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Just working on the practice survey for the November issue of Dental Economics. One of the quotes within the article is from Dr. Roger Levin. He states, "Traditionally it takes six to 12 months for economic trends to affect dental practices. The full impact of the downturn may be yet to come."

What do you think? Are things bad now in the dental office? Will they get worse? Is this just a "bump in the road?"

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What exactly do you mean by this?
Things are so slow that even those who hvae no intention to pay are not making appointments.
So if you think that the worst is yet to come within the next year that very much frightens me. I am in the last leg of Dental Assistant Program and finding a job is starting to become a very important goal of mine. Is the demand for dental assistants still high enough that I should readily be able to find a job, but not only a job, a job with adequate pay for the skills and licenses I have achieved. I would appreciate any in put you anyone has to offer. I am currently living in Memphis, Tn but soon hope to moving to the St. Louis or Columbia, MO area.
Leslie...I've just finished to a dentist in St. Louis who is having his best year in a long time. There are plenty of other success stories out there, so take heart. I think it has a lot to do with your mental frame of mind. I know you'll be able to find a job with good pay. The key is to find one that makes you happy as well. You will be able to find a position ... just make sure it's working for a good practice.
Well thanks a lot that puts a smile on my face! No worries I have some wonderful teachers that preach the same things about finding an office that makes you happy and that is a good practicing office. There are too many out there to have to work for an unethical or place that makes you unhappy. To quote Ms. Harper "If you do the right things you don't have to worry about the wrong things!" Have a great day!
I work with practices around the country and I see some doing well and I see some struggling. This is the same thing I saw 2 and 3 years ago, before the economic downturn. I believe that practices are going to have to be more proactive, they are going to have to focus more on customer service and on closing the backdoor of their practices. Most practices have a lot of missed oppportunities due to poor management, lack of systems and little or no staff training.

Why is it that 4 practices can be located within 3 blocks of each other, 3 of them produce $500,000 to $650,000 solo and then one of them can do $2.8 million solo? I will tell you, it is not due to good luck.
I'd like to hear from some of the dentists. How are you doing so far this year?
Even those who intend to stiff me aren't making appointments.
Every dentist reading this can actually increase their income (relative to their colleagues). Most of your competition are focused on fear and closing up the fort, reducing expenses, cutting out marketing, and hoping to ride out the storm. They will loose market share to those of you who will be more aggressive and direct with your marketing...Despite what we hear there are millionaires that were made DURING every economic down turn.

Most do it from investing in undervalued businesses. Dentist can do it from attracting paying clients. (everyone isn't broke and clinging to that last dollar...)

Most growing businesses (and you are in the business of dentistry) do a better job of managing cash flow and debt. Nearly 7 out of 10 dentist I talk to waste valuable cash flow dollars, thus throwing countless opportunities down the drain, by not managing debt payments. Far too many try there hardest to be debt free. Why? How can you earn more? Paying more than necessary, or having a horrid finance structure, keeps you from having the necessary free cash flow to invest in acquisition. Contrary to popular opinion, most debt free businesses sale for less not more. Why, management of cash flow. If office 1 has a debt expense of 9 grand per month, and office 2 has the same total debt, but a structure such that the payment is only 6 grand per month, and it cost both dentist $250 bucks to get a patient (not even including lifetime value), who earns more the one who can add $3000 per month to marketing, or the one who can't. You probably already know the answer.

Another area, receivables. If your receivables/invoices are primarily insurance company based, stop wasting time. Advance 70 percent and use that cash flow to grow. Regardless of how dentist feel, nearly every industry uses factoring to increase cash flow. You can manage that cash flow how you see fit. Hopefully it's to do what your competitors aren't, and that's aggressively touting your "problem solving oral healing powers."

Things may get worse. They definitely will if you do nothing. Push forward. You will have no choice but to acquire if you invest increased cash flow in it. The returns, even if small, are far more than if you never push at all. Far too many dentist are sitting on the sideline. Afraid.

"Fortune favors the bold".
I believe that Dr. Levin would have done some homework before making his statement by reviewing past economic trends. I would believe he has made a statement based on sound research. At the same time I feel in every downturn there is opportunity - and I am trying to help consult my customers to take advantage of this economy downturn to negotiate better construction costs, lease rates, and equipment purchases. When everyone else wants to sell is the best time to buy!

The current state of the dental economy where I live is healthy. The majority of dentsits here in Saskatchewan would likely say thier business is equal to or better over the last 12 month period. My personal sales reflect this as well - although the trend has been less equipment investment and more of the 'bread and butter stuff. As hard as I try to convince everyone its a great time to invest, it takes a positive attitude towards the future.

I am looking at the next 12 months and I would project an increase in revenues for my dentists despite the economy! Saskatchewan in particular is well positioned since we really have many underserviced areas. The dentists here probalby don't follow the trend felt elsewhere - we are always pretty steady!
These are difficult times for everyone, including dental offices. Dentists must shift gears from elective dental treatment to more need-based dentistry.
Richmond Hill Dentist



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