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Working with a marketing firm

After buying the practice where he had been an associate in a few years ago, Dr. Ash Vasanthan wanted to start from scratch when it came to rebuilding his brand.

“I had a client base and an active website, but I wanted to rebrand myself,” said Dr. Vasanthan, a periodontist who has been practicing for 5 years in Roseville, California.

Dr. Vasanthan  In January 2013, he started working with PBHS, the ADA Business Resources-endorsed website design and practice marketing firm.

Working with a graphic designer, one of his first decision was choosing colors, which led to the creation of his practice’s logo. Both colors and logo are used throughout his practice, from his website and stationary to letterheads and coffee mugs.

Meanwhile, PBHS also built Dr. Vasanthan’s website — which, for people searching for periodontists in his area, is now the top result online.

“Everything had to be very precise,” he said, when it came to working with PBHS. “Building my brand was a defining moment for me because I was a new business owner.”

Dr. Vasanthan spoke with ADA New Dentist News to share some suggestions and advice for making the most out of working a marketing firm.

Call around

“PBHS isn’t the only marketing firm around,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “But dentists need to do their research to find the best firm for their needs. I really wanted a company that would take me and say, ‘We can brand you, we can start from scratch.’

“I zeroed in on PBHS because I felt they would be able to provide me with what I was looking for. It’s also a good idea to just call around. I partly chose PBHS because their customer service was great. I never reached a machine.  Jay Levine, PBHS president, was always available and accessible to answer any questions despite being the very busy.”

When it came to building a website, which Dr. Vasanthan considers his top marketing tool, he compared the construction of a house.

“If you want a beautiful, sturdy house, you have to find the best builder in town for you,” he said. “I called a few places, visited several websites and asked friends for recommendations before I found the one.”

Consider your budget

“For new dentists starting a practice, you have to spend money on so many things on top of trying to repay student loans,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “For me, I didn’t go for PBHS’ top tier offerings. I went with somewhere in the middle. I would tell new dentists to really look at what you’re getting for what you’re paying. Sometimes, you don’t have to choose the most expensive package or service to be happy and to get the results you want.”

Get a website

Dr. Vasanthan said his main focus when he hired a marketing firm was to increase his Web presence.

“My website is my number one marketing tool. It’s my face on the Internet,” he said. “When starting a new practice, it’s important to have a website immediately. I would say it’s only second to having a phone number set up for the office. A potential patient can only reach you 8-5 on the phone. A website allows them to access you 24/7.”

Make things easier for patients

Just because a website or a successful marketing strategy help potential patients find you easier, it should also make things more convenient for them, Dr. Vasanthan said.

“The simplest thing a new dentist can do is to have a responsive Web design with a fill-able patient registration available online,” he said.

Dr. Vasanthan’s website allows potential patients to fill out and submit new patient registration forms when making an appointment. This way, the patient doesn’t have to fill it out at the office and it helps his practice track how many new patients are coming in due to his Web marketing.

Stay involved

When it came to the designing your brand, you have to be very involved, Dr. Vasanthan said. He worked exclusively with Alejandro Salazar, a PBHS graphic designer, who translated his vision into art and helped design his logo, business cards, letterheads, etc.  Dr. Vasanthan said he is extremely proud to hand out his business cards just because of the many times he gets complimented on the design and the quality.

“I put my logo on everything. I’m very proud to show it off. To me, being able to explicitly express what I wanted or looking for was very, very important,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “What you’re doing should reflect who you are.”

Have ideas for the ADA’s Center for Professional Success?

The Center for Professional Success is a members-only Web resource that provides practice management information, online education and support tools to help you manage your career.Center for Professional Success

They are currently seeking new members for their Center for Professional Success users group. You will help determine the direction of the Center’s content. What are your major practice concerns? What tools do you need to improve your practice?

If you are interested in learning more about the user group or becoming a member, email Sarah Hughes at hughess@ada.org. The deadline to apply is Dec. 19.

 

Log on to Success.ADA.org for valuable resources

The ADA Center for Professional Success, Success.ADA.org, is a unique web portal for dentists in every practice setting who want to succeed as dental practitioners.

Resources include frequently asked questions about dental codes; information on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance issues; financial calculators for loan and overhead analysis; in-person and online educational opportunities; and guidance for new dentists on how to understand employment agreements before they sign on the dotted line.

The ultimate goal of the Center is to provide accurate answers to specific questions members have helping them balance their professional careers with their personal lives.

Pick up practice management skills from the comfort of your own office

The ADA Center for Professional Success recommended some ways for new dentists to pick up practice management skills from the comfort of their own office or home, and earn continuing education credits at the same time.

Center for Professional Success

  • Improve your own organization: Use the SMART goal process to learn to set organizational objectives to help improve the efficiency of your office. Evaluate your external and internal strengths and obstacles that factor in your goal attainment. Develop new habits and processes that will result in a smoother, more efficient work environment each and every day. It’s free for ADA members. To learn more, click here.
  • Interested in peer review? Peer review is a way to address the issues of quality oral health care for our patients in a self-regulating manner. It is a dispute resolution program that is based on our ethical obligations as dentists to provide our patients with the best care possible in each situation. This course outlines the administrative aspects, the differences among different systems and an overall look at how to best structure a system that is confidential, consistent and easily accessible. It is free for ADA members. To learn more, click here.
  • Other courses available: ADA CE online offers a number of courses for member dentists. Take time to browse through the selection, and find the perfect class to suit your needs. To learn more, click here.

ADA launches new dental student Web portal

The ADA launched this month a new Web portal designed to provide a one-stop shop for dental students seeking information, ranging from financial resources to finding a job.

ADA for Dental StudentsThe portal ADA for Dental Students can be found at ADA.org/student or can be accessed via the Member Center on ADA.org.

The portal provides dental students easy access to a variety of ADA resources and benefits, including information on dental careers and finding a job, financial planning and student loan debt, dental licensure and examinations, professional ethics, and more!

The portal will be regularly updated with new and noteworthy information and resources. For more information, contact the ADA Office of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@ada.org.

Maintaining a positive online reputation

Do you know what your patients are saying about you? Your online reputation depends on whether and/or how you react to what people say about your services.

Today, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success, many patients investigate your office prior to an initial appointment using Google, Yelp, and many other review and research sources. Make sure you are doing everything you can to maintain a positive online reputation.

PBHSADA Business Resources and Protective Business and Health Systems (PBHS) recently hosted a webinar on managing your online reputation. A recording of the seminar along with the question and answer section is now available for ADA members.

In this webinar Jay Levine, president of PBHS, offered tips and best practices to monitor your public reputation and take a proactive approach to addressing online reviews. To view the webinar, accessible to ADA members, click here.

This information is provided courtesy of PBHS, the only marketing company endorsed by ADA Business Resources. Learn more about PBHS, click here or by calling 855.932.4232.

 

Determining the ideal size and space of your practice

Opening a dental office is a significant step in a dentist’s career. It is also quite taxing. According to the ADA Center for Professional Success, taking it one organized step at a time can help alleviate some of the stress.

One of the first major things you need to decide is the size and location of your ideal space.

The size and location are based on your 10-year plan. This plan is how you envision your business to be functioning in ten years, in terms of maximum production. Having a 10-year plan will enable you to determine the number of operatories required to achieve your goals. Some dentists simply want to be sole proprietors, with a full-time hygienist and possibly another part-time hygienist. Others may want to hire an associate down the road or even run a multi-provider clinic.

Dental Office DesignOnce you have determined the number of operatories necessary to support your 10-year plan, you can determine the square footage you will need for your new office.  Dental Office Design, published by the ADA, offers a formula that can be an excellent starting point to determine required square footage:

Number of Operatories
Multiplied by Square Footage of Operatories
Divided by .275

A full chapter excerpt from How to Open a New Dental Office or Relocate Your Current One on deciding how many operatories an office will need, how much square footage an office will require, and other preliminary decisions when choosing and constructing a dental space can be found here.

This excerpt is provided courtesy of Gordon F. Osterhaus Jr., DDS. Dr. Osterhaus is the author of How to Open a New Dental Office or Relocate Your Current One. The book is available online at www.valleydentalconsulting.com. Dr. Osterhaus is also a contributing author to The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design available through the ADA catalog.

ADA executive program in dental practice management

According to the ADA Center for Professional Success, new dentists can match their passion for dentistry with a mind for business with the ADA’s Executive Program in Dental Practice Management.

Launched in September, this Web-based program takes on the tough practice management challenges today’s dentists must master, such as reducing costs, enhancing marketing strategies and practicing amid increased regulation.

Center for Professional SuccessDental practice management experts and first-rate business lectures from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business — all carefully selected by the ADA for certificate fulfillment — merge to provide a comprehensive six-course certificate program in disciplines crucial to practice success. The first three to be available are:

• Legal and Ethical Issues in Dental Practice
• Negotiation and Conflict Management
• Understanding Leadership

And following soon will be:

• Business Strategy and Systems
• Dental Team Management
• Financial Management

Accessible by desktop, Internet-enabled mobile device, MP3 and MP4 formats, the state-of-the-art online classroom is available anytime and anywhere, with around-the-clock technical support. Participants will also be able to earn continuing education credits when appropriate from those classes which apply, but must take the entire sixty hour series to earn the certificate.

Whether you have your own practice or aspire to do so, it’s time to complement your clinical expertise with skills for the business side of dentistry. To register, click here.

Want to know more about treating patients in long-term care facilities?

With a goal to reduce barriers to dental care for some 1.3 million nursing home residents in the U.S., the ADA has launched a Long-term Care Dental Campaign that includes an online continuing education course.

Dentistry in Long-term Care: Pathways to Success, is an eight-module course designed to help oral health professionals become more comfortable providing care in long-term care settings and to create successful and sustainable oral health delivery programs that serve nursing home residents.

Participants will receive 10 CE credits when they complete the course. The modules cover topics that include the structure and organization of long-term care facilities; choosing an appropriate delivery model; regulatory and legal compliance; creating and organizing an oral health program; working with complex patients; treatment planning; financial considerations in long-term care; establishing an environment for effective daily mouth care; and accessing the scientific literature.

For more details on the course or to register, visit success.ada.org/en/dentistry-in-long-term-care-course. Cost for ADA members is $475 and $650 for nonmembers. Up to three additional staff members can register for $150 per person. (Team members must register at the same time as the dentist for this reduced rate.)

The campaign is an initiative of the ADA’s Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis facing America today. Read more about the Long-term Care Dental Campaign here.

Do you treat nursing home patients in your practice? How can dentists help to reach this population?

Marketing the dental practice: Know the rules

Marketing your dental practice is key to attracting new patients but it’s also important to do so ethically and to follow the law.

“The key is to be informed,” said Dr. Kevin Sessa, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice. “When you know the rules, you are better equipped to avoid breaking them. As dentists and small business owners, we’re all looking for ways to attract new patients and to retain our existing ones. Marketing your practice is a great way to do that but it’s important to do so in a legal and ethical way.”

The ADA has several resources that can help new and veteran dentists understand not only the basics of marketing and advertising but how to promote their practices within the law. One such publication, “Advertising Basics for Dentists and Dental Associations: A Guide to Federal and State Rules and Standards,” is an overview of federal and advertising-related laws and regulations.

It’s also a primer that includes links to useful electronic resources; discusses state advertising regulations; and also has a section on codes of ethics in dentistry.

Members can read the online publication hereEthical marketing. The publication emphasizes that while dentists can advertise their practice, they shouldn’t solicit patients in any form of communication that’s false or misleading. Dentists can find additional legal and ethical resources on ADA.org.

“Truthful, nondeceptive advertising of a dentist’s qualifications, services or facilities can help patients make informed choices about practitioners and services,” according to the publication. “On the other hand, advertising that is false or misleading harms patients by making it more difficult and costly for them to make informed choices.”

Knowing the basics of advertising laws also helps dentists know when to seek legal advice. Those with more questions or who need clarification can contact the ADA Division of Legal Affairs at legaldivision@ada.org.

The ADA also offers “Internal Marketing: The Key to Dental Practice Success,” through its ADA Catalog. Chapters discuss cultivating referrals, developing practice newsletters and websites and utilizing social networking profitably and responsibly.

The 122-page book (P080) costs $49.95 for members and 74.95 for nonmembers; the e-book (P080D) is $39.95 for members and $59.95 for nonmembers; and the print and e-book bundle is $59.95 for members and $84.95 for nonmembers. All can be purchased on ADACatalog.org.

Stay tuned for The ADA Practical Guide to Internet Marketing, coming in January.