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New Dentist Finances

PBHS: 3 rules for a successful direct mail campaign

Here are three rules to follow to make your direct mail campaign a success, according to PBHS, the website and marketing services provider endorsed by ADA Business Resources:PBHS

  • Select your mailing list: Define your audience by selecting demographic constraints that are applicable to your target market. For example, age of targeted patients, household revenue and geography. Legally purchase your list from a reputable source. The more careful you are in analyzing your direct mail lists, the better your chance for success.
  • Deliver a clear message: A direct mail campaign should visually engage your audience and create an emotional response within a few seconds. State a clear message, incentivize your patient and promote a call to action which will drive the patient to contact you easily and quickly — offer, suggest, encourage and evoke a response.
  • Design is the key: Let a professional designer help you select images, fonts, colors and layouts that best reflect your practice brand in a consistent manner. Visually engaging campaigns create a feeling of trust and encourage the audience to take action. Support your campaign with online tools, such as analytics, call tracking and contact form to better understand your return on investment.

Have you ever done a direct mail campaign? How did it go?

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.”

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.

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.

A benefit of ADA membership — ADA Members Insurance Plans

Your most important asset is not your house or your car, it’s your income! Protect it by taking advantage of one of your valuable ADA member benefits – exclusive access to affordable ADA-sponsored disability insurance from ADA Members Insurance Plans.

Did you know that more than 100,000 ADA member dentists, dental student members and their families are insured by ADA Members Insurance Plans?

For more information, call an Insurance Plan Specialist at 866.607.5330 or visit insurance.ada.org.

Be prepared before seeking a practice loan

The thought of seeking a practice loan for a new dentist might be intimidating. But being prepared with good information can prove to be key to an easier—that is, successful—experience.

Allison Farey, president of Wells Fargo Practice Finance, named good credit as the No. 1 criterion that a new dentist should meet before seeking a practice loan. Ms. Farey said that a FICO credit score “north of 700” is a good place to start.  While that means being in good standing with student loan payments, for instance, it doesn’t mean that heavy student loans themselves will be an issue.

Wells Fargo“That does not matter whatsoever when we’re analyzing the doctor for a practice loan,” Ms. Farey said.  “We do not factor in the debt load on the student loans because we know they have them, and we consider that good debt. But what does matter is if they buy really fancy cars or large houses with big mortgages on them. That will have a big impact.”

There are a few distinctions between buying an existing practice and establishing a startup that should be noted. But from Wells Fargo’s perspective, one approach does not trump the other.

“We don’t judge them as one is better than the other,” Ms. Farey said. “What we look at first and foremost is the character of the borrower or dentist. We do that through their credit. If it’s a startup, we’re looking at your business plan.”

But as a preliminary step, Wells Fargo will help the applicant get the plan in good shape prior to their application, Ms. Farey said.

“We’re really looking to help set up a business plan with them and give them the tools to do that,” she said of new dentists. “We refer them certainly to the ADA to also pull tools down for them to reference in building a business plan, etc. We have some practice management consultants on staff that may have a conversation with the doctor, to make sure they’re ready to go.

“For the existing practice, we’re looking at the historical cash flow of the practice. We’re looking to make sure that the debts can be covered by the historical revenues that come off of that practice.  So that’s a completely different way that we would underwrite a purchase versus a startup.”

Another major preparation step for a new dentist planning to seek a practice loan is to get all preliminary, self-assessment out of the way before applying for a loan, Ms. Farey said. “They need to be prepared by knowing where they want to be, not ‘I think I might want to do this or I think I might want to do that,’” Ms. Farey said.

But Wells Fargo can even help with those early steps, she said. New dentists may consult with her division to get help focusing their intentions, such as where they will practice.  “They certainly can call,” she said. “We talk to doctors way back to when they’re students.”

To learn more about Wells Fargo Practice Finance’s programs for new dentists, visit wellsfargo.com/dentists or call 1.888.937.2321.

ADA certificate program helps dentists be more effective small business owners

Balance the clinical skills you learned in dental school with the tools you need to be a confident small business owner with the ADA’s Executive Program in Dental Practice Management.

The new online program, available through the ADA Center for Professional Success website, is broken into six 10-hour courses where dentists will learn about financial management, enhancing marketing strategies and practicing amid increased regulation, among other topics. Dental practice management experts and ADA-selected business courses from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business blend together to form the certificate program.

Three courses are currently available and three additional ones will be launched before the end of the year. The current courses are:

•Legal and Ethical Issues in Dental Practice

•Negotiation and Conflict Management

•Understanding Leadership

Coming soon are:

•Business Strategy and Systems

•Dental Team Management

•Financial Management

Dentists must take all of the courses to receive a certificate or they can pick and choose and receive continuing education credit where appropriate. Dentists can access the Web-based courses through their desktop or laptop computers; smartphones or through MP3 or MP4 formats.

The certificate program is open to ADA members and nonmembers but members get a discounted rate. To learn more or to register, visit pmcertificate.Success.ADA.org.