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Dental Consultant Practice Purchase Tips

Tip 1: Verify you have an accurate active patient count. Often the count is greatly inflated. This is less of an issue then in the past due to practice management software. If patient info has been correctly entered for all patients then the active patient count should be good. There are different opinions as to what constitutes an active patient but counting any recall patients going back eighteen months works. Doing so takes into account patients who have slipped off the radar but can be gotten back in. 

Tip 2: Has extensive dentistry already been done on most patients? If so, then most of the new production from active patients will be in hygiene. The more complete dentistry that has been done, the less ROI. If there hasn't been a lot of comprehensive dentistry done you can  convert many of the patients, if you do so on a gradient.

Tip 3: I've not seen the selling dentist staying on for a long period of time to be workable unless there is plenty of work for both dentists and the chemistry between them is right.  How long depends depends on how adequate the patient base is. The purchasing dentist usually has a heavy debt load so needs to make as much income as possible. In such situations have the selling dentist only stay on for whatever time is needed to introduce the buying dentist to patients.

Tip 5: The staff in a practice that is old school will often be set in their ways such as not collecting at time of service so any changes in office policies, whether the changes effect patients or staff, can cause upsets if not handled properly. Also old school staff are often computer illiterate, to one degree or another. Staff who have been with the dentist for a long time are usually practicing a style of dentistry that is outmoded. The time and frustration to train them is generally not worth it. However, if possible, you don't want wholesale changes in the hygiene and front desk positions, for approximately six months, as these are usually the positions the patients bond with the most.

Tip 6:  ARs can be skewed if the office has not been running day sheets, closing out month or year end reports, generating statements on a monthly basis or tracking insurance claims which, is not unusual.

Tip 7:  Dentist People Ratio of one dentist for 2000 people would be the lowest I would go. One dentist for 3000 people would be a good deal. One dentist for 4000 people would be lucrative.Rural areas can be less. 

Tip 8: The seller's insurance agreements should be reviewed.  Do not assume what you are told is accurate.

Tip 9: After purchase, do not "push" on exisitng mature patients.  Some may not want x-rays. Have your hygienist tell them before you get in the room  that  x-rays are due as it’s been a few years. If they refuse, the hygienist needs to tell you in front of the patient and document in chart. Most patients will end up getting the x-rays on their next visit having. Have hygienists use an intra-oral camera on all questionable teeth. Take a picture of the tooth, if it looks like something has changed since last visit, let the patient know the doctor might need to take x-rays.  Doctor comes in, does full exam, looks at the tooth and say, "Looks like the filling is breaking down. We need to take an X-ray to rule out any cavities or infection.  So, bottom line with older patients, don’t change anything. 

Tip 10: Have the selling doctor send out a letter using the practice's current letterhead. One letter per household. The seller personally signing each letter is also recommended and where appropriate include a personal note and use the patient's first name. A few months later the buying dentist can send out another introductory letter, brochure or pamphlet. The higher the quality the better. 


Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at 

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Dental Consultants Tip: Facebook Friends and Staff

 

What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?

Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.

Marketing & New Patients

Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background. 

Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists

Dental Office Systems

Key systems dental consultants implement:

  1. New Patient Phone Call
  2. Insurance Processing
  3. New Patient Experience and Patient Education
  4. Financial Arrangements
  5. Scheduling
  6. Confirmation
  7. Unscheduled Treatment Followup
  8. Reactivation
  9. Huddle
  10. Stat Monitoring
  11. Daily and Weekly Checklists
  12. General Policy Manual

Your Staff

You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.

Staff Accountability 

What gets monitored gets done.

The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?

The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals

It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.  

Leadership

What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance.  Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline: 

  1. Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
  2. Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
  3. Set a good example.
  4. Always be learning.
  5. Take care of yourself.
  6. Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.

Cost

$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice. 

Questions You Should Ask

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
  3. If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
  4. Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
  5. The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.

If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.