Our Blog has moved!

26 Aug

We have a brand new website, and with that comes a brand new blog!  Please join us over at   http://bradygroupllc.com/blog/

SEE YOU THERE!

Almost Overnight, Things Began to Transform!

30 Jun

I have worked with a number of different consulting companies through my 10 years as a dentist.  Some are the “big practice, big spend” types and are very flashy.  Others are the “mom and pop shop” run by people who aren’t dentist and who have never been dentists.  The problems I kept running into were that promises were made that were never fulfilled, and the systems recommended just didn’t make sense from a dental business pJimCraigteam.JPGerspective.  In fact, we found that it’s possible to almost go bankrupt with 250 new patients a month producing almost $4 million a year if the systems aren’t balanced correctly and the spending is too high.  About a year ago I was on the hunt for a new practice consultant and was referred to the Brady group by my accountants.  I went in skeptical, wondering if they could really understand my practice.  Almost overnight, things began to transform.  We reduced our overhead by a very large percentage, and we began to be much more selective about the things we were and were not willing to do in dentistry.  We set new standards and completely re-vamped our process.  While not perfect, I feel that we’re coming along and are on the right track.  This year we only have a fraction of our new patients and our production is down, but our overhead is WAY down (so we no longer have to produce 4 million a year just to stay afloat), our net is WAY up, I’m taking 7 weeks of vacation time this year, my staff is happy and the practice just feels a lot more fun to work in.  In short, I’m making more than I have in years and the stress level is much lower.  I recommend these processes and systems to anyone looking to reduce stress and increase the “fun” level of dentistry again!

Build It, and They Will Come!

22 Jun

The way you schedule can make or break your practice.  We are often asked – which comes first?  The right systems for case acceptance, or blocking the schedule for the ‘ideal’ day?  Some want to put off block scheduling until they get better case acceptance, but it never really seems to happen.  That’s because ‘reactive’ scheduling actually gets in the way of the systems that will support better communication and case acceptance.

I think of one of my favorite movies of all time when it comes to setting up your schedule for success – ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner.  In the movie, Costner plays Ray, a farmer in Iowa.  One night Ray hears a voice coming from his corn field saying ‘Build it and they will come’. He interprets the message as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields, despite ridicule from his neighbors and family.  Well, Ray builds it, and the Chicago White Sox come.

See, we often create a false sense  of security by filling the schedule with something. Anything. But if you make the commitment as a team to honor the blocks, something magical happens. Everyone is on the same page and is working toward creating the perfect day instead of just ‘filling’ the schedule.

Create the schedule you want, and they will come

How Many More Years do You Plan to Practice?

3 Jun

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.12.29 PM.pngIn our dental world of primarily ‘production-speak’, overheads continue to rise. At dental meetings it seems that the only numbers bantered around are production numbers. We all acknowledge that only net income matters, yet most of us don’t seem to remember that vital detail when it comes to running our practices and making overhead choices.

Latest research shows the average overhead in a general dental practice is hovering at 75%. WOW! In other words, you have to produce and collect 4 dollars for every dollar you get to claim as income. That’s before the tax man, etc. comes to visit. In effect, you work approximately 9 to 10 months for your overhead and taxes and 2 to 3 months for your spendable net. Sobering.

Obviously, decisions you make today profoundly affect your life for years to come. One such decision is the amount of overhead you choose to have in your practice. Yes, I said ‘choose’ to have, because every dentist chooses his/her overhead. Now, I understand that you may not intentionally choose high overhead, but the decisions you make today affect your overhead tomorrow. What choice have you made? High overhead model or low overhead model? It’s not too late to commit to a low overhead model.

Most dentists live by the rule that the best way to lower overhead and make more net income is to increase production which usually means working harder/faster/longer. Or, we often try to operate by cutting the wrong costs and fail to invest in proper practice and business principles. Working harder is a higher overhead choice because it increases costs in order to support that kind of system; more employees, more chairs, more patients, etc. are needed. Bad systems leave you no choice but to work harder. Is that what you want?

Another way of looking at this same issue is to follow the “busy” practice model.

Do you really believe (as sometimes we are taught) that raising your overhead is necessary to increase your production and net income? Do you accept as true the notions that you may well reach your net income goals simply by adding more patients, hygiene or staff to your practice? I hope not. Proponents of more volume fail to appreciate the finer points of overhead control. Adding more patients, staff, etc. may be part of the solution later on, but overhead control should always be addressed first, nevertheless; most skip that step onto the more attractive (and harder) road to increase production. Let’s take a hard look at dental math. The numbers don’t lie. I hope you are sitting down.

If your practice is ‘average’ and is burdened with 75% overhead, lowering the expenses by a mere 10% can produce astounding results. Here’s an example.

Let’s say you have a $500,000/year average dental practice operating for 30 years. At 75% overhead, your net income would be $125,000 each year. Lowering the overhead by 10% down to 65% would result in an increase of $50,000 net/year given the same production and collection. That increase calculated over the 30 years would mean an additional $1,500,000 of net income over your practice life. Again, given a 75% overhead you would have to produce 4 times that amount to receive those same dollars in net income . . ., an extra $6,000,000 of dentistry or $200,000/year for 30 years to accomplish the same result. That’s 4.8 months worth of work and collections each and every year.

What that means to you is that by choosing a measly 10% unnecessary amount of overhead for your practice, you will have to work an additional 12 years to support someone else! That’s more than one-third of your work life.

Or, if you continue to work the entire 30 years, you can pocket the extra $1.5 million. Both these first two calculations assume that you took the extra money and just put it under your mattress. What if you were to conservatively invest the ‘overage’ generated by this overhead reduction? Your work life would be cut by more than half!

A common overhead mistake is to be overstaffed as a result of using poor systems. Let’s say you have one extra employee being paid a salary (plus expenses) of $2500/month. Following the same formula as above, you will have to work an additional 7.2 years just for having the luxury of having one more employee when the crux of the issue would be to fix the less-than-efficient systems in your practice so as to painlessly solve the overhead problem.

Please don’t get caught in the trap believing that production is directly tied to the number of employees. It’s simply not true. A well run practice can collect $25K to $40K/month/employee. Fix the systems, fix the overhead.

Where are the money holes in your practice? Even in you think you want to ‘die at the chair’ because you enjoy dentistry so much, wouldn’t it be nice to at least have the choice as to when you retire? Plus, how do you know what the future will bring? How you’re your health be in your 50’, 60’s or 70’s? How long will you live? And wouldn’t having the choice to retire sooner be better than later?

Don’t let your higher than needed overhead force you to miss the best part of your life. If you feel tired and wish you had more flexibility in your life’s work schedule, look at your overhead. Get some specialized help if you need it.

How many extra years are you going to have to work simply because you have chosen high overhead? An extra 10% is in fact doubling your work load. Don’t you have a family member or someone else who could benefit from that extra time?  What about you?

Don’t let the magic pass you by.

 

The Power of the… Pause

24 Apr

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 7.43.54 PM

Those of us who have had a career in dentistry have been taught and conditioned to present a solution as soon as we hear a problem. Listening without speaking actually runs counter to the instincts of not only our communication with patients, but to sales in general. In fact, we live in a society where it’s a habit for many people to interrupt.

How you feel when you’re interrupted before you finish your thoughts? Do you feel frustrated? Annoyed? Like you are being sold to? Listening carefully to patients isn’t easy but the rewards are great.

Here’s a powerful tip for successful case acceptance – the pause. This means waiting, and not jumping in at the first opportunity.

Reasons to pause:

• Your patients may be simply stopping to take a breath, or to gather their thoughts.

• They may be gauging your interest in their point of view, to see if you’re listening or simply waiting to jump in. When you resist the urge to jump in, you are often pleasantly surprised to hear that there’s more, and it is important.

• Most people feel uncomfortable with silence, so they rush in to fill the void. Instead of you rushing in, why not let your patient fill the void?

• Your patients feel validated and important when you give them a chance to elaborate on their thoughts.

• Pausing gives you time to think before you respond to a question or objection.

How to pause –

• Minimize distractions. Focus on your patient! If you look out
the window, or think about lunch, or the patient that is waiting in the next room, your mind will jump and you could completely miss valuable information. Your patients know when you are distracted.

• Use the most natural reason to pause, which is curiosity. If you really want to hear what your patient has to say you will pause naturally as you wait for them to elaborate.

* Ask a question with the intent to get an answer. And really listen to the answer, paying attention to what motivates your patient rather than making assumptions or trying to ‘plant’ answers. Asking ‘What else?’ can always get you to the next level of information with your patients.

Eat That Frog!

20 Apr

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction ofScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.43.40 PM.png
knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long.
Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.

If You Have to Eat Two Frogs, Eat the Ugliest one First  –This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.

It Doesn’t Pay to Sit and Look at it for Very Long  – The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. You must develop the routine of “eating your frog” before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.

Take Action Immediately – Successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete. “Failure to execute” is one of the biggest problems in organizations today. Many people confuse activity with accomplishment. They talk continually, hold endless meetings, and make wonderful plans, but in the final analysis, no one does the job and gets the results required.

Develop a Positive Addiction – You can actually develop a “positive addiction” to endorphins and to the feeling of enhanced clarity, confidence, and competence that they trigger. When you develop this addiction, you will, at an unconscious level, begin to organize your life in such a way that you are continually starting and completing ever more important tasks and projects. You will actually become addicted, in a very positive sense, to success and contribution.

No Shortcuts – Practice is the key to mastering any skill. Fortunately, your mind is like a muscle. It grows stronger and more capable with use. With practice, you can learn any behavior or develop any habit that you consider either desirable or necessary.

Action Exercise – What is your “frog?” What is the one task that you despise doing each day? Once you have chosen your “frog” make it a habit to wake up every morning and do that task first.

 

5 Steps to Getting New Patients to Schedule… and Show Up!

24 Mar

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 7.40.23 AM

  1. Build a relationship – In a nutshell, this means that you listen more than you talk.  It doesn’t mean that you vomit your knowledge all over the patient.
  • Learn their name and use it several times throughout the conversation. Before answering any questions at all, connect on a personal level by introducing yourself and connecting by name. You may even ask for a quick call back number in the event you lose the call, but more importantly it will make follow up easy in the event the patient does not schedule.
  • Find out their ‘story’. You can’t build a relationship without showing interest and being genuinely interested in the person on the other end of the line. This means you don’t put them on hold, and you give them 100% undivided attention.
  • Show Empathy in pain/emergency situations– . ‘I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this.  Brady is fantastic and I’ll know he’ll be able to make your comfortable’.
  • Be Curious – Don’t just go through the motions asking ‘dental’ questions, Get more information – ‘tell me more about what’s going on’. ‘it sounds like you’ve been told you might need a crown – tell me more about that’. ‘It sounds as if you’ve done your homework – tell me what you know about teeth whitening and more about what you have in mind.’ What do they know about the procedure they are asking about? Ask about desired end result – ‘Tell me what you’re wanting to accomplish’ ‘Are you looking for a long term solution, or something shorter term/quick fix’
  • Show Enthusiasm! They chose YOU.  They took time away from what they were doing to find your phone number and call YOU.  Be enthusiastic and show gratitude, thanking them for calling. Answer  the phone every time as if your caller ID says ‘Chris Hemsworth’. (:
  1. Avoid drawing attention to insurance. We’ve all been trained to ask ‘Do you have insurance?’ before we even know the prospective patients name! If insurance is important to them, they will bring it up.  Your focus should be on helping the patient, not creating a culture that is insurance-driven.  I’m not suggesting that you stop accepting insurance- yet.  But if you stop talking about it, you’d be amazed at how you can decrease the impact it has on your practice. Regardless of whether you accept their ‘plan’ or not, don’t arm wrestle with the caller. ‘We work many different plans and will do everything we can to maximize your benefit’.  Get them through the door and give them an experience that results in ‘insurance’ becoming secondary.  The worst case scenario – you aren’t contracted with their ‘plan’, and you aren’t reimbursed the full amount of the services.  Adjust off the difference, letting the patient know that you are happy to do so for their first visit.  Consider it a marketing cost – otherwise, you aren’t even giving them the opportunity to be a patient.
  2. Remove the financial obstacles
  • Charge one simple fee for your new patient visit, probably not more than $200. By simplifying the fee, you don’t have to factor in all variables, i.e: whether or not they have x-rays, fluoride, etc.  All of the different fees can potentially confuse and overwhelm your prospective patient.
  • Maybe you have a ‘shopper’ – If appropriate, offer a no charge quick visit to evaluate. ‘I’ll bet I could even talk Dr. Brady into taking a look at that tooth without charging you. We can then get more information about what you want to accomplish and come up with a plan to proceed’ Other than the fee, can you tell me what’s most important to you?’   OR   ‘I would love to be able to give you an accurate fee – it’s just tough to do so without more information.  It sounds like cost is a major factor for you – we have some great ways to help our patients with their treatment investment – would that be helpful to you?’
  • Remember, just because a patient asks about cost, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be a great patient in your practice. Cost is the only barometer they have for comparing you to other practices when they call you.  Your goal should be to build the relationship in a way that cost becomes secondary by the end of the call.  Put the money on the shelf and focus on the person.
  1. ASK FOR THE APPOINTMENT! Your objective is to get them in the practice, not answer all of their questions.  You see, there is a motivation behind the questions asked – they already know the answer they are seeking.  If you don’t have the ‘right’ answer, you don’t earn the appointment.  We have the opportunity to conduct several ‘secret shopper’ calls and believe it or not, one of the worst offenses is when the team member answering the phone simply answers questions, and never invites the caller to become a patient.  You are much more than a ‘question-answerer’- you control the new patient flow in the practice!
  1. Continue to build the relationship between the initial phone call and first visit to your office.
  • Be certain that your potential patient receives something from you between the call and visit – a welcome letter, testimonials, etc., can be sent via snail mail, or email if time is short. I’m not talking about a notice with all of your office ‘policies’, ie: cancelation policy, financial policy, etc., but a letter that sends a message of gratitude and builds the level of value for the new patient visit.
  • Direct patients to updated social media and website – same parameters apply to your online presence as written communication – focus on the benefits and what you CAN do for patients. Create a culture where your patients are natural endorsements for your practice through a heavy web presence of online reviews, patient-centered social media, and an updated website
  • Here’s a novel idea – What if your doctor called them the night before to touch base letting the patient know they are looking forward to meeting them? This can make an amazing impression and may be the difference between the patient showing up or not.