Why Dorian Should Make You Think About Practice Transitioning

By Dr. Rick Huot

At the end of August, while Hurricane Dorian was on its unpredictable path, I headed to San Francisco for the American Dental Association’s Annual Meeting. Before my duties started as ADA Board of Trustees liaison to the Standards Committee of Dental Informatics, I sat down to write this article in the relative comfort of the Marriott Marquis. Whenever I have the Weather Channel on for more than five minutes this time of the year while away from home, you can be assured that Joanne and I are checking to see how the “wind is blowing” back in Florida. In 2004, we spent Labor Day in Maine watching as Hurricane Frances — and three weeks later, Hurricane Jeanne — give Florida the infamous “Plywood State” moniker, and as empty nesters, it doesn’t take us long to pack and secure our home not knowing what the force of nature is planning for the week ahead.

Early that Friday morning, and with help from Delta, we decided to leave a day early for our trip to California, knowing that conditions in the Caribbean were deteriorating, and there was a good chance that flights all over Florida would start being cancelled as early as Saturday. That was confirmed by the Delta folks when they graciously put me on a plane leaving out of Orlando Friday afternoon.

After a quick call to Marriott and the shuttle folks, we now had an extra day to “play,” and we quickly contacted longtime friends from Chicago now living in San Francisco for dinner, and the conversation quickly shifted from Dorian to our respective careers. Helen has been working for Delta since I was in dental school at Northwestern and continues to fly the international routes and loves her work. Mike is a successful retired businessman who invested wisely in his career since his early days in Chicago, and this year’s New York Marathon will be the 100th he has run since he started many years ago.

These days, longevity experts talk about your early 60s and what you can reasonably expect life to play out from there. Given that you are in good health, and that you also have excellent financial health, your options multiply when you could adapt to life’s curveballs and make lemonade when someone like Dorian hands you some lemons.

Kiplinger Magazine has an excellent article on the “go-go years” and beyond, and we remarked that the four of us were taking this very seriously. At this point, you may be wondering what the above events have to do with dental practice transitions, but please keep reading on, and you will see the method to my madness.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I was asked by Dental Economics to co-write an article on disaster preparedness, and lessons learned from surviving the 2004 hurricane season. Although some of the material is now dated, a lot of what was learned then is reinforced every hurricane season, and other natural disasters throughout the country all year long.

Given that the solo practice model has slowly become less prominent, and the cost of running a dental practice continues to increase, a dentist reaching the age of 50 has more options today available to them, especially if there is a chance that a facility could suffer damage that would prevent dentistry from happening for a prolonged period of time.

Retirement “catch-up” provisions allows dentists over 50 to set aside more income in pre-tax programs, and the proliferation of solo 401K plans allows dentists to sell their practices, contractually “workback” as an independent contractor to the new practice structure, and give the dentist more free time to enjoy life, while continuing to practice and share management responsibilities with younger dentists who desire the private practice model, but could use a little “on-the-job training,” eventually taking on a younger dentist with similar goals in the near future.

Today, most dentists approaching that age should be looking to partner with another dentist who has a similar philosophy of practice, especially if one of the offices is more “dated.” It should be noted that the business practice model of most dental service organizations (DSOs) call for at least two dentists working four-day weeks with extended hours, and covering the entire week, and sometimes including weekend hours.

Millennials and the new Generation Z coming of working age are more prone to “shopping” and have convenient hours as one of their prerequisites for selection of a dental office. A shared office space arrangement allows dentists to fulfill that desire, with minimum disruption, and allows them to offer the same convenience features as DSOs or large group practices.

Thankfully, it appears that most of Florida dentists fared well from this latest storm. The disruption to our practice lives disrupted patient care at least all that week and may have delayed some of the “snowbird migration” that we experience this time of the year.

Back at work, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I ready for the “go-go” years, regardless of what happens to my practice?
  2. Whom am I compatible with practice philosophy-wise in my area, and might we benefit from a joint location/dental practice, and a reduced cost of overhead?
  3. If my office was damaged, is the cost of rebuilding/repairing my space a good return on investment, given the amount of years I’m looking to practice in the future?
  4. Is it time to reexamine my financial strategic plan, and make some major changes? More boldly, is it time to downsize, and reduce the clutter and “stuff” we have accumulated?
  5. Are my contingency/practice succession plans up to date?

I’ve completed my term as ADA First Vice President, and it has been a privilege and honor serving our nation’s dentists and ensuring them clinical and financial success for the past two years. Be well.

Dr. Huot is a Fellow in the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Academy of General Dentistry and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. He currently serves on the FDA Political Action Committee Board of Directors and served as ADA vice president for the past two years. He had a private practice from 1985-2008, still practices clinical dentistry and is the CEO of Beachside Dental Consultants, Inc., a practice management and health consultant firm. He can be contacted at drhuot@militarydentist.com.

 

7 Essential Business Tools for Female Entrepreneurs

By Julie Morris, Life and Career Coach

Entrepreneurship can be a wonderful gateway to freedom, flexibility and financial success, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. This is especially true for women, who often have to juggle their businesses with a host of other responsibilities, whether it’s child-rearing, domestic upkeep or simply another career. Of course, the ability to manage all these things at once is one of the reasons why women are starting more businesses.

However, it doesn’t have to be so hard. These days, there are dozens of incredible online services designed to make life as an entrepreneur easier — finding the right ones can not only boost business, but also help you maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Here are the key categories you should be looking at.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation cuts down on hours of repetitive admin time, such as sending emails, updating social media or analyzing data from previous campaigns to better target customers. It makes life easier for a business owner who may be overwhelmed by the amount of marketing that entrepreneurship involves, and can lead to better outcomes and growth. You can read about the best marketing automation tools on the market in this guide by Venture Harbor.

Customer Relationship Management

A customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help smooth out the process of communicating with your customer base. It manages everything from newsletters to email campaigns to social media interactions, and allows you to better leverage data for increased sales. If this sounds similar to marketing automation, that’s because it is. However, there are key differences that make each one uniquely valuable.

Email Finders

One of the hardest and most frustrating parts of marketing is the act of actually finding the right email addresses to use. Email Hunter is a great tool that helps you find exactly the right email you need, and it also verifies emails to make sure they are still valid.

Invoicing

Invoicing is not only time-consuming, but it has to be one of the most boring aspects of the job. However, you can make everything easier by investing in an invoicing tool that automates the process and helps you keep track of payments and expenses without all the admin. There are a few popular options on the market, some of which are free or inexpensive.

Lead Generation

You don’t have to find leads by yourself. Some tools offer comprehensive databases of useful leads, and you can select the best ones without having to sift through huge lists. Leadfeeder has an excellent and extensive list of the best lead generation software available in 2019.

Logo Maker

A good logo is essential if you want your customers to remember you and your business. However, not everyone has the creative chops to come up with one (or the budget to pay a designer). Oberlo offers a free logo maker that works as a great alternative solution.

Website Builder

Constructing a website can seem like an intimidating task if you don’t know the first thing about design or coding. However, today’s web builders are designed to be used by anyone, with easy drag-and-drop interfaces that make creating a unique website a breeze. There are many great options available, so think about how to choose the best one for you.

What all these tools have in common is that they free up time you could be spending on other tasks that require your attention. They take the manual work out of the things that every entrepreneur has to do but few actively enjoy or are confident in. By investing in these tools, you can clear many, many hours of tedious admin to focus on the stuff that matters, whether it’s your business, your family or a part-time career.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. More information can be found on her website at juliemorris.org.

3 Solutions for Payment Processing at Your Dental Practice

By TransNational Payments

Between scheduling appointments, filing paperwork and coordinating staff, operating a dental practice can be stressful. Add to that the responsibility of selecting the right treatment and procedures for your patients, and the last thing you want to worry about is how you and your colleagues will get paid.

Fortunately, there are effective solutions for payment processing at your dental practice that can give everyone something to smile about.

Credit Card Terminal
A credit card terminal is a stand-alone device that enables your patients to pay with their credit or debit cards. It’s a very common option in dental practices today — in fact, you may have one at your reception area right now. But, do you know if it’s EMV-compatible?

EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), a standard behind chip cards, is a must for all businesses that want to enjoy secure payment processing and avoid liability for fraudulent transactions. When it comes to your dental practice, security is key, especially considering all the confidential patient information you handle daily. This one-time upgrade is simple and can protect your payments for years to come.

Mobile Payments
It’s 2018, so why should you or your staff be stuck at the front desk when processing your patients’ co-pays? It’s time to give your staff and your clients the flexibility of mobile payments! Here are just some of the many benefits you can experience:

  • faster payments — complete transactions in just a few seconds
  • shorter lines — reduce the wait and increase customer satisfaction
  • stronger security — keep the cardholder information safe and sound
  • diverse features — enjoy real-time reporting and paperless receipts
  • reasonable price — get modern payment processing without breaking the bank

Getting started with mobile payments is just as simple as using them. All you need is a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet, a card reader and a mobile app that lets you perform, save and manage transactions at the palm of your hand.

Recurring Billing
Payment processing isn’t hard, as long as you approach it in a smart way. If you have patients visiting the office on a regular basis, there’s no need to request their credit or debit cards each time a payment is due. Instead, ask them if they want to enroll in recurring billing. If they agree, you can use your payment gateway to select the transaction amount and the frequency of withdrawals. This is a great way to give your patients an excellent visit experience and help your practice achieve a steadier cash flow.

Recurring billing also is something worth looking into for your personal payments. It’s no secret that dental school debt is sky-high right now, averaging $287,331 as of last year. Some of the best advice for loan repayment includes consistent and timely installments. With recurring billing you can achieve just that, all while avoiding late fees and penalties.

Don’t let your existing payment processing make a dent in your dental practice. At TransNational Payments you can enjoy the transparent interchange plus pricing structure and work with dedicated account managers committed to helping you lead your dental practice to success. Experience payment processing made simple today!

Upgrade Your Dental Office Payment Options

By Brian Eggert, IC System

Here’s something you may not realize about Americans: We’re still pretty attached to paper checks, and your dental practice is probably no exception, even if credit card payments are still accepted at the front desk. Still, it’s pretty clear the paper check is on its way out. In one decade, the trusty check has gone from the most common form of non-cash payment to being eclipsed by debit cards, credit cards and electronic funds transfers, according to the Federal Reserve. Take steps to upgrade your dental office payment options. Reducing check payments also reduces the time and labor to process payments, allowing you to receive payment more quickly. This makes payment processing more efficient and decreases time and money spent on collections.

Start Accepting Electronic Insurance Payments
Dental practices have an opportunity to recapture time and money by making the switch to electronic funds transfers when processing insurance payments. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 11 percent of dental plans are not equipped to issue electronic payments. Yet in 2015, 92 percent of dental practices still accepted payment from health plans and providers by paper check, while the remaining 8 percent were considered fully electronic (ACH/EFT), according to the 2016 CAQH Index.

What’s interesting about this report is a majority of dental practices are already submitting claims (74 percent) and verifying eligibility and benefits (58 percent) through fully electronic means. Upgrading the system to one that accepts electronic payment from payers is the next logical step. When comparing the time spent and costs for every transaction, the savings benefits are clear:

  • Providers spend anywhere from 5-17 minutes on each paper check, versus 1-4 minutes on electronic payments.
  • Processing each check costs providers $2.89, compared to $0.69 per EFT.

Add Payment Features
In real life, patients are customers — people who have a lot of other bills to pay, and chances are, they’re using debit and credit cards. Along with that, it’s important to remember that in the span of a decade, customers now have an array of safe, easy and convenient ways to pay by credit card online and with their mobile devices. They value having control over when and where they pay. They also want to be sure it’s safe.

A secure online payment portal lets your patients pay on their terms. Even better, if the widget lets them set up automatic, recurring payments to pay down higher-cost procedures, that ensures on-time payments to you.

Adding mobile pay services at the front desk and online also is a simple and secure way to streamline the payment process for patients in and out of the office. These add another layer of security in the transaction, but allow customers to settle up without having to dig out their credit or debit cards.

Need collection help? Call us at 800.279.3511 to REQUEST PRICING!

IC System is an FDA Services (FDAS) Crown Savings Merchant. FDAS has researched and vetted business solutions so FDA members can take advantage of exclusive deals and discounts offered through the Crown Savings program. Members who participate will save time, money and hassle, putting the focus back on patient care. Crown Savings benefits members and the association as the program produces revenue for the FDA through use of the association’s trade dress and mailing list. Greater participation means more revenue for the association to add value to the FDA membership. For more information, go to fdaservices.com/ic-system.