Episode 160: Dr. Baird’s Dental Management Secrets

“Everyone should have the same goal: we’re going to take great care of our patients. That is what is really going to grow your dental practice.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

I get asked all the time: “What are the most important things I need to do to run a successful dental practice?”

It’s a pretty general question, but during my career I honed it down to 5 different areas of practice management that every dentist should be overseeing including patient management, team management, financial procedures that ensure your profitability, marketing and patient acquisition, and compliance and risk management. 

Remember these management areas apply to every independent dentist. If you’re new to the game, then make sure you’re doing these things as you get started. If you’ve been in business for a while, make sure you are reviewing these 5 areas every year to keep your business growing.

So, if you’re interested in making your dental practice profitable, then join me today for the first part of a 2 part series where I share practical ways you can make sure you oversee the 5 areas of dental practice management, including:

  • The importance of communicating effectively
  • Setting goals and knowing where you’re at
  • The importance of 5% in your finances


Regan 0:00
Hi Dr. Regan Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and I have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else? That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years, PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams, get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help visit productivedentist.com/workshop that’s productivedentist.com/workshop to secure your seats now.

Dr. Bruce Baird 0:47
When I hired people back in the day, 35 years ago, I expected them to know how I do things. Even though I hired a dental assistant, I expected you to know how to be a dental assistant. I hired somebody at the front office, I expected him to know how to do the front office, but I was so wrong in thinking that, I just was wrong because I want them to know how I do and the only way that I can get them to do the way I do it, is by transfer knowledge, teach it, educate, working with them day in and day out. Hello everyone. This is Dr. Bruce B. Baird and you’re listening to the Productive Dentist Podcast in this podcast, I will give you everything that I’ve learned over the last 40 years in dentistry working with 1000s of dentists. I’ll tell you it’s not that my way is the only way, it’s just one that has worked extremely well for me and I’d love to share that with you so you too can enjoy the choices and lifestyle the productivity allows, more time for things you love, increased pay, better team relationships, and lowered stress. Let’s get into it with this week’s episode of the productive dentist podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 2:09
Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist Podcast. I’m coming with a question, someone asked me a question, “What are the most important things that I need to do in order to run a dental practice?” You know, and that’s pretty general. You know, as far as what’s kind of a general question, “What are the things I need to do doc?” You know, I’ve talked to a lot of young dentists and, you know, they go, “What do I need to do?” Well, you know, I kind of break that down into really five different areas that you need to look at it. If you’re starting a dental practice. If you’re in a dental practice, it’s things that I would review on a yearly basis and those are, you know, patient management, how do you manage the patient? How do you manage your team? What kind of financial things are you doing to help ensure profitability, and, and also marketing, patient acquisition, and then compliance and risk management? So I’m gonna go through these one at a time, we may do this in one podcast, we may do this over the next two or three podcasts and like I always say, please send me questions to bruce@productivedentistacademy.com, but patient management, what are we talking about? We talk about that, I think is probably the most important thing and it’s crucial for the success of dental practice. It includes how do you schedule appointments, managing your patient records, you know, handling billing and insurance claims, maintaining good communication, remember, we just did that on the last podcast, effective patient management systems and processes ensure a smooth operation and you know, that positive patient experience, but let’s look at scheduling appointments, are you just using a dart and deciding when the next patient scheduled is on based on time available? You can go back and look at our previous podcasts on scheduling. It’s critical that you schedule based on productivity not based on time and we have talked about that a lot on this podcast over the years and it’s important to review and to practice and to look at these things very, very much help you get through the day to day operations of your practice, but scheduling and looking at productivity is paramount. How do you handle your billing and insurance claims? Nowadays there’s a lot of automation. Do you really want to be billing your patients and have somebody calling and trying to get that? Yeah, you probably will and you’ll have somebody working on your insurance claims, but there’s artificial intelligence out there, there are programs that can help you do these things and if I was opening up a practice today, I would have everything I could possibly have be automated. Why? Because I want the people that are around me, I want everybody to have the same goal, the same thought process, that is, we’re gonna take great care of our patients today and I’m gonna do a great job of communicating with them, and I’m gonna let them know, we care and um, that’s, that’s what’s going to grow your dental practice. You know, the, as far as what do I do, there’s one app that we developed, it’s called “A Balance”, it automatically sends out all the billing, and you can, you can highlight it and say, I don’t want to send a bill to my Uncle Joe, but all these others, yes, I want I want that done on a regular basis and they can pay online, they can come on the office and pay and it’s multi-directional, meaning that they pay in the opposite automatically updates the software, Vine, and some other companies actually have great insurance processing and the more you can automate, the better your business is going to be. Now, what about staff? What about your team management, that’s the second highlight and really, when I, when I hired people back in the day, it’s 35 years ago, I expected them to know how I do things. Even though I hired a dental assistant, I expected, you didn’t know how to be a dental assistant. I hired somebody at the front office, I expected them to know how to do the front office, but I was so wrong and thinking that I just was wrong, because I want them to know how I do it and the only way that I can get them to do the way I do it is by transfer knowledge, teaching, educating, working with them day in and day out. That became part and I didn’t do it for 15 to 20 years, when I first started, I really didn’t, I was frustrated. I was a bad boss and I’ve told you guys that I just expected you to know how to do it and it just isn’t fair and I spent the next 20 years educating, teaching my team. What that does is it builds a great family, when they know that you have an interest in them, and you’re working with them and you’re constantly giving them feedback. You know, to me, it just changes the expectation changes things. So with your staff and with your team, get to know them. You know, and then if they’re not getting the job done, keep training, keep training and then finally, if they just don’t get it, well, now it’s time to find them a new happy place may not be in your office, but don’t get rid of people or don’t have them quit because you’re not willing to tell them how you really want it done. It’s not very fair and I see that happen over and over and over again, but effective staff maintenance is, a it helps optimize your productivity and it truly enhances patient care because you know, when my eyes are rolling, and I’m going an hour and I guess I don’t need a beer for this exam and you know, the trays aren’t set up properly or, you know, that is the kind of stuff that causes stress in the practice and when you have stress in the practice, what does that do to your productivity? It goes down. So every day, I would try when I was leaving the office, I’d go “Hey, guys, thanks so much. Thanks, Gay. Thanks, Emory. Thanks, Shannon. You know, thank you,” I would say that out loud to all of them, but then individually during the day, I would say, “Hey, man, I’m so thankful for you, you know,” and that might happen once a week and so those are the kinds of things that are going to change your trajectory as a dentist, it really is and out of all the things that are important. Yes, you got to do all the all the other things, but to me probably learning to communicate effectively is number one and really teaching and training your team is probably the second most important thing and what about financial management? How, how do you look at financial management? That’s the third thing that I look at but financial management, you got to have a plan is what I like to do is we set goals, we set benchmarks, we set daily goals, we set our goals and that’s something that Productive Dentist Academy started 20 years ago before people even looked at what’s your production per hour and, and the reason I wanted to look at it, I wanted to break it down to the smallest unit possible. This is production per hour, what is your associate doing per hour? What’s your hygienist doing per hour? What am I doing per hour? The average dentist in the US produces about $425 an hour, that’s fluctuated a little bit during COVID, but it’s still 425 an hour and we’ve talked about this 30. You know, $3,400 a day.

Dr. Bruce Baird 10:42
$3,400 a day is not a lot of dentistry, but if you haven’t set a goal, if you don’t know where you’re at, then how is it that you’re going to improve and get better? What are the things you’re going to be thinking about to get better and when we go back to scheduling properly, yep, scheduling becomes a big deal, because I’m scheduling based on my goals and if your goals are $500 an hour, well, then you have certain goals. If it’s 800 an hour, you have certain goals to meet each day and scheduling has to be done that way the team has to understand it. You know, it’s funny, as at Productive Dentist, we’ve been teaching productive scheduling, scheduling based on productivity for years, but it’s so much fun because we have a lot of what we call repeat offenders come back to the tour or seminars and they’re bringing the team with them. Some of them are new, and they go, “Hey, I need them to understand this, I need to understand this, you know, scheduling by productivity,” and the one nice thing about I think our programs is two and a half days long, we have breakout sessions. So we actually force you to communicate with your team and it’s in a kind of a safe environment. Everybody’s excited about learning new things, and you’re able to sit down and answer questions. We have our people there that can also help but it gets you and your team on that mode for scheduling to productivity to tracking your revenue, budget, financial management, you know. I asked this question over the years, “how many of you run your practice on a spreadsheet that, you know, looks at profitability, looks at Budget to Actual meaning I have a budgeted amount for every single expenditure in our practice? And all I had to do to manage that business was to look at the day-to-day operations. All I had to do was look at day to day in our in our QuickBooks snd I would look, if I saw anything that was, you know, looking at it maybe once a week, anything that was 5% off either too high and expenditure or too low and expenditure greater than 5%, either way, that was where I managed the practice from a financial standpoint, I just looked at it and say, “Huh, this is zero why? Why have we not spent any money on this this month when we budgeted to do that? And my comptroller or my financial person in the office would say, “Oh, I just haven’t sent the check yet.” Okay, good. So I actually had something to look at and go down the list and go, “Yes, yep, looks good. Everything looks good.” We were budgeted to do this, X, Y and Z. Also looking at, besides just budgeting and monitoring expenses is tracking a revenue, you know, and that is part of our goal setting, managing our accounts payable and receivable, that that’s critical, because it really helped us, you know, in our AR, it’s, you’ve got to have somebody out there helping you and that’s where artificial intelligence I think can make a huge difference in looking at that, but, you know, dental practice managers, people that are running your office should also have knowledge of dental insurance coding, to ensure accurate billing and to maximize your reimbursements. We could probably do a podcast on each one of these things individually. So, you know, hopefully, this has been helpful. I’m going to continue on our next podcast about marketing and patient acquisition on compliance. So I look forward to seeing you guys next time. Tell your friends about Productive Dentist Podcast and again, thank you for voting our podcast number three, in all demonstrating look forward to next time. Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast. If you found this episode helpful, make sure you subscribe, pass it along to a friend. Give us a Like on iTunes and Spotify, or drop me an email at podcast@productivedentist.com don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy of productivedentistpodcast.com Join me again next week for another episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast.

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