Dentists: Q & A

Our typical client became a dentist because of their passion for clinical dentistry. Most do not enjoy or feel adequate to tackle the staffing and administrative burdens that come with owning a practice. “Business” wasn’t a dominant focus in dental school and most graduates learn by trial and error. That can be a very costly and stressful education.

When you make the choice to go into private practice, you really have accepted three positions, Clinical Dentist, Operations Manager, and CEO. Many dentist think that if they are good dentists, they will be good at running a dental practice. Often, they are very wrong. You probably feel comfortable as a clinician, but do you feel the same way about your ability to manage the day-to-day operations and also be the visionary, entrepreneurial leader of the practice? The truly successful practitioners seek the assistance they need to excel in all three of those jobs.



BUSINESS OPERATIONS:

I am interested in purchasing some equipment, but am I doing so properly? Am I purchasing the right equipment? Can I generate enough additional revenue to make purchasing this equipment a good decision? Should I lease or buy? What are the tax savings?

We will work with you to help you with discovering the correct answer for you and your practice. The answers are not the same for every practice. We can help you evaluate your budget and cash flow to help you in your decision making process. Helping you understand the tax benefits, the effect on your cash flow, and the effect on your revenue are essential tools to use in making those decisions.

I'm still writing checks by hand… HELP!!!

We have found that our clients like using Quickbooks Pro, so that is what we now recommend. It is very user friendly, and we set up your chart of accounts in a dental specific format making it a valuable tool for your practice. Our extremely knowledgeable staff can train you how to use it, either at your office or at our office. We will work with you individually until you feel comfortable, and we are always available to answer your questions.

In fact, we even offer to pay your bills for you if you simply do not have time or the desire to do that yourself. Whatever level of assistance you need, we will happily accommodate your needs.

With this economy, money is tight for everyone. How can I insulate my business from these tough times?

There are several ways. First we must determine where you are, how you compare to others in your area, and where you want to be postioned. What have you been trying, and what results have you had. We evaluate your practice from different angles, and we work with you on what and how to make improvements or adjustments. We look at your current fee schedule, staffing numbers, productivity, facilities and equipment and procedure mixtures and protocols as well as marketing efforts. Looking at your practice as a whole allows us to make the practice function well as a whole rather than just focusing on one item. Tweaking your entire practice and having it function at its highest level is the best way to help insulate your practice in these tough economic times. You simply cannot afford to get anything wrong.

How do I know what my fees should be? Should I even consider raising them in this economy?

Our dental fee survey can help you determine at what level your fees should be with your input. It is more than just raising them a set percentage every year. Having a properly balanced fee schedule is crucial. We can show you, by adjusting your fees properly, how much money you may have been letting on the table—unbilled.

Are my expenses in line? How much should I be paying for supplies and other expenses? How much should I be spending on payroll?

Because we work with so many dentists, we know what range you should be in. We can help you understand the numbers overall so that you can use them as other than historical numbers and simply as a means to get a tax return. Understanding the numbers and how your numbers relate to each other as well as other offices in your area, gives you comfort in making your decisions.

I don't understand what my accountant is telling me, and I don't think they understand my practice.

Because we understand dentistry, we understand what happens in your day. We provide you with the information and the ability to take the information and translate that into knowing what actions to take and what decisions to make. We work with you on these. You don't have to do this yourself. Your practice requires many decisions throughout the year and we walk with you and work with you so that the practice can become what is your own personal vision. You decide what your vision is and we help you achieve that vision. We also help you use the practice as a vehicle and means to achieving your personal goals as well. We see you and your practice in its entirety.



BUSINESS DECISIONS:

I feel like my business controls me rather than the other way around.

We have found that our clients work tirelessly to grow successful practices. They spend so much time and energy in the present that they don't often have the opportunity to look toward the future. Hard work is worth nothing if you don't have something to look forward to. When would you like to retire? Would you like to have more time to travel? Would you like to help your children pay for their schooling? With a little planning, you can have the future that you want. Using your practice as a vehicle, let us help you develop the roadmap to your future.

When I started my business, I had a vision of the income I would be making. How can I achieve that dream?

Seeing your practice as a whole allows you to make it function at its highest level. Taking that knowledge, we work with you to help you work toward the vision that you have. How the practice can be positioned well so that your goals and vision can be attained is a major key. Let's meet to see what your vision is and what can be done to own that vision.

My current accounting relationship is an overhead expense to me. Should I expect more than that?

Many people see accounting as simply a function of history—looking at what already happened in the practice. It should be so much more than that. Yes, the numbers are important, but they are more than just a necessary step to get to the tax return. Those numbers can tell us so much more than that. They can be informational in a way that can tell you what is not functioning well in the practice. They can disclose a lot of things if you know what to look at. We take your numbers and tell you what they really mean. Unlocking the information is a way for the accounting relationship to become an income generating item and no longer an expense. Looking at your practice in its entirety is essential. Your practice is more than just the checks that you write. That's the difference between a traditional accountant and a dental specialist. We understand your day and your practice life.

When do I need an accountant? Having just graduated, I cannot afford one. Can't I just do it myself?

There are quite a few large decisions that need to made in the early stages of your practice life that have far reaching affects. An accountant, or more specifically, one that specializes in dentistry, is really an investment in your practice. Having input into what equipment or how much equipment to start your practice life with is important. Other major decisions are: financing needs, fee schedule, insurance participation, staffing needs, supplies, location options, location of practice, and starting from scratch versus becoming an associate. Having someone to walk with you through these decisions is just as crucial to your success as any item listed above. Resources such as your dental specialist accountant, attorney and banker are important team members for you. You really can't afford to not have a dental specialist accountant.

I'm thinking about retirement, what are my options?

At every phase of your dental career, you experience different needs. Retirement is one that requires much attention. Retirement can be only meeting your post retirement financial goals, or it can be "How do I transition my dental practice?" Deciding whether you want a total sale when you are ready to finally retire or transition an associate into ownership, partially or entirely are additional choices. Sometimes the first associate relationship does not survive until ownership is achieved. Do you need to continue working to help finance your retirement years? We can help you sort through such choices to find the option that best fits your situation and needs.



STAFF ISSUES:

Am I compliant with employment law? Could an employee sue me? Am I protected?

These can be huge items for concern. Your exposure is real. Do you know if you are correctly paying your staff for continuing education? Are you paying them correctly for overtime, meal breaks, etc.? Is one staff member creating a situation for workplace harassment for another staff member, and are you accountable for this? These questions are answered for you and your team. These have become issues that are in the forefront now more than ever. Because of this, we have been certified in a human resource package, specifically, Bent Ericksen & Associates to help you become compliant in employment law, meeting both Federal and State guidelines. This program gives you what you need to become compliant, but then goes beyond that by providing you with documentation that you need to insulate yourself from lawsuits. Our society has certainly become more litigious, so it is far better to be prepared than to just bury your head in the sand ignoring the risk. As a part of this HR system, we come to your office to explain it to your team so they see it as being done "for" them rather than "to" them. After all, it is for their protection as well as yours.

My staff can't get along. I just want to do dentistry and not have to continually deal with their issues. I don't want to be a referee anymore.

There is no need to continue being reactive to these issues. Learn skills and teach them skills to be able to resolve issues before they become big ISSUES. We provide extensive team building and communication seminars at your location using personality assessments as a basis, and teach how to effectively communicate with you, each other, and the patients. These skills are life skills, useful in every aspect of life. It is eye opening for everyone. Having that knowledge of people really gives you power. The results can be fantastic, and it is fun while learning.

It's that time of year again!  We are currently working on mailing out tax organizers to those of you who have asked to receive them.  If you do not receive an organizer and you would like to, please call our office and we'll be sure to add you to the mailing list.

Remember that your tax information mus
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