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How to Maintain a Successful Dental Practice: Rope in Your Overhead Costs

Posted by on Friday, May 16th, 2014

As with all the other fields of medicine, becoming a dentist is a noble profession. You’re making people’s lives better one bright tooth at a time. Just because you’ve dedicated your career to improving the lives of your patients doesn’t mean you aren’t also trying to create a successful business. Building a successful dental practice should be the goal of every dentist. In fact, the more successful you become the more you’ll have to give back to your community. It’s the perfect circle of dentistry. Before any of that can happen, you’ll need to reign in your overhead costs. This is often the “thorn in the side” of many a dental practice. However, with a proactive approach to the business of your practice you should be able to get those overhead costs right where they should be. To do that you have to lower expenses and increase productivity. Here are the “to-do” items you need to start incorporating today.

Adding up numbers

Can’t crunch numbers without this. Image Source: flickr user: Thunderchild7

#1 Crunch Your Budget Numbers

Before setting up your practice, you might have had to put together a business plan to secure backing from a bank. Was that the last time you put together a budget? You should be going over your numbers on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Naturally, you don’t have to be the actual person who is crunching those numbers. That’s what your office manager or designated accountant is for. They should implement programs to feed in data that can provide you with a complete assessment.

Among the key points are the following:

•    Number of new patients
•    Number of returning patients
•    Percentage of acceptance of recommended treatments
•    Accounts receivable
•    Bill collection percentage
•    Outstanding insurance payments
•    Equipment/Supply purchases
•    Office expenses
•    Payroll

If you don’t know what you’re spending money on, then you’ll never be able to manage your overhead.

#2 Improve Your Staff Productivity

It might seem strange to add staff in order to lower costs. However, this speaks to productivity. According to an ADA Survey of Dental Practices you stand the chance of increasing your bottom line by as much as 26% if you utilize at least two dental assistants. That number goes up to 70% if you add in three chair-side assistants. This will help with increasing patient flow. It will also help if you keep your staff motivated. They’re going to be busy, which means they’ll need to be supported. Make sure they take proper breaks and occasionally springing for lunch is also a terrific motivator!

Teeth checkup

Dental hygienist in action. Image Source: flickr user: Bruce McKay

#3 Manage Open Time

There should be one designated person who handles the bulk of your scheduling. That person needs to step up their game to lower the open time especially for the standard cleaning procedures. If an appointment is cancelled, then they should be on top of filling in that void. You could also encourage your scheduler to double-book those patients who are always “wobbling.” Don’t chase after the chronic appointment breakers.

#4 Be A Smart Dental Supply Shopper

The overhead costs of your dental supplies should be around 6% of your operating budget. That seems like a low number, but it could be the most flexible. After all, you can’t change what you pay for salaries and rent. The online dental supply leader BiteDownDeals could prove to be instrumental with regard to bringing down the costs of the basics. Buying in bulk from BiteDownDeals could definitely shave a few percentage points off that overhead.

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