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Get to Know Your New Staff After Purchasing an Established Dental Practice

It’s common for current employees to feel scared, insecure, or intimidated by the transition process so building those interpersonal connections is of the utmost importance. Here are some ways you can do that.

An Honest One-On-One Meeting

The biggest sources of employees’ negative feelings will involve the potential changes that you, as the new practice owner, may introduce. The changes that could evoke negative emotions are the things that affect the employee directly: benefits, working hours, roles and responsibilities, or even keeping their jobs at all. Have a private discussion with each staff member to address these issues directly and as they relate to the employee in question.

Tell each staff member what is expected of him or her, and what your practice philosophy will be. In the event that certain decisions have not yet been made, let the employee know when the decision will be reached. Transparency and honesty form a great foundation for an effective working relationship.

Schedule Individual Training Sessions

Perhaps you worked with a super efficient receptionist in the past, or an extremely diligent nurse who ran your previous practice like clockwork. Whatever the circumstance, you may want to introduce some changes to processes and behaviors.

Hold individual training sessions with each staff member to explain your expectations within each person’s designated role. Don’t expect people to change their habits or behaviors overnight.

Note Feedback

The employees who have been with the practice the longest are likely to have a good rapport with the patients. They will also have witnessed a different management style, so when you are building a new culture, it is worth taking feedback from the staff.

Check Employee Files

Have a look at each employee’s record. If the previous practice owner was well organized you should be able to tell a fair amount about each person. This is a good time to ensure all paperwork is up to date and compliant.

Ask for 360 Degree Feedback

Ask the outgoing practice owner to write character profiles on the staff. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Ask how well they function within a team. Ask staff members to evaluate different members of the team.

Don’t worry about timing. Transitions can go slowly and when people are involved moving slowly has more long term benefit than rushing ahead.


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What Makes an Effective Dental Treatment Coordinator?

A treatment coordinator, whether hired as a primary or secondary role, is employed to ensure that a patient’s cycle of care from diagnosis to treatment runs smoothly.

This includes education, scheduling, and payment, and many dental practices often rush this process. In doing so many are missing out on crucial opportunities to close sales, comfort clients and offer quality service.

Payment shouldn’t be offloaded to a front office staff member when there is a more knowledgeable treatment coordinator available.

Here is what you need to look for if you are considering hiring a dental treatment coordinator:

Someone who is knowledgeable about dentistry

After you, the treatment coordinator is the main figure that will reinforce the professionalism of your dental practice. They should be knowledgeable about dentistry and able to answer any and all questions a patient may have about procedures, general dental health, and industry practices.

Someone who can explain the value of dental treatment

Often when patients initially see the cost of a procedure, they may be a little shocked. Most people are completely unaware of what dentists charge, and if they see upwards of $1000 for a crown, they may not know how to react. A good treatment coordinator will be empathetic and compassionate, and explain things in a clear and simple way.

They will be able to connect on an individual level and are good storytellers who can convey in emotional terms, why it is important to invest in the procedure – which they should do before they show any figures to a patient.

Someone who can motivate and sell

 Dealing with large numbers is difficult, you should find someone who doesn’t shy aware from sharing the figures with your clients and is not afraid to ask for a commitment. Ideally, they should have some background in sales.

It’s also important to find someone who is professional and detail-oriented. This means that they know how to communicate any credit card payment plans and are meticulous when it comes to formalizing and signing contracts.

If you are looking to add value to your practice, a professional treatment coordinator is a great place to start. Make sure, if you are looking to hire something, that you consider the above tips and find the best person possible for the role.


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The Importance of Client Testimonials and How to Use them to Grow Your Practice

Client testimonials can be one of the most important components of your marketing strategy. Many patients looking for dentists rely on word-of-mouth marketing – testimonials from friends and those they trust. Studies show that customer feedback can have a greater impact on your marketing results than other marketing avenues.

 

Testimonials for your dental practice can be collected in a variety of ways and can be used across multiple marketing channels.

 

Here are some tips on how to easily get testimonials and how to best use them:

 

  1. Ask for testimonials.  Most patients are happy to share their positive experiences with others and may not realize how much you value those testimonials if you don’t ask for them.
  2. Make it easy for them. Have postcards available at the checkout counter for patients to fill out as they checkout, send an email with a short survey (no more than 3 questions), or even ask if you can quote them if they share in their conversation how wonderful their experience was.
  3. Provide prompts. Prompts help develop the kind of testimonial you need. Ask leading questions that guide them. For example, you can ask them to list their concerns before their visit, how you addressed those concerns, and where you exceeded their expectations. Even something as simple as “Would you recommend us to a friend?” can be the start of a great testimonial.
  4. Think outside the box. A video testimonial of a happy patient is great to load on your Facebook page and can be a quick and easy way to grab a testimonial from a patient. Make sure you have them sign any appropriate release forms before putting their videos online.
  5. Use the power of social media. Let your patients know through your marketing materials that they can leave reviews on social media sites. Facebook make this very easy for users.
  6. Share patient testimonials in all of your marketing materials. When patients see others testimonials it reminds them how much you value their feedback and can prompt them to provide you with their own testimonial.

Dental practice transitions can be a great time to assess your testimonials and determine if you need to improve your methods for collecting them. Regardless of where you are in a transition or if you’re just beginning to grow your practice these tips will help you easily improve your marketing strategies.


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The Best Images for Your Dental Practice Website

Whether you’re preparing for a dental transition or just trying to grow your practice, images on your website make a difference. High-quality images have the power to educate patients and give them confidence in your practice’s ability to provide outstanding service. They are also an important part of developing your visual brand. Great images make your site more attractive overall, giving your practice a more professional and polished image.

As you select images for your website, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Only use professional photos and images. Photos used should always be of the highest quality. Save your smartphone photos for your social media pages. Website photos need to be high quality and professional. It’s worth it to hire an experienced photographer to take images of what goes on inside your practice.
  2. Include photos of your practice. Pictures of the reception area, exam areas, and staff allow those viewing your website to feel like they know what to expect before they walk into your practice. This provides patients with an increased sense of comfort and confidence and can be helpful for those patients with dental anxiety.
  3. Include pictures of patients when possible. Try to get pictures of patients and shots of the staff interacting with them. These extra steps provide authenticity, warmth, and character to your website.
  4. Details matter. Emphasize the atmosphere of your office and waiting areas by focusing on the small details. Many people seek out practices that have a more homey feel to them, as opposed to a clinical looking office. Make sure you have some well-placed flowers or plants, reading materials, and nice décor and that these small touches are captured in your images. Do you provide TV’s for the patients to watch while they have procedures done? If so, capture that in your photographs.
  5. Keep stock photos to a minimum. Stock photos are best utilized for images that show diagrams of dental procedures or professional/medical details. When picking stock photos use unique images and avoid those that you see in other dentists marketing material.
  6. Consider a before and after patient photo gallery. These are essentially pictorial testimonials and can boost business. Make sure the photos are all taken in the same place so that the backgrounds are consistent and always the same size. Have the patient smile naturally to show the before and after images best.
  7. Try to get photographs in both horizontal and vertical settings. This allows them to be placed where most needed on the website.

Images are an important element to draw people to your website and  into your practice. If you’re selling a dental practice your website and the images you include can make the difference in attracting potential buyers, as well as new patients.


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4 Ways to Offer Improved Productivity in Your Dental Practice

Whether you have a new practice or are have been settled for years, improving the productivity in your dental practice will increase the practice value.

If you are stuck for fresh ideas to do so, we’ve come up with four simple ways you can increase the output of your practice.

  1. Offer new services

Many dentists fall into the habit of providing the same services for years and years, simply because they are creatures of habit. However, as the demographics of the area in which you work may change, and you may be leaving lots of money on the table simply by not offering certain services.

Don’t hesitate to invest in new equipment, and more importantly in yourself, by learning new skills and adding variety to your practice. You may also find in this process that as you embrace novel challenges, your passion for dentistry is renewed.

  1. Focus on customer service

When it comes to improving your production, one thing that dental practices often miss is the human aspect of their business.

Building rapport ensures mutual trust and respect between you and your patients. A strong connection with patients will allow you to have consistent appointments. It will also limit the number of missed appointments and other operational inefficiencies that can put a strain on your practice.

  1. Hire a treatment coordinator

A treatment coordinator can help your patients understand exactly why they need the services you are offering. Even just a small amount of time spent explaining the value of certain procedures can be the difference between a patient being dissuaded by the cost – the average patient has very little idea as to how much dentistry costs and may be shocked when they see four figures on their dental bills. Educating patients as to the importance of oral hygiene will also ensure that they (and their families) schedule regular visits.

  1. Offer flexible payment options

Often patients won’t commit to your services simply because they can’t afford it. If you are able to offer more flexible payment options this can widen the reach you have over certain demographics, bring in more patients and ultimately, improve production.

Whether you are looking to increase the value of the practice for a sale, or simply get through a difficult period, increasing your production is often a matter of being willing to try new strategies.


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4 Tips for Dentists: Managing Neck and Back Pain

Back and neck pain are unfortunately very common problems among dentists.

In fact, it’s often said that finding someone who has a long history of practicing dentistry without these types of issues, is very rare.

Some dentists have found the pain to be so unbearable that they’ve had to sell their practice or go through a transition in which their role fundamentally changes to one that is more managerial or administrative.

Here are 4 ways to manage back and neck pain as a dentist.

  1. Choose the right dental chair

Finding the right dental chair is an incredibly important decision. You need to consider the fact that spending hundreds or thousands of hours in your chair has a significant impact on your posture.

This means that ensuring that you do some research and have the right chair – even if it costs a little more – could save you a lot of pain, time, and money spent further down the line on medical treatments.

  1. See a chiropractor or physical therapist regularly

Most people only consider seeing a chiropractor once the pain they are experiencing is unbearable, and only until the immediate sensations go away. The reality, however, is that you should be seeing a chiropractor regularly, particularly if you are spending long hours in an examination chair.

Learning proper posture and work habits can really only go so far, therefore it’s important to have a professional look at your spine frequently. If you aren’t interested in a chiropractor, there are other physical therapies such as pilates, which can go a long way to helping you.

  1. Exercise the right way

Most people consider exercise simply as something that improves your strength or cardiovascular endurance. However, while these are important, for a dentist they are not the first things to consider.

Focus on functional strength, balance, and proper posture. This can be difficult for those who have spent most of their sporting lives engaged in more competitive or aggressive forms of exercise. However, yoga or Pilates are great places to start to reduce, and even eliminate, back and neck pain.

  1. Use a foam roller or stability ball

Self-myofascial stretching is a type of exercise that uses a foam roller or medicine ball, and your own weight, to stretch tendons and release pain. There are dozens of guides online, and it’s important that you use these techniques as a preventative measure, not just to relieve pain once it is already present.

Remember, spinal health is important to your vitality, and as a result, the life of your practice.

If you’re experiencing too much pain to work, or you are simply sluggish and less effective, it can negatively impact the profitability and value of your office.


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What Makes a Buyer Qualified?

Finding a qualified buyer for your practice can be a bit like searching for the Holy Grail—you want to make sure that the person stepping into ownership of the practice you built is someone you feel comfortable leaving your legacy.

Before you sell, consider what makes a potential buyer qualified.

Is the buyer a dentist?

This is a given, but it must be included in the list because it is one of the most important things to consider when selling your practice. You’ll need to know more than the potential buyer’s degree. Take note of their specialty, the number of years they’ve been practicing, and the amount of experience they bring to the practice.

Is the buyer a recent graduate? Have they put in decades of work in another practice before deciding to buy their own? Do they specialize in the same area as you?

Is the buyer financed?

Common sense dictates that a buyer will obtain financing before approaching a seller, however, that’s not always the case. There are numerous commercial real estate cases where the buyer puts the cart before the horse, committing to the purchase of a practice before their financing has been authorized.

A qualified buyer will have preapproval in hand before beginning their search for a practice to buy. Preapproval means they’ve already jumped through most of the red tape and credit check hoops, which means you have less paperwork and hassle after you accept their offer.

Is the buyer keeping your staff?

Your staff has likely become part of your family, and you consider them to be an important part of your life.

If the buyer wants to buy the property, they need to consider your staff as part of the deal. Unless previously stated in the purchase documentation, your staff stays with the practice. This means the buyer isn’t just buying a building and an inventory, he is committing to keep the practice running smoothly and profitably.

Before signing on the dotted line, invite the buyer to meet with your staff. Watch how they interact with them, look for any push back from your staff, and make sure that the match (between the potential buyer and your staff) feels right.

Ask they staff what they think about the buyer, and be sure to take what they say into consideration when choosing a final buyer.

Does the buyer have a good reputation in the community?

A good way to gauge if a buyer is right for your practice is to check online to see what their patients are saying about them.

If they are purchasing your practice, they are also acquiring your patients. You want to make sure that the people you’ve treated over the years continue to receive the same, or higher, level of care.

If the reviews or ratings online foreshadow a poor level of care, consider another buyer.

This list of qualifications isn’t a ruler by which to measure your potential buyers, it is more a guidebook for what to consider when selling your practice. If you’d like more information about what to expect from buyers or what to expect from the dental practice transition process, contact our transition specialists.


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Common Mistakes When Applying for a Dental Practice Loan

Obtaining a loan to purchase a dental practice can often be more complicated than purchasing a house. When seeking a dental practice loan, avoid these common mistakes.

Missing Necessary Documentation

Being proactive during the documentation phase of the process is key to having all necessary papers in hand when approaching the lender.

Failing to have all financial documents, proposals, and business plans can significantly delay the process.

When approaching a lender, ask them for a list of everything you’ll need before you make an appointment to speak to a loan officer.

Poorly Written Proposal

Lenders don’t give money to just anyone. They want to make sure that you have a rock solid business plan in place that spells out, in detail, what you plan to do with the money. Your lender will want to know about the income the business will bring in over the course of three to seven years, how you plan to increase or maintain profits, and information on staff growth, pay rate, and insurance.

If you don’t know how to create a business proposal, it’s best to ask a dental practice broker to help draft one that your lender will approve.

Having a Marginal or Poor Credit Rating

With the number of professionals seeking dental practice loans, lenders have become picky. Is your credit history short? Do you have a fair or good credit rating? Do you have any late payments in your report?

Lenders are flooded with loan applications, which means they can only to lend to dentists with a good credit score.

If you have a habit of missing credit card payments, have little to no revolving debt, or have liens or other derogatory marks on your report, chances are your loan application will be denied.

Not Using the Right Lender

One of the biggest mistakes dentists make when seeking capital to purchase a business is to approach the wrong kind of lender. A real estate lender or small business lender can help you purchase the property or get startup funds, but only a lender specializing in dental practice loans will be able to help you find all the money you need for every aspect of your business plan.

Using the wrong lender can actually hinder your ability to buy a practice, can delay the process, or even cost you more money in fees, escrow, insurance, and loan interest.

Doing It Alone

The worst mistake you can make when trying to get a loan is going through the process alone. Unless you are a real estate agent, loan officer, finance manager, business manager, property inspector, dental practice broker, and a dentist all rolled into one, you will need to have at least one or two of the above listed professionals on your team.

Not only will it benefit you to have a team of financial and business professionals on your side, it will be a tremendous asset when you begin your search for a practice or need help transitioning your practice and staff into the new business.

One of the most important people on your team is your dental practice broker who will have the knowledge and experience necessary to make your transition from dentist to dental practice owner as smooth and fast as possible.

For more information on how to get a dental practice loan, speak to one of our brokers.


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4 Important Tips for Letting Go of Your Dental Staff

Letting go of your staff can be a difficult issue.

Let’s be honest, we live in a very litigious society, and while this may not be a huge hassle for big corporations with huge budgets, for small business owners it can be an absolute minefield.

If you are not careful with how you handle certain situations, you can unfortunately, be held liable for a number of legal violations, which can negatively impact the health of your business.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice or not, a healthy ecology between staff members is vital for maintaining consistent revenue. This is why in some instances, though it may be difficult, you may need to fire a member of your staff for the good of the practice as a whole.

Here are some practices to follow if you want to handle the situation carefully and to ensure you don’t end up in a legal battle further down the road.

Don’t rush into the decision

Firing someone on instinct and emotion is never good for any party involved. Before you decide to let a member of your staff go, take a second to consider all the factors.

For example, what are the repercussions of firing this person on your daily operations, your staff and your reputation in the community? Is this person’s behavior detrimental to the long-term health of the practice? Do you need to make a larger point to your staff members?

Taking a moment to think things through and not act on impulse will help you make the right decision.

Consult a lawyer

Before letting go of any members of your staff, consult with a lawyer so you are crystal clear on the rights of both parties in the given situation. Remember that it’s not necessarily what has happened that is important when it comes to a court of law, it’s what can be proven, so you need to be careful.

Give adequate warning

Both the person who is being let go and other members of staff will look for consistency in your behavior. If there have been ample warnings about their behavior or incompetence, then they’re much less likely to view your actions as inconsistent and it won’t compromise your trust as a leader. Often it is not the firing that causes people to retaliate negatively, it is the shock or feelings of injustice.

Keep in mind that if you fire a member of staff unexpectedly, this will cause anxiety amongst other members of staff. They might begin to wonder if the same could happen to them, and an anxious working environment is a lot harder to run than a relaxed and friendly one.

Conduct the final meeting with dignity

 No one likes to be fired, but even more so than that, no one likes to be disrespected. Make sure the meeting you have in which you notify the employee of their termination is done at an appropriate time and in an appropriate place. Don’t rush the meeting, schedule it in advance and give it ample time, and when you’re explaining your decision do so clearly and focus on the facts – highlight the overall mission of the practice, and not your personal opinion or feelings towards that person.

Letting go of staff can be a difficult task. Make sure you don’t get caught with legal issues that can damage the value and profitability of your practice by following the above protocol.

Have you had any experience with having to let dental staff go? Let us know in the comments.


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How to Improve Scheduling in Your Dental Practice

Scheduling is a key a part of any successful dental practice.

If your practice were a vehicle, your schedule would be the oil that lubricates the engine and keeps things running smoothly.

Because an organized schedule is fundamental, making improvements to streamline your processes should be the first thing you consider before investing in any new technology, continuing education, or clinical skills.

The effectiveness of the scheduling system that you have in place is based on a clinical team that is organized and self-aware. Remember, a well-managed clinic is a valuable clinic, particularly if you are looking to sell.

Here are some tips to improve the scheduling system in your dental practice.

Track your workdays

Although it may be easier to simply estimate how much time you spend on daily activities, tracking your time accurately can save time and money in the long run. Most dentists will find that after they track their days, they have completely underestimated or overestimated how long it’s taken to do certain tasks.

Spend a couple of weeks encouraging your employees to keep a journal of how many hours they worked and what tasks they worked on within this time frame.

From the responses you get, you can then begin to project production relative to annual goals that you set.

Make use of bunching

Bunching means organizing your schedule so similar tasks can be done around the same time. This ensures that you don’t have to completely change a room for one procedure, only to change it back for another later on in the day.

Make sure your administrative staff is aware of the most effective way to group appointments for your practice.

Promote and track hygiene appointments

Many dentists simply use hygiene appointments as last minute a way to fill in gaps in their schedule.

A more effective way to use them is to reach out to your clients directly, promoting hygiene appointments and organizing them well ahead of time so you know that you don’t have to generate leads at the last minute.

Prevent empty appointments

Empty appointments are one of the most frustrating parts of a dental schedule, and when they are frequent, they can be terrible for your profits.

Here are three quick ways to limit the number of empty appointments.

  • Ensure a 48 hours notice and broken appointment fee
  • Make it easy for clients to reschedule
  • Send a friendly message to clients when someone cancels. Something like “our schedule has recently changed and we immediately thought you might be interested in pushing your appointment forward.”

How have you improved the schedule of your dental practice?


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