Archive for the ‘Practice Start-Up’ Category

A Smart Start to Practice Growth

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

As the owner of a practice starting out or a stagnant one trying to grow, you are faced with figuring out what impacts practice growth the most. When properly planned, three areas can help to maximize growth from day one.

  1. Systems

You’re likely not thinking about efficiency or productivity during your first days or weeks in business. With a handful of patients each day, you’re not faced with bottlenecks, communication gaps, or duplication of processes. Alas, you soon will be. Systems minimize gaps or overlaps in your daily processes. They are needed for productive workflows and profitability.

Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) early on. Doing so sets the stage for staff expectations, accountability measures, and helps you measure areas of success or needs for improvement. Early on, you are likely running your practice without a full team. You have an assistant also taking on the front desk role, because you’re simply not busy enough yet to hire a full-time admin team member. As you bring on new staff, a written set of SOPs will ensure each team member is prepared and knows their responsibilities. Systems should be created knowing they will evolve as your practice grows and staff roles change. XLDent provides each practice, whether just starting out or transitioning from another PMS, a core set of SOPs to start with. They are a fantastic starting point for those new to establishing systems, and are customized by each practice as needed.

  1. XLDent blog photo Mockup-12-19-16Reviews and Referrals

I doubt there’s a practice starting out today that doesn’t have an online presence from day one. From the day you open your doors, focus on creating a process for reviews and referrals. Nothing attracts new patients more than a healthy online rating and patients who aren’t afraid to tell others about their great experience. After a visit, ask your patient if they were happy with their experience and funnel them right over to do that 5-star review. Lighthouse 360 helps you automate this. Emails. are automatically sent post-visit, and good reviews are posted right to your website and social media pages.

  1.  Patient Experience

It’s no surprise that convenience and consumer experience are priorities when a new patient chooses a dentist. They are especially significant in gaining one who is loyal. Don’t discount the importance of electronic reminders, online access, and paperless forms, to a patient. A busy mom doesn’t want to be faced with a stack of forms to complete that you’re going to scan and shred anyway. Consider a system that embraces all aspects of a streamlined paperless system, so you’re not left with the task of finding disconnected solutions that leave you with clumsy systems.

To connect with someone from XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.com

DawnDawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

 

How To Fight Off Burnout by Investing in Yourself (It Might Seem Crazy, But It’s Worth It!)

Monday, May 1st, 2017

By Courtney L. Lavigne, DMD

Graduating dental school with today’s student debt burden is overwhelming. It can be even more stressful to finally finish school and realize how little you know, how inundated dentistry can make you feel, and how difficult it can be to find the path to do the dentistry you always dreamed of doing. Three years out of dental school, I found myself burning out—feeling overworked and underpaid.

In that situation, it’s hard to imagine spending any more money, but in my experience, it’s a necessity to advance your potential clinically, which will in turn increase the satisfaction you gain from the profession.

One of the ways I found my path out of burnout and into a real passion for the profession was through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). It was through this association that I found mentors who taught me how to decrease the number of patients I see per day, increase my clinical ability and the complexity of the dental work I’m doing, and find greater financial and personal rewards in the process.

It can be intimidating to attend an annual meeting when you are flying out of town, staying at a hotel by yourself, questioning how to dress, and realizing you don’t know anyone. The AACD’s annual meeting made it easy to enter the world of cosmetic dentistry because they find mentors to reach out to first-time attendees. At my first meeting, I met my mentor, and we’ve become good friends since. The lectures and hands-on workshops at their annual meeting are, in my opinion, the best bang-for-your-buck available in dentistry today. Over the course of a three-day period, you can learn from some of the best lecturers in the world, and take home pearls you can put into practice the next time you’re in the office.

I’ve attended the conference every year since my first, and I take Newton Fahl’s hands-on workshop multiple times at every conference. In addition to the educational material, I always look forward to the evening events which are not only fun, but allow you to network with some of dentistry’s best and brightest. I’ve made some of my closest friends in dentistry this way.

This year at the annual meeting in Las Vegas, I was honored to be on the other side, lecturing for the first time. A few years ago, I would have never imagined I could have knowledge others would benefit from. But today, I’m enjoying sharing the knowledge, tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, alongside others striving to do the same.

It’s hard to swallow the expenses of some of this continuing education as a new graduate, but the return on your investment will truly be priceless.

AACDBlogPicCourtney Lavigne received her undergraduate degree at Creighton University and her doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She maintains a private fee-for-service practice in the Boston suburbs with a focus on cosmetic dentistry. She started her practice from scratch in 2013.

Dr. Lavigne is a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, the Pierre Fauchard Academy, visiting faculty and online author for Spear Education, and working towards accreditation through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Defining Yourself in the Dental Community

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

In 2015, I, along with my wife Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, was inducted as a Fellow into the International College of Dentists—an honor only about 4 percent of U.S. dentists receive. The ICD is a worldwide dental organization that recognizes professional achievement, advancement and service to dentistry.

My wife and I graduated from dental school less than 10 years ago (7.5 years to be exact). We practice in Texas, but we aren’t from Texas and didn’t go to dental school there either. This isn’t common for ICD inductees, who are typically older than us and have long standing connections and friends in their communities.

So how did we make names for ourselves in our dental community and receive such a prestigious honor in such a short amount of time? I attribute it to three factors: participating in organized dentistry, moving to a city with a great community of dentists, and simply turning some disadvantages into advantages.

It was daunting to move to San Antonio in 2010. We didn’t know a single person. Texas is a welcoming, friendly place, and within a few months, we made friends and connections. By showing up to meetings, participating in committees, and valuing every relationship, we built a network.

When you’ve been part of a community for a long time, it’s only natural to stay in a small comfort zone of friends and associates. When you’re new and have no comfort zone, there’s a lot of freedom and opportunity that comes with that. There’s an opportunity to consciously define who you are. Before and during dental school, I wanted to become a dentist. That was such a big goal I didn’t really think about anything bigger than that!

After being a dentist for a few years, I recognized there was opportunity for so much more. I asked myself questions like, “What do I want to be known for?” and “How can I make things better for people around me?” I wanted to be known as someone who served others; this motivated a lot of my decisions about how I would spend my time. I’m not sure I would have been so introspective if I had stayed in one place. I’m not sure I would have taken advantage of every opportunity to give back if I felt it was always going to be there for me.

We wouldn’t be ICD members if it wasn’t for our sponsor and our generous friends who wrote letters to support us. Six years ago we moved into a community with many of the best dentists in the country. Whether it’s with service to the profession, contributions to advancing dentistry, or clinical excellence, there are so many shining examples in our own city. These are our  mentors and our friends. We’re very fortunate to be surrounded by great people.

Larry DoughertyLarry Doughtery, DDS, is a 2008 graduate of Nova Southeastern University. He has chaired a number of committees on new dentists, has taught at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry, and now owns Rolling Oaks Dental, a start-up practice in San Antonio, where he practices with his wife who is also a dentist.

Lease or Buy…(continued)

Friday, May 15th, 2015

In the last article, the many benefits of owning your practice were explained. Here, I will highlight the second and third steps in weighing the pros and cons of whether to own or lease your commercial real estate space.

Second Step: Learn About Today’s CRE Market

Since the recent real estate downturn, individuals and businesses are more cautious about real estate investments. Prudent investors are taking steps to learn about their current market climate, ensuring the best investment for the long term.

Traditionally, real estate decisions have hinged on desirable locations. In today’s CRE market, decisions should also include timing as a key ingredient. If you can secure your mortgage at historic low rates, you pay less in interest. You can search for local CRE properties online, but you should realize that not all available properties will appear. The best choice is to work with a local commercial broker who knows your area.

Third Step: Assemble the Team

⋅Navigating the labyrinth of loan options and finding the perfect building or location can be overwhelming. No matter, whether to lease or buy, is the best  choice for your practice; plan to surround yourself with experts who can assist in making the right decision. The following is a list of experts who  specialize in these decisions:

⋅Demographic consultant: Invest in this resource to learn the composition of the area: How many dental practices exist locally? Who is your competition?  Who are your potential customers? Once armed with this information, you can embark on your search for the perfect property location.

⋅ Accountant: A certified public accountant can help determine what your practice can afford and familiarize you with tax benefits.

⋅ Commercial broker: This team member helps you locate potential properties. Find your local realtor board at www.realtor.org to choose professionals    with area expertise.

⋅ Attorney: Engage your attorney if you need help with property negotiations.

⋅ Commercial lender: This team member guides you through financing options. Your best bet is to choose a lender that specializes in dental practice    financing. A dental practice financing specialist will understand your specific needs and can dive deeper into your balance sheet to help find the best  terms. With this type of specialty lender, you might even qualify for 100% financing, which goes a long way toward making your dream a reality.

The decision to buy or lease is one of the most vital you will make as a business owner. Arm yourself with details and expert opinions to make an informed decision and get your business off to a great start.

Screenshot 2015-04-24 14.15.33

JP Blevins joined the Live Oak Bank team in early 2011 and initially spent much of his time educating young professionals about financing and how to best maintain and grow their business. Assisting healthcare professionals in achieving the “American Dream” of ownership, JP is a Loan Officer and General Manager working exclusively with the dental and medical community nationwide.

JP can be reached by phone at 910.796.1674, or email jp.blevins@liveoakbank.com

 

Make an Informed Decision Whether to Lease or Buy

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Whether establishing a new dental practice or taking steps to expand your practice, as a business owner, you face difficult choices. One crucial decision is whether to invest in commercial real estate (CRE) or to lease space. Before you decide, weigh the pros and cons of a lease vs. buy, take steps to learn the current CRE climate, and surround yourself with experts who can smooth your path.

First Step: To Lease or Buy?

A lease might appeal to you if future space requirements are uncertain, or you require cash for equipment and marketing. The upside of leasing is that it typically doesn’t require a large down payment, leaving you with cash available to focus on running your practice. Plus, you don’t have property ownership and maintenance responsibilities.

Lease arrangements have one major drawback: You aren’t investing in your future. As property values increase, your landlord — not you — benefits from the property’s investment. The landlord also might limit improvements you can make to the space. Retrofitting existing space for a dental practice could cost $150,000 or more. And, once you invest in improvements, consider that this is the space that you don’t own. If you outgrow the space, you will start over in a new location, losing your initial investment in the process.

If your goals are longer term, and you wish to use your property as an asset toward future retirement, consider buying. Purchasing property sometimes requires an up-front investment, but can often be mitigated by a lender who specializes in dental financing.

For new construction or purchased CRE, your loan can be amortized over 25 years, in some cases resulting in monthly payments similar to a 10-year lease agreement. Owning your property and building gives you a blank slate. You can develop and modify space as your office changes and grows. Or, you can allocate space to lease to other tenants, which generates a new revenue stream. Another benefit is that owning CRE property comes with multiple tax benefits.

Steps two and three will be highlighted in a follow up article.

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Screenshot 2015-04-24 14.15.33

JP Blevins joined the Live Oak Bank team in early 2011 and initially spent much of his time educating young professionals about financing and how to best maintain and grow their business. Assisting healthcare professionals in achieving the “American Dream” of ownership, JP is a Loan Officer and General Manager working exclusively with the dental and medical community nationwide.

JP can be reached by phone at 910.796.1674, or email jp.blevins@liveoakbank.com