Archive for June, 2018

How Much is Enough?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Guest post by Sally McKenzie, CEO McKenzie Management

Naturally, one of the first questions many dentists ask is, “How much should be budgeted for marketing?”  For startup practices or offices that seek to market and grow aggressively, 4-6% of projected production should be allocated for marketing. The typical dentist should budget about $30k to $50k for the first year. For established practices, 3-4% of projected production should be allocated. The typical established dentist should budget $20k to $40k per year.

New dentists commonly assume that because they have a large family or are active in their church these individuals will be the new patients that sustain their practices. What is not considered is this may amount to only 20 to 50 people. They don’t fully realize how many new patients they need each month to make payments on the practice, pay the staff and themselves.

Marketing is an investment in the success of your practice. If you cut the marketing budget or have an insufficient budget, you are cutting the flow of patients to your practice. Without patients there is no practice, plain and simple. Invest in your practice. Create a budget and spend it intelligently – which brings me to my next point.

Marketing is far more than a single ‘Campaign’ or ‘Event’

I have watched dentist after dentist throw thousands of dollars into so called “marketing campaigns”, convinced that this one will bring in all the patients they need. It’s the “silver bullet,” the answer to all of their struggles. The campaign kicks off. The mailers are sent, the ads are placed, the special offers are promoted, the radio jingles are playing, and, yes, the phone is ringing. The schedule is full. Ninety days later, it’s over and so is the rush of new patients.

What happened? Was the campaign really a waste of money? Why are there holes in the schedule again? Who’s responsible for this disaster? Who, what, why – many questions and concerns arise when lots of money is spent and limited return is achieved. I have a word of advice for you – STOP.

Stop looking at marketing as a one-time external event. Marketing is taking place in every interaction with every patient. It is what happens when your business staff answers the phone. It is what takes place when you explain a procedure to a patient. It is the layer of grime on your front door that no one on staff notices because they’re always going in and out the back. Marketing is the small stuff and the big stuff. It is the “whole package.”

SallySally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management,, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company.

Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or email

Patients Choose Elective Dentistry with Whitening

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Guest post by John “Cappy” Sinclair, DDS

As a student in dental school, I used to hear tales about how patients would come into practices during the cosmetic dentistry boom in the early 2000s just seeking elective dental care. I envisioned a future of patients on waiting lists and being booked out for weeks with veneer patients. Then the great recession hit, and many of those patients seeking elective care disappeared. But there’s one treatment I do in my office to open the door for elective services, and it’s one that you can start providing immediately right after dental school. What is this one service? It’s tooth whitening!

Prefabricated trays: New to the market just a few years ago, these are the go-to trays in our office. We use the 15% hydrogen peroxide (HP) for patients that are just looking for a quick way to maintain their whitening while traveling, 6% HP for teens in braces looking to freshen things up before school photos, or the 10% HP as a primer a few days before in-office whitening to pre-condition the teeth. These are the most versatile trays as well as the most cost effective. They also help motivate our patients towards the next phase of treatment.

Custom trays: I am sure there are many patients in your practice who have a set of whitening trays somewhere at home that haven’t been used in years. It could be because their trays no longer fit, or maybe they had issues with sensitivity from some of the earlier whitening products. The good news is your patients are already familiar with this treatment, and there are new whitening products for even the most sensitive patients. We also use custom trays to help with our periodontal patients. SDI has a great whitening product that is 3% hydrogen peroxide that we use prior to and after scaling and root planning procedures to help break down calculus and prevent biofilm from reoccurring.

In-Office: Before the recession, it seemed that in-office whitening such as ZOOM or Boost was all the rage, and patients were willing to pay a premium for it. Now, with fierce competition in the market, I have found a premium fee is a large obstacle for many patients. So how do you adjust your fee while still making in-office whitening profitable? One of the easiest ways to adjust the cost is by limiting doctor time. In our office, in-office whitening is handled by a team member. By empowering a team member to handle these tasks, the doctor’s time is left available for doing restorative and prosthodontic dentistry. If your team is a little rusty, many of the reps will come in and train them.

Many of our patients that have started the whitening process have asked about other enhancements, from replacing old stained composites to tooth alignment and even veneers. I may not have been practicing dentistry during the so-called golden era, but I’d like to think that for this generation of new dentists, the best is yet to come!

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Dr. Sinclair earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has spent additional time in post-graduate training, studying under renowned leaders in functional and esthetic dentistry, and he currently serves as a board member for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and as a product evaluator for Contemporary Product Solutions and 3M.