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Is it time for a practice checkup?


Roger P. Levin, DDS, gives helpful tips for knowing when it's time for a practice checkup.

If you believe your practice could be doing better, in terms of productivity, profit and income, what’s holding you back? Dentists often blame the economy or increased competition. Although external pressures of that sort can certainly impact practice success, many other internal factors come into play. By taking control of those factors, practice owners can succeed, regardless of broad market conditions.

The challenge is figuring out exactly which issues have been preventing you from reaching your full business potential and what steps you can take to overcome these barriers.

Finding Room for Improvement

As in dentistry, diagnosis precedes treatment when it comes to improving your practice’s business performance. When you see a symptom, the underlying causes may not be obvious. You need to take a closer look-bring specialized investigative tools to bear, rely on your education and experience to identify where to focus-if you really want to solve the problem.

More from Dr. Roger Levin: The sooner you control overhead in your dental practice, the sooner you can retire

You might try to do this yourself, which could work if you’re one of those rare dentists with a true knack for business. You could also ask an accountant for advice. Some CPAs know quite a bit about business management, though finding one who understands dental business management is another matter. Or you could find a specialist who’s experienced at applying sound business principles to meet the unique needs of dental offices (full disclosure-this is my company’s business model).

The point is that, one way or another, you should investigate your situation, looking for specific causes for the effects that are disappointing you. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time, money and other resources on “improvements” that really aren’t.

How do you know it’s time for a business diagnosis?

Related article: Should your staff understand your dental practice's financials?

You know your practice needs a checkup when …

  • Production is flat or declining. Unless your community is struggling economically or aggressive competition has moved into your territory, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to increase production by 30 to 50 percent in three years. If you’re not moving forward, you need to find out exactly why. Don’t rely on guesswork. There’s too much at stake.

  • Production is up, but profits and income aren’t keeping pace. This means you have a disconnect of some sort. It may mean that overhead is out of control. Or that your collections system needs to be replaced. Or that your schedule is dominated by low-margin treatment, leaving inadequate room for cosmetic and multi-tooth cases, which you may not present often enough or well enough.

  • You and your staff are experiencing unacceptable levels of stress.Some stress is normal, but relentless or debilitating stress is not. You may think it’s caused by difficult patients, bad staff attitudes or too much work. In fact, it might be caused by obsolete systems, inadequate staff training or poor scheduling. Unless you pinpoint the cause, you’ll continue to suffer.

  • Your practice is doing well, but you want to do even better. Dentists sometimes feel that they’ve maxed out their potential and are uncertain about what, if anything, they can do to go from good to great. Most practices have more capacity for growth than their owners think, but it takes expert business analysis to show how to tap their full potential. If you’re not content, find the path to greater success.

Related article: 8 dental practice strategies to keep more money in your pocket

If you’re ready to take your practice to the next level, look before you leap. Your practice needs regular checkups, just like you. With an accurate diagnosis of your current condition and prospects for improvement, you can develop a plan for creating your ultimate practice.

Spend 30 minutes on the phone with a dental management expert … free. Levin Group’s new 30-Minute Practice Assessment gives you the opportunity to discuss any business challenge you’re facing, at no charge. To schedule your assessment, call 888-973-0000 or email customerservice@levingroup.com


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