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Don’t Let Dental School Loans Get You Down

Graduating from dental school is a big deal – one you should be very proud of. Unfortunately, your obligation to repay your student loans can cut your celebrations short. Happily, there are programs available to help graduates elevate or ease the pain of having to pay back those loans.

In 2014, the Ohio General Assembly passed a law that effectively provides loan repayment for dentists and dental hygienists who practice in underserved areas of Ohio.

Who Qualifies For Relief?

If you meet one of the following criteria, you most likely qualify for the loan repayment program.

  • Dental students, and dental hygiene students, who are in their final year of school.
  • Dental residents in their first year of residency or are currently enrolled in an advanced education program.
  • Practicing general and pediatric dentist or dental hygienist.

Remember: you must be working full-time (40 hours per week) or part-time (20-39 hours per week) in underserved areas of the state serving Medicaid-eligible patients and those who are unable to pay.

Want to learn more about the practice sites that qualify for loan repayment program or want to complete the application for the loan repayment program application and other forms. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) can help. You can also check out this loan repayment programs fact sheet for more details.

However, if you are looking for more help managing your finances in general, the bright dental team at Rea & Associates is at your service! Contact us today for more dental school tips.

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Does A Dentist’s Online Presence Really Matter?

Online Marketing | Dental Professionals | Ohio Dental CPAs

According to a recent study by Foxtail Marketing, a full-service agency that specializes in digital marketing campaigns for doctors and dentists, dentists without an online presence, or a minimal online presence, have seen a significant impact on their bottom lines. Read on to learn more.

Longtime dental professionals are embarking on new territory when it comes to marketing their practices and now, it seems, it’s the younger dentists who have the upper hand.

While dental practices typically don’t share a lot of similarities with companies such as Coca-Cola®, McDonalds®, Nike®, or Starbucks®, today’s competition for marketplace dominance is changing the way businesses approach their customers and compete with competition. Dental professionals are also realizing that the way they engage with their patients is changing.

Read Also: The Business Side Of Dentistry

These days, your patients are looking for more than just a dentist to fix a tooth or make their mouth pain go away, they want to establish a relationship with you and your office even before they step through the door of your office. Then, they expect you to work to maintain this relationship.

Brand Matters

Every time you or someone from your office engages with an existing or potential patient is an opportunity to shape the perception of your practice – and online engagement is just as powerful as meeting one-on-one with somebody. In fact, if somebody can’t find information about your practice online, there’s a pretty good chance they will take their business to the practice on the other side of town with excellent Yelp reviews and active Facebook account.

According to a recent study by Foxtail Marketing, a full-service agency that specializes in digital marketing campaigns for doctors and dentists, dentists without an online presence, or a minimal online presence, have seen a significant impact on their bottom lines.

Reviews Matter

“With the rise of ratings sites like Yelp and HealthGrades, [dental professionals] were noticing that not managing their dental presence was causing them to lose patients to higher ranked practices,” the agency stated in a press release. “[The] study highlighted that physicians and dentists that took control of their digital marketing and actively worked on it saw ‘significant increases’ in their patient numbers. They also noticed that referrals spiked by being active on social media and engaging with their patients through email.”

The study, which surveyed more than 500 doctors and dentists, found professionals older than 45 were more likely to ignore social media. Furthermore, clinics that had no online presence and weren’t involved in a physician’s network realized a 30 percent drop in patient numbers over the course of two years.

“While the idea that social media and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are important to small businesses isn’t a new theory, it is interesting to note how much it is now impacting both the dental and medical industries,” the release continued. “And it does appear, based on this study, that the younger generations of physicians and dentists have already jumped out to a lead when it comes to their digital presence.”

Remember, the best marketing for your dental practice is always going to be word-of-mouth, so make sure to make it a priority to always deliver top-notch service while working to establish and sustain an excellent brand identity. When your existing patients are happy, they will be more apt to tell their friends and family, engage with your practice on social media platforms and even leave a positive online review, and those actions can be just as valuable as an expensive media buy.

Expertise Matters

For more tips to help you secure a successful future in dentistry, email Rea & Associate’s Bright Dental CPAs.

By Dan Bialek, CPA (Mentor office)

Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. Make sure your dental practice isn’t left behind.

Is Your Dental Practice In ‘The Cloud’?
The Important Role IT Security Plays Within Your Dental Practice
Are You Backing Up Your Data?

Office Relocation Made Easy – And Affordable

Dentist Office Relocation | Negotiation | Bright Dental CPAs

A common mistake many dental professionals make when they decide to relocate to a new office is that they can do it by themselves. And while it’s quite possible to serve your patients full time, manage your practice and facilitate property negotiations, you may be cheating yourself out of the best deal. Read on to learn why you should put a team together to manage your office relocation.

There are many reasons why you may want to move your dental practice to a new location, but if you want to be sure you are moving to the right location at the right price, consider looking to your business advisory team for guidance.

Want a better deal on a great office location? Call in the experts.

Your financial advisor is one of your best resources when it comes to painting a clear picture of your practice’s overall financial wellness. Their expertise will help you arrive at an accurate cash flow projection, make sense of any tax implications that are associated with the move and will help you determine if the space you are eyeing is financially realistic. But your financial advisor isn’t the only professional who should have a seat at the table during your relocation discussions. For even better results, consider working with somebody who makes it their job to know the various nuances of your local real estate market.

Read Also: Nine Questions To Ask When Purchasing A Dental Practice

A common mistake many dental professionals make when they decide to relocate to a new office is that they can do it by themselves. And while it’s quite possible to serve your patients full time, manage your practice and facilitate property negotiations, you may be cheating yourself out of the best deal. Rather than spend more on your relocation than necessary or letting your other daily responsibilities slip, a real estate broker will not  only manage the legwork associated with choosing your office’s future, they will make sure you get exactly what you are paying for and then some.

I recently spoke with Justin Fodor of Carr Healthcare Realty, a real estate brokerage firm that works exclusively with professionals in the healthcare industry, to find out about the benefits a dental professional might be missing out on when they choose not to work with an expert real estate broker.

Best Deal For The Dollar

Your real estate broker understands the art of negotiation and will work to secure terms that are favorable to you and your practice, regardless of whether you will be buying or leasing the property. For example, while you may be concerned about “ruffling feathers” where pricing is concerned, your real estate broker will be ready to negotiate. They have been through the song-and-dance many times, and they know that the “sticker price” is only the starting price.

Justin said sometimes the healthcare professionals he works with are unsure about bringing in a third party to negotiate. This, he said, should never be a concern.

“Landlords work with brokers all the time,” explained Justin. “In fact, they hire their own brokers. They expect you to bring one to the table as well.”

Your Ideal Location

Oftentimes, if a real estate brokerage firm doesn’t specialize in demographics itself, they will work with professionals who do. This information helps you identify the best office location for your unique needs. Whether you want to find out how many general dentists are in a certain area or whether an area has access to a specialty practice, utilizing demographic information helps optimize your office’s geography.

“We’ve worked with a lot of practices that are coming from larger office buildings. They aren’t really sure what type of space they should be looking for,” explained Justin. “We can help them decide the type of environment that’s right for them by taking into consideration foot traffic, visibility, population, and other demographics.”

A Head Start

“We work with dental professionals to maximize their deal as much as possible,” said Justin. “It takes time to move into an office, remodel and then get patients back through your doors.”

A broker, especially if they specialize in serving healthcare clients, can help you negotiate the time you need to stabilize your practice’s cash flow. Justin said it’s not uncommon for him to secure a 5-month build-out period and 3-4 months of rent-free office space. By that time, everything should be up and running again.

Work With A Team That Knows Your Business

If a new office location is in your practice’s future, email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates. We can help you identify your options from a financial perspective and will work with your real estate broker to make sure you are able to secure the best deal for your dental practice.

By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

Are you looking for more great advice to help you plan your career in dentistry? Check out these articles:

What To Expect From Your Career In Dentistry
Dentistry: It’s Not All White Coats And Drills
What To Consider When Purchasing A Dental Practice

Even Superheroes Have Sidekicks – But Are They Taxable?

Does Your Dental Practice Need An Employee Or An Independent Contractor?

Employee Independent Contractor - Dental CPA

When you hire another dentist to assist your growing practice as a full-time employee you have more control over that individual’s profession. From establishing how many hours they will work to what responsibilities they will take on in their new role, in many ways it makes sense to bring on somebody who will help share the workload on a regular basis. But expanding your full-time work force comes with a variety of considerations on your end. Health insurance, space and equipment and insurance costs are all responsibilities that will fall on you as the owner and manager of your facility. Independent contractors, on the other hand, carry the responsibilities of managing these costs themselves.

The days are getting longer and warmer, and you are probably thinking about how nice it would be if you could pack up your bags and take off on a much-needed vacation. But alas, skipping town for a week or two means that you would have to close the practice for the duration of your holiday, which is simply not an option. Unless you have already figured out a way to clone yourself, the best solution may be to hire an associate dentist or an independent contractor who can help by taking on a portion of the work and can help cover for you when you are out of the office.

Read: Differences Between Employees and Independent Contractors

Whether or not you have plans to take a vacation this year, the simple fact is that there will be times where you simply won’t be able to make it into the office. Life happens. Business opportunities happen. And sooner or later something will happen outside of work that will require your attention. How will you handle that situation? You could hire another dental professional to join your team to help during those planned (or unplanned) absences. However, before you start accepting applications, make sure you have a clear vision of what you need from this person and whether it’s in your best interest to hire an independent contractor or an employee.

Define What Kind Of Help You Need

When you hire another dentist to assist your growing practice as a full-time employee you have more control over that individual’s profession. From establishing how many hours they will work to what responsibilities they will take on in their new role, in many ways it makes sense to bring on somebody who will help share the workload on a regular basis. But expanding your full-time work force comes with a variety of considerations on your end. Health insurance, space and equipment and insurance costs are all responsibilities that will fall on you as the owner and manager of your facility. Independent contractors, on the other hand, carry the responsibilities of managing these costs themselves.

That said, it may be easy to make the decision to hire an independent contractor only to fill in for you one or two days a week, but if you aren’t fully aware of how the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies the two, you could be opening yourself up to a litigation.

Make sure you are clear on the characteristics between employees and independent contractors. If you continue to be unsure, reach out to financial professional for assistance.

Top 10 Questions To Consider Before Hiring

When determining whether that extra help should be classified as a regular employee or an independent contractor, ask questions that will identify who has control over this individual’s work-related behavior, finances and relationships.

  1. Will I have control over when, where and how this individual works or do they retain the majority of the control?
  2. Will I set the compensation rate of the individual?
  3. Will I need this person to fill in for a long period of time?
  4. Will I invest significant resources into the training and compensation of this individual?
  5. Will this individual be expected to exclusively work for my practice?
  6. Will I be responsible for paying employment taxes on this individual?
  7. Will I provide this person with any benefits such as insurance, retirement, vacation, and/or disability insurance?
  8. Will I retain this professional relationship for a long period of time?
  9. Will I require this person to be responsible for with key business activities?
  10. Will I have to provide guidelines to help govern how this individual will conduct themselves while working within my practice?

Did you answer “yes” to any of these questions? If so, there’s a pretty good chance that the person you are considering hiring will be an employee. But if you continue to have questions about their classification and your responsibilities as an employer, contact the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Dan Bialek, CPA (Mentor office)

 

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What To Expect From Your Career In Dentistry

Dental Career Planning - Dental CPA

Your school debt is almost paid, your practice is busy and, for all intents and purposes, successful, and you are now at a point in your career where you are beginning to build equity in your practice. This is truly a great moment for you as a professional and as a dental practitioner. But be forewarned. At this point in your career, you are likely making some serious money – which means you are probably itching to spend a little (or a lot) of it. This is the fork in the road that will determine much of your future happiness.

Owning a dental practice can be very rewarding as long as you remember that you’re entering an endurance race – not a sprint. So, if you’re looking for a “get rich quick” scenario, opening a dental practice is probably not for you. If you want a fulfilling career that, albeit challenging, can be incredibly fulfilling, read on.

Getting to know the four stages of a typical dental career will help you measure your own success and will help motivate you to make the best choices for your practice, especially during the first few years. And don’t forget to download The Business Side of Dentistry: Tips and Tools for Dentists for more insight into the dental profession.

The Dental Practice Career Cycle

  1. Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Owning a dental practice is just like owning any other small business. You must be mindful of all your new entrepreneurial responsibilities. Managing employees, establishing internal controls, negotiating with vendors and even generating a marketing plan are essential to running a productive and successful business. Unlike your friends who opted to pursue MBAs, your background in these disciplines is limited. It’s also likely that you will find yourself at an economic disadvantage because, unlike your business school cohorts, you have astronomical debt.

Read: Dentistry: It’s Not All White Coats and Drills

The American Student Dental Association states that, according to the American Dental Education Association, the average dental student graduates with upwards of $241,000 of student loan debt. This total has not only increased more than 66 percent in the last decade, it greatly exceeds the average student loan debt nationwide. Therefore, as nice as it would be to spend your paycheck on luxury items, avoid the temptation. Your long-term success will be measured by how well and how quickly you can pay down your debt. Get started as soon as possible. It will be worth it.

  1. Build A Solid Foundation With A Sound Financial Plan

Your school debt is almost paid, your practice is busy and, for all intents and purposes, successful, and you are now at a point in your career where you are beginning to build equity in your practice. This is truly a great moment for you as a professional and as a dental practitioner. But be forewarned. At this point in your career, you are likely making some serious money – which means you are probably itching to spend a little (or a lot) of it. This is the fork in the road that will determine much of your future happiness.

You can either choose to spend it on vacations, homes, cars and the like, or you can start developing saving habits that will set you up for later in life. Frankly, this is an optimal time to develop a financial plan and start putting a set amount of money into a retirement instrument every month. Whether it’s a stock portfolio or a 401(k), developing a steady financial plan is critical. That’s not to say that you can’t buy some really nice things along the way – just make sure you have a nice nest egg waiting for you when you are ready to start your retirement.

  1. Put The Pedal To The Metal

There comes a time, usually in your early to mid-50s, when the kids are through school, your business and student loans are paid off, you are paying for equipment upgrades from your cash flow and your financial plan is beginning to bear fruit. This is the point on your career timeline where you set your sights on what you want out of retirement and revise your plan to make sure it happens.

There are things to consider at this point in your life and there are tools to help you make informed decisions. At this stage, many dentists find themselves yearning for more control over their free time and less pressure at work. They aren’t yet ready to retire, but would love to slow down and smell some of the roses they’ve planted. Working with a business valuation or succession planning professional can help you streamline your future goals while ensuring that there will be no major surprises along the way.

  1. You’ve Worked Hard, It’s Now Time To Play Hard

It’s been a long, exciting road – but you wouldn’t have had it any other way. As we round the corner to stage four of your career as a dental practice owner, you can finally sit back and relax. If you took the time to plan ahead, your mind, body, spirit and bank account are ready. Now the only thing left to do is to pass the torch to a good, young dentist and take your leave. You’ve earned it.

Have questions? Email the Bright Dental CPAs at Rea & Associates for answers. And don’t forget to download your free copy of The Business Side of Dentistry: Tips and Tools for Dentists and get to know more about what you will encounter as a new dental practice owner.

By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

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Rea & Associates, Inc. | Bright Dental CPAs | 7201 Center St, Mentor, Ohio 44060-4858
phone + 440-266-0077