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Businessman Reading DocumentPart of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.

Dentistry, like any business, continually changes.  New techniques and materials become available, and it’s important for a new dentist to stay up to date on these.  This builds your credibility—and it also puts you in a position to take advantage of new ideas faster than established practices which may have invested heavily in old techniques and are more reluctant to change.

All professions require continuing education, and that should be part of helping keep your practice fresh.  But that’s just meeting the requirements of the law.  To really make sure your practice stays on the leading edge, you typically need to do more.

So it’s good to set aside some time periodically to look at new ideas.  Don’t limit these to dental procedures.  Also look to see if there are better ways to run your business, communicate with your customers, and develop and manage your staff.

In many cases, you may find that a combination of ideas relating to different areas of your practice are what really helps you build your business.

Questions?  Use the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website.

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Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry. Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.Scheduling

As a professional, you’re selling your time and expertise. How you manage your time is a key factor in your practice success. With this in mind, there has been a lot of study directed toward helping dental practices maximize their scheduling efficiency.

In fact, there are a number of computer programs and consultants that work with practices to counsel them on best practices for efficiency.

But before you can take full advantage of these services and products, you have to have a basic understanding of what makes an efficient practice. Here are some considerations:

1. Break things down. If your year’s goal for your practice is $1 million in revenue, consider what that means for each day’s production. Then consider how different areas within your practice contribute—cleaning and hygiene, for example. Look at your daily goals, your monthly goals, and your yearly goal, and see how you’re shaping up.

2. Time yourself and your staff. Look at how long it takes to do different procedures, and then compare that with industry averages. If you take longer than average to do something, look at why—is it an equipment issue? A staff issue? A personal preference? Use this information to determine your practice’s strengths and weakness, and how they affect scheduling.

3. Review and critique your performance periodically. That goes for everyone in the practice. Seek suggestions on ways to improve—and reach out beyond your practice to look at what other dentists do to make their practices more efficient.

Questions? Use the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website.

gogreenAs a part of our ongoing process, Charlotte Dentistry® continues to look for ways to make our business greener and more sustainable. We look for ways to better care for our world, we’re not just caring for our patients’ teeth – we’re caring and preparing for the generations to come.

Many businesses have taken advantage of electronics to reduce the need for as much paper and to speed up operations.  Dentistry is also working toward “chartless” operations.  There are many benefits to this—both for the environment and for patients.

Electronic storage of patient records makes it easier for dental professionals to access key information and determine the best patient treatments.  It also allows for easier record updates and it dramatically reduces the space required for records—a single patient record can contain dozens of pages.

Electronics also speed up information gathering and allow us to treat patients with fewer delays.  Charlotte Dentistry® offers patients the option to schedule appointments online through our website for speed and convenience, and we access their records electronically so everything’s ready when they arrive at the office.  New patients can download forms at home, complete the forms before coming to their appointment —not completely paperless, but it still speeds up the process.  Patients can also email the completed form to the office prior to their arrival.

And for dentists, digital isn’t just about paper.  Digital x-ray technology eliminates the need to process and store x-ray films.  Digital x-rays also expose patients to a fraction of the radiation of old technologies, and, since digital images are easier to understand than film, they make it simpler for patients to choose treatment options as the dentist explains them.  Digital x-ray images can also be transferred immediately to other dental offices in case of a referral—or an emergency.

The dental industry is continually changing, and Charlotte Dentistry has always been a leader in bringing in new technologies that offer benefits to our patients.  Learn more on our website—you can even use the “Ask the Expert” feature to get specific details if you’d like.

Smiling Business Team at ComputerPart of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.

As your dental practice begins to grow, you start reaching limitations based primarily on your time—after all; you can only perform so many examinations and procedures.  You can add some growth by improving the efficiency of your operations—having dental assistants or hygienists handle more basic tasks, and having office staff take on more management duties.  But at some point, you will max out your ability to do more work.

That’s where the idea of taking on partners or associates comes in.  You increase the available-to-sell time for dental procedures, and you share office and staffing expenses.  There are, however, a few challenges to finding the right professionals to fit into your mix.

First is the fact that there are more dentists retiring than there are entering practice, so finding new dentists willing to join your practice can be a challenge.  Since they’re in demand, you may find that you have to offer more incentives or money to get good people on board.  This can still be more than worthwhile, but it’s important to understand market conditions as your start your search—you may find it more difficult than you imagined.

The second key issue to consider is whether you’re willing to have an actual partner versus an associate or associates.  Partnership means sharing management decisions (and responsibilities) and sharing the profits of the practice.  If you take on associates, you keep most of the management control and ultimately control of the practice finances, but you may find that you’re spending more time on the business and less with patients.

A number of consulting and recruiting firms have been created to help dentists as they expand.  And if you have specific questions, use the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website.

 

Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.    Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.

As a new dentist growing your practice, communications tools are vital. And one of the most important is a website loaded withstaying connected useful information about you and proper dental care.

Research shows that more than 70% of initial meaningful contacts between a business and a customer now come through a business website, so your website is, in many ways, your most important communications project. There are a number of reasons for this. Websites are convenient—people can access them at any time, and, with the expansion of smart phones, from anywhere. They’re anonymous—a potential customer can evaluate you without having to talk to a salesperson, which is important for someone who wants to investigate without making any type of commitment. And they typically contain the most current information about the business (or at least they should).

Fortunately, new web building platforms make it easy for people who don’t know much about web programming to build a useful, active web presence. Platforms like WordPress let you add content as easily as using a word processor, and have many available add-ons and widgets to enhance functionality. There are even website services that specialize in helping dental practices create custom websites.
NOTE: Even if you plan on managing your site yourself, it’s a good idea to seek professional help with the initial design. A professionally-planned and designed website helps you make a good first impression (very important), and makes it easy for you to continue to add content on your own later.

And keep in mind that it’s very important not just to include information about your practice, but about good dental care in general. This helps build confidence among prospective patients that you’re focused on their well-being, not just your business.

To learn more, use our “Ask The Expert” feature on our website.

Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry. Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.Dental Chair

One big challenge of starting a new dental practice is choosing equipment. And like with many other aspects of practice startup, you need to look at needs down the road, as well as what you have to have immediately.

When deciding upon equipment, the first step is typically to consider office workflow—how many patients will you be treating at a given time, and how many staff members will be working simultaneously? Look for potential bottlenecks caused by equipment—or the lack of it. You may discover that smarter equipment purchases revolve around eliminating situations where some staffers must waste billable time while waiting for equipment to become available.

There’s also the question of purchasing new versus used equipment. Thanks to the internet, it’s now possible to locate a number of resources that can offer both new and used goods. Used equipment suppliers often inspect and refurbish equipment before offering it for resale, so a new practice can save money.

But remember—you still get what you pay for, so check out any online source before buying, and keep in mind that the useful life of used equipment (even if it is in good shape) may not be as long as new merchandise. Also consider what happens should a piece of equipment require maintenance or repair—will it being offline shut down your ability to work? Choose function over style, especially as you’re starting out.

To learn more, use the “Ask The Expert” feature of our website.

Part of our ongoing series of careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental professions, and welcomes any questions you may have.

One of the first lessons a new dentist learns is that he or she can’t survive alone.  To be successful, a dentist has to have a good staff.staff2

Charlotte Dentistry® is blessed with having many of the best dental professionals in our region on our staff.  They are a big reason why we have continued to grow for more than 30 years, and they are vital to our future success.

A new dentist starting out has to be money-conscious, but one area where it never pays to scrimp is on key staff members.  Good staffers not only free up more of the dentist’s time so that he or she can concentrate on patients, but they make sure that everything runs properly so the dentist doesn’t have to spend hours after work trying to figure out insurance, billing, overhead, OSHA compliance, HR compliance, facility upgrades/renovations to name a few.

Typically, the first hires for a new dentist are an office manager, a hygienist and a dental assistant. These members should be considered key members of the team, and communications among team members is vital. When everyone communicates properly, people can help each other out, and more gets done.  The more that gets done, the more income the practice generates.

So a key question that a new dentist needs to ask about a new hire is: Can I work with this person.  Personality compatibility is important, but not as critical as honest communication.  An office manager that interrupts because a problem must be dealt with immediately is a better choice than one that lets trouble build because of protocol. Good managers tend to hire people who counteract weaknesses they may have.  As legendary adman David Ogilvy once said, “hire people bigger than you, and you become a company of giants.”

Professional credentials are important for new hires, but remember that in a new practice, people are going to be asked to do things outside their professional skill set, as part of the building process.  People who can do that will make the practice successful faster. Staff members who are willing to be flexible, versatile and exhibit self-drive and initiative are invaluable to the growth of the practice.

Are you a new dentist or considering a career in dentistry? Visit the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website to get questions answered.

Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.

Hurray! You’ve started your new dental practice, and your shiny new office is open for business. You’re starting at a fairly empty appointment book.

It’s time to make sure your community knows you’re there and accepting NEW patients.

Actually, you should start thinking about this well before you open the doors to your practice. And it will take some significant effort on your part to make sure that people around your new business know about and what you do. It will also take some investment.

Every day, the average consumer is exposed to about 10,000 messages—ads, news reports, texts, phone calls, conversations, billboards, mailings, websites, etc.  On the average, we remember six.

Six.

So with all this clutter, it’s no wonder that you have to work to make sure peoples know about something new. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Get out and meet people. Go to chamber of commerce meetings, local business group lunches and other community events. Carry a stack of business cards, and let people know you’re starting a new practice. You’ll get people wishing you luck—and a few asking about how you might could help them.
  • Offer services for free to get started. This may include volunteering at community health fairs, or going to a large local employer and offering to help employees better understanding their dental insurance. You’ll get back more than you give.
  • Use low cost tools like public relations and social media. It doesn’t cost a lot to write a news release about your new practice for the local paper and to start a Facebook Page or blog. But it does make sure a lot of people know about you.
  • Be smart with signage; if your practice is on a busy street make sure you take advantage of it with professional attractive signage. People don’t think about a dentist every day; they usually only pay attention if they have a problem or it’s time for a checkup. Being visible when their awareness goes up is a good way to get a call for an appointment.
  • Make sure your website reflects the quality of your business.  More than 70% of initial meaningful contacts between a business and a new customer now come thru a website.
  • Invest in smart advertising.  It’s much easier to target advertising today, especially with online services and direct mail. Work with professionals to target key demographics for your practice.  You’ll save money while building business.

Are you a new dentist or considering a career in dentistry? Are you looking for sound business suggestions? Use the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website to get questions answered.

Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.

Many dental students, as they start looking at their careers and how they want to develop them, begin weighing whether or not it would be better to have a general dentistry practice or to concentrate on a specialty.Dentist

There are advantages to each.

The demand for general dentistry continues to grow, and many new dentists will find that they can be successful in general dentistry from the moment they leave school.  Developing a practice in general dentistry is aided by the fact that virtually everyone needs general dental care, and even in cities with established dentists, there are locations where a new dentist can do well.  General dentistry requires less training than a specialty, and graduates can get through school faster and begin earning to pay off school loans more quickly.

Specialties, however, are more lucrative in the long run.  Currently, the American Dental Association recognizes nine specialty areas of practice:   Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Pediatric Dentistry, Peridontics, Prosthodontics, and Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

There is more training involved with specialties, both in dental school and in keeping abreast of new procedures and technologies after graduation, but specialists typically have patient loads that compensation for the extra investment.  Many of their patients are referred by general dentistry practices.

Many practices may ultimately combine both, as Charlotte Dentistry® does with general dentistry, where our general practice dentists have successfully completed extensive specialized training in Orthodontics, Prosthodontics and Endodontics.  This has allowed us to continue building our practice, and given us opportunities to better serve patients who need specialized care at one familiar location.

To learn more, use the “Ask the Expert” feature of our website.  We’re glad to answer questions from people interested in dentistry as a career.

Part of our ongoing series on careers in dentistry.  Charlotte Dentistry® encourages young people to consider the dental profession, and welcomes any questions you may have.Doctor talking with patient

Starting a dental practice is an exciting—and scary—time, as we remember when Charlotte Dentistry was founded some 35 years ago.  Building a practice takes an investment in time, in people, in business resources, and, especially today, in technology.

People are the first key to success.  For a new dentist to be successful, he or she first must find skilled, professional people who also build the practice by providing the proper support, patient relations, and effective office skills.  Many talented dentists fail in their own practices simply because they don’t have the support they need for the business side of the operations.  Charlotte Dentistry has been blessed with dedicated professionals on the business side of our practice (many of whom have been with us for many years).  They make it possible for our dental professionals to concentrate on giving patients the best possible care.

Investing back into the practice is the next key to success.  It’s tempting for a young dentist, who may be just getting married, starting a family, and establishing a home to take home many of the profits from the business.  But the dental professionals who succeed are the ones who put money back into their businesses to make sure they have the right equipment and people to keep the practice moving forward.  It’s an ongoing process:  Charlotte Dentistry continues to invest back into the practice, because we know our business is continually changing, and we have to keep up.

And a third—and perhaps most important—key is investing back into the patients’ and community you serve.  A new dental practice can advertise and promote (and it must), but it must also build trust with patients and people who may someday become patients.  Word of mouth for a good dental reputation is the best advertising your practice can “buy”.

You do that one person at a time. So build trusting relationships with everyone you come in contact with and your practice will grow quickly!

That’s why we still make sure we take time to answer every question that a patient may ask.  That’s why we sponsor community events, and why our staff participate in scores of different community organizations.  The people we serve have been very good to us.  We feel a responsibility to give back.  And by giving back, we make our practice that much stronger.

To any new dentist out there who’s just starting out:  We wish you the best of luck.  It’s a great way to make a living and a great way to help a lot of people.

Questions? Or just need a sounding board, contact us at “Ask The Expert”.

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