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Do you know what to do about your dental practice’s fees heading into the new year? Now is a great time to look at your business and see what you should be charging for everything from a crown to an implant.
We asked insurance and dental business expert Teresa Duncan to tell us what dental practices should be doing now to prepare for the coming year.
Here are the five things she said were most important to your fee structure and financial future.
1. You need to know your fee philosophy
What kind of practice do you operate? Are you a top-of-the-line practice or do you focus on affordable dentistry? How do PPO plans fit into your practice’s philosophy? These are the types of questions you need to be asking and the answers you need to know.
“I have run into dentists who tell me they aren’t concerned with setting their fees because they believe the fee schedule does everything they need,” Duncan said. “I believe that if you don’t set fees, you have no negotiating power with the insurance companies.”
Also, don’t just set your fee based on what the dentist down the street charges. You may have a completely different practice philosophy than your neighbor/competitor.
2. How much does that filling really cost you?
When you charge a patient for a filling, do you know what the true expense of that filling to your practice is? It’s more than just the material. You need to factor in everything from your team’s labor to the cost for the lights and compressor. Make sure you know the real cost of a procedure before you set your fees.
3. Focus on your most utilized fees
A general practice may only use 30-40 fees, so don’t go crazy trying to figure out exactly what you need to charge for every procedure. Invest your time only in which fees your practice will be using the most.
4. Don’t worry about price shoppers
Let’s face it … patients will call to ask you how much you charge for an implant or a crown. That’s OK. Just because they call doesn’t mean that you have to tell them the price over the phone. Make sure your front office knows how much is charged for an exam and cleaning, as well as an emergency appointment.
These are the two main fees that will assist price shoppers and should be discussed over the phone. Have those price ranges ready to discuss. All others should be handled by saying, “The doctor will need to see you in order to fully know how much dental work is needed.”
5. Think about the future
If you’re bringing in an associate, or looking to sell your practice in the near future, the worst thing you can do is keep your fees the same year after year after year. Any savvy businessperson will look at that and not have a lot of confidence in your practice. Keeping your fees up-to-date matters to your bottom line and will help you when the time is right to leave the business.