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
Megan Urban, Transition Advisor at Omni Practice Group, gives some advice for anyone who is unsure if they should sell their real estate along with their dental practice.Read More
There are many reasons why dental practices are put up for sale. Some of the more common reasons actually have little to do with the practice’s general performance. For example, many practice owners discover that they need to sell for health reasons or personal concerns, such as divorce or partnership issues. While a business downturn might prompt many dentists to sell, economic drivers are not the only issue. Owners may want and need to sell, but often it isn’t always that simple.
Many dentists are looking to retire but are unpleasantly surprised to learn that they simply can’t afford to do so. Still yet, many dentists don’t truly want to retire or sell, but instead, they just want more freedom in their lives. The day-to-day responsibilities of owning and operating a practice can take their toll. Many dentists are looking to make a change and would love to be free of this burden. This class of owner has already “checked out” mentally, and this can have profound negative consequences for their businesses.
When a dentist wants out but discovers that he or she simply can’t afford to sell or retire, it will come as no surprise that there is usually an accompanying drop off in enthusiasm. Ultimately, the vast majority of practice owners will start to lose focus. Often, we find that they stop investing the capital necessary to continue the growth of the business, which can trigger other events, such as the loss of key staff members and/or customers. The failure of the practice to maintain its footing and competitive advantage can lead to a more aggressive posture by existing competitors or even encourage a new competitor to move into the market.
In time, the practice owner may come face-to-face with the harsh realization that they have no choice but to sell if they are to salvage any of the practice’s value. The best way for a practice owner to safeguard against this situation is to sell when his or her practice is doing well, as this helps to ensure an optimal price.
Working with a practice broker, even years before one is interested in selling, is one of the single smartest moves any business owner can make. The time to think about selling your practice is now, as no dentist knows what life or the market will bring.Read More
In my experience, sellers get concerned with the “correct” time to tell their team about the transition. We recommend informing them when all documents or some are signed and there is no doubt the sale will go through. It may be 2 weeks or 2 days before closing, it depends, and your transition advisor will assist you.
If you tell your team too early, they may become stressed, confused, and unsure of their future, so they may panic and find another job and possibly tell patients. None of this is good! Your team and patients are important to the goodwill of your practice.
When you do announce the new buyer, remind the team that they love their teammates and patients and that isn’t changing. Explain a bit about the new dentist and schedule time for them to meet. Help them feel confident that the transition will be great, and the new dentist will need their assistance for everyone to be successful.
A letter to patients is typically sent from the seller with the buyer’s approval. Depending on both the buyer and seller and the unique area, a newspaper ad can be placed, and an open house can be scheduled. Your transition advisor will provide ideas and examples to help you choose the best method for announcing the transition.
Patients may be unsure of the new buyer, so consider not making any abrupt changes, such as incomplete treatment and payment options. You can’t underdiagnose or discourage ideal treatment but be aware of a way to communicate based upon the previous owner to retain as many patients as possible and still bring in your processes and protocols.
The new team will be concerned about the new buyer’s expectations so consider not changing much in the practice for a while, so they have a chance to transition and become comfortable. Provide information they won’t know such as how to schedule and what instruments you need for each procedure. Help everyone to be successful in their position.
Remember to remind your team often that everything is ok. Consider having one-on-one meetings with each new team member and ask specific questions. “What keeps you coming here every day? What’s one thing you would change in the practice if you could? Can I count on you to bring questions and concerns to me rather than involve the entire team?”
Transitions can be stressful. Work with your transition advisor that has many experiences and ideas to share to help everyone be successful.Read More
Want to know how you can determine the selling price of your practice? Do you know why it is smart to hire dental practice brokers?
Watch the eighth episode of the Dental Marketing Podcast with Chris Pistorius, Founder & CEO of Kickstart Dental, and Megan Urban – Dental Broker at Omni Practice Group, to get your answers!