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Dentistry According to the Rolling Stones

Dentistry According to the Rolling Stones

What do Mick, Keith and the boys know about running a dental practice? Actually, more than you might think, judging from some of the songs in their catalogue. Let’s dust off a few classics as well as a few deep cuts and see what practice management lessons can be gleaned from the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band…

Start Me Up (from Tattoo You)

Kick off your day with a brief morning meeting. This keeps your entire team on the same page about what will be occurring in terms of new patients, patients with unaccepted treatment, patients who owe money, openings in the schedule, etc. The meeting should last 10 minutes or so. If you’re experiencing some customer service issues, the morning meeting is a good forum for reviewing practice policies, creating new scripts if necessary and role-playing different scenarios.

Miss You (from Some Girls)

Patients aren’t as loyal as they once were. They’ll jump to another practice if they see a coupon for a new patient exam or they’ll stop coming in for regular care for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s economic. They changed jobs and they no longer have dental insurance. Sometimes, it’s something you or your staff did. Your front desk coordinator was curt or you had an emergency and couldn’t spend much time, catching up with them.

Treat your patients like VIPs. Pretend your patients are actually the Rolling Stones or whoever your favorite musical artist is. Make every patient visit to your practice a special one.

Stop Breaking Down (from Exile on Main Street)

When systems are old, they constantly break down. When systems aren’t documented, team members don’t know what to do. When team members aren’t trained on the systems, things don’t get done the right way.

Practicing with outdated systems is like trying to run a marathon with 20-pound weights tied to your ankles. You’re going to expend a lot of energy trying to accomplish the simplest tasks. As those systems continue to age, those weights get heavier and heavier.

So, you have choice… tolerate old, inefficient systems or replace them.

Gimme Shelter (from Let It Bleed)

Some days, it’s hard being the boss. There are times when you’ve got to interact with unhappy patients, upset team members and difficult colleagues. As the practice owner, the buck stops with you. Of course, you should delegate all the small, non-clinical stuff to your team. But the big stuff still falls on your shoulders. And that makes it incredibly challenging to leave the job behind when you go home for the day.

To be an effective CEO, you need time away from the practice and you need to protect that time or else you end up working 12–14 hours every day, which isn’t good for you or your family.

What’s the point of owning a practice that produces $2 million a year if you have no time to enjoy your success and no one to enjoy it with?

Every dentist needs a life outside your practice. That means spending time with family and friends. That means pursuing hobbies and taking vacations. That means having down time, where you do absolutely nothing. Owning a dental practice can be all-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Time Waits for No One (from It’s Only Rock’n’Roll)

Your practice may have been doing great five years ago. But not so much right now. Dentistry is in a constant state of flux, and you have to keep up. Your once-new systems five years ago are now outdated. They don’t perform like they used to. Your practice has changed in terms of services, technology, software, goals and personnel, yet you’re still trying to force those old systems to do things they’re no longer capable of doing.

Change is a constant in business and life. If you do nothing to keep up, you will eventually be passed by. Your practice is the best investment you ever made, but it’s an ongoing investment. You can’t expect a plant to grow if you never water it. The same is true for your practice. To grow your practice, you need to invest in it… that means new technology, equipment, software, training, systems, décor, etc. Maybe not every year, but not once every 10 years either. You don’t want to be the owner of a fixer-upper practice. That’s a hard way to practice, and in the future that will be a hard practice to sell.

Satisfaction (from Hot Rocks)

Are you happy with your practice and your career? While a certain amount of dissatisfaction acts as fuel for making positive changes, you don’t want to dread waking up and going to the practice every day. That’s no way to have a career and, most important, that’s no way to live.

If you are unhappy about how your practice is performing, make a list of everything you’re dissatisfied with. Examine the list. What do you have in your power to fix? Go for the low-hanging fruit first. Don’t like how the doctor’s office is set up? Stay late and rearrange it. Once you get the easy stuff done, move to the more challenging fixes.

If you don’t have the skills or the know-how to improve the situation, get help. Have a tax issue? Call an accountant. Want a new business structure? Seek the advice of a dental-knowledgeable attorney. Need help with your management and marketing systems? Get the assistance of an expert consultant.

Aftermath

Taking advice from the Rolling Stones may seem a little far-fetched, but how many musical acts have been as successful as the bad boys of rock’n’roll? The next time your practice is giving you the blues, crank up your favorite Stones album… you’ll not only get to enjoy some in-your-face rock’n’roll, but perhaps also some relevant practice management advice as well.


Additional Resource

Need an Emotional Rescue? Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book, Get a Life and Keep It, by clicking here.
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Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Facebook is a missed opportunity for most practices. Dentists don’t know what to do with it. They started a practice page a few years ago and put a lot of initial effort into getting likes, but as time has gone by, the page now sits idle for weeks at a time.

A related scenario is that the practice doesn’t devote any resources to keeping its Facebook page updated. Our consultants have heard something like this many times: The marketing coordinator used to do it, but then she left the practice. Since then, Sheila at the front desk has been pitching in when she’s slow, but it’s been really busy lately. The dentist or the hygienist will throw something up on the Facebook page when they’re feeling inspired. But nobody has posted anything in over a month.

Facebook can be a marketing asset for your practice, but you’ve got to put it to use. Here’s how you can improve the performance of your practice’s Facebook page in four steps:

  1. Have a Consistent Presence – To get the most out of your Facebook page, you should be posting at least three times a week. If you’re only posting a once a month, then you have a “dead” page, which is worse than no page at all. It signals to current and prospective patients that you really don’t care. On the flip side, you don’t want to overwhelm people by posting 10 times a day either. You want to find a right balance. The minimum we recommend to our consulting clients is three times a week. If your office doesn’t have an official Facebook person, appoint one. Usually, it should be the marketing coordinator. If you don’t have a marketing coordinator, talk with your team to see who would be interested, who is the most familiar with Facebook, and who would be proficient at it.
  2. Be More Social – As the name implies, social media should be social. It’s not a one-sided conversation, but rather a dialogue. If all you’re doing is talking about your practice or talking at people, they will tune out. Make it about your patients and your other followers. Respond when they comment. Even if it’s negative, reply. Gather the facts and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. That kind of responsiveness shows that you’re listening and that you care.
  3. Think of Facebook as the technological equivalent of walking around your community, shaking hands, meeting and greeting people, sharing information and stories, and, ultimately, building relationships and rapport. Facebook allows you to do all of this online.

  4. Mix It Up – To engage current and prospective patients, you should post a wide range of interesting and informative content, including:
  5. • Oral health tips

    • Patient contests

    • Open appointment alerts

    • Testimonials

    • Treatment updates – educate patients about the different types of procedures available

    • Service promotions – such as a discount on whitening or the new patient hygiene visit

    • Fun information about staff members, such as hobbies and pets

    In addition, your posts should be visually interesting. Try to include photos and videos with the majority of your posts. They make people want to engage with what you’re saying.

  6. Promote Your Practice – With its demographic database, Facebook makes it easy for you to reach prospective patients through online ads. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, occupation, geography and other factors. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your campaign. If it’s going well, add more money to it. If it’s not working, turn it off and try a different approach. But compared to other media, such as direct mail, Facebook is incredibly inexpensive. And when done well, it can be extremely effective.

Conclusion

It’s time to turn your practice’s Facebook page into a new patient generator. Use these four strategies to help you attract and win over potential new patients. Make 2017 your best year yet!


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, watch Dr. Levin’s video “Internal Marketing – The Key to More New Patients” by clicking here.

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3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

Over the years, Levin Group has been fortunate enough to work with a number of extremely successful dentists and specialists. That might be surprising to some, who think that consulting is only for practices struggling with poor performance and low production.

Like superstar athletes, high-achieving dentists want to continue to get better. They’re not satisfied with where they are, because they know that with the right amount of effort, learning and training they can improve their practices and achieve even more.

Here are three things all millionaire dentists do…

1. They Do Their Job––Not Other People’s

Time is valuable, and they don’t want to waste doctor time on performing administrative activities. That’s a poor use of a very limited resource. They believe they should be spending nearly all of their day providing patient care.

No doctor should be scheduling patients, handling billing issues or performing hygiene. That’s why you have a team. The best use of your time is caring for patients.

Of course, there are important non-clinical activities that the doctor must be involved in, such as meeting with referring doctors and reviewing the practice’s financial performance. But these aren’t everyday events and should take up only a small amount of a doctor’s time.

2. They Let the Systems Run the Practice

For this to happen, you must have good systems, and your team must be trained on the systems. Without these two things, your practice will be in a state of chaos.

Top dentists have figured this out. They put in high-performance systems, make sure their staff is fully trained, and then they get out of the way. They spend their days moving from operatory to operatory, treating patients and being productive.

Unfortunately, too many dentists are losing uncounted hours every year, dealing with substandard systems… searching for workarounds to bottlenecks… and stressing about what’s going to go wrong next. That’s a difficult way to make a living at dentistry.

3. They Take Time Off

I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve met who said they haven’t had a vacation in years… which is absolutely crazy to me. Dentistry is supposed to be an enjoyable career, not a prison sentence.

How can you renew when you’re in the practice every day? How can you see the big picture if you’re always immersed in the day-to-day? Without time off, dentistry turns into drudgery. What kind of care can you give to patients if you dread going into the office?

Successful dentists understand that being the best at what they do requires time away from dentistry and the office. As a practice owner, you’re under a lot of stress, but often you don’t realize how much stress you’re experiencing, because you’re used to it. Many stressors are under the surface, applying constant pressure… but you don’t know that they’re there until you take a break from the practice.

Every dentist needs at least one vacation a year. You deserve it, and so does your family. You don’t even have to go far. Do a series of day trips. Most of us live close to parks and museums that we rarely visit. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There’s a lot you can do within a few hours’ driving distance.

Conclusion

If you want a better practice and a better life, do the three things all millionaire dentists do.

They’re not specific to someone who runs a boutique cosmetic practice in Beverly Hills or owns a lucrative small group practice with 11 offices. In fact, the sooner you start acting like a millionaire dentist, the sooner you can become one.


Additional Resource

 To grow your practice, attend one of Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminars in 2017. Click here to see his schedule.

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Huge Profit & You: Learn Dentistry’s Most Profitable Treatments and How to Do More of Them

Huge Profit & You: Learn Dentistry’s Most Profitable Treatments and How to Do More of Them

“Roger, I want to make more money.”

I hear that all the time from practice owners at my seminars. Then they usually follow up with something like: “Don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of my patients, but I went to dental school for four years, I own a practice, and I’m bustin’ my hump every day, yet I’m making less than my neighbor who sells hot dogs outside the Home Depot.”

OK, that last part might be a slight exaggeration.

But there are a lot of dentists out there who are unhappy with their income.

Many of them then proceed to ask me what to do. I look them square in the eye and tell them that the answer is staring them right in the face all day, every day…

The most profitable services in your practice are the ones you already offer.

While adding certain services, such as whitening or implants, can definitely increase production, the FASTEST way to do more profitable dentistry is to hyper-focus on fully maximizing the value of the treatment that shows up in your chair every day.

If you haven’t already taken steps to gain another 10–15% profit margin on the procedures you’re good at and perform frequently, what are you waiting for?

Every practice has specific services that are more profitable than others. For example, in general dentistry, it is typically crown and bridge. While it can be debated which procedures are the most lucrative in dentistry, there are other factors that impact practice production and profitability, including:

  1. The Schedule. Too many schedules choke off production because they’re inefficient, inaccurate or just plain outdated. They’re based on old habits rather than sound business principles. Just because the team is comfortable with the pace of the current schedule doesn’t mean it’s the most effective schedule for your practice. Time and again we have shown clients how to manage multiple chairs (and often multiple assistants) smoothly, which easily increases production, lowers overhead and decreases stress. Many dentists and teams hold onto the status quo, believing changing the schedule will lead to rushing and higher stress, which isn’t true.
  2. Speed. In an era when insurance reimbursements are declining, time really is money. The faster the procedure, the more profitable it is. We have clients who range from 30 minutes per crown prep to others who take two hours. While these may be the extremes, simply shaving 10 minutes from most appointments is a significant time savings.
  3. The Cost of Services. Lowering overhead increases profit, which is directly proportional to take-home income. One of the best examples for cost savings is laboratory services. Some offices work with labs that are far more expensive than necessary to provide excellent care. If crown and bridge is one of the most productive services in dentistry, then working with an excellent dental lab at a reasonable cost can make a significant difference. As the number of crowns, bridges and veneers increase, the savings (and profit) can add up quickly. There are excellent national dental laboratories, such as National Dentex, that provide every possible service at a reasonable cost.

Conclusion

If your practice isn’t as profitable as you you’d like, the solution for fixing that is easier than you think. The question isn’t “what procedure is the most profitable?” but rather “how much more profitable can I make the procedures I perform?” The answer is always – a lot!


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Roger P. Levin’s popular book, 100 Ways to Increase Your Practice Profitability. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

 

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Three Things About Financial Management

Three Things About Financial Management

Financial management is a critical aspect of running your dental practice.

The first thing to focus on is cash flow. Too many dentists simply go to the office, treat patients, pay the bills and see what’s left. Instead, you should give serious thought to cash flow factors, such as when patients pay, how they pay and whether they pay at all.

Design a system to have patients make their payments as early as possible relative to the time of treatment. Then use a Levin Group consulting innovation known as a one day rule to collect 99% of all money due to the practice. The one day rule states that patients will be called the day they are overdue. This is followed by a nine-week follow-up process. Together, these two methodologies enable Levin Group clients to collect 99% of all the money they’ve earned.

Another critical component of managing practice finances is budgeting. Very few dental practices have a budget, and many of those that do pay little attention to it. This is how practices get into financial trouble and doctors end up with lower income.

Most doctors have no idea where their revenues stand for the year and whether they’re on budget. With today’s profit margins being squeezed, we see many new management consulting clients whose income is flat or declining.  The solution is to establish a budget, track each line item continually, and make adjustments as needed throughout the year to hit your financial targets.

Additional Resource

Interested in improving your financial management skills? Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s essential book, Practice Finance, by clicking here.

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New Game. New Rules.

New Game. New Rules.

Many dentists are attempting to play soccer on a football field. It doesn’t work.

Dentistry is no longer what it was. The game has changed. There are new rules. And if you try to run your practice the old way, you’ll lose. Your production will slow down or decline, and your income will suffer.

The key to winning the new game is to understand what’s changed… the number of dentists is increasing… corporate dentistry is growing… dental insurance companies are lowering reimbursements… student loan debt is higher than ever… and there are six other game changers that are reshaping our profession.

This might sound like bad news, but it’s actually a huge opportunity. Just ask any of Levin Group’s clients, who are growing every day. With our guidance, they’re responding to the new rules with results-oriented systems, targets, scripting and checklists. This means really training their team, not just giving them a tip or pearl here or there. It means real management by objectives, rather than merely observing, making occasional comments or ignoring what’s going on in the office.

Playing soccer on a football field won’t work. Running dental practices as we did in the past will not work either.

Additional Resource

Hear what Levin Group clients say about our consulting programs. Discover how much better your practice can be once you learn the new rules from the leading dental practice management and marketing consulting firm. Watch video testimonials here.

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Four Reasons I Love Presenting Seminars

Four Reasons I Love Presenting Seminars

I love presenting seminars. For 31 years, I’ve had the opportunity to present 90-100 seminars, and it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of my career. Every week, I have the pleasure of interacting with dentists, who are among the most positive, ethical and enjoyable people I know. They have an intense dedication to excellence, providing the best possible care to their patients and living a balanced, high-quality life.

  • I love being an educator, because it enables me to make a difference. As a dentist, I have always been dedicated to improving the lives of others. Giving seminars is an opportunity to help dentists improve their practices, meet their current challenges and motivate their teams.
  • I love creating innovative new methods for growing practices and sharing them with dentists and their teams.
  • I love interacting with the dentists who comes to my seminars, answering their questions and hearing about their experiences… which means that I’m not only a teacher but also a student during these events.
  • And, most of all, I love the excitement I feel in the morning before presenting a seminar. It keeps me highly motivated, the same way that dentists are motivated by taking care of their patients.

Additional Resource

Need a Speaker for Your Next Event? Arrange for Dr. Levin to present a seminar to your study club or association. A leading expert in practice management and marketing, he’s also one of the most dynamic speakers in dentistry. For details, contact our Seminar Events Manager Rebecca Luwisher at rluwisher@levingroup.com or 443-471-3202.

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Three Things You Can Learn from a Declining Practice

Three Things You Can Learn from a Declining Practice

Over the last eight years, Levin Group has taken on hundreds of clients whose practices were declining. This was caused by the game changers that have altered the dental market and our profession forever. There are three things dentists can learn if their practice is declining. These are:

  • Take a breath and make sure you understand why decline is happening… before taking drastic action. Many dentists react far too quickly to declining production and make a move that actually hurts them rather than helping.
  • Be careful about what you buy. When a practice is declining, dentists become open to buying anything that someone will sell them by claiming it will turn things around. Buyer beware.
  • Look at your practice systems. The truth is that most practices have inadequate systems in terms of creating growth. When the systems are replaced with proven, documented systems that address the decline, the practice will begin to grow again.

Additional Resource

For sound advice from Dr. Levin about adapting to changes in the dental economy, read his whitepaper, “Wherever You Are Today, You Won’t Be There Tomorrow.”

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Are You Throwing Away Income?

Are You Throwing Away Income?

Now, more than ever, dental practices need to take control of their overhead.

Every year, Levin Group’s expert business analysts fly all over North America visiting hundreds of practices to perform our unique Practice Performance Analysis. One finding that’s turning up more and more often is “overhead creep.” Disappointed with the growth of their businesses and concerned about lower insurance reimbursements, many dentists think they need more… more staff, more new technologies, more treatment rooms, even more doctors.

The resulting increase in operating costs doesn’t translate into increased revenues…. but it does cut into income. When dentists become Levin Group clients, our consultants walk them through the overhead reduction process, investigating and finding ways to make cuts in each overhead category based on reliable national and regional averages.

If you’re not yet ready for practice management consulting, at least do this… set a goal of lowering your overhead by 2% or even 4%. Otherwise, you’ll just continue throwing away money.

Additional Resource

Watch Dr. Levin’s free video “Total Overhead Control”

Don’t Tolerate Poor Performance

Don’t Tolerate Poor Performance

Serving as CEO, team leader and doctor poses many challenges.

One of the biggest is being honest. I’m not saying that dentists are dishonest. Most dentists are honest to a fault in terms of what they say. But there are two types of honesty.

Beyond what you say, there’s the question of what you don’t say. If you’re not speaking up about certain subjects, that’s a form of dishonesty, too. Many of us (and I am definitely including myself here) don’t always say what we should.

As the team leader at your office, do you always tell team members what you’re thinking? Do you point out that you’re not happy with their performance?

We often avoid confrontation, hoping the problem will go away—which almost never happens. Too many team members who could have improved have ended up spiraling downward over time. Had the dentist communicated early on that there was displeasure in the way something was handled, things might have turned out better.

Compassion for the members of your team may lead you to suppress critical comments about their performance or attitude, but that may leave you no choice but to eventually terminate a team member. How compassionate is that?

Far better for everyone if you speak up as soon as you see a problem—and speak honestly. Your silence could have a very negative effect.

The next time you wonder if you should say something about a team member’s performance, make no mistake… you should say it.

 

Additional Resource

For more on this subject, check out Dr. Levin’s popular whitepaper “Level IV Leadership.

 

 

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