coaching comes into the picture.

A dental coach will help you set goals and stick to them. It’s a level of accountability that will help you prioritize what’s important and make sure that the follow-through is there.

For new dentists coming right out of school, coaching is essential when it comes to career planning. Whether the plan is to set up your own practice right away or work for someone else and pay down loans, the goal is to make sure you are always moving in the right direction and making informed choices. This type of coaching can save new dentists a lot of sleepless nights and set them on the path to success in the near, medium and long term.

For dentists who are already established, it’s important to set benchmarks and have strategies for growth – while positioning the business to compete successfully in what is becoming a very tough market.

If you are a dentist at this stage in your career, you may be wondering how you can ever compete against Managed Service Organizations and Dental Service Organizations. Corporate dentistry changing the business landscape. A dental coach will be able to show you how to thrive in this environment or prepare your practice for eventual sale. There are strong points to be made for both options. Making the choice to compete or sell is a personal one. And your coach should be able to give you the right information to make an informed choice.

Selling a dental practice is one of the biggest business decisions a dentist will ever have to make. This is especially true if the practice is your retirement plan. A dental business coach should be your first call if you are planning to sell. At this stage in your career, the goal is to put in place strategies and tactics to maximize the return on your investment and get the best price possible for your business.

As a working dentist with a winning track record in business for over 35 years, I’ve coached dentists at every point along this career trajectory. I can say for certain that it’s never too early to start.
If you want to talk about your options and discover how coaching can help your career reach its maximum potential, then send me a note and let’s schedule a short conversation.

7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Practice Without Busting Your Budget

Many dental practices are stuck in a bit of a rut. They have strong patient lists and make money each month, but they never seem to get over the hump that lies between “getting by” and “truly thriving.” Figuring out how to take your practice to the next level can be challenging, especially if your marketing budget is limited. Fortunately, these 7 simple tips can boost your practice without busting your budget.

Start a Blog

Blog setup and hosting fees are relatively cheap, and the return on investment can be significant. Not only will you see your website climb up the search rankings with the regular addition of new content, but a blog also helps to set the stage for long-term doctor-patient relationships with both existing and prospective patients. Use your blog to show people who you are, to talk about your practice, and to educate them on the field of dentistry. At once a patient empowerment tool, a trust-building exercise, and an easy way to communicate, a blog is arguably one of the best ways to boost your practice on a budget.

Use Social Media

It’s not enough to create a Facebook page and then ignore it. In today’s highly-connected world, people expect to engage with those they follow on a regular basis. Add Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media accounts as well, and use them frequently. Choose interesting posts that encourage responses and engagement. Monitor your pages regularly for comments and respond to them as soon as possible.

Design a Referral Program

Word of mouth is always your most reliable source of advertising, and it doesn’t need to cost much at all. Develop a referral program that gives a small incentive each time a new patient lists an existing patient as their reason for choosing you. Be sure that your new patient paperwork asks for a referral name.

Join Your Community

One of the easiest ways to spread brand awareness and get new prospects to trust you is to get involved. Write an article for the local newspaper. Sponsor a Little League team. Attend community events. Becoming a known member of your local community will help ensure that people in town will think of you when they need a dentist.

Focus on Patient Retention

Remember that gaining new patients is only part of the equation. For your practice to thrive, you also need to keep your existing patients coming back regularly. Take a hard look at your current policies and procedures to find ways to become more patient-centric. Call each patient post-procedure. Add comfort items such as blankets and headphones. Give sugar-free gum or small toys to kids. Send birthday and holiday cards. Make your patients feel like VIPs, and they will be more likely to return.

Collaborate with Other Professionals

No dentist, no matter how talented, can truly be all things to all people. Reach out to those who specialize in areas that you do not to form valuable referral networks. Maybe you are an expert with kids and families, but you have less experience with elderly populations. The dentist down the street might specialize in geriatrics, but she prefers not to deal with minors. Likewise, you might work with an oral surgeon for patients who need dental implants, but make your own prosthetics in-house.

Offer Membership Plans

Many small businesses are struggling to provide employee benefits, and even the best dental insurance plans typically have low annual caps and long waiting periods for certain procedures. In addition, it is rare for dental insurance to pay more than 50%-80% of the total bill, even for many routine procedures.

An in-house membership plan is a great way to encourage patient loyalty while reducing your patients’ out of pocket costs. You can tailor different annual plans to the level of care different patients need, and offer a variety of payment options to fit various budgets. You can even offer family plans and plans for local small businesses.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Tracking Your Dental Practice Website: Why and How

You probably already know that a strong, credible website full of high-quality content is essential to growing your dental practice. What you might not know, though, is how incredibly important it is to track your website’s performance, or how to go about doing that tracking. Here is what you should know.

Why Do I Need Tracking?

Tracking performance is the only way to understand what is working on your website and what still needs tweaking. Without tracking, you might get only a small trickle of new patients and have no idea why. Or you might suddenly get a flood of new patients, but have no idea how to replicate your success. Website tracking lets you monitor the performance of different content pages, promotions, and advertising campaigns over time to enhance your ROI—the return on your investment of time and money.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is arguably the very best way to track your website’s performance. You can drill down to specifics that let you optimize your website to maximize its success. Here are a few things to pay attention to in Google Analytics:

Website Visitors: One of the most basic but most important statistics is how many new and returning website visitors you have. If this number is low, you will need to find a way to drive more traffic to your site.

Page Views: Learning which pages receive the most views helps you narrow down what your visitors most want to see.

Traffic Sources: Understanding how website visitors got to your site helps you identify where to focus your marketing efforts. Direct traffic refers to the users who physically typed in your website domain. Referral traffic represents users who came via a link from another website. Other traffic sources are social networks and search engines.

Keywords: Learning which keyword phrases people used to find your website can help you optimize underperforming pages by including similar keyword phrases on them.

Conversions: Conversions are the website visitors who actually take action such as making an appointment or filling out a contact form. Ideally, you will have a high percentage of conversions compared to your total number of website visitors.

Average Session Duration: This lets you know how long the average visitor spends on your site. A longer average session duration means that visitors find your site engaging and helpful.

Bounce Rate: The bounce rate tells you what percentage of people arrive on a particular page of your site and then leave immediately. A high bounce rate on a page with basic information such as your phone number makes sense, but a high bounce rate on a page filled with content could indicate a technical issue.

Phone Call Analytics

Many people prefer to call to make a dentist appointment rather than handling it online or walking in without an appointment. Therefore, it is helpful to add phone call tracking to your website. This lets you know when a patient calls you based on your website. You can then add phone call conversions to your website conversions to get a better understanding of how many website visitors actually take action after viewing your site.

Ask New Patients for Information

An old-fashioned but highly effective way to track your patients is to simply ask them how they got to you. Consider adding a short section to your new patient paperwork that asks simply how the patient heard about your practice and whether he or she visited your website.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.