Everything Dental Blog
Three Months Left
Welcome to Q4 2011 – During certain times of the year we focus on different areas of our business. For a small business, the focus can be determined by many things. It can be a seasonal push, alignment with a marketing program, a movement to free up cash flow, an effort to improve a specific area of the business or it can be as simple as wanting to end the year strong, on a positive note.
While we are always working to improve our business, in October our priorities must change. During the last few months of the fiscal year, which are interrupted by holidays and inclement weather, we must work towards having a great last quarter. The last quarter is an opportunity to catch up if you’re behind. It is an opportunity to “kill it” if you are ahead. And the last quarter is when you evaluate the business so you can create a business plan for the upcoming year!
We can all take a lesson from professional sports. Professional sport teams practice with the goal of becoming champions every season. They recruit, train and work hard to win it all! Of course, professional sports are a business and they too adjust their goals and expectations as the season unfolds. Sometimes winning the division will have to do or just finishing better than last year provides job security and keeps the fans in their seats. The point is that we all need to do our due diligence in evaluating our progress, our operation and performance. After all, businesses are run by people who have strengths and weaknesses that require support, attention and resources for improvement and growth to occur.
Here are some things to do and to consider as you evaluate your dental practice this October:
- Talk to your accountant about your tax avoidance strategy for this year. You will be happier writing a check for something that can benefit your practice rather than sending it to the IRS.
- Reconcile your fiscal books so that you begin 2012 with a clean slate.
- Keep your schedule strong. Maximize all operatories and present dentistry according to your standard of care model to existing and new patients.
- Get all predeterminations managed accordingly.
- Present all treatment plans that have been created (be sure to enter them into your practice management system for future use) to stimulate your operative production for the last quarter.
- Schedule all approved dentistry immediately so you can accommodate your patients scheduling requirements and fill holes in the schedule.
- All patients seen in hygiene before June 30th (or prior to the mid-year of their insurance plan) should be scheduled immediately. This will be seen as a goodwill gesture to the patient (who wants to maximize their insurance benefit) and supports the practices profitability.
- Continue to reactivate old patients but set criteria. Aim for the more favorable patients who respect your work, keep their appointments and pay their bills. Do not call patients who create problems, do not accept treatment and don’t conduct themselves properly.
- Work on your customer service. It is your greatest tool and it costs nothing to be professional, friendly and knowledgeable about the products and services you sell!
- Prepare holiday and New Year greeting card mailings. Note: some offices will use Demand Force or Social Media as a supplement to traditional activities this year!
- Determine your staff holiday/New Year policy and prepare accordingly.
- Evaluate/negotiate credit card processing fees. *This is a non regulated business that requires your due diligence annually.
- Make all capital purchases now (Operatory packages, Digital panoramic units, CadCam milling systems, Lasers, Computers networks and software) to maximize your section 179 tax deduction.
- Evaluate your phone/fax and internet service (Phone and internet deals change all the time)
- Create a marketing template for 2012 (school programs, health fairs, office events, philanthropic endeavors, media buys and social media engagement).
- Evaluate staff contributions and skill sets. Adjust job descriptions to improve team harmony, efficiency and execution for next year.
- Develop a training program for individual development for each employee for 2012. Tie education to compensation and bonus programs when applicable.
- The most important thing a general dentist can do in October is to have their annual D.P.A.T.
- Begin planning for the first quarter of 2012 now.
“Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
In the next coming months, a major change to our Postal service will likely occur. Saturday delivery will probably be eliminated and many post offices will close by the end of 2012. E-mail and a competitive package delivery industry, along with high operation costs have impacted the sovereignty of the U.S.P.S. Some will tell you the unions are affecting its ability to compete. Others suggest that online banking and billing has had its impact. And still, others believe it is the demise of the hand written letter that has made the postal service less relevant.
There are many reasons forcing the United States Postal Service to make dramatic changes in its operations and services. Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service is currently operating at a loss and its future is uncertain. The likelihood of a government bail-out is doubtful in this volatile political environment so we will hear more about this topic between now and the 2012 Presidential election.
Here are some old but interesting facts about the United States Postal Service. I hope these tidbits demonstrate the enormity of this American Institution.
- Contrary to popular belief, the United States Post Office has no official motto. However, a number of postal buildings contain inscriptions, the most familiar of which appears on the New York City General Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd. Street. “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” This inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, The Architects who designed the New York General Post Office. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expeditions of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done.
- Handles more than 43% of the world’s mail. Its nearest competitor is Japan with only 6%.
- Depends exclusively on postage and fees rather than tax payer revenue for its operations.
- Serves customers with nearly 40,000 post offices and retail units throughout the country.
- Operates a $5.5 billion transportation network that includes more than 200,000 vehicles and contract space on approximately 15,000 commercial flights daily.
- Serves more than 8 million small business customers.
- Operates the nation’s largest alternate fuel delivery fleet with more than 7,000 vehicles powered by natural gas, electricity, and ethanol in 1996.
- The postal service is listed by Fortune Magazine as 29th on a list of the world’s largest companies. Working with an annual budget of nearly 1% of the United States economy.
- Recycles more than one million tons of materials annually.
- Handles more than 41 million change-of-address cards each year as a free service to the 17% of the nation’s population that moves each year.
- Serves as the largest credit/debit card acceptor in the nation with nearly 50,000 terminals at 33,000 postal locations throughout the country.
- Experiences an increase of one million dollars in costs when the price of gasoline increases by one cent nationwide.
- Delivers more in one day than FedEx does in a year, and more in three days than UPS does in a year. U.S.P.S. – Copyright © 1997 Cutting Edge
These above statistics are fourteen years old. Since that time, the United States Postal Service has experienced a major decline in business mail due largely to e-mail, texting and a competitive market place. However, the U.S.P.S. remains one of America’s largest institutions today and it employs hundreds of thousands of people.
Your neighborhood post office is a major indicator of your property value and the government services you receive. Being assigned one post office over another can improve or hurt your status! Are you from the valley or the big city or the suburbs?
Will the next generation have a nostalgic attachment to the U.S.P.S.?
Who can ever forget that famous scene from the Miracle on 34th Street motion picture where the U.S.P.S. (an official agency of the United States) declared Kris Kringle as the real Santa Claus?
The future of the United States Postal Service is unknown however; it will likely be more removed and less relevant to our daily lives than it is today. There is talk of shrinking it, cutting services and even privatizing it.
Everyone fears change
I write about change often because it is at the core of most of mans greatest accomplishments. Change has been the engine of human progress and it is a constant in our lives. Some say fear can be the greatest motivator but it can also be what prevents us from trying new things or advancing our mission.
People of my age group can suffer severe consequences in their career if they are reluctant to change. Unlike our grandparents and parents, who were less likely to conform, we have little choice but to embrace change. We are all in the midst of an electronic and digital revolution that will affect how we communicate, travel, do commerce and receive healthcare in the future.
Some people estimate that we will experience more change in the next five years than we have in the last twenty years. That’s amazing to a guy who remembers using an FM converter in his first car because it was only equipped with an AM radio at the factory!
At work, computer usage is omnipresent and there are always more software programs and applications to learn. Smart phones make us available 24/7. Only a few years ago, a 24 hour response time was acceptable in business dealings. Today, we expect a return call instantly or within a few hours.
Technologies like EZ pass will gain popularity and expand their usefulness in the future. We will be swiping and scanning more and more as these devices evolve and address some of the privacy and identity protection issues.
Electronic banking is becoming main stream and is gaining acceptance every day. Government agencies are moving towards a paper-less environment and prefer you register documents online. Universities and colleges now require students to register on line for it is more efficient and requires fewer resources. Healthcare is going completely digital (clinically and operationally) and the government is mandating electronic patient records. Insurance companies are requiring electronic claim submission and patients want access to their medical information on the web.
This movement to digitize our processes and communication is ominous and the movement towards conservation and sustainable resources is undeniable. There is a huge push towards a greener way of life and that to will bring change.
While change is certain; selecting good people to work and associate with is still a great recipe for success!