Twenty years of practicing dentistry and Dr. Smith was tired. Tired of managing a practice with $750,000 of annual production, and tired of all the other responsibilities of practice ownership. He was tired of working hard and not getting ahead financially. He saw no way out because, with his lifestyle, he was spending more than he was making and the longer he kept this up, the further behind he was getting.
He still enjoyed dentistry and he loved his patients, or at least most of them. He had to in order to do as much dentistry as he did, and he knew it. New patients were harder to get, and at his pace, he felt he would soon be running out of work to do on his current patient base. The stress of maintaining his rate of production, and his current lifestyle was beginning to take its toll, and his health was beginning to suffer.
Then he heard about Legacy Practice Transitions’ PreSale Retirement Funding Program, and he knew he’d found his answer. Up to this point and time, pension funding was a joke. He could barely keep ahead of his current expenditures and debt service, much less even think about retirement planning. Until Legacy Practice Transitions came along, he was certain that he would have to continue practicing dentistry until he either died at the chair or became disabled. Once he became aware of the benefits of the PreSale Program, he knew that this was his salvation.
The one major issue was his staff. He had a well-trained, but somewhat over-paid staff that had been with him for many years. He did not want to lose those staff members no matter what. “These people are loyal to me, and I feel a strong commitment to them. I don’t want them to lose their job as a result of this practice transition. I want them to be happy”.
I assured Dr. Smith that his staff’s ability and performance was enough to provide them with job security. Staff compensation would commensurate with performance. Any purchaser wants a good, highly-trained and motivated staff since that would allow the practice to be more productive. The important consideration, however, was that the staff had to support Dr. Smith’s decision to sell, and be willing to facilitate a successful practice transition. The seller could not expect the purchaser to continue to employ staff members who were not cooperative.
Dr. Smith felt confident that the staff, out of loyalty to him, would understand and fully support his selling the practice because it would improve his health, allow him to fund his pension plan, eliminate stress and allow him more time off.
The sale took place as planned, and the practice was relocated to the purchaser’s office. Now the test of staff loyalty was about to be tried. Making a move like this was critical, and adapting to a three-day work schedule required some coordination and cooperation by everyone involved. Here is what transpired.
The chairside assistants complained to Dr. Smith that when the purchaser’s staff used a treatment room, the instruments were not put back the way Dr. Smith’s staff liked them to be. The music was too loud, or too soft, or the wrong kind. They did not like coming in early to prepare the office for patients, they did not like the other doctor and staff. They complained that they did not like all the changes and that they were not happy. They threatened to leave because they did not like the changes.
Dr. Smith’s hygienists did not like the other doctor checking “their” patients, and they complained to Dr. Smith every day. They cried and whined and told him that his patients were “leaving in droves” (actually about 20 patients left in the first 6 months, mostly as a result of being annoyed at listening to the hygienist’s complaints). They said Dr. Smith’s patients only wanted him to check them when they came in for a hygiene appointment (instead of supporting the changes, the hygienist complained). Dr. Smith actually began to come into the office on his day off to check hygiene patients instead of enjoying his new, three-day workweek lifestyle.
Well, Dr. Smith discovered that his “loyal” staff did little to nothing to support his move. His most loyal office manager of 14 years quit before two months were up (so much for wanting to help Dr. Smith with the transition). It was obvious that she had started her new job search shortly after hearing about the sale (she has quit and moved to two other offices since that time). In fairness, one chairside assistant stayed with Dr. Smith throughout the transition, and she too was appalled by the disloyalty of the other staff.
The old adage “familiarity breeds contempt” really applied to his staff. Dr. Smith realized that his relationship with his staff had become too familiar over the years, and they forgot who was working for whom. The staff treated him more as an equal than a boss. If he did not do what they wanted him to do, then they treated him with contempt. So much for loyalty, thought Dr. Smith.
Dr. Smith realized that, in most cases staff loyalty existed only as long as the staff got their way. As soon as they did not agree with him, they were gone in a flash. He was determined not to let his staff ruin his practice transition. As his staff left, Dr. Smith actually found it more enjoyable working with the new staff hired by the purchaser. They at least treated him with respect and did not complain day in and day out. They did their jobs with no complaints, and that was refreshing. Dr. Smith had gotten used to listening to his staff complain and accepted it as part of the price of running a practice. Now that they were gone, he actually found his practice days more enjoyable because he no longer had to listen to all those staff complaints. Life was good again.
NOTE: We appreciate and understand a seller’s concern about staff employment issues following a practice transition. However, you should understand that when a purchaser buys a practice, part of that practice value is having a well-trained staff ready to go to work. Purchasers don’t fire productive staff, and they don’t cut salaries for productive staff. We obviously cannot recommend keeping unproductive, lazy or discontented staff.
Job security comes from job performance, not from tenure in a practice. Your staff will have more than ample opportunity to prove their value to the purchaser. If they do so, job security is not an issue. If your staff really is loyal to you, they will cooperate and continue to work with you after the sale. If your staff leave because you sold, they were never loyal to you in the first place. You have lost nothing. Staff loyalty is just a matter of perception… that sometimes proves to be a misconception.
5 Basic Design Tips for Killer Business Cards
Here’s the first thing you need to learn in Business Cards 101: You need them. The so-called freelance economy is on the rise, and with it, orders for business cards. As we can personally attest, the demand for business cards has grown in the past generation in step with the growth of small businesses. Recent studies on the humanizing and tactile aspect of print materials have been holding up, giving businesses of all sizes incentives to invest in them. Creative professionals have also pushed the boundaries of this humble medium beyond what was thought possible just a few generations ago, breathing excitement into the design of business cards.
Here we compiled five tips for creating killer business cards for freelancers and small businesses, especially those that may have less knowledge about design. Creative professionals are free to chime in too. Check out the tips below and let us know what else should be added to this business cards 101 module in the comments below.
1.) Use color for emphasis.
You might not have a lot of space on your business cards, but you can certainly still say a lot if you use colors wisely. Colors are rich with symbolism and offer a way to communicate moods and ideas that simply aren’t possible with just black and white. If your competitors use plain old one-color business cards, having well-executed colors on yours can be a marked advantage. You can use colors to help your business cards stand out, or to highlight specific parts of your cards’ design, most likely your brand, contact info, or a call-to-action. Just be sure that any use of color is on-brand and well-considered. Using the wrong color combinations or colors inappropriate for your brand can have the opposite effect of repelling would-be customers.
2.) Design with a purpose.
This can be said about any print material used for promotions or marketing, but for business cards this is even more important. You don’t have a lot of space on most business cards, so you want to dedicate most of the real estate you do have toward the specific goal you have in mind for your design. Many business cards fail because they try to do a lot of things at once, and excel at none of them.
If your intent is to make your card a showcase for your brand, then it should be highly centered around that concept. If you want it to simply be something that contains your contact details, make sure that everything is clear and laid out well. When you want your card to have multiple goals, work with a designer who can help you meet all of them. Just understand that with such a limited space to work with, something has to give. This is why some customers order business cards with different designs, each design optimized for a specific purpose.
3.) Use appropriate images.
This is highly dependent on the context of where your business cards will be used. You don’t want to include images simply because you think they’re cute or attention-grabbing. Sometimes, it might be more appropriate to have no images at all. You won’t have a lot of space for images on a typical business card, so if you do choose to include any, you want to make them count. If you’re printing your logo, it’s best to use vectors or high-quality rasters to prevent fuzziness and pixelation.
4.) Don’t use clip art or obvious stock images.
It’s possible that a good designer can make either of those elements work. But however you cut it, you will always be left with a business card that has design elements other businesses have used. We know that stock images and clip art can save us a ton of time. But the end result is invariably a card that is not only generic, but often quite laughable as well. “Worst design” rundowns are rife with print materials that use stock images and clip art in hilarious ways. If your brand means anything at all to you, it is worth taking the time to build something unique. Something that anyone can identify as yours and yours alone.
5.) Know what a business card isn’t.
Business cards work best as a personal handout, not for simply building awareness or for closing a sale. They’re best used when you’re there to physically hand them out and explain a few things about your brand. Business cards are also great when you give them to people who have signaled interest, but aren’t necessarily ready to buy anything yet. They’re not necessarily the best choice if you want to build awareness with a large number of people at once. That would be better served by posters, billboards, and other mass-marketing tools. They’re not the thing you should be giving out for closing a sale either. In these cases, you might be better off giving a catalog or a brochure.
A business card isn’t a sales sheet, or a brochure. It’s not even a flyer. Sure, you can put basically whatever you want into the space you have, but you should ask yourself if that’s what you want to do. Your audience will have expectations when they receive a business card. Sure, it can be useful to surprise them with a unique card. But we should also understand the limits of the medium.
Thank you Marty for the great testimonial for Lisa. We are very blessed to have her on our team.
We are all aware of the limited ‘business’ guidance offered in dental school. Dentists tell me all the time “I just want to do dentistry” and many operate their business based on hope…hope the phone rings, hope the patients schedule an appointment and hope they pay. Hope is not a strategy.
Like your Comprehensive Oral Evaluation of a patient, an assessment provides a thorough exam and treatment plan for your business. It reviews all aspects of your practice and enables you to determine the areas that are working and the areas that could be enhanced. What are the risks if you do nothing?
From a business perspective, revenue is a must so you can pay your bills, offer team incentives and plan for retirement. Your assessment certainly looks at your production/collection and the industry norm and reviews where opportunity lies for your practice but it also looks at team dynamics (drama, teamwork, cohesiveness, roles and responsibilities) and leadership. (vision and future plans)
Your assessment will look at the following areas to better understand how your practice would benefit so you can make changes and have a strategic plan. Your assessment will include a customized program (no obligation) that will address your individual needs.
- Establish the doctors’ 1yr, 5yr and 10yr personalized plan and vision for his/her practice. (Partnerships, associates, moving, building, retirement)
- Review the team dynamics – do you have the right people on your team or in the right position where they will be effective
- Areas of enhancement for the practice determined through confidential team interviews
- Capacity…what if you could generate the same revenue in less hours, be more efficient, work smarter not
harder…maybe even take a vacation!
- A review of your patient base and demographics. Are patients falling out of the system? New patients coming in,
attrition and patient retention.
- Marketing plan…what works for your practice? Do you have 10 new patients joining your practice per month but
12 patients leaving?
- Scheduling effectiveness – doctor time/chair time. Why do you run late or have no lunch?
- Financials including your ‘Accounts Receivable’, statements, billing, collecting co-pays up front, outstanding
accounts, financial arrangements for patient treatment, effectiveness of PPO’s and insurance participation and
- We will determine your ‘breakeven point’ …the amount of money you have to put in the bank each month to
cover your expenses and take a draw….(yes you can actually pay yourself) We review your Profit and Loss
(P+L) statement with you.
- Hygiene department review including hygiene production, individual $ per hour, hygiene protocols, your perio
program and recare system to help retain patients and insure their care is paramount through regular intervals
- Treatment planning – creating value so your patients see the benefits of moving forward with treatment or risks
involved if they don’t move forward. Patients will leave with all the information needed to make informed decisions and limit your liability by having signed documentation. Where are all of those patients that were diagnosed treatment but never came back?
- Assess the effectiveness of your clinical area, organization of operatories, lab cases, equipment, maintenance, technology plans, sterilization and computer effectiveness
You owe it to yourself to inspect all aspects of your practice so you can make informed decisions. I would love to share my 41 years’ experience in the dental field so you can have the practice you want and deserve.
*Now offering virtual assessments – $3995. (No expenses)
KLAS Solutions wants to thank Midway Dental for another fabulous Stay, Grow, or Go seminar. Special thanks to Kami Rudolph for a fantastic presentation on how to handle PPO’s and negotiating them. Legacy Practice Transitions, Carr Realty , Doeren Mayhew, PNC Bank and Northwestern Mutual all went over all of the aspects dentists need to set in place to have or build a successful practice. To learn more email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.