Reduce Your Debt with These 3 Tips
You’re ready to get your practice debt under control. You no longer want your financial obligations to control your every move. You’re ready to break free, and finally be the proud owner of a successful, profitable dental practice. The only problem? You have no idea how.
I see it all the time. Dentists have hefty debt obligations they’re responsible for each month, and once they finish writing all those checks, they’re not left with much to actually invest in their practice. Overhead is out of control, and saving for retirement seems like nothing more than a dream. They’re stuck, frustrated and fed up, yet have no idea how to change their situation and finally get back on track.
The good news is, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. The team at McKenzie Management can help you break free of your debt, grow your practice revenues and finally reach your full potential. Ready to get started? Here are three tips I’ve put together designed to help you reduce your debt and grow your bottom line.
1. Conduct a Cash Flow Assessment
How? Log the numbers for net production and collections over the last 12 months, the percentage of accounts receivable over the last 90 days, and total monthly payments on leases, loans and business credit cards. But don’t stop there. Also look at average monthly payments to the lab, dental supplies, salaries, taxes and benefits, and don’t forget about monthly facilities costs and all the various miscellaneous expenses that don’t seem like much until you actually add them up. This assessment will give you a clear picture of where all your money is going, and will help you to address your debt before it gets completely out of control.
I offer a complimentary cash flow assessment on my website HERE.
2. Hire Someone to Evaluate Your Finances
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for reducing debt in your practice. You have to take a look at where you can make adjustments, and an outside financial expert can help you make these changes and start reducing those financial obligations that are holding you and your practice back.
3. Be Proactive
Really look at your 20 practice management systems and make any necessary changes and updates. Trust me, it’s time and money well spent. Enhancing your practice management systems will not only help ensure you don’t find yourself drowning in debt again, it will also make your staff more efficient, your practice more productive and your bottom line more robust.
Most dentists struggle with debt, and I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial obligations they must find a way to pay. The thought of it can be overwhelming, but you have to address your debt and figure out how to reduce it before it pulls your practice under. These tips will help you get your financial obligations under control so you can focus on investing in your systems and creating a thriving practice, not just on writing check after check each month.
Remember, this isn’t a process you need to take on by yourself. McKenzie Management is here to help you take your practice back, and reduce those financial obligations that seem to dictate your every move. Start taking steps to reduce your debt and improve your systems, and you’ll finally realize true practice success and profitability.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Resolutions Going South? Seven Ways to Reboot in 2015.
It’s officially February, one month since you made those big New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing? It may not surprise you to know that most people fall off the bandwagon by now. If your New Year’s resolutions are going south, the good news is that you’re normal. By February, life starts to intrude on all the positive intentions you felt so strongly about just four weeks ago. The bad news is that only 8% of the population actually sticks to their New Year’s resolutions. So what can you do to get back on track?
First, let’s go back a month and recall those amazing feelings of hope and joy when ringing in 2015…the sense of endless possibilities, the blank canvas each New Year brings. Here’s the problem - your eyes were more influenced by an evening of champagne and teary versions of “Auld Lang Syne.” Now it’s time to be realistic about those goals and how to go about achieving them.
Self-initiated behavior change is difficult. Habit-breaking is a process, not an event. Essentially a resolution is a promise you make to yourself. When you let it go, you feel bad and you get discouraged. People can experience anxiety along with self-criticism and pessimistic forecasting…“What’s the use? I’m always going to be this way!”
Rather than scrap your resolutions, make time to reevaluate and recalculate. Here are seven crucial elements to help you reboot your resolve to improve.
1. Start small. Typically people take an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach, and when they don’t see immediate results they feel defeated and quit. This dichotomous thinking is self-sabotaging. You have hundreds of things to do and that isn’t going to change. You’re busy. Realize that you just don’t have the time to get it ALL done. Distill your goal into the most poignant issue. And remember, from small acorns big oaks grow.
3. Remind yourself of your goals. “Out of sight, out of mind” – the old saying rings true when it comes to goals. Have a visual cue that keeps you focused on your new behaviors. It can be a simple paper-and-pencil checklist. Or, if you’re high-tech, there are abundant choices of ‘apps’ and computer software programs. The key is to create an easy way to visually display your plan and monitor your progress.
4. Measure with a rearview mirror perspective. An important factor that increases success is to measure what you have achieved. Unfortunately ambitious people always want more, but when you compare your progress against your ultimate goal it’s like chasing the horizon. You never catch it. Rather than regretting how much you haven’t achieved, take a look back and see how far you’ve come. Progress begets progress.
5. Weather temporary setbacks. Perfection is unattainable. Minor missteps are to be expected and completely normal. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs. Be determined. Recover from your mistakes and get back on track.
6. Change one behavior at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. You learned to walk before you ran. To be successful, focus on one change before the next and remember that habits develop over the course of time. As such, it takes time to replace them with productive behaviors.
7. Ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you strengthens your resilience. If you are unable to meet your goals on your own, get an accountability partner. This might be a colleague, or perhaps a professional coach.
The bottom line is there’s no better time to reboot than right now. So hit RESTART and get going!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
Start Right Now to Stay Busy All Year
Even though 2015 is just a few weeks old, it is not too early to start thinking about your office plan for generating patients throughout the year. Promoting our practices is important! If your January was not busy this year; do something so it will be better in 2016. Was the office slow around the Christmas holidays? Plan now for keeping all chairs full and hygiene occupied. Is October a slow month? Think of a promotion that could generate interest at that time. Do your patients leave insurance benefits “on-the-table” at the end of the year? Help them to get the treatment for which they and their employers pay.
For example, many of your patients have insurance that runs from January to January. This means they have new benefits kicking in right now. Don’t wait until their next recall appointment to talk about it. Today, give them a call or send a professional letter advising them to use their benefits. To get started, run a report showing patient treatment identified but not yet completed. Then assign a staff member to look into each instance. Compose a letter (with empty spacing that can be filled in with personal information and needed treatment) and have the dentist sign it personally. Follow up with a phone call asking that the patient set up an appointment.
I hope that you are well and looking forward to a healthy 2015. As your dentist, I am sending you this letter to let you know that you still need to have (a crown on your top left molar) completed. This was treatment that we identified for you last year, but did not accomplish. I don’t want to let a manageable problem become a large, difficult problem for you. In addition, your insurance coverage starts over at the beginning of a year. You and/or your employer are already paying for a good share of your needed treatment!
Call our office at your earliest convenience and we will be glad to set up a time so we can get started on what you need.
I appreciate being your dentist, and look forward to seeing you soon.
Dr. Mike Jones
It is best if the section where the personal treatment is listed does not look like a mass produced “fill-in-the-blank”. That can negate the effect of a “personal” letter! Also, if the patient needs quite a bit of care, don’t try to put it all in. Instead, choose the most pressing issue. These letters do not have to be a “clerical only” duty. Your hygienist or dental assistant can work on them as well.
To help prevent a slow October, run a postcard promotion in August. You might send this to all patients of record, or even purchase a zip code label list for families in your area. The postcard can feature a smiling family on one side, and a very brief message next to the mailing label on the other.
For example: Stay healthy and look your best this fall. Call us and save 20% on your next professional cleaning. Or: Stay healthy and look your best this fall. Call us for your professional cleaning and check-up today. Or: Stay healthy and look your best this fall. Call us for your professional cleaning and check-up today. If you have insurance benefits, use them before they run out at the end of the year. We also offer affordable payment plans.
To stay busier for December, let all your insurance and Flexible Savings Account patients know during the first week of September that they have benefits that will expire at the end of the year. Use ‘em or lose ‘em! If a report can be run with the amounts each patient has left, all the better. Again, a personalized letter with the amount left on their insurance highlighted goes a long way toward encouraging patients to come in before the end of the year. If that does not seem practical, send a simple note saying: “Use your dental benefits and Flexible Savings Account before they expire at the end of the year. Call us today.”
For the spring and summer, think about graduations and weddings. You might want to run a promotion beginning in March for reduced cost tooth whitening in time for cap and gown pictures in May and wedding photos in June. If you don’t want to offer a reduced cost, send a card saying: “Look your best for special occasion pictures. Call us for a professional cleaning and teeth whitening today.”If you have cell phone numbers and email addresses for your patients, you can also use those for your messages. However, don’t underestimate the appeal of a simple, colorful, professional-looking postcard. With electronic communication so pervasive in our modern world, regular mail can often stand out.
A little advance planning can help keep your chairs busy all year!
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com.
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