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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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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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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6 Questions to Let You Know If You Are You Ready to Grow Your Dental Practice

Every small business eventually hits a plateau.

When you reach this stage, start looking to grow some aspect of your practice. Whether you choose to automate certain processes to free up some time for yourself or hire new employees in order to grow the practice substantially, you need to reconsider your current position.

This is also relevant if you’re looking to sell in the near future, as growing your practice before you do so could add significant value to the sale.

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if it’s time to expand your dental practice.

  1. Am I willing to train new people?

Growing your business and hiring new staff takes both time and money. You’ve got to be realistic about the investment you’ll have to put into training these new staff members.

Before expanding, ask yourself honestly; am I willing to spend the time training new people?

  1. Do I have enough consistent revenue to hire new employees?

If you are going to take the risk that comes along with growing your practice, it’s vital that you make sure that you have enough revenue coming in. You need to schedule at least 4 to 6 weeks out if you are considering hiring new staff.

  1. What new roles will be important to my practice?

Knowing the direction that you want to take your practice is important, and one of the things you need to ask yourself is: what roles will best compliment my business going forward?

Maybe you need to hire another dental assistant, or you need someone for scheduling or treatment coordination. Whatever the case, knowing this is essential, so make sure you’re crystal clear on which roles can best improve your operation.

  1. Do I have an untapped market available?

If you’re doing well and there is still an untapped market within your reach, this is a good sign that it’s time to grow.

  1. Have I established enough rapport with my current community?

Don’t look to grow unless you are sure that you have stability with your current market. Until you have established real relationships with your new patients, you can’t be sure that you’ll have a full schedule.

  1. What can I outsource or automate?

Outsourcing and automation can work wonders for your business growth. However, you want to understand what you can and are willing to outsource. For example, hiring a virtual assistant is a cheap and attractive idea, but it can come across as impersonal to your client base and damage your image in the long run.

Adding value to your dental practice through expansion is always something that should be in the back of your mind, however, deciding the best time to do so is important.

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4 Key Tips for Effective Dental Office Design

Redesigning a dental office can be a complicated task. Generally, a dental office redesign requires a significant amount of planning and thought to pull it off successfully. And if you’re looking to sell in the near future, an upgrade is a great way to increase the value of your practice.

What follows are some tips that can help you design a practice that attracts and retains more clients, and creates a more comfortable and productive environment for your team.

  1. Define project objectives

Before beginning an office redesign project, consider the goals you’d like to achieve. What exactly are you looking to get out of this project?

In other words, what is the vision? Maybe you want a friendlier, more calming atmosphere for your customers, or maybe you want to bring newer and more advanced technologies to your office?

Before you start any project determine the size of the changes you want to make. Is this just a small change, or are you looking for a complete overhaul?

  1. Determine a budget

One problem a lot of practices run into is that they have trouble with costs because they haven’t defined a budget. When redesigning an office, consider the overhead costs before embarking on any kind of renovation. Builders’ risk insurance, for example, protects against fire and theft and is one often-overlooked expense.

  1. Think about colors

A dental office needs to be clean and well-organized, from the waiting room to the dental chair. Soothing colors can be a great way to help establish your practice as modern, relaxing and technologically up-to-date. Consider your demographic, is it mostly children and parents? Are a lot of your patients young professionals? Keep in mind that warm colors and shades of blue are often effective in medical environments, contributing to a calm and relaxing space.

  1. Don’t rely too heavily on any one criteria

There are a few things you’ll want to consider when embarking on a redesign or upgrade. Here are three important criteria to think about:

Architectural design. You want an office that looks modern, inviting and has good natural light.

Function. The layout of the office needs to be practical. Consider creating a space that enables direct communication and flow between you, your office administration and your patients.

Ergonomics. Back issues are a very common problem plaguing dentists. Make sure that the practice is set up in a way that allows staff to move around frequently and maintain good posture.

Updating or redesigning your dental office can help to calm nervous patients and add value to your practice.

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5 Simple Tips to Help Dental Patients Cut Down On Sugar

Routine check-ups can provide a consistent income for many dental practices, however, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, most dentists entered the industry out of a real care for the oral hygiene of their patients.

It’s therefore in their best interest when dealing with clients, to educate them as to the hazardous nature of sugar in their diets.

When explaining anything to the general public, however, it’s vital that you break things down into small, actionable steps if you want to make real change.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice or hold onto it for many years to come, educating patients is important for the entire dental community, so don’t hesitate to offer advice when people come in for a check-up.

Here are 5 simple tips for dental patients to help them cut down on sugar.

  1. Look for the secret sugars

Most people think of sugar as something that they only find in sweets or junk food. It’s important to let people know that even fruits can have high doses of sugar and therefore too much fruit (or fruit juice) isn’t always a good thing.

Also, when buying groceries, advise patients to look out for the other names under which ‘sugar’ may be presented, such as sucrose, maltose, molasses, glucose, fructose, corn syrup and many others.

  1. Eliminate sugared breakfast cereals

Another important point is to watch for sugar in breakfast cereals. Most will have upwards of 10 grams of sugar per serving, equivalent to a tablespoon of sugar, (and many of us may have 2-3 recommended servings of cereal).

Tell your patients to try a sugar-free alternative such as porridge or oats and to add their own sweetening in the form of Stevia or Xylitol.

  1. Start small

Remember that if your patients are heavily reliant on sugar they may even have withdrawals, their palate may be too accustomed to sugared foods. In this case, switching them completely off sugar could make them associate low-sugar foods with poor taste.

Instead, advise beginning with small changes such as switching from dark chocolate to milk chocolate at dessert time and putting honey in your coffee as opposed to standard, processed sugars.

  1. Educate patients on sugar alternatives

A lot of the time patients may be completely unaware that they are choosing the unhealthy option.

If you can educate them as to alternatives that have less sugar in them, it will go a long way to cutting down their sugar intake.

  1. Always brush after eating sugar

While consuming sugar is one problem, letting it sit in your mouth all day is another. Try to encourage patients to always brush after consuming sugar, or at least each some sugar-free gum to try and remove as much of it as possible.

The more value you can offer you dental patients, the more likely they are to come back to you. So make sure you take every opportunity you can to offer them useful information.

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5 Quick Tips to Improve the Ambiance of Your Practice And Reduce Patient Anxiety

Tell me you didn’t have this experience when you were a child.

You’d find out you were going to the dentist, maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t. Either way, your parents would drag you along for a check-up, and when you walked in, you felt a sudden surge of anxiety.

The lighting reminded you of an old horror movie, the sounds and smells quickly brought back memories of the drill, and suddenly the dentist’s office was the last place you wanted to be.

Though it’s probable that with your own practice, the associations you have with the dental office have changed, it’s important to remember that this could be happening inside the mind’s of your patients.

This is why when it comes to increasing the value of your dental practice and attracting patients in a competitive market, the atmosphere of your office plays a huge part in your patients’ experience.

Here are 5 ways to improve the ambiance of your dental office and helped reduce any anxiety that your patients may experience.

  1. Don’t try too hard to be a dental office.

Most dentists will try and mimic the competition and create a ‘nice dental office’, but remember that you want to distance yourself from any preconceptions that your patients may have.

Smell is the most primitive sense, and the one most attached to memory, so if it feels like a waiting room or smells particularly like a dental office, it can remind patients of childhood fears. Remember to maintain a professional environment but try something different like a calming aromatherapy diffuser filled with lavender or chamomile scented essential oils.

  1. Look at your lighting.

Natural light reminds people of open space and the outdoors and reduces any feelings of claustrophobia. Make sure your practice is well lit but also that it is not too bright and doesn’t have any lights pointing directly in the eyes of your patients.

  1. Give patients something to do.

The last thing people want to do in your waiting room is sit in silence and think about the dental procedure they’re about to have.

Make sure to keep interesting fine art on the walls, magazines and books to read, toys for children to play with – pretty much anything to divert their attention from any anxiety they might have.

  1. Take some tips from spas.

A trip to the dentist doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, if you take some tips from the business model that spas use, it can even be relaxing.

You may want to introduce things like heated and scented towels, offer patients hot tea or water while they wait, and provide eye masks for those sitting in your waiting room. These small details can help relax and calm jittery nerves and can contribute to a patient’s positive dental experience.

  1. Consider your colors.

Changing the colors of the paint in your dental office is a quick and inexpensive way to help your patients feels more comfortable. Consider light shades, as opposed to dark, striking tones. Colors such as beige, light blue or sage green can all be particularly effective.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice or stay with it for years to come, it’s important to improve the atmosphere of the practice if you want to keep your patients satisfied.

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How to Keep Staff Morale Up When Preparing to Sell Your Dental Practice

Planning a dental practice transition is stressful, particularly for any staff members who are employed by the practice. A functional and stable team is a crucial component of a successful dental practice transition, and it’s important that your staff convey a positive message to the world outside your practice walls.

These tips will help your staff make your practice transition a little easier.

Never Underestimate the Power of Preparation

The more notice you can give your staff, the better. Time helps people come to terms with change. Provide your staff with a basic overview of the transition timeline and schedule time to discuss any questions and concerns with your employees.

Also remember that different people adapt to change differently and in different ways. Consider enough time for the slowest adaptors to come to terms with the shift.

Communicate About What is Happening

If you decide to have your practice valued, let your staff know that you are considering selling your practice. You don’t have to divulge every small detail, but your transparency and willingness to discuss your future plans will have a direct bearing on the comfort levels of your staff.

Your staff members want to know where they stand with you, so tell them. Speak about the stuff that matters. Will working hours change? Can you secure the employee’s next raise before your departure?

Manage Your Own Stress Levels

If you find the transition stressful, it’s likely that your staff will sense it. Prepare yourself and make informed choices to cope with the pressures of the transition. If you are on top of things, your team will experience less stress about the process.

Treat Each Staff Member as an Individual

When it is time to make an official announcement, communicate with each team member on a personal level. It is important to acknowledge the individual contributions of each staff member in question.

Take time to discuss the staff member’s job security. Explain how important it is that the practice gets their support during this time of transition. Ask each staff member to support the new practice owner and reassure your employees that the new owner has been properly vetted. Your staff members have trusted your judgment for this long. Now is a good time to speak to that and request its continuation.

Promote the Team Approach

Explain how you have sought out professional support for the transition, and that you have the services of a transition expert, accountant, lawyer, and mentor to assist you.

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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 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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