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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Top 5 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Office Manger

When recruiting an office manager, you’ll need to make sure your new hire has skills including initiative, character, experience, communication and a positive attitude. Making sure you hire based on these traits will put your dental practice and staff on the road to success.

A Healthy Attitude

When the going gets tough, it helps to have someone with a balanced and healthy attitude leading your team. When a patient has a toothache and a low pain tolerance, it’s common that his or her mood may be affected, which can lead to communication struggles between your practice and the patient. Having an office manager that can deal with difficult patients on a regular basis is the difference between a successful practice and one that lags behind the competition.

Taking Initiative Is Part of The Job

Initiative is what will move your practice forward. Sure, you need someone diligent who will dot the i’s and cross the t’s but your practice requires more. An office manager who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and do his or her job without your constant direction, can take the weight off your shoulders.

A Hardy Character

Hire a manager with a resilient character who is able to work with difficult patients and vendors.

Employ an office manager with a tough character who won’t go to pieces every time someone complains or who isn’t easily overwhelmed when the phone rings off the hook. Check out the recruits’ EQ before hiring and you’ll spare yourself many headaches in the process.

Experience is Critical

Your dental practice manager is essentially the face of your business, and if that person is inexperienced, it will show. What kind of experience are we talking about? The answer is varied experience, which ranges from your practice management software, finances, and patient records.

It All Starts with Effective Communication

A good dental practice exhibits effective communication, and before you can convey this to the patients, it has to take place internally. An effective office manager can use his or her discretion to gauge which incidents need to be conveyed to you and which can be handled without sounding the alarm.

Of course, for this decision-making to take place it helps if your new office manager is empowered and knows where they stand with you and your dental practice.

Once you’ve decided which traits are most important to you and your practice, structure your interviews so your candidates can effectively demonstrate their capabilities. Ask how they would perform in certain situations and make your hiring decisions based on their answers.

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Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance for Dental Professionals

There’s a lot more to life than dentistry. Even though your profession may take up most of your time, it’s important to note that sustained, long term stress is bad for your health and your personal life. Making small changes now can lead to a better experience and a healthier work/life balance.

If you’re a hard-working dentist who’s used to burning the candle at both ends, just how do you take a break and get away from it all?

Figure Out What You Enjoy

If this is the first time you’ve heard about the importance of maintaining a work/life balance, chances are you might need to spend a little extra time figuring out what drives you. What do you enjoy doing? What relaxes you? This is the first step to planning the life you want to live.

Whether you need to start a new hobby or rekindle a leisurely past time you haven’t explored in a while, make the time and space for it in your schedule.

Start off by introducing your hobbies or interests two to three times a week. Whether it’s going to the gym, spending time with friends, or booking a date night, give yourself a chance to make time for your interests outside of your practice.

Plan Your Vacations in Advance

Yes, you read that right. As well as giving you something to look forward to in the year ahead, booking your vacations in advance ensure that you will actually go. If you wait around for your schedule to clear, you’ll never get away. Your vacation days will pile up, get dusty, and your work and home life will suffer.

The good news is that studies show it doesn’t matter if you go away for six long weekends or one two day break, it’s getting away that will make the biggest difference to your body, mind, and soul.

Innovate Better

Don’t have an extra four hours a week to lead a balanced life? Optimize your time better. What does that mean? Well, if riding your bike just can’t fit into your schedule, consider riding to work. Or, get an exercise bike to use at home while you watch your favorite TV show. Sure, you might not be training for a triathlon this year, but it’s infinitely better than doing nothing at all.

Open Your Mind

Don’t have hobbies or interests? Not interested in anything other than your profession? Don’t worry, here are some ideas just for you:

Travel more. Travel has unintended benefits for dental professionals. Because we work in a multicultural society any kind of travel or learning about other cultures offers a beneficial experience.

Listen to music or better yet, learn to play music. Why? Well music has been proven to improve sequential skills development and memory.

Art and drawing have been shown to improve memory, concentration, and attention to detail.

Playing sports is physically beneficial in terms of stress management and can also improve hand eye coordination. There’s also a recreational and social element if you choose to participate in extracurricular activities with friends or colleagues.

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How to Make Your Office a Positive Workplace for Your Employees

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” but how can a leader influence their environment so that it’s an optimal workspace for others? What’s important to remember is that if you cannot build a positive practice and give your patients a positive first experience, you may quickly lose them to your competitors.

A negative practice atmosphere may include a high staff turnover, personal conflict and even a higher incidence of illness. Your employees are your link to your patients and any cracks in your team will be obvious to those who visit.

However, if you can maintain a positive climate in your office, your practice is more likely to flourish. Here a few tips for keeping the atmosphere in your practice on the right track:

Encourage Career Building

There’s a big difference between having a job and building a career, and if you want your employees to be engaged in their work, helping them pave a career is a great way to keep your team moving forward. Show your team the vision you have for the business and keep them informed of any upcoming changes. By keeping your team in the loop, you give them the opportunity to align their personal goals with your expectations.

Lead by Example

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it just to be sure: be the change you want to see in your practice. Your team is an extension of you and if you lead in a positive and strong manner, your team will follow your example. The impression you make on your team is a lasting one, so make it a good one. The example you create contributes to the culture you grow in your practice.

Your company culture influences the attitudes of your staff and their behavior. It also affects the harmony of the team, the type of employees you attract, and the levels of stress present in your practice.

Involve Your Employees

One of the tenets of a positive workplace is employee engagement and involvement. For this to happen, the practice owner needs clear and direct communication channels with all employees. Yes, your dental practice staff need to know what their roles and responsibilities are, but more than that, they need to be involved in the bigger picture. They need autonomy in their jobs and the ability to make decisions based on the practice philosophy.

Show Your Appreciation

Paying a regular salary to your employees is the minimum you can do as a leader and practice owner. If you want to engage your employees and make them feel valued, you need to show your appreciation.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Give a note that says how much you appreciate the effort or extra input provided by an employee. Stop by a co-worker’s office to let him or her know how much you appreciate their input and involvement.
  1. Send a small gift to single out someone who has gone the extra mile for the practice. Be sure to let others in the practice know the reason for the gift and that they, too, can earn one. Showing favoritism is not encouraged, but having a special gift as in incentive is a good idea.
  1. Provide a structured bonus and raise plan for your employees based on their performance. Maintaining quarterly reviews for your staff allows you to engage them on a one-on-one basis.

Having a positive attitude, clear objectives, and excellent leadership skills will help you build an exemplary practice that both patients and staff will love.

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Explaining the Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Patients

In the last ten years, the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

One argument against these devices is that although they were created with the intention of weaning smokers off cigarettes, they may now have the adverse effect of introducing teenagers to smoking, acting as a kind of ‘gateway drug.’

Various studies have recently emerged to suggest that e-cigarettes may have negative impacts on our dental health too.

As a dentist, you need to offer your patients value. This means providing them advice on how to maintain dental hygiene both inside and outside of the office.

E-cigarettes may be better than traditional cigarettes if you compare overall dental health outcomes, however, educating your patients as to the real risks of e-cigarettes is a responsibility that you have as a dentist.

Here are some of the findings that you need to know.

  1. They cause damage to gum tissue

A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center found that e-cigarettes can damage gum tissue just like conventional cigarettes.

“We showed that when the vapor from an e-cigarette is burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” said Irfan Rahman, lead author of the study.

  1. They inhibit the body’s ability to produce saliva

One symptom that e-cigarettes appear to share with traditional cigarettes is that the nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva. The result is that you can become susceptible to bacteria and build up, as well as other negative outcomes such as dry mouth and tooth decay.

  1. They lower immune defense and alter gene expression

One study out of the University of North Carolina found that e-cigarette use altered hundreds of genes, some of which were the same ones that are suppressed by smoking.

“We honestly do no yet know what long-term effects e-cigarettes might have on health,” said Ilona Jaspers, lead author of the study. “I suspect that the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking,” she continued.

  1. They may be harmful to lung health

Research out of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) found that e-cigarette use was related to a range of respiratory symptoms. Included among these was the exacerbation of asthma.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice for a while or sell in the near future, educating your patients on dangers of e-cigarettes adds value to your practice and is always worth the extra effort.

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Dos and Don’ts for Blogging

Ten years ago, a dentist could have been forgiven for questioning the validity of blogging and social media. Today, however, these channels have become essential tools for any dental professional hoping to add value to their practice.

A dentist with an active online presence shows that he or she cares about educating his or her patients. Blogging also helps establish professional credibility and can improve your status as an industry leader. Maintaining a blog, with relevant keywords also has the power to boost SEO rankings and keep your website at the top of Google, which can lead to increased online visibility and in turn, more clients.

So, how do you get started blogging and what components of a blog can help or hurt your practice? Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to consider when adding a blog to your website: 

  1. DO Know Your Target Audience

Establish the type of patient you want to attract to your practice. Focusing on your specialty can help you to further understand your clientele. Once you have identified your audience, write content that speaks to their interests and needs.

  1. DO Invest Time Developing High-Quality Content

A patient could probably find a dozen articles online regarding dental implants and the importance of good dental hygiene, but what do you have to offer that is unique to your target audience and its needs?

Blogging is an effective way to circulate informative and interesting content that your audience will care about, which can lead to higher engagement and potential clients. Consider your strengths and feature content that showcases what makes you different from other dentists. We recommend offering your readers a level of information that they’d be unlikely to find elsewhere; in a language they can understand.

  1. DO Participate and Listen

Are you experiencing commonalities in the problems your patients are facing? Could a single blog post help more than one patient?

Use any feedback you receive from your patients, and let it inform the topics you cover on your blog. Let the chair-side manner you’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the years shine through in your writing. Utilize friendly language when speaking to your audience.

Listening, responding, and considering feedback is an essential component of building any great business. Make sure you follow, read, share and comment on any content written by your peers.

  1. DON’T Forget to Use Your Own Words

Don’t make use of trademarked or copyrighted information without a citation of the author’s permission.

  1. DON’T Infringe on Patient Confidentiality

While it can be effective to showcase studies and examples of your work, remember not to post anything about a patient or employee without their written consent in the form of a signed waiver. This includes photographs, radiographs and even testimonials.

  1. DON’T Post Graphic Images

While images can add to your blog posts, make sure they do not depict overly graphic material. You don’t want to scare patients away.

  1. DON’T Forget to Share Your Content on Social Media Channels

Blogging provides SEO value for your website but your articles can reach a wider audience if you share them on your social media channels too.

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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!

NAPB | National Association of Practice BrokersDENTAL PRACTICE BROKERS

Dental Practice Transitions Selling a Dental Practice
Dental Practice Valuation Dental Practices For Sale