Happy New Year! We would like to wish you a new and improved year over 2020 and 2021. If you’re like most people, you have set some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps one of them is going to the gym. Another may be eating healthier. A third popular one is spending more time with family and friends. Statistics show that on average, it takes 32 days before people give up on their resolutions. My thought is, why wait? I’m having a hot fudge sundae for lunch and not going to the gym! But how about a resolution to further your career as a dentist?
One way to further your career may be to learn a new procedure or two. As an associate or existing practice owner, you can improve your skills and your income by learning new procedures. A few suggestions would be to advance your endo skills. Maybe you know enough but just haven’t had any advanced training. There are a lot of courses to further advance your endo skills. You can also learn how to place implants. There are probably a lot of patients in your practice who want an implant, but don’t want to go to another office. If you’re a general dentist, you can also learn how to do some form of orthodontics with either Invisalign, ClearCorrect, or another company’s process. Learning a new procedure can make you more marketable as an associate and as a practice owner.
Another way to further your career may be to find a new associate position. If you’re frustrated in your current role because you’re not allowed to do anything more than hygiene checks and fillings, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. The state associations list openings in their classified ads. If you’re not happy where you are, staying there will make you disgruntled with dentistry and cause you nothing but grief.
A third way of expanding your career in 2022 is by purchasing a practice. Practice owners make 15% to 20% more than associate dentists. They also build equity in their practice typically paying off their entire loans in 10 years. If you purchased a $500,000 practice and simply sustain its production, you now have earned 15% to 20% more per year PLUS you’ve earned $500,000 of equity in your practice. If you grew it 10% per year, you now have over $1 million in equity. I know many associate dentists are afraid of owning a practice. They think Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) are going to take over the world and they get better deals on supplies. First of all, DSOs will not be taking over the world. There will always be room for individual practice owners. In fact, if I had a choice, I would prefer to go to an individual owner before I would go to a DSO or group-owned practice. I think most people would agree. Regarding better deals on supplies, I’ve had several supply reps tell me that they would give the same deal to an individual as they would to a DSO. Supplies as a percentage of gross revenues make up a small number. So, even if they did get better deals, it would not make that big of a difference. Don’t be afraid of owning a practice and competing against the big guys. You can provide a much better and more personalized experience than they can.
These are just a few ideas for your New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t come up with your own. Now, go to the gym, grab a salad and then, go improve your career!Read More
Did you reach your goals this year? Was one of them to buy a practice by the end of 2021? Ahem, it’s December. You know who I’m talking about! Do you remember when the year started back in January, and you said to yourself, and perhaps to some of your family and friends, “This is the year I’m going to buy a practice!” Well? What happened?
Did you know that on average a dental practice owner makes 20% to 25% more than an associate dentist? Practice owners also build up equity in their practice similar to owning a house. A million-dollar practice with no debt will give you a million dollars in equity. Did you know that most practice owners tend to be happy in their dental profession? Practice owners get the privilege of setting their own hours. They get to choose which procedures they want to do and which procedures they want to refer out. They also hire their own staff and let go of those that they don’t believe are doing a good job. Practice owners even get to pick out the music that gets played at the practice. Although, staff may overrule you on that last one.
We gave buyers a mulligan in 2020. Covid-19 hit us all pretty hard. I caught it early and it took most of the year for me to get back to normal. The industry reeled for a few months due to the Covid shut down and various mandates provided at the federal and state levels. But after the shutdown was over, patients came back. Practices came back with a vengeance. Offices that were collecting $80,000 per month prior to the Covid-19 shutdown were producing $80,000 or even more upon the re-opening. In 2021, I would say the majority of practices are back at full capacity. We can’t predict when this Covid craziness will go away, especially with a new variant popping up every six months or so. But we can say that dental practices are resilient.
Those of you who kept your goals and purchased a practice in 2021 are doing well. The practices they purchased are at least producing what they were producing prior to them acquiring the practice. They took out a 10-year loan and they are now 1/10 of the way to paying off their practice debt. Think about those who purchased a practice five years ago. They’re halfway to paying off their practice debt. If they purchased a million-dollar practice, they now have $500,000 of equity in their practice. A half a million dollars! I tell the story of a dentist who would come to our buyer’s seminars year after year. At year 7 this dentist came to our buyer’s seminar, and I called her out. I pointed out that if she would have purchased the first practice that I showed her 7 years ago with a 7-year loan, she would have had the practice paid off. The practice was a $950,000 practice. She would have equity of close to and if not more than $1 million if she would have just taken action. That motivated her to purchase a practice a few months after the buyer’s seminar. The practice she purchased was three miles from the first practice I had shown her 7 years earlier!
So, as we end the year and you start to think about your goals for next year, think beyond the goal. What can you do better this year that will help you reach the goal of purchasing a practice in 2022? Make finding a practice to buy a priority. In the not-so-long run, you will be thankful you did. The brokers at Omni are always available for a phone call to discuss what you need to do to purchase a practice. Just pick up the phone and give us a call – 877-866-6053.Read More
By Dr. Mehmood Asghar
When you walk into your dental office and see your staff members bustling around you, you might assume they are working productively. But your staff and employees are constantly trying their best to catch up with their daily tasks; they are just busy – not productive.
A successful dental practice is one where routine tasks are streamlined, and all processes run smoothly. If despite your best effort, you and your team fail to achieve your key performance indicator (KPI) goals, it is time to make some changes. Here are 4 things that you can implement in your dental practice to improve productivity and ensure that your training runs smoothly:
1. Invest in Good Practice Management Software
A practice management software is not just necessary for billing purposes or to manage patient records. Modern practice management software takes most of the burden off your team’s shoulders and automates various processes. For example, instead of writing individual appointment reminder emails to patients, the software can automatically send reminders and even reschedule appointments if needed.
Besides, with modern software, you don’t need to maintain your material inventory manually. You can simply assign a barcode to all the products, and the system will record the information regarding the quantity and expiry dates of each item. The system will automatically inform you if any material is short in supply or is about to expire.
Most importantly, good practice management software allows you to manage your finances – cut unnecessary spending and increase spending in areas that matter, like buying new equipment, refurbishing the waiting room, etc. The software will provide you with a detailed overview of your earnings and expenditures, and help you identify exactly where you’re leaking money.
2. Buy State-of-the-art Equipment
Being a successful clinician requires two major things: clinical expertise and the right armamentarium. Investing in modern diagnostic or therapeutic equipment will help you improve your treatment outcome, reduce treatment time and increase productivity. For example, it would be a good idea to invest in a desktop 3D printer: instead of waiting for 1-2 weeks for your lab to prepare a patient’s crowns, why not print them chairside in one day?
Fortunately, 3D printers are much more cost-effective today than they were a few years ago. According to research by SmarTech Analysis, in-office dental 3D printers, capable of printing surgical models, implant templates, clear aligners, and even dental prostheses, may cost less than $5000 by 2021.
You may also consider investing in 3D imaging technology. Today, dental implants have become the most favorable and desirable tooth replacement option. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, over 2.3 million implant-supported crowns are made annually in the US alone. With this considerable reliance on dental implants for tooth replacement, it only makes sense to invest in equipment that aids in implant therapy. Cone-beam CT (CBCT) technology considerably improves the clinical outcome of implant and other oral surgical procedures. Besides, this technology can also be used in the early diagnosis and management of oral disease and malignancies.
3. Automate Processes
Did you know that a significant time of your employees is spent in the sterilization control room? This is not because they are lazy; it’s because they have to frequently wash, clean, and sterilize dental instruments – either because of a small autoclave machine or due to increased patient flow. Regardless of the main reason, you can improve your team’s productivity by buying a fully automated sterilization system, which takes away the multiple, time-consuming steps involved in manually sterilizing the instruments. The initial cost of such equipment might be high, but it will prove a worthwhile investment in the long run, especially considering the time saved.
4. Staff Training and Workshops
While seemingly unessential, staff training and workshops to refresh/upgrade their clinical skills and enhance their expertise in inpatient/data management software go a long way in improving their efficiency. These workshops also ensure that all staff members remember their roles and responsibilities, thereby streamlining the work in your practice.
No matter how good a clinician one is, they cannot run a successful practice unless they are seasoned managers. According to the statistics provided by the American Dental Association, the average hours worked by dentists in 1900 were 1,810.6, compared to 1448.8 hours in 2020. This downward trend shows the impact of the latest technology and good practice management in increasing dental office efficiency, productivity, and earnings. So, follow the tips given in this article to convert your practice into an efficient, productive, and profitable business.
Author bio: Dr. Mehmood Asghar is a dentist, an educator, and a researcher in dental biomaterials. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Dental Biomaterials at the National University of Medical Sciences, Pakistan, in addition to pursuing a Ph.D. in Dental Biomaterials. Apart from his professional activities, Dr. Asghar loves reading, writing, and working out.Read More
There are many advantages to owning a dental practice over being an associate dentist and not owning a practice. For one, the average dental practice owner makes approximately 20% more in income than an associate dentist working for someone else. A dental practice owner also gets to choose what procedures he or she wants to perform, refer out, or delegate to an associate (if there is one). They can also choose their own hours; pick the days they want to work and how much vacation they want to take. So, why aren’t dental associates owning practices? What are they afraid of? Here are a few fears we have encountered by dental associates and how to overcome those fears:
- Fear of the unknown – Associates feel they don’t have the experience in owning a practice. They don’t know what to expect. They haven’t managed staff. They haven’t kept financial records. They don’t know what marketing to put in place. They don’t know what benefits to give employees, how to hire or fire employees, or even how to balance a checkbook.
Fear not, you don’t have to know everything at once. You know how to do dentistry. That’s the first step in owning a practice. You have a few years of experience working as an associate in a dental practice. You’ve observed the owner working with and managing staff. You may have experience leading a team in school, playing sports, etc. These are all examples of good experience in leading and handling staff. You don’t have to know how to keep books right away. We suggest getting a dental bookkeeper and then getting educated on reading financial statements and eventually doing your own books if you’d like. This can happen over time. The bottom line is if you are good at what you do and willing to learn the other parts of practice ownership, you’ll be just fine.
- Fear of taking on more Debt – Read Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. Not all debt is created equal. There is good debt such as student loans and practice debt that helps generate an income and there is bad debt such as credit card debt where you just borrowed money because you wanted something. Practice debt used to buy a practice that will help you make more money and build equity in an asset (the practice) is a positive thing. As long as it’s a good practice with good cash flow, you’ll be money ahead in the long run.
- Fear of the DSO (Dental Service Organization) or Group Practice Giants – Don’t fear the giants. They have their own niche targeting dental shoppers looking for the lowest price on a cleaning, crown, or teeth whitening. They also have a high turnover in their staff and doctors. You will provide excellent service with the same staff and dentist that the clients will see every time they come to your office. In a corporate environment, they’re not sure which dentist or hygienist they’re going to get next.
- Fear of not knowing what to look for – This is a valid concern. You can educate yourself in a number of ways. There are great resources via Dentaltown, dental podcasts, YouTube, etc., that can help you know what to look for. Quite simply, you start by looking at your desired location, then look at the cash flow of the practice and after that, you can get into the details. There are consultants and brokers who can also help you with reviewing practices. Identify your team that will help you overcome this fear.
- Fear of a recession – Recessions happen, typically every 8 to 10 years and last 10 to 12 months. You cannot avoid recessions or downturns in the economy, it’s part of life. But, during recessions, employees typically get laid off from work. If you own your own practice, you’re probably not going to fire yourself. You’ll keep yourself employed and busy. Owning a practice is a deterrent from getting laid off during a recession.
These are a few of the fears that we’ve seen over the years, and there are others as well. But the best thing you can do is educate yourself and talk to practice owners, brokers and bankers. Seek advice and counsel from everyone you can. This will help you make a wise decision in moving forward with practice ownership.Read More
Experts estimate that more than 40 percent of dentists are embezzled with an average loss of $50,000. But, because the embezzlers often steal small amounts of money over many years, the thief is never noticed. The US chamber of commerce estimated that 75 percent of employees steal from their workplace and that most do so repeatedly.
A majority of people, if given an opportunity, will take advantage of a situation to steal from their employer on the following frequency:
-3 percent will steal daily
-7 percent will steal weekly
-20 percent will steal 4-12 times a year
-70 percent will steal 1-2 times a year
-4 in 10 doctors experience theft in some form from the practice. 1 in 4 dental practices experience monetary theft from their practice.
The significant types of theft in dental practices are:
-Goods and services in Kind
All types of theft can hurt the bottom line of the practice. The Monetary thief, in most cases, has the most negative effect on the practice bottom line. Most dentists find it hard to believe that their handpicked, trusted, longer-term staff would steal from the practice.
Here is an unfortunate, and real-life, example. A dentist had a highly successful practice with five employees. One was a long-term office manager who came to work early and left late every day. She managed all the financial transactions daily along with the insurance and statement billing. The office manager took an extended vacation. While she was gone, the office sent out statements and received numerous calls from patients that their statement was incorrect and that either their insurance had paid the bill, or they paid on the day of service by check or credit card. The doctor had the staff investigate all the disputes and found out that the office manager had embezzled more than one hundred thousand dollars over the years. He was devasted and could not believe that the long-term, most trusted employee had done this to him.
Methods that have been used by staff to steal from the practice:
- Zero Charge- Patient comes in for services, and the office staff member posts a zero-balance charge and pockets the money. At the end of the day, the computer collections balance to the deposit slip. No one notices.
- Falsify Deposit Slip– Employee brings the doctor a deposit slip to sign for the day matching all the collections taken in for the day but then takes out all the cash from the deposit bag or envelope and changes the deposit slip when depositing the money.
- Multiple Adjustments to Accounts- Courtesy discounts like cash discounts or senior discounts are used. Employee charges the full amount to the patients and keeps the cash discounts and pockets it.
- Fictitious Vendor- Employee sets up a fake business with an account and has doctor sign supply order checks for supplies. The employee deposits these checks into an account and keeps the money.
Make sure that even your closest friend in the dental practice is being watched. Here are some suggested internal controls to help prevent thief and embezzlement:
- Segregation of Duties– Make sure one person does not control all cash flow processes.
- Daily Audit Trail– Review daily transactions to catch zero balance postings.
- Rotate Duties– This will help to reduce the chance for embezzlement.
- Verify the End-day Report to Deposit Slip– Ensure that you see the end-of-day report and it balances with cash deposits. The doctor should be responsible for depositing funds in the bank.
- Review Bank Statement– Take time to review the statements monthly.
- Require Vacations– All employees must take vacation days that they have earned.
- Performance Plans– If the practice meets specific goals and the practice is increasing its revenue, give incentives to employees in monetary form.
- Background Checks- Make sure you follow through on background checks before hiring new employees.
- Verify References- Check all references.
Having internal controls will help protect the practice and staff that are honest and want to do a good job. It will also help everyone stay focused on their tasks and goals at hand and take away the opportunity for someone to embezzle. You don’t want to have good employees turn into liabilities.
Omni Practice Group has been helping dentists for over 15 years developing plans for dentists to transition their practice. Our goal is to help you find the right buyer and make a smooth transition of your practice when the time is right. Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation with one of our Practice Transition Advisors.Read More