Monday, May 23, 2016


Statistics show that many dental practices have upgraded or purchased new in-office technology, investing an average of over $100,000 in the last 18 to 24 months.  In general, those dentists who invest in new technology expect the additions to benefit the practice by increasing efficiency and production and, therefore, profit; and to benefit their patients by improving treatment experiences and results.

As you begin to consider which tech investments best fit your practice, consider first the benefits for your patients.  If you can explain the whys and wherefores of new technologies to patients in layman’s terms so that each really understands the personal benefits to meet his/her own dental needs, patients will become as enthused as you are about enhancements and additions.
Another necessity---get your staff on board, eager to learn and enthusiastically promote the new technology to patients and prospective patients.  Training on new technology for the dental team should begin with the supplier’s representative working with your staff in your office.  Once basic knowledge is in place your staff can continue to refine techniques by practice, following the product user’s manual.  Begin use of new technology with patients only after you and your staff are comfortable and fully competent.

Your website is your best marketing tool, very effective for educating patients and prospective patients about your outstanding practice in which you’ve implemented the latest technologies to assure world-class dentistry for every patient.  With due diligence, you can find the right company to upgrade and maintain your website and to assure your site is at or near the top of the list on organic results (free search results). This company will make sure you have proper content and metatags, which are essential to good SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Your website also needs to be mobile friendly as it will help it rank better, even on non-mobile devices. In addition to your website, your social media postings are a “reach out and grab their attention” tool.  Delegate posting responsibilities to one or two knowledgeable staff members.

In order to decide how best to introduce your new technology and its benefits to patients, try role playing during team meetings.  Staff members who will be educating patients must be knowledgeable and articulate in their presentations.  And remember, patients listen to Station WIIFM, “What’s In IT For Me?”  Focus on positive outcomes for the patient when educating them about new technologies---more comfortable treatment, star-quality esthetics, durability beyond expectations, shorter and fewer appointments, and so on.

With a clear idea about how new technologies will benefit your patients and your practice, incorporate only those technologies that best meet your skill set and comfort level.  Every new technology is not for every practitioner.  Educate yourself about availability and outcomes, research new products thoroughly, do your homework, and then choose new technology investments wisely, one at a time, becoming fully competent on the new product or procedure before buying another.

Monday, May 16, 2016


OH, NO!  Your business staff members would NEVER say that to a patient---right?
True confession---those words silently crossed my mind occasionally when I worked at a dental office business desk.  There were two scenarios that I found annoying during those days:  (1) Patients who came to the desk to complain loudly that someone arriving after them had been called to the treatment area first.  (2) Multiple family members and/or friends who insisted on accompanying a child into the operatory when only one adult was needed.

To address these “last nerve” problems, I did what I often do---I wrote explanations so that patients could read and understand the whys rather than simply half-listening to my verbal explanation which was often given while several other patients were waiting to check in and the phone was ringing incessantly.  I delivered the written explanations with a brief verbal introduction and a very big smile.

Following are the written explanations.  Perhaps they will be helpful to your business staff as they fight the “You just got on my last nerve.” syndrome:

May we explain why patients are occasionally not seen in the order in which they arrive:
We appreciate your choosing our office for your dental care.  We listen well to all our patients’ questions and concerns; and because some patients have inquired, we offer an explanation about the order in which patients are called to the treatment area.

We schedule visits by appointment in order to respect your time and to serve you most efficiently.  Several types of appointments are scheduled simultaneously since patients are to see either Dr. _____, one of our hygienists, a dental assistant, or our Dental Health Educator.

Treatment procedures are scheduled with Dr. _____.
Quick-check appointments for observation following an emergency, surgery, or other extensive treatment are scheduled with Dr. ____ between longer procedures.
Emergencies are seen by Dr. ____ as soon as they arrive to alleviate pain or to treat an injury.  It may help to know that when you or a family member have an emergency, you too will immediately be worked into that day’s schedule.
Hygiene appointments are scheduled with the hygienist and some other types of appointments may be scheduled with a dental assistant.

Our Dental Health Educator schedules sessions concerning pre-natal and neo-natal oral health, diet counseling, proper oral hygiene techniques, etc.

Each type of appointment is called to the treatment area in the order in which they are to be seen by the staff member delivering their care.  Please know that we too value your time, and we make every effort to stay on schedule.

Again, thank you for selecting our office for your dental care.  Our practice continues to grow primarily by word of mouth, and we appreciate the referral of your family and friends.

The second letter explaining why only one adult should accompany a child to the operatory may be given to parents/caregivers of new patients as part of orientation during the initial appointment.

Explanation to Parents about Adults in the Operatory

We appreciate your choosing our office for your child’s dental care.  In order to best care for each child in our practice, we offer this information:

For your comfort and privacy, both parents or one adult are welcome to accompany a young child to the treatment area.  However, for the safety and privacy of other patients, all other people, including children who are not scheduled at this appointment, are asked to remain in the reception room.  Young children remaining in the reception room will need a supervisory adult.

Thank you for honoring this request which allows us to efficiently serve your child and all other patients and parents in an orderly, calm environment.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Many practice management experts recommend the dentist receive and review numbers monthly in order to review specifics of production, collections, scheduling, show rate for patients who keep appointments as made, processes to handle broken appointments, bank deposits, overhead costs, etc.  Actually, the most profitable, well run offices are monitored on a daily basis by which the dentist/owner/manager routinely receives a DAILY ACTIVITIES REPORT.

This report, given to the dentist at the end of each day, assures that four vitally important controls for the practice are in place and functioning well.  (1) Scheduling, re-scheduling, and show rate for restorative and hygiene patients are meeting goals consistently.  (2)  Production and collection goals are achieved.  (3) Business staff is accountable for routine processes that assure business procedures are consistent day to day and all collected monies are bank-deposited each day.  (4) Problems are noticed and acted on while they are still minor and manageable.

Suggestion: monitor your practice on a daily basis by asking your business team leader to complete the following Daily Activities Report so that you, the doctor, receive the report at the end of each day along with the bank deposit and the computer-generated day sheet noting the name of each patient seen with treatment delivered.

Incidentally, if you dentists are groaning inwardly, asking “Do I really need to review such details daily?”; I’m telling you, “YES!  YOU DO!”  And that advice is based on over 35 years of consulting with hundreds of dental practices, uncovering every variety of management problem known to “dentalkind.”  Believe me!  Monitor your practice daily!


# Patients scheduled                                                                                  _______
            #Patients seen                                                                                            _______
            Show rate %, not including emergencies 
               (Divide # seen as appointed by # scheduled.  Goal = 90%-95%)          _______%  
            # Broken appointments                                                                              _______
            # Rescheduled appointments                                                                     _______
            # Patients scheduled                                                                                  _______
            # Patients seen                                                                                           _______
            Show rate % (Goal = 90%-95%)                                                               _______%    
            # Broken appointments                                                                              _______
            # Rescheduled appointments                                                                     _______                                                                                           
Total patients seen                                                                                                _______

Overall show rate %                                                                                            _______%

Total production 
(% Restorative_____     % Hygiene _____)                           $_______

Total Collections 
(Over-the-counter minimum goal = 40%-50%                         _______
            of production)                                                                                                                                

Collection % rate 
(Divide collections for a period by production for                 _______%                 
            that same period.  Minimum annual goal = 97%)                                                                         

Over/Under daily production goal                                                                    $_______

Over/Under daily collection goal                                                                       $_______

Adjustments/Write-offs                                                                                      $_______

Bank deposit                                                                                                        $_______

Edit this Report to meet your needs and preferences.  Some clients prefer to receive the report early in the morning of the day following.  Some omit the Bank deposit information, simply getting the deposit at the end of each day in a bank bag, ready to be deposited.  With electronic deposits and bill payments, the deposit is not nearly as laborious as it was.  This Report, accompanied by the day sheet described above, is a necessary tool for control of the daily transactions in your office.  Please use it consistently to preclude problems that might affect many aspects of your practice.

Monday, May 2, 2016


For 10 years I have saved an email post, one of those read-quickly-and-delete items.  This one, however, stuck in my mind, and I have found the concepts it poses useful many times in the ensuing years.  I’d like to share this bit of philosophy with you in hopes it will be helpful to you too when life crowds in and days do not have enough hours to accomplish all you must.

A professor walked into his classroom and wordlessly began to use several small items on his desk.  He picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and filled it to the brim with golf balls.  He asked his students, “Is the jar full?”  “Yes.” came the response. 

Then the professor opened a bag of small pebbles, poured them over the golf balls so they filtered around the balls.  “Is the jar full now?”  A more emphatic “Yes.” rose from the group.

Next the professor shook the jar slightly and picked up a small box of sand, easily adding its contents to the jar.  “Full now?”  “Absolutely.”  After a pause, the professor took a cup of coffee from his desktop and poured it into the jar.  Students laughed as they puzzled over the meaning of this exercise.

Now, explained the professor, the jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things---your God, your family, friends, health, your passions that are so meaningful that if everything else were lost and only they remained, your life would still be full and rich.

The pebbles represent the other things that matter---you career, your home, car, hobbies, work with worthwhile organizations and so on.  The sand is everything else that occupies your time and energy, the small stuff. 

If you put the small stuff, the sand, in the jar first, it would be so packed that no pebble- things or golf-ball-things could be added.  The same principle applies to your life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you’ll never have time for the things, the golf-ball-things or the pebble-things, that are supremely important to you.  Play with your children, regularly attend your house of faith, take time to get medical checkups, schedule regular dinner dates with your partner, play another 18 holes, go hunting or fishing before raking leaves.  There will always be time for cleaning the house or fixing the disposal after the things that really matter are done.  Pay attention first to those priorities that are necessary for your happiness and well being, and let the minor things fit between or disappear entirely.

One of the students raised her hand to inquire what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled.  “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”

Monday, April 25, 2016


Most of us have learned from experience that “free stuff” is seldom worth much.  “You get what you pay for.” is an oft-quoted axiom---but I want to negate that idea by focusing your attention on free resources for your practice that will, I believe, prove most valuable to you and your practice.  These free resources are offered as a way for me to say “Thank you!” to the hundreds of dentists with whom I have worked personally and the thousands of dentists and staff members who have attended my seminars, read my articles and blogs, used my dental text book chapters, and continue to be loyal Practicon customers.  You have allowed me to work with this profession that I love and respect for over 30 years, and I appreciate you!

We have created a section on Practicon’s website, entitled FREE Resources for Your Practice.  The Resources include practice management numbers, averages, and statistics, forms, letters, surveys, marketing specifics, guidelines, and articles---practice management data that has been time-tested in busy practices and proven invaluable in growing and managing any dental practice.  And they are all FREE!

Search by topics for ideas and advice:

·         Associateships, Partnerships, and Start Ups
·         Interviewing, Hiring, and Training
·         Personnel Administration
·         Scheduling and Recare System
·         Practice Management; Knowing the Numbers
·         Marketing                     

YOU need to gear your practice to new levels of service, profitability, and just plain enjoyment.