7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Practice Without Busting Your Budget

Many dental practices are stuck in a bit of a rut. They have strong patient lists and make money each month, but they never seem to get over the hump that lies between “getting by” and “truly thriving.” Figuring out how to take your practice to the next level can be challenging, especially if your marketing budget is limited. Fortunately, these 7 simple tips can boost your practice without busting your budget.

Start a Blog

Blog setup and hosting fees are relatively cheap, and the return on investment can be significant. Not only will you see your website climb up the search rankings with the regular addition of new content, but a blog also helps to set the stage for long-term doctor-patient relationships with both existing and prospective patients. Use your blog to show people who you are, to talk about your practice, and to educate them on the field of dentistry. At once a patient empowerment tool, a trust-building exercise, and an easy way to communicate, a blog is arguably one of the best ways to boost your practice on a budget.

Use Social Media

It’s not enough to create a Facebook page and then ignore it. In today’s highly-connected world, people expect to engage with those they follow on a regular basis. Add Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media accounts as well, and use them frequently. Choose interesting posts that encourage responses and engagement. Monitor your pages regularly for comments and respond to them as soon as possible.

Design a Referral Program

Word of mouth is always your most reliable source of advertising, and it doesn’t need to cost much at all. Develop a referral program that gives a small incentive each time a new patient lists an existing patient as their reason for choosing you. Be sure that your new patient paperwork asks for a referral name.

Join Your Community

One of the easiest ways to spread brand awareness and get new prospects to trust you is to get involved. Write an article for the local newspaper. Sponsor a Little League team. Attend community events. Becoming a known member of your local community will help ensure that people in town will think of you when they need a dentist.

Focus on Patient Retention

Remember that gaining new patients is only part of the equation. For your practice to thrive, you also need to keep your existing patients coming back regularly. Take a hard look at your current policies and procedures to find ways to become more patient-centric. Call each patient post-procedure. Add comfort items such as blankets and headphones. Give sugar-free gum or small toys to kids. Send birthday and holiday cards. Make your patients feel like VIPs, and they will be more likely to return.

Collaborate with Other Professionals

No dentist, no matter how talented, can truly be all things to all people. Reach out to those who specialize in areas that you do not to form valuable referral networks. Maybe you are an expert with kids and families, but you have less experience with elderly populations. The dentist down the street might specialize in geriatrics, but she prefers not to deal with minors. Likewise, you might work with an oral surgeon for patients who need dental implants, but make your own prosthetics in-house.

Offer Membership Plans

Many small businesses are struggling to provide employee benefits, and even the best dental insurance plans typically have low annual caps and long waiting periods for certain procedures. In addition, it is rare for dental insurance to pay more than 50%-80% of the total bill, even for many routine procedures.

An in-house membership plan is a great way to encourage patient loyalty while reducing your patients’ out of pocket costs. You can tailor different annual plans to the level of care different patients need, and offer a variety of payment options to fit various budgets. You can even offer family plans and plans for local small businesses.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

6 Money Management Tips for Dental Practices

Although a dental practice can be incredibly successful, there is no denying that it costs a lot of money to run. If you are not careful about managing your finances, you could actually find your practice losing money, no matter how good your clinical skills and how long your patient list might be. Here are 6 money management tips for dental practices.

Hire an Expert

There are endless moving parts in the finances of any dental practice. Overhead, accounts payable and receivable, business insurance, staff salaries…you are a dentist, not a finance expert, and you have enough on your plate already. Hire a dental consultant with financial expertise or a finance consultant who has experience with dental practices. It is especially important to work with a CPA or an attorney at tax time.

Use Software

Even the best accountant can’t give you the best financial advice without hard data. Use either dental practice management software with built in accounting features or a separate accounting solution such as QuickBooks. Either way, you or someone on your team should get in the habit of entering every single dollar that goes into or out of your practice.

Track Your Financial Metrics

Learn to read your monthly profit and loss statements, as they are filled with crucial information about the health of your practice. Ideally, staff costs (wages plus taxes and benefits) should make up around 30% of your budget. Lab costs and supplies should be no more than 8% each. Marketing is extremely variable, but it is a good idea to try to keep it at or below 4%. Using these numbers will put your variable expenses at around half of your total budget.

Fixed expenses such rent, loan payments, utilities, insurance, and the like are extremely difficult to reduce, and you are responsible for them regardless of your practice’s income. Fortunately, they tend to remain close to the same as your practice grows, meaning that they will make up a small percentage of your budget over time. Keeping fixed costs below 15% to 20% is indicative of a healthy, thriving practice—depending on location, as some cities are simply more expensive than others.

Keep an Eye on Other Important Stats

​Although they are not financial metrics, a number of other stats can give you clues about the current and future financial health of your practice. These include, but are not limited to:

Patient stats: Number per day, cancellation rate, number of new patients per month, etc.

Percentage of suggested treatments accepted

Inquiries vs. scheduled new patient appointments

Production per hour: Dentist and hygienist

Unscheduled blocks of time

Check Your Fees and Salaries

Your fees should be competitive in your local market. Don’t try to be either the highest-priced or the lowest-priced practice in town. Know your target patient population, and customize your fees accordingly, while remaining within range for your area.

Set starting salaries in the midrange for your local area. Reward staff who perform well with raises, bonuses, and other incentives. If you set starting salaries too low, you will not attract top talent. If you set them too high, you will not be able to afford to adequately reward the best on your team.

Invest in Moneymakers

You need to spend money to make money, but it is vital to spend it on the right things. Invest in two key areas:

Making patients happy: Discounts, a more comfortable office environment, and new technology are just a few ways to make dental patients happy. The best way to know what your existing patients want is to ask them. Conduct surveys on a semi-regular basis.

Boosting your visibility: Online marketing is critical, paying special attention to local SEO. But it is not enough on its own. Participate in local charity events. Add a blog to your website. Write an article for the newspaper. Sponsor a kids’ sports team. Make people in your community feel like you support them, and they are more likely to support you.

Reduce Overhead

Though it can be challenging, reducing overhead by just 10% can make a huge difference in your practice’s profitability. Review your vendors, talk to your insurance agent, and take a hard look at your petty cash expenditures. Few dental practices are running at 100% efficiency, so there are almost always ways to trim the fat.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Demolition Clause in Office Lease: What You Must Know

Office leases can be quite complex, and many dentists are unsure exactly what all the complicated language means. It is always best to have a competent attorney review your lease before you sign it, as there are many clauses that could be problematic to your dental practice. One of the biggest red flags to watch out for is a demolition clause. Here is what you must know.

What Is a Demolition Clause?

A demolition clause states that if the landlord decides to demolish or redevelop the building, he or she can serve the tenant with a notice to vacate. Different states have different laws surrounding the notice period that must be given, but 30 days notice is typical. As you can imagine, that is not much time to find a new property and move your practice, and unless other terms are negotiated, you may be on the hook for all your relocation expenses.

Possible Problems You Could Face with a Demolition Clause

Time Frame: As you know, a dental practice is not a plug and play business that can be dropped in just anywhere. You will need to find a suitable property, build it out, and move everything over. You will also need to let your current, former, and prospective patients know where to find you. A tight time frame could be devastating to your practice.

Relocation Costs: If you are held responsible for your own move costs, the financial impact could be severe, or even put you out of business. Does your practice have the spare cash, today, to cover the costs of renovations and build out, hiring movers, changing your marketing, updating your signage, and all the other expenses associated with a move?

Rent Increase: There is no guarantee that you will find a new lease on a suitable property for the rent you pay now. In fact, if you have been in your current location for a few years, it is almost inevitable that a new lease will come with higher rent.

Trouble Finding Comparable Space: Of course, you might not find a comparable space at all. You may have to downsize, take a location with less foot traffic, deal with close proximity to an established competitor, retrofit a space for disabled accessibility, or cope with innumerable other challenges.

Difficulty Selling Your Practice: Even if the demolition clause is never exercised, just the fact that it exists in your lease could make it tougher to sell your dental practice. Some buyers and many financing companies are reluctant to take on an acquisition with a demolition clause, as it removes the security of the lease term.

Negotiating the Demolition Clause

It may be difficult to get your landlord to remove the demolition clause altogether, but some landlords are willing to negotiate. Here are some common ways to amend this clause.

Landlord Pays for Relocation: This is a real game-changer for the demolition clause, if you can get your landlord to agree. Amend the lease to say, in writing, that the landlord will pay any and all expenses related to your relocation if he or she invokes the demolition clause.

Time Dependency: Try to negotiate a length of time that must elapse before the landlord can activate the demolition clause, such as 5 or 10 years. This gives you time to build your practice and save some capital before you need to worry about being put out on the street.

Notice Terms: Try to expand the amount of notice your landlord must give you to vacate. It is far easier to relocate with a year’s notice than with 30 days’ notice.

Terms of Activation: Some landlords will use clauses such as the demolition clause as a pretense to replace tenants with those who will pay more. Ask for a stipulation that the clause can only be invoked if more than 50% of the entire property is demolished or redeveloped.

Proof of Demolition: Get a written commitment for the landlord to provide you with specific proof of demolition or redevelopment when activating the clause, such as architectural drawings and building permits. Otherwise, how will you really know if demolition was the reason you were evicted?

You may not be able to get rid of a demolition clause altogether, but there are ways to make it far fairer to you as a tenant. Always have a competent attorney review your lease before you sign or renew, and always negotiate to get the best possible terms.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Tracking Your Dental Practice Website: Why and How

You probably already know that a strong, credible website full of high-quality content is essential to growing your dental practice. What you might not know, though, is how incredibly important it is to track your website’s performance, or how to go about doing that tracking. Here is what you should know.

Why Do I Need Tracking?

Tracking performance is the only way to understand what is working on your website and what still needs tweaking. Without tracking, you might get only a small trickle of new patients and have no idea why. Or you might suddenly get a flood of new patients, but have no idea how to replicate your success. Website tracking lets you monitor the performance of different content pages, promotions, and advertising campaigns over time to enhance your ROI—the return on your investment of time and money.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is arguably the very best way to track your website’s performance. You can drill down to specifics that let you optimize your website to maximize its success. Here are a few things to pay attention to in Google Analytics:

Website Visitors: One of the most basic but most important statistics is how many new and returning website visitors you have. If this number is low, you will need to find a way to drive more traffic to your site.

Page Views: Learning which pages receive the most views helps you narrow down what your visitors most want to see.

Traffic Sources: Understanding how website visitors got to your site helps you identify where to focus your marketing efforts. Direct traffic refers to the users who physically typed in your website domain. Referral traffic represents users who came via a link from another website. Other traffic sources are social networks and search engines.

Keywords: Learning which keyword phrases people used to find your website can help you optimize underperforming pages by including similar keyword phrases on them.

Conversions: Conversions are the website visitors who actually take action such as making an appointment or filling out a contact form. Ideally, you will have a high percentage of conversions compared to your total number of website visitors.

Average Session Duration: This lets you know how long the average visitor spends on your site. A longer average session duration means that visitors find your site engaging and helpful.

Bounce Rate: The bounce rate tells you what percentage of people arrive on a particular page of your site and then leave immediately. A high bounce rate on a page with basic information such as your phone number makes sense, but a high bounce rate on a page filled with content could indicate a technical issue.

Phone Call Analytics

Many people prefer to call to make a dentist appointment rather than handling it online or walking in without an appointment. Therefore, it is helpful to add phone call tracking to your website. This lets you know when a patient calls you based on your website. You can then add phone call conversions to your website conversions to get a better understanding of how many website visitors actually take action after viewing your site.

Ask New Patients for Information

An old-fashioned but highly effective way to track your patients is to simply ask them how they got to you. Consider adding a short section to your new patient paperwork that asks simply how the patient heard about your practice and whether he or she visited your website.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Do you want to grow your dental practice? Throw out the box!

It’s an expression so common that it’s become a cliche:, “you have to think outside the box.”

But whether you are inside the box or outside the box, it’s still seen as the “safe space” you can retreat to when things get tough. But is it really that safe?

Let’s take a look at the current state of our business.   

  • The cost of a dental education continues to skyrocket with an average student debt of almost $300.000!  
  • There are more Dentists than ever electing to become employee’s rather than owners
  • Dental insurance companies are still squeezing the profit out of every procedure making it more and more difficult to be profitable.

Meanwhile, Managed Service Organizations are growing faster and making it even more difficult for solo practitioners or small group practices to succeed.  

So I say that it’s time to throw out the box if you want to compete and succeed on your own terms.

There are no shortage of consultants out there ready to give you answers. But most of them have never practiced dentistry. So they have a very limited view of what we are capable of doing and where our businesses can find opportunities to grow.

I still practice dentistry five days a week and I’ve built a large dental practice in Massachusetts with 14 locations providing a full range  of dental care to patients.However, changing rules, regulations, and dental insurances are taking a toll. Every year things just seem to get tighter and tighter with very few options on the table to grow.

At least that’s the way it seems if you aren’t willing to kick aside expectations and look for opportunity.

About five years ago I started to implement Botox and Dermal fillers into the Practice. This is a natural progression for dentists and I am here to say to embrace these cosmetic treatments!  Get trained, get your team on board and be aggressive and proactive! I challenge you to consider additional treatment modalities that allow you to side-step insurance companies altogether because they are strictly fee-based.

Your position as a trusted practitioner in your community makes you uniquely qualified to perform additional services at a high level and for a full fee

In addition to Botox and Derma fillers, some other treatment options to consider adding to your offerings include:

  • Radiofrequency treatments (RF) to tighten the skin around the face and neck. Each treatment takes only 5-10 minutes and maintenance is every 4-12 months.
  • Laser treatments to remove red and brown spots on and/or around the face, spider veins, unwanted hair and tattoos as well as scar tissue or wrinkles. Each treatment takes between 25-60 minutes and usually can be completed in 2-4 visit with each visit scheduled 4-6 weeks apart.
  • You can also use both RF and Laser to remove unwanted adipose tissue under the chin, sub mental area inner and outer thighs and abdomen.  These treatments usually can be completed in 2-6 treatments scheduled 6-8 weeks apart and each session lasting between 25-60 minutes.
  • Hydra facials, which replenish the youthfulness of the skin in 30-40 minutes taking years off your patients skin and is maintained by a follow up visit every other month.
  • Kybella injections in the sub mental area to remove unwanted fat or adipose tissue causing the dreaded double chin.
  • PDO sutures or what is commonly referred to as a lunchtime facelift almost instantly taking years off your face.

Does the thought of providing these services scare you? IT shouldn’t! We may not be Dermatologists or Plastic Surgeons, but we are skilled practitioners who are well positioned to elevate Spa Dentistry to something far above warm towels, relaxing music and simple massages.

You already have a captive clientele.  A majority of our patients want to improve their looks.  If they aren’t getting it from you they will find an alternate service provider to do it.  Take the action steps necessary to position yourself for the future.

For Dentist’s who remember a time when the fee you charged was actually your reimbursement, the proposed treatment options I’m suggesting are all fee for service!  They are all considered elective, non-surgical and the demand is high. Interest and awareness is enormous so consider adding additional procedures and services to you practice today.  Be first to implement this in your area – not the last.

Of course you need to be aware of your  state’s regulations. Some states may require you to work indirectly or directly under a Physician’s license.  Other states may require you to have an Esthetician’s license. However in most cases, you will delegate these procedures to a Physician Assistant, Nurse or Lic. Esthetician

In 1983, my first year in business, I put in my first dental implant.  Back then there were enormous resistance,s, but today, only 3 decades later, it is considered the standard of care in many cases.  So throw out that box, step out of your comfort zone and consider the possibilities!

Kevin Coughlin DMD, MAGD, MBA, LE is a practicing general dentist, who has a consulting business, Ascent Dental Solutions LLC, with a focus on education, training development and knowledge. Dr. Coughlin has a Non-Surgical company called Ascent Laser Aesthetics LLC.  He has taught practice management, lectured and written six books on the business of dentistry with an expertise in dealing with MSO’s and DSO’s. Dr. Coughlin has over 100 podcast on Apple radio, Ascent Radio and several webinars. His last book is the Non-Surgical Guide to Aesthetics, available on Amazon, to help patients and clients along with team members to understand quickly and easily options to make you beautiful on the outside.

 

What Dentists Need to Know About Google My Business

Online marketing is absolutely essential for dentists in today’s crowded marketplace. Getting your website (as well as your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media) in front of potential patients is the only way to ensure a consistent supply of new patients. Increasingly, those seeking a dentist will turn to Google first. Google My Business is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your Google ranking, ensuring that local prospects will see your website.

To maximize the power of your Google My Business page, though, it is important to devote some time and energy to making it the best it can be. Here is what you need to know.

What Is Google My Business?

Simply put, Google My Business ties your dental practice to both Google Search and Google Maps. It is a sort of mini-website that gives a snapshot of your practice and allows prospects to click through to your full website for more information. Google My Business is free to use, and it is far easier to quickly rank a Google My Business page than a full website. Think of Google My Business as a nice smile—it makes an excellent first impression.

Optimizing Google My Business for Your Dental Practice

Fortunately, Google My Business has a simple, step by step process. Work your way through the steps in order, fully completing one before moving on to the next.

  1. Claim and verify your page: Go to Google My Business and click “Start Now,” then follow the prompts. After you fill out all of the information, Google will send you a postcard with a verification code. Follow the instructions to finish verifying your page.
  2. Take a NAP: NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Google likes consistency and will penalize you for any discrepancies it finds. Make sure your NAP is exactly the same across your Google My Business page, website, social media accounts, directory listings, and all other online appearances. Also double-check that your Google My Business page is linked to your website rather than a social media account, as only website links boost your Google ranking.
  3. Pinpoint your location: You might be tempted to set a broad region as your location to attract more potential patients. However, Google will penalize you for failing to list your exact address.
  4. Add photos: Post high-quality images to entice prospects. Choose inviting images of the waiting room, the treatment room, the staff, and even your satisfied patients (with their permission).
  5. Interact via reviews and Q&As

A stunning 84% of consumers trust user reviews just as much as personal recommendations, so Google likes to see a steady flow of reviews. Ask your patients directly to write reviews, and consider giving small incentives to do so. Be sure to read and respond to all reviews, including those that are negative.

The more interaction you have, the better your page will rank, so also take advantage of the Question and Answer feature. Patients can ask simple questions and your answers will help build out your profile, as well as boosting your trustworthiness with prospects.

  1. Add an appointments link: Remember that people are basically lazy. Adding a direct link to your appointment page can boost your conversions, or the number of prospects who convert to paying patients. If you have a bit more time and energy, you can even take advantage of Google My Business’s new booking feature that eliminates the need for prospects to visit your appointment page at all.
  2. Write posts: Google My Business allows you to write posts that can help drive patient conversions. Try posting about your events, promotions, and new services.
  3. Pay attention to your page: Most dentists set up their Google My Business page and then forget about it. Checking in once or twice a week to post, respond to reviews, and make sure the page looks spiffy can launch you to the top of the rankings.

Of course, not all dentists have the time or interest to devote to marketing. If you have been putting off dealing with your Google My Business page, consider hiring an outside company to help. We’ll do what we do best, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

What the Relocation Clause in Your Office Lease Actually Means

Imagine you have developed the dental practice of your dreams. You have a loyal group of patients, a constant influx of new patients, and a team you trust. Things couldn’t be going any better. Then suddenly, you get a notice from your landlord that you have to move your practice to another location. What will this mean for the practice you have worked so hard to nurture? Welcome to the relocation clause.

What Is the Relocation Clause?

Sometimes known as the substitution space clause, the relocation clause is extremely common in commercial rental contracts. In essence, it gives your landlord the right to insist that you move to another space within the same building or commercial center. Landlords may invoke this clause for many reasons, but it is often used to combine a small rental space with another space next door to accommodate a larger tenant. The relocation clause typically gives you a short window, such as 30 days, to move to the designated space of the landlord’s choosing.

How the Relocation Clause Can Hurt Dental Practices

Dental practices are generally expensive to maintain, and they often require highly specialized build-outs. There are many potential pitfalls to a sudden relocation that all dental practice owners should consider. These include, but are not limited to:

Relocation expenses: Some leases require the tenant to cover all costs of relocation, from building out the new space to reprinting all marketing materials and hiring movers.

Increased rent: If you are moved to a larger or more “favorable” location, you may be responsible for paying higher rent on the new space.

Size and usability: You might be downgraded to a smaller or less usable space. That could require you to reconfigure your entire setup, or even lose valuable accessibility that is essential for many patients. You might even be relocated to a hard-to-find space with no foot traffic, reducing the potential for walk-ins.

Competition: Odds are, you carefully selected your existing space for many reasons, including sufficient distance from any competitors. A relocation could put you in close proximity to other dental offices, making it tougher to gain and retain new patients.

Downtime: Building out a dental practice takes time. If you are relocated, you may face extensive downtime while you wait for your new office to be prepared. Every day with your doors closed is a day without revenue or the ability to care for your patients.

Loss of patients: From accessibility concerns to an inability to wait through your downtime, there are many reasons patients may choose not to make the move with you.

Fighting Back

It is highly unlikely that, as a small tenant, you will be able to have the relocation clause removed from your rental contract. However, there are many ways to make the clause more favorable for you as a tenant. Some of these ideas are relatively common in commercial rental agreements, and they may even exist in the first draft. Others are a bit rarer. Either way, it is worth negotiating up front for as many of these terms as you can get.

Landlord is responsible for all relocation expenses: This term is actually fairly common, but by no means guaranteed unless you ask for it. In this case, if the landlord makes you relocate, he or she will pick up all of the associated expenses, from build-out to moving expenses to printing new marketing materials.

Rent freeze: This ensures that if you are moved to a bigger or more favorable location at the landlord’s discretion, your rent will remain the same.

Comparable location: You can add language that ensures the new space with be comparable to your existing location in everything from size and configuration to view and level of foot traffic.

Notice period: Ask for a reasonable notice period that gives you time to build out the new space and prepare your patients and staff. The exact length depends on your needs, but many dentists find that a period of 120 days is sufficient.

One relocation per rental period: Relocating is hard work, so try to include language in your contract that will limit your landlord to relocating your practice only once per rental contract term.

Right to terminate: If possible, include language that allows you to terminate the lease without penalty if the landlord is unable or unwilling to find you a suitable space that meets all the terms specified in the clause.

Although it is certainly exciting to start a new dental practice or take over an existing one, it is vital to read through the fine print on every document you sign. A bit of negotiation up front can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and innumerable headaches in the long run.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

Marketing Your Dental Practice: What You Must Know

Naturally, you have certain things that differentiate your dental practice from everyone else’s. Perhaps you hold unique certifications, you have the latest gadgets, or your technical skills are unrivaled. Yet none of those things matter if your prospects are unaware of them or, even worse, are unaware you exist at all. Regardless of your level of service, you must follow the same basic marketing practices as any other service provider. Here is what you must know.

Why Market Your Practice?

Today’s world is busy and ever evolving. People move in and out of town. They get buried under a constant onslaught of information. Even your most satisfied patients tend to move on to other priorities. Marketing helps you stay top of mind to both current and prospective patients, and lets newcomers in your community know you exist. It also gives everyone a boost, including your staff and loyal patients, by making your practice feel like an important part of the community.

Developing a Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan is a natural outgrowth of a strong business plan. You need to fully understand where your practice is now and where you want it to go in the future. You also need to define both your short-term and long-term goals in practical, actionable terms. Finally, you need to become aware of your target market and the best ways to reach those people who are the best fit for your practice. For example, a big city cosmetic dentist who specializes in high end procedures has a very different target market than a rural family dentist who focuses on making dentistry as affordable as possible.

With your goals and target market clearly defined, you can begin to focus on the specifics of marketing your business. There are endless ways to market, from branding small items such as pens and stationery to sponsoring a local baseball team to hosting a charity event. Think through the ways you feel most comfortable interacting with and giving back to your local community, and marketing ideas will begin to flourish. Match your marketing to your natural interests and comfort zone, as well as your practice’s brand identity.

Implementing Your Marketing Plan

A key decision is determining who will actually be responsible for implementing the marketing plan. Remember that in addition to doing the actual marketing tasks, you will need to track the results, so you can get the highest return on your marketing investment. Present your marketing plan to your team, and pay attention to who becomes the most enthusiastic about which parts of the plan. You may want to run the show, or you might prefer to delegate authority, but either way, you will need support and assistance from your team. Let team members take on the tasks that naturally suit them, and they will be motivated to ensure the plan is a success.

Getting Started

The hardest part of any big new project is finding the motivation to actually start. When it comes to marketing, there is no perfect “right way” to start. Just sit down at your computer or pick up a pen and start making lists. Then choose something to try. Trial and error can get you unstuck and give you the feedback you need to create and implement a formalized marketing plan.

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.

People Management: A Vital Skill for a Successful Dental Practice

Today’s dental practices are fast-paced and often stressful, with a seemingly endless list of conflicting tasks that must be accomplished. It can be tough to find time to build relationships in between all of the other pressures of running your practice. Yet relationships are critical to your success.

The best dental practices not only provide excellent care, but foster thriving relationships between the dentist and the team, the dentist and the patients, and the patients and the team. Here is what you need to know.

Talk to Your Team

Research shows that beyond money, staff members in every industry seek a sense of connectedness, autonomy to make decisions, ongoing growth and development, and the feeling that they are making a difference. Foster these intangibles by holding regular staff meetings, seeking feedback, and acting on the information you are given. Help your team members feel like stakeholders in the practice, and they will become far more personally invested in it.

Lead by Example

Model the behaviors you want to see. Never ask your staff to do anything you would not do yourself. Work hard to get to the bottom of team member conflicts in a way that makes everyone involved feel valued. Share your passion for dentistry and your dedication to helping others. Show your team your vision for the practice and ask for their help in achieving it.

Be Tough but Fair with Problem Patients

Every dental practice has that one patient who insists on a very early or very late appointment to accommodate her schedule, and then fails to show up without so much as a phone call. It is always best to give a warning the first time, explaining that you know things happen but next time you will have to bill for the appointment. If the patient makes a habit of no-call, no-shows, send a bill with a courteous but firm explanation.

Pay Attention to Agitated Patients

Unfortunately, some people are aggressive in their daily lives. Even more manage to be polite most of the time but may turn combative when under stress. Keep an eye out for situations that could turn aggressive, such as:

– Patients who owe significant balances
– Patients who tend to skip appointments
– Patients with alcohol or drug addictions
– Patients who cannot be helped right away
– Patients who are especially fearful or in a great deal of pain

Certainly, not everyone who falls into one of these categories will become combative, and it is important to give people the benefit of the doubt. Still, making sure that you and your team are up to date on the latest de-escalation techniques, and using a team approach to potentially volatile situations, can help your staff and other patients feel more comfortable, and can help you provide needed care to agitated patients.

Warning signs that a patient is about to lose his cool include, but are not limited to:

– Tense body language
– Changes in speech volume
– Behavioral changes such as fidgeting or suddenly becoming very quiet

De-escalation techniques include, but are not limited to:

– Empathizing
– Active listening
– Allowing the patient to finish speaking
– Calmly addressing the stated concerns

People management may not be your natural strong suit, but learning basic skills can help boost your dental practice to the next level. The goal is to foster trust, support, and communication between all stakeholders in your practice: the dentist, the staff, and the patients.

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at (800) 983-4126 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.