Top 5 Ways to Run Your Dental Practice Into the Ground

Natalie Lucken, Account Executive

There are a thousands of  different articles online about how to grow your dental practice, maximizing all aspects of your location, availability, and talent. Most focus on increasing efficiency in your schedule, increasing case acceptance, and how to use patient recall visits to sell the latest dental technology the office is about to acquire. A few things always seem to be missing from these articles, so here are a few more that definitely should be considered, if you really don’t feel like being a top performing practice, or…. maybe retirement is still decades away, and not worth worrying about?  

  1. Offer to let patients “pay you later” or “after we see what insurance pays”. This is a great way to rapidly gain those steadily climbing amounts that patients owe in your Accounts Receivable reports. If patients are nervous about being able to pay their bill, it’s perfectly acceptable to stress to them that, since they have insurance, they won’t have any balance leftover. Patients are always grateful to the office for the interest-free loans handed out by your personal banking officer.
  2. Never schedule the right amount of time for procedures in your office. It’s best to short each timeblock one by at least 10 minutes. If the doctor knows he/she only needs 30 minutes to do 3 fillings on Mrs. Johnson, then schedule 30 minutes exactly. The staff will catch up by the end of the day, to be certain. Not only does this type of scheduling make staff super excited to come to work every day, but also content to stay on as loyal employees for many years to come.
  3. Make sure that you never use online marketing. The internet is just a fad after all, and it’s far too expensive to set up a basic website so patients can find your office. Facebook is just for teenagers, right? In truth, it’s a loyalty platform people use to remind themselves that they’ve made good choices in what they like to do, buy, and where they shop. No, good old-fashioned word of mouth should do the trick just fine, and your patients are loyal enough already.
  4. Concerned about morale? Always assume that your staff wants to stay longer at the end of the day to accommodate late patient arrivals. Those missing 10 minutes compound nicely into a minimum of 30-45 minutes by the end of the day. And if your office is “always busy”, it’s perfectly fine for no staff person, including the doctor, be afforded time to to eat or use the restroom during business hours.
  5. Doctors: If you’re not sure (or don’t know) if the front desk staff is posting  the insurance payments and adjustments correctly, just have them stop sending any statements until you get a chance to review all the accounts. You should have time this weekend, right? Training for the front desk team is optional, and can always be scheduled for sometime next quarter when the schedule is lighter.
  6. It’s a great idea to limit every one’s security clearance in your practice management software. The idea being, of course, that fewer people having access to the most critical functions of practice operations will minimize the risk of someone embezzling money from the practice, or just making mistakes that are compounded by repetition throughout the database. The flaw in this, is that the doctor or owners can quickly become complacent, trusting in the skill and years of service of their Management staff. Often, there is only one staff member entrusted with the bank account numbers and handling all the cash, checks, and credit cards passing over the front desk every day. Remember the statistics about embezzlement? Sixty percent of all dental practices find themselves victims of embezzlement, and on average, the perpetrators have stolen upwards of $130,000 before their crime is discovered!


Hopefully, this list will fill in some of the gaps in the information circulating around the online dental community, and provide a bit of humor to start a robust discussion with the whole office team.  Your practice runs more smoothly when every member of your team’s voice is heard, after all, and each person brings their own strengths to the table.


All of these tips are a huge undertaking for any practice that is either brand new, or one that has been around for years. Consider adding the expertise of an outside group of experts as an extension of those who already work directly with your patients.  eAssist Dental Billing can offer your practice virtual team members, who can securely access your computer everyday, and review accounts, run reports, and make sure that your business’ practices are top notch every step of the way.

Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #129


  • Natalie, Well done. The first point is hilarious!!! Love the twist on practice management.

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