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Welcome to dentistry’s largest dental hygiene practice management resource center! We are the leading dental hygiene consultant/coaching business.

We will increase your TOTAL dental practice profitability without working more hours or days each year.

- Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, Speaker, Author. Dental Hygiene Coach & Consultant

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

5 Ways Your Dental Business Will Change in 2010

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

December 9, 2009

Crystal Ball

1. As the economy recovers, you will now find patients will schedule to receive more treatment or in general the treatment they have put off. What are your plans to get these patients thinking about this now? What will you do to keep them informed and not disappear from the schedule just because they don’t have money to schedule treatment?

2. The workplace model of “same time, same place” will continue to disappear. We are all connected (Just a google search away) regardless of our physical location. Corporate work activities throughout the world, will be distributed across central offices, remote locations, and community locations. Speaking to the corporate world in general; the typical eight-hour workday will be spread across a 14 plus hour window to allow us to work with colleagues abroad or just across the continental divide; while also attending to our needs at home.

Some of our dental clients this year have already taken on more hours or varied their work hours to accommodate patients who are not in a position to leave the office for a dental appointment in the middle of the day. Due to our current economic climate, some offices have chosen to close during the middle of the day due to a sluggish schedule. During this down time, the team found other activities such as exercise or volunteering at the school. By shifting to this type of schedule it kept their production at status quo.

This solution has worked well for some offices this year. For offices that didn’t close down in the middle of the day but remained open longer hours it worked best to have team members over lap during these longer hours. Some offices that did close down during the middle of the day hump had team members that volunteered to work part-time.

These changes have allowed some of the team members to be home when their children return from school; while other team members prefer to work the later hours. Most, but not all of these scenarios, are offices with multiple doctors who were willing to alternate their schedules. It is not for everyone but for those who have made compromises throughout these difficult times, it has worked to increase their profits. Now, when the economy recovers they will reap the benefits of the additional hours and even close the gap of downtime during the middle of the day.

Again, this may not be good for a small one doctor office, but for larger offices and multiple doctors; it has worked well.

Another opportunity I came across was utilizing a remote front office assistant. This is a person who is virtually there to answer the phone; even when the real front office team member can’t physically pick up the phone. Now another live person is able to pick up the call and give personalized service.

3. Active Baby Boomers will force a new definition of retirement:

Although the majority of Boomers are reaching official retirement age; many have no intention of leaving the workforce, opting instead for non-traditional careers that allow them to give back to society. This is a great way of marketing your dental practice known as internal marketing. Some marketing companies suggest you market your practice by giving back to your community. This is a great way to get your dental business known as one that is a real part of the community. Think of ways that give you and the team a chance to work directly with the community. Think of this as a way to “give back”. Team members or members of your team who are thinking of retirement may enjoy this type of interaction and part-time responsibility for your office.

4.The hot button/HR issue will be employees’ use of social media:

Executives will struggle with their employee’s use of social networking sites at work. Employers may consider rules and regulations that will ensure that organizational resources, property and reputations are not risked.

From personal experience social media marketing does work and it is the hottest and most cost effective way to market your dental practice today. It needs to be a team effort. This is something that needs to be discussed at your annual strategic planning meeting in January 2010.

5. An large influx of graduating dental students (Generation Ys/Millennials) will put intergenerational dynamics on everyone’s radar:

1988-1990 are the biggest birth years in American history; studying and improving how the four generations communicate will prove to benefit us these next 10 years.

How will you learn what changes are necessary to be on the cutting end to be successful in 2010?

Bottom line here: A new decade is just around the corner. What changes will you make with the information available to make a difference? What will you do in 2010 to make it your most profitable year?

What is your Game Plan?

Debra Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Founder: Dental Practice Solutions

One Simple Step to Success for 2010

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

December 8, 2009

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.Do you have a strategic plan for your dental business in 2010? Most businesses that don’t have a plan fail to become successful. Don’t enter into a new decade blindly…make sure you have a plan.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Well this holds true for your dental business as well. You can not start a business and proceed blindly and just expect that everything will work out and you will achieve great success. It rarely will happen that way. Each year, in the very beginning of each year you need to sit down outside the regular dental office atmosphere and make a plan. This plan needs to include the entire team. It starts your practice off on the “right tooth”. Well, it is one way to keep you in the black.

Don’t set yourself up for failure

Without a plan you won’t know which way to progress, you won’t know what you need to do or where you should be when the day begins; let alone another year ends. The entire team will be confused about what you are working towards. What happens next? What happens in most cases is a loss of focus on the interest of the business of dentistry and loss of motivation to get where you need to go.

Would you take a journey somewhere you’ve never traveled without a road map? Of course you wouldn’t. Not if you want to successfully reach your destination. In the year 2010 you most likely have a sophisticated device such as a GPS to guide you directly to your destination.

Considering this, do you think you could successfully reach the goal in your dental business without a strategic plan?

If you are going to put your time and money into something, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure; rather you want to ensure your success.

Have an annual plan to ensure your success

When you have a plan, you will create direction for yourself and the entire team who follows your lead. You will now understand what you need to accomplish your tasks and move to the next step.

You don’t have to do this on your own. As the year ends many consulting/business firms are offering discounts to guide you to plan effectively, to travel in the right direction and end at the pot of gold.

Once you have a plan in place, you won’t have to guess what you should do next, as you will already know. You won’t spend your time wondering and waiting for success to come, only to be disappointed and clueless as to where you went wrong. I’m not saying that just any business strategic plan is going to ensure you success, but having a plan in place will significantly improve your chances!

Be prepared
This is your business…your lively hood. Having a well thought out business plan will also reduce your stress as you move along.

If you’ve ever been a parent or a babysitter of a young infant or toddler, you will know that if you go on an outing with a carefully packed diaper bag, you will feel a lot less stressed than if you just threw some things together right before you left. What if you forgot something? What if you forgot something important like diapers, bottles for formula, or the baby food?

While you are away trying to enjoy yourself your mind may constantly be stressed, trying to think if you have forgotten anything. Not a good way to run an outing at the park… or your business. Find yourself some business plan opportunities and get started!

Have all your cards in place and you will give yourself the best chance possible to be successful.

January is almost here and if you don’t have your annual strategic planning meeting on the calendar, now is the time to schedule that for you and the entire team. I want to suggest that it be held outside of your office. Make it a fun event for the entire team. There needs to be an organized agenda but make it fun, be concise and yet directive about what needs to be accomplished. Be sure to address what has been accomplished in the past year and decade as well.(Remember we begin a new decade on January 1, 2010!!) At this important meeting make it known to the team when you plan to have the office closed in 2010, holidays for the office, vacation requests and annual review dates for each team member need to be set or suggested at the least. This is just a short list to get you started on the “right tooth” when 2010 begins.

“If you don’t know where you are going; any road can take you there. Be sure to have your map in hand as you begin 2010!”

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
May you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!

Marketing Your Dental Practice During The Holidays

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

December 7, 2009

After Shopping on Black Friday, I Couldn’t resist thinking about what we can do in our dental practice to boost marketing during this holiday season.

There are just days left in the holiday shopping season, and that means your marketing efforts need to be a lot more intense. The new rules for the changed economy say no business owner should have to unload a huge chunk of their earnings into a holiday season marketing program, even though they might have spent this way in the old days … and even if their businesses lean a lot on this time of year. So which low-cost marketing strategies yield the best results?

Below are some strategies that can be recession-friendly and creative ways to market your dental practice as well during these next few weeks of the holiday season:

Togetherness in the “Social Light” of Media. Utilizing Facebook and Twitter will not bring new patients to your practice immediately but not utilizing these marketing tools will be a definite way to “turn off” the new patient light bulb. Set up a Facebook Fan Page and make it personal by adding faces of the people who are related to the practice. (i.e., your important team members) Show off services you provide that add profitability and set your dental business apart from others. Also be sure to add any special promotions you may have going on for the holidays or end of the year. If you plan to have a holiday open house; this is a good place to let others know about it. One creative idea is one that I found for The Gap. They have set up a site at Cheer Factory.com. When customers go to this website they can create their own holiday cheers to share on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s like a free, extended sales force. If you are concerned about the time involved to set this up, know this: Most of these applications, promotions and widgets take only a few minutes to set up.

Ask your patients what’s on their holiday wish list through surveys … and give yourself the gift of testimonials from satisfied patients. As a savvy business owner survey your patients and even if you can, your prospective patients. This is something you want to do several times a year to gauge your patient needs. The holidays provide a chance for you to check in with your patient base and even potential patients by sending out holiday messages on your Fan Page and/or add a link to a survey along with your holiday message on your Twitter page as well. Take advantage of this nice opportunity (a survey) when sending out your holiday greeting. Perhaps you will send it out following your holiday greeting.This will allow you to find out what is necessary to build your future marketing campaigns. It allows you to speak to the real needs of your patients. Small business associations stress that any marketing campaign will have more impact if you have a deep understanding of your customers. (Your patients) Surveys can reveal any gaps in your services and provide leads on some useful case studies and testimonials for the New Year.

During the survey process guide your patients with specific questions. You may want to draft suggested testimonials and e-mail them to your patients. By now you should be utilizing email to send most of your patient information. This is a great money saving tool as you can e-mail this testimony suggestion to your patients for review. Offer a special holiday discount or giveaway to those who return the survey promptly.

Create a “12 days of different products and services” promotion. Last year, SmallBizTrends recommended this clever idea: Holiday-themed marketing strategies, such as a “12 Days of …” campaign during which you put a different product or service on sale for twelve days during the holidays or every week during the holidays. This strategy can be an excellent way to build new business or keep your current patient and keep them happy! According to Ivan Taylor of SmallBizTrends.com, a lot of your customers probably aren’t aware of all the products and services you offer, so this type of campaign can help raise awareness about lesser-known items on your company’s menu and get more revenue. Maybe offer a gift certificate for whitening procedures. The sky is the limit with these ideas!

Emphasize family in your marketing campaigns. Holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah especially – are often about family. Stressing this in all your holiday marketing campaigns can help attract high-quality patients. Jeff Wuorio of the Microsoft Small Business Center acknowledges that family is the ultimate common ground of holidays because they represent a time for families to gather, and that smart business owners will keep this in mind when thinking about special holiday marketing and sales programs.

Most importantly, this year and every year, make a list. Check it twice and thrice. A well thought-out plan will be the best strategy to get just what you wished for.