Conducted by Livvie Matthews, Simple Social Media TV
In this insightful interview, Mary will share her tried-and-true strategies for a successful dental practice. Implementation of these strategies will allow you to enjoy going to work each day, have a productive and profitable practice and enjoy time away from work without worry.
Livvie Matthews is founder of Simple Social Media TV, and is passionate about helping small business owners learn how to draw more clients into your space using the incredible power of social media and online marketing.
Livvie Matthews: Mary, please tell us a little about yourself and how The Dental Business came to be.
Mary Fisher-Day: Thanks, Livvie. Hi, everyone. As Livvie said, I’m Mary Fisher-Day, founder and owner of The Dental Business where we help dentists make wise business decisions from Graduation to Retirement.
I have been in the dental industry for 30 years. It has gone by fast. The first 17 years I spent working as an Assistant, Scheduling Coordinator, Office Manager and Financial Coordinator. Some years ago I was approached by a management and transition company about joining them as their Consultant for the Carolinas. I was ready and I knew I had knowledge to share, so I completed their training and worked with them for two years until they decided to focus primarily on Transitions. My heart was still in practice management, consulting and coaching so I started The Dental Business.™ In 2009, I was asked to join The Snyder Group as a Transition Consultant. I was really excited because I have a lot of respect for Dr. Tom Snyder. It has been great to be able to help my clients with every aspect of their practice since then. In 2010, The Snyder Group merged with Henry Schein Professional Practice Transition; again allowing me to add more services to our clients.
Livvie Matthews: Will you share with us your top business strategies for dental practice owners?
Mary Fisher-Day: Yes, I’d love to!
1) Know your practice numbers. What do I mean by that? Know your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly numbers, production, collections, and accounts receivable. You need to see them every day, every week, every month, and every year.
2) Keep your overhead in line with industry norm.
3) This is really important, surround yourself with a team of people you respect, and praise them often.
4) My next one would be to use Internal Marketing Resources.
5) Have clear, well-defined personnel policies in writing. That is extremely important.
6) Make certain you are in compliance with state and federal regulations.
7) Have an emergency exit strategy.
Livvie Matthews: You mentioned overhead. Overhead is a really big deal, especially in this economy. So what is an ideal overhead percentage? Give us a couple of category percentages as well, please.
Mary Fisher-Day: Ideal true overhead should be between 50-60%. What I mean by true overhead is the expenses it actually takes to run your business. What it takes to keep the doors open and patients taken care of. The largest overhead cost will always be your team, as it should be. However, these are numbers you need to watch. They can get out of hand quickly. Your team overhead should run between 24-28%; this includes payroll taxes and benefits. If your team overhead is at 28% that should mean that you have a well-tenured team and they are pretty much topped out in pay. Another expense you should watch is dental supplies. You should have a budget and have a team member in charge of keeping the office on budget, between 6-7% is a good budget for dental supplies and I think that is pretty much the industry norm.
Livvie Matthews: You mentioned Practice numbers. Which numbers are you referring to and why?
Mary Fisher-Day: Every dentist should know what their daily, weekly, monthly and yearly production and collection numbers are. They should know what percentage of production was collected. Our clients strive for 98% or better. You should know how many active patients you have and what percentage of those patients are in your re-care program. You should know how much is written off each month and approve all write-offs. All of these numbers speak to the health of your practice, which is why they are so important.
Livvie Matthews: What are internal marketing resources for dental practices?
Mary Fisher-Day: Well, there are ways you can market your practice from the inside. They are really simple and easy to tweak, to put into place and they make a huge difference. My top three are:
1) Send a welcome letter to your new patients. It doesn’t take much time and it makes a huge impression. Have it pre-formatted from your heart and have it printed on your best stationary. Sign it yourself and send it to them within 48 hours after their appointment. I often recommend that my doctors have it signed in the morning huddle and let their team sign it, too.
2) Thank your patients for coming in. It is really easy. As you leave the treatment room, shake their hand, look them in the eye and say, “Thank you for coming in. It’s always good to see you.” Little effort leaves a big impression.
3) My favorite tip: Make your own post-operative phone calls. Your software has a report that can be printed at the end of each day with the names and numbers of every patient you need to call that evening. You can customize it. I recommend you call every patient who had an invasive procedure. Where soft tissue management is concerned, either you or your hygienist should make the call. It will just take a few minutes. You can leave a message if they don’t answer. They will tell all their friends, family and coworkers about you and how thoughtful you are. It really will make a difference in your practice!
Livvie Matthews: Great tips, Mary! You also mentioned that employers should surround themselves with people they respect, and praise them often. Why do you find this so important?
Mary Fisher-Day: Surrounding yourself with people you respect and enjoy working with is important. It makes all of the difference in whether you enjoy going to work each day. I’ve had dentists tell me that they have gotten a stomach ache when they pull up to their office and see a particular car. There is no excuse for that. You are the employer. If you don’t enjoy working with any member of your team, they should not work for you. If you can’t honestly give them praise at the end of the work day, they shouldn’t work for you. You should respect your team and they should respect you. Otherwise, it is not fair to you, it is not fair to the employee and it is not fair to your patients. Patients pick up on tensions in an office. That is not what you want them to focus on when leaving your practice, and you certainly don’t want them to tell others about it.
Livvie Matthews: That is exactly right. What about personnel policies? Personnel policies many times seem to be an overlooked subject. How would you suggest an employer go about communicating personnel policies in a clear manner?
Mary Fisher-Day: The best way is to have a Customized Personnel Policy Manual that has employer expectations, clearly defined and also make it clear what the employee can expect from the employer. The customized part is important. It needs to contain your policies and be specific, especially where wages and benefits are concerned, what is included in your benefit package and what your policy is where time off is concerned. This one I cannot emphasize enough.
Watch for Part Two of this in-depth interview in an upcoming newsletter!
Livvie Matthews, a 30+ year Dental Business Office Professional, is a Client Attraction Coach and Consultant . She provides solutions for self-employed service professionals and small business owners, just like you, who struggle with increasing their income, how to market more effectively, and would like to get more clients/patients consistently. Livvie is passionate about helping you learn to draw more clients/patients into your space using the incredible power of Social Media and Online Marketing.