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Mistakes for Dentists to Avoid When Considering Retirement

In 2014, the average dental salary was $166,000, making it one of the top ten earning professions in the country. Those statistics mean that dentists have a great base when it comes to planning for retirement. However, as with any entrepreneur, owning a practice usually means you have a large list of tasks and priorities that you need to address on a daily basis.

It may have been your dream to sell your practice and move to another country to live out the rest of your days, but if you haven’t got all your affairs in order, the dream can quickly become very stressful.

Here are some mistakes to avoid when planning for retirement

Not Setting Clear Goals

A successful retirement requires you to establish concrete goals. Do you want to buy a house by the beach? Do you want to pass on $20,000 to each of your children? At what age do you want to stop working completely? Do you want to travel? These are all important questions to ask when setting goals.

Make sure you have a detailed plan in play in order to ensure that your transition into retirement is as stress-free as possible.

Not Investing Outside the Practice

A lot of dentists spend their time re-investing everything they earn into a practice for years in order to ensure growth, but it’s important to consider other means of income. If you haven’t done so already, setting up an automated savings program is important to consider when you’re planning for retirement. Remember that the earlier you start saving the better, as it takes years for compound interest to provide rewards.

Not Handling Your Debt Before Retiring

When you run a busy practice it’s easy to fall into the habit of avoiding or overlooking pressing debt issues. This, however, is a huge pitfall. Make sure all your personal debts are taken care of before you consider retirement, whether they are related to the business, your property or vehicles.

Spending Too Much

Earning a comfortable living as a young dentist can create some unhealthy spending habits. Over time you may chip away at your income and end up with a lot less money for retirement than you otherwise would have expected. Habits are very difficult to break, so the sooner you get started making sure all your spending is in check, the better.

Consider hiring a transition expert to help prepare you and your practice for retirement.


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4 Dentistry Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2017

As the dramatic year that was 2016 comes to an end, it’s important to look towards the future.

While it’s difficult to predict exactly how the economy will change in 2017, we can take measures to ensure our small businesses have the best chance of thriving.

Adopting an effective marketing strategy can boost business and establish you as an expert in your field. An innovative marketing campaign can generate consistent leads in addition to adding value to your dental practice.

Here are 4 Dentistry marketing trends to look out for in 2017.

  1. Storytelling and Interactive Digital Ad Campaigns

In the digital age, audiences have become immune to the barrage of traditional image-based digital advertising, which may lead to an increase in video marketing.

Video-based digital advertising campaigns target potential customers in your area and allow you to tell a story that has the power to increase patient trust. Posting videos of your practice across social media channels highlighting your service offerings keeps you on the radar of your current (and potential) clients.

  1. Increasing Interest in Automation

Traditional sales funnels lead customers from awareness of your brand to interest, decision and finally action. This outbound strategy can be both slow and costly for your dental office.

Creating an automated marketing funnel allows a symbiotic relationship between your marketing and sales, and is vital for dentists who want to maximize leads and minimize time and energy. The most obvious way to capitalize on this is through an email marketing campaign. Once you have captured the email address of your prospect, send them a series of emails that offer value and lead towards a sale. Campaigns can also target customers you already have, so they are periodically reminded of your services and remain repeat customers.

  1. Continuing Importance of Customer-Service Orientated Dentistry

Dentistry has become an increasingly cosmetic-focused industry in recent years, with younger patients looking to dentists to ensure picture perfect smiles. However, there is still a fight against old stigmas that prevent many from going to the dentist’s office.

With the rise of platforms like Yelp and Trip Advisor, which facilitate customer reviews, it’s increasingly important to ensure that your patient feels satisfied with the services you provide. Encourage happy clients to write a review of your services online, and make sure to address any negative reviews directly and in a professional and timely manner.

  1. Personalized Dentistry

Ensuring your clients have a personalized experience is an important part of quality customer service.

You and your staff need to make an extra effort to personally remember patients’ names and details and that any points of contact you have with them can reinforce that knowledge.

People have become tired of the impersonal relationship they have with corporations and big businesses. Sending out holiday and birthday cards, or even simple text messages and updates can break down the barrier between the business and consumer. Taking the time to personally interact with your patients will introduce a familiarity that people want with the services they need.

Even if you are looking to sell your practice in the future, it’s important to ensure that you have effective and current marketing tactics in place. A strong marketing campaign will notably increase the value of your practice.

What marketing trends are you anticipating in 2017? How are you looking to incorporate these new trends into your business strategy? Let us know in the comments!


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Four Ways Dental Professionals Can Give Back to Their Communities

Giving back to your community is an extremely gratifying concept and something that can assist you in building your reputation as an ethical dental professional. While some professionals prefer to give monetary donations, others would rather give of their time. We have compiled a few ideas to help you with your community giving initiatives.

  1. Volunteer Your Time

Giving of your time is an extremely noble action, and there are many organizations and charities in need of physical help from passionate and qualified professionals. You could give a quick talk at a local school to parents and students about the importance of looking after your teeth from a young age, or you could consider donating time or funds to one of the following organizations:

Missions of Mercy

Missions of Mercy holds events in conjunction with America’s Dentists Care Foundation and offers dental services such as cleaning, extractions and fillings.

Donated Dental Services (DDS)

Through the DDS you can help some of the community’s neediest individuals.

Give Kids A Smile

Give Kids A Smile provides free dental care to children who come from low-income households completing important work in terms of restorative and preventive care.

  1. Hold an Open Day

Consider having an open day at your practice where you invite people to attend a talk about something you feel is important to the community and your patients. Or, consider offering free screenings for oral cancer. There are many people who can’t afford a screening but fall into the high-risk category because they smoke or chew tobacco.

  1. Donate Money or Supplies

There are many worthy causes that need donations of basic dental services and supplies to people who cannot afford it. Consider donating toothpaste samples, toothbrushes and mouth rinse  to a local shelter or one of the following organizations:

Healthy Smiles Healthy Children

This organization helps prevent the development of cavities in young children whose parents cannot afford dental care.

American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation

The AACDCF also does important work in restoring the smiles of those who are affected by domestic violence. Through their free service offering, they have also assisted thousands of people to rebuild their self-confidence.

  1. Offer Your Own Services at a Discounted Rate

There are still many people who cannot afford dental insurance. If you can’t make the time to support a charity, consider offering a discounted rate to people from low- income households, pensioners or young children.

The upcoming holidays are a great time to focus your energy on giving back to your community. Whether you choose to donate time, money, supplies or services to those in need, your efforts will be appreciated by those in your community.

The NAPB specializes in bringing dental practice buyers and sellers together. For expert advice on how your dental practice can positively impact your community, feel free to contact us.


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Preparing Your Dental Practice for Seasonal Ups and Downs

Like any other business, dental practices experience seasonal ups and downs. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself busy during the slow seasons in preparation for a successful 2017.

  1. Take A Vacation

Practicing self-care isn’t just about eating right and getting enough sleep. Allowing yourself to take some time off when dental appointments slow down can help you reduce your stress levels. Allow yourself to take a vacation when times are quiet. This is preferable to planning something over the holidays or summer break, which are typically busy months because children are out of school.

Taking a vacation will also recharge your batteries and help you prepare for a busy year ahead.

  1. Remodel or Redecorate

If you wanted to repaint the inside of your practice, have new floors put in or remodel your waiting room, the slow seasons are a great time to renovate or refresh your office. In fact, even if you don’t have plans to do any major renovations, it would be wise to give your practice a decent deep clean while business is slow.

  1. Start Canvassing for New Patients

If you have a marketing plan to get new patients for 2017, the end of 2016 is an even better time to start. Create your marketing pitch and strategy to gain new patients. What activities can you plan month-to-month to keep your practice active and visible in your marketing channels of choice?

Social media is an excellent tool for getting the word out about your services. We recommend actively utilizing any of the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) to connect with potential patients, colleagues and influencers in your community.

  1. Focus on Your Strengths

How can you differentiate yourself from your competition? What are your strengths as a dental professional? What do your patients need? What qualities does your practice have that differentiate you from your competitors?

Focus your 2017 marketing budget on the services that drive your practice and send your patients a clear message that your office out-performs the competition.

  1. Increase Bridge and Crown Production

Research shows that December, January and February are the busiest times for dental practices, in terms of bridges and crowns. This is because most people want to use up their dental insurance before the new cycle kicks in. Make sure your office is well-equipped to handle the rush of procedures that increase during the busier times of the year.


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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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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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Tips To Market Your Practice for Back To School

The start of the new school year is an incredibly busy time for parents.

As they get ready to get back into the swing of things, it can be difficult to get everything organized.

For the busy parent, it often feels like there is too much to do and too little time. They might get an itchy feeling that there’s something more that needs to be done.

Fortunately, this presents an opportune time for you to offer your dental services.

If you are looking to add value to your practice through increased efforts targeting kids and parents during this time of year, there are some pretty simple but effective ways to do so.

Here are five different ways you can market your practice for back to school specials.

Step up your social media efforts. Creating useful blog content and promoting back to school services through your social media channels is the quickest way to remind families of your practice. Though parents will be busy and it will be hard to grab their attention, there is one thing that you can be sure of – if they have social media, they will be on it. However, new changes in the algorithms to platforms such as Facebook and Instagram mean that parents won’t always catch your posts so don’t be afraid to post frequently!

Print a physical leaflet. Emails are a great way to offer discounts, but there is something to be said about leaflets. Creating something with color that will likely be left on a table at home could showcase your services to other families who have similar aged kids.

Request patient referrals. Many dentists are a little shy about asking for referrals directly, but if you have made sure that your patient has had a positive experience, they will be more than happy to recommend you. This is because they know that they’re doing a favor for their friends, who understand the stresses that come with taking children to the dentist.

Create and promote special offers. A lot of parents know that going back to school is a time when they have to spend money. Books, clothes, haircuts, these are all things that add up and can put a certain strain on some families. This is why during this time they’ll be more conscious of saving money and they may be more attracted to the idea of a discount.

Send out an email newsletter. Remind families of your services and let them know that you have back to school offers available by sending out an email newsletter. The letter can include brushing, flossing and nutrition tips, while simultaneously generating leads to fill your appointment calendar.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice or are even considering selling, showcasing a variety of ways to generate profit throughout the year is always an effective way to demonstrate value to a prospective buyer.

Have you had any experience marketing back to school specials? Let us know in the comments.


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Is Selling Your Practice the Right Decision?

Selling your dental practice can be a stressful and complicated decision. How will you know if it’s the right time to sell? Consider the following:

Are You Ready to Retire?

Once you sell your dental practice, your income stream no longer exists and your pension has to take on the income role. It should be able to support your lifestyle until you reach the age of 90. Remember, you need to factor in inflation and a bit extra for comfort. You’ve worked hard, you’ve had a long career, you need to ensure complete financial freedom before you sell your practice.

You No Longer Want to Practice Dentistry

If you no longer want to practice dentistry, this could be the right time to sell your practice but not if your pension isn’t fully funded.

Consider how easy it is for dentists to experience burn out and whether you have been taking care of yourself. If you lose the drive to practice, it may be worthwhile to take a short break before making any major decisions.

After decades of practicing dentistry, you may have a desire to pursue a new career. You may find this new excitement has replaced the drive you used to feel for dentistry. If this is the case, it may be time to sell your dental practice.

Some dentists develop a dislike for the industry, because of experiences they may have had. They may feel unsupported or powerless to make changes happen. Again, this approach is not advisable unless your pension is fully funded.

Speak to Professionals

Selling your practice is not something that should be done on a whim. Before making a major decision like that, it is advisable to speak to a dental transition professional to give you a practice valuation and help you with a plan.

Ultimately, the sale of your practice is a long term goal that should be planned as far in advance as possible. Considering the sale of your dental practice over a long period can maximize your sale price and profit if it is well timed.


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Avoid These 5 Major Mistakes When Buying a Dental Practice

Purchasing a dental practice requires careful thought and consideration. Once you’ve acquired the funds to make the purchase, there are some critical questions to ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line.

  • Is the practice the right one for you?
  • How are you going to manage the practice after purchase?
  • Which operational aspects should you be more invested in?
  • What financial figures and patient numbers should you work toward?
  • What are the most efficient systems you can implement to market and manage your practice?
  • What will you do to improve your practice’s profitability?

Answering these questions thoroughly can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes that other practice owners have made when purchasing a dental practice.

  1. Don’t Ignore Earnings Normalization

When you are in negotiations to buy a dental practice, you will be provided with the current owner’s records to give you an idea of the financial health of the practice. Don’t take the financials at face value. Review all operational expenses with your CPA.

  1. Misinterpreting The Seller’s Utilization

Remember that all dentists work differently, and there may be a major difference between the seller’s ability or areas of expertise when compared to the purchaser.

All staff hours should be considered for how efficiently they are filled, and the role of the doctor should be to spend the minimal amount of time with each patient required for each treatment or procedure. This helps the practice move efficiently, which means your patients don’t spend as much time in the waiting room.

  1. Forgetting to Generate Revenue

It may sound obvious, but there are many dentists who do not have a plan to increase their revenue. There are many creative options for increasing revenue, and they should be a focal point of your strategy from day one. Online advertising, direct marketing, and patient retention marketing need to be adopted as early as possible.

  1. Not Performing Due Diligence on Patient Files

Your average patient file should range between $400 to $525 per annum, but of course, you will have patients with larger and smaller fees. In the event that your patients do not fit into this range, their files should be reviewed. If their fees are lower, consider working on your own sales skills.

  1. Not Optimizing Your Working Capital

Buying for the right price leaves you with more free capital to get your new practice off the ground. You may have access to a lump sum right now, but if you buy for that price, how much running capital does that leave? Work on your deal closing ability, or partner with an experienced broker that can help you optimize your working capital.


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Self-Care for Dentists

Being a dentist can be one of the most stressful occupations that one can have. Between the physical demands of the job, the attention to detail that must be performed with each procedure, dealing with patients that are nervous or upset, and trying to run a business, it’s easy to see where the stress could come from.

Knowing the demands of the job and understanding the impact that stress can have on your overall health, it’s important that you are aware of and maintain not only your physical health but your emotional and mental health, as well.

One of the keys to reducing your stress level is to find a healthy work-life balance. It’s something that you will need to be intentional about as you plan your days and weeks.

Here are several ways to practice self-care:

  1. Get some form of physical exercise a minimum of three days a week. Exercise will not only have a positive impact on your physical health, but it will help you de-stress and increase endorphins, making you happier during your working hours. Find something you enjoy doing so it doesn’t seem like a chore.
  2. Do something fun on the weekends. Take note of the things that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s arts and crafts, hiking, boating, or entertaining, make it a point to try to include some time devoted to this on your weekends off.
  3. Carve out social time. It’s important that you spend time around people that make you happy and that you don’t feel a need to discuss work related matters with.
  4. Make sure you have good professional support. Whether it’s an organization devoted to working with dentists or a network of other dental professionals in the area, it’s important to have a personal network that you can turn to that fully understands what your day to day life is like.
  5. Keep a journal. Journal keeping encourages you to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings and can help you solve problems.

Making self-care a priority can be a challenge if it’s something you haven’t done before, but you will see results very quickly if you implement even just one or two of the above ideas.

Here is a great resource the: Self Care for Dentists Booklet developed by New Zealand Dental Association.


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