Well, what do YOU think would help the NHS General Dental Service Survive? A It More Posh Would Be Nice - Saving The NHS by @DentistGoneBadd
Well, what do YOU think would help the NHS General Dental Service Survive? A It More Posh Would Be Nice - Saving The NHS by @DentistGoneBadd
Determine who your core, ‘good’ patients are, then think about how you can offer the very best service for their needs. With a few simple changes, finding a perfect balance between service provider and profitable business is possible.
Put a strategy in place to encourage patients to not only stay loyal, but to recommend you to their family and friends, too. Run a friendly practice and make it easy for people to book. You might want to investigate online booking, which many patients find convenient. Have a system for reminding people that they have an appointment: a text service, a phonecall or appointment card. If they want to reschedule, do so with minimal fuss. Also, if someone has had major treatment, give them a call to see how they are. A financial incentive for referrals is always a great idea, especially if they recommend another ‘good’ patient. Simple touches like colouring sheets and crayons to keep children occupied, or free water in your reception area work well, too.
Present a knowledgeable team who can answer questions promptly and comprehensively. Regular staff meetings will help you identify if someone needs to be bought up to speed with your pain relief policy or finance plans, for example. If you think your patient base will appreciate it, think about a blog or newsletter to keep the lines of contact open between appointments.
Business articles seem to bombard us with the importance of attracting new patients, however, it is vital to remember that these strategies are not the only way to increase profits and be one step ahead of the rest. When you are a dental practice owner, it would be a huge mistake to neglect the people who are keeping your business ticking over, day in, day out. Invest time and effort in your current patients and you will create a fantastic platform from which your practice can grow. It is easier to keep and nurture a patient than it is to sell your services to someone new, yet the rewards will be just as great.
Specialist medical and dental accountants Lansdell & Rose offer business advice alongside regular tax planning and financial accounting. Visit www.lansdellrose.co.uk or call 020 7376 9333.
The companies have already benefited many patients across the US and UK, and continue to grow through their new partnership with Toothpick, the UK’s leading online booking platform for dental appointments. The new partnership aims to further increase accessibility to private dentistry, ultimately reducing the gap between NHS and private care, and it all begins with the introduction of the ‘Toothpick VIP’ card.
How does it benefit the patient?
The ‘Toothpick VIP’ card is cost effective and simple to use, and through its use, patients can benefit from an immediate 20% discount on private dental treatment at participating practices in the UK.
The card is available for a low annual fee and it is possible to include family members into the plan. This money-saving scheme offers unlimited use, and can be used for both pre-existing conditions and emergency dental treatment.
How does it benefit practices?
Because this scheme is not an insurance policy – it is a money saving option – it is beneficial to dentists and patients alike. Essentially, any practice in the UK that is registered with Munroe Sutton can offer this service, which is likely to attract new patients, in turn increasing practice profit. What’s more, practices are likely to receive positive reviews and build a good rapport with new and existing patients.
Working with Munroe Sutton offers copious opportunities for networking and free promotion, as it liaises with customers of leading companies within insurance, finance and healthcare. Ultimately, involvement with this scheme could allow you to develop and unlock your business potential and it is completely free to join the network.
With studies showing that only 61% of people in England attend their dentist regularly[i], it is crucial that schemes such as ‘Toothpick VIP’ continue to be implemented. As prices continue to rise, so will the number of people that miss out on necessary treatment.
For more information please call 0808 234 3558 or visit www.munroesutton.co.uk
[i] British Dental Health. National Smile month. Facts and figures. May 18 - June18, 2015. Accessed online June 23rd 2015 http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/facts-figures/
At Rodericks Ltd, we share your ethos and passion for excellence. Every practice within the group is dedicated to delivering first-class clinical and patient care, with quality training and outstanding service at the heart of everything we do.
By joining the group, you can not only benefit from more educational opportunities, but also enjoy less administrative and regulatory responsibilities. You will have the time and the resources to concentrate on what you do best – providing excellent dentistry and services to all your patients.
Owned and run by practising dentists, the team at Rodericks Ltd understands what it will take to retain and build on your practice’s legacy and reputation, and seeks to do just this.
If you are interested in joining the team, we would be very pleased from you.
There is no doubt that the dental practice landscape has evolved dramatically over the last 20 years, and we are seeing this shift continue as changes to contracts, authorities and organisations affect the way we perceive and run practices. Parallel to the developments in the way dentistry is governed and managed there has been a dramatic increase in competition between surgeries, both locally and nationally. This has caused the emphasis to move more towards viewing a practice as a business, with attention given to its profitability and commerciality.
As such, the business model for a dental practice is wholly unrecognisable from that which we would have been accustomed 3 years ago, let alone to 20. Not only that, but the dentistry on offer is entirely different too. Technology has moved forward at such a pace that complex procedures that would have been either prohibitively expensive or logistically impossible are now a part of the everyday provision. As well as this the demands on a practitioner, from maintaining levels of CPD to managing staff, and the increased amount of paperwork, have snowballed, leaving very little time to consider the well-being and direction of a business.
Dentists are therefore finding themselves pushed and pulled in many directions, with their focus spread increasingly thinly over an array of equally significant issues. In such circumstances it is all too easy for one issue to take a backseat or be neglected altogether and unfortunately, more often than not, it is the marketing of a practice that suffers. This will of course have disastrous repercussions, as the reality is that marketing is just as relevant to dentistry as it is to any other business. Every practice needs to promote itself and the services it provides to ensure a steady stream of new patients. But knowing you need to make a change with your marketing and actually understanding how to do so can be two entirely different problems.
The knee-jerk reaction can be to adopt a scattergun approach, aiming everything at everyone. However, this can be an expensive and potentially pointless exercise. Closely considered and targeted tactics are much more effective in ensuring the right messages are sent to the right people. To create a successful marketing strategy for your practice, it helps to follow a tried and tested formula. The much discussed seven-step principle known as ‘lifecycle marketing’, effectively encapsulates the process of attracting new patients and retaining them by building and developing long-term relationships.
A customer centric strategy, founded on the idea of sending the right message at exactly the right time, lifecycle marketing combines CRM, e-commerce, social media and email marketing into an online system for converting leads into customers and growing sales. It utilises sophisticated email campaigns that treat each recipient individually, taking into account their level of interest in a product or service on offer. For instance, a simple exercise of splitting email recipients into three categories such as interested prospects, current patients and lapsed patients, will allow you to approach your interactions in three distinct ways, tailoring your communication to suit.
Four Main Practice Types
Across the profession, in line with the developments discussed earlier, we now see four distinct practice types emerge, each with its own identifiable set of challenges and opportunities. But whatever your practice type, adopting lifecycle marketing will help you to develop and grow your business and there are specific benefits for each category.
NHS - The primary benefit for an NHS dentist will be in the automation of the patient system and the improved efficiency of the business model – this will lead to fewer missed appointments, less time spent chasing customers and more repeat appointments.
Private - For a private practice it will revolutionise the way the dental team works, enhancing practice turnover and profitability by growing the amount of time spent performing the right treatments and increasing the uptake of elective procedures.
Mixed NHS and Private – A mixed practice will see all the benefits the purely private dentist will see, but most importantly, adopting lifecycle marketing will help to accelerate the acquisition of more private clients.
Dentist Entrepreneur (multiple practices) – The benefits for a dentist running multiple practices is the ability to automatically scale their lead generation, conversion and upsell, whilst also generating a greater consistency of service between practices AND much more efficient use of the team’s time.
No matter your practice type, the aim of your marketing will always be to increase sales and profitability. By adopting the techniques of lifecycle marketing this mission will be made far more achievable thanks to the provision of clear structures and methods for meeting new patients and expanding your clinical reach. By embracing solutions designed, customised and put together for you by the experts, you can save precious time and money without compromising the results. Working with 7connections and software giant Infusionsoft, for example, you can implement effective strategies and fresh ideas with ease.
Dentistry has certainly changed over the last two decades, but that doesn't mean your practice has to be left behind. Make sure you are able to remain competitive by ensuring your marketing is up to scratch. If your practice is feeling its age and in need of greater profitability, client retention, and lead conversions, then you need lifecycle marketing in your business.
There are many costs when owning a vehicle such as fuel, repairs and maintenance, insurance, car tax, roadside assistance, depreciation, parking and lease payments. This leaves many dentists questioning the best possible way to purchase a car in order to minimise their tax bill. Lansdell & Rose have outlined and outlined factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle to maximise your tax relief.
The methods of tax treatment differentiate between different types of businesses and there are clear distinctions between how the tax of a vehicle works when trading as a sole trader or partnership, as opposed to a limited company. For most newly qualified doctors and dentists who are sole traders or in partnerships, the purchase of a vehicle can be represented as an asset to the business. Purchasing the vehicle through the business account would mean the company would gain full tax relief for all business use of the vehicle. An adjustment can then be made in the tax return to represent any proportion of private use.
For limited companies, a different approach applies and there are two main options. The first is that the company owns the vehicle and claims full tax relief, excluding fuel, as claiming tax relief on fuel may have further implications. The employee/director pays tax for their personal use for the vehicle. The second option sees the director purchasing the vehicle and claiming mileage at 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter. The company consequently claims tax relief and the director incurs the cost of the vehicle through the mileage claim. It is important to note that traveling to and from work is considered private and not business use of the vehicle.
Deciding the most tax beneficial ownership of a vehicle is largely dependent on the type of vehicle and most notably its fuel emissions. If the vehicle’s fuel emissions are less than 95g/kg then it might be more tax efficient for the company to own the car. However, if the emissions are higher than 95g/kg you could receive better tax relief if you own the vehicle personally.
Lansdell & Rose are specialist medical and dental accountants and tax advisers who answer questions like these for dentists and medical consultants every day. If you have a question please contact us to ensure you maximise your tax relief before making key decisions for you and your business.
T: 020 7376 9333
John Grant Director from Goodman Grant Solicitors discusses the importance of bespoke written associate agreements.
If you were to study the legal test into whether someone is an employee or self-employed, you might quickly conclude that most dental associates are employees. The dental profession has quite frankly always enjoyed what can only be called a special dispensation from the Inland Revenue. In other words, the Revenue have not, as yet, challenged dental associates’ self-employed status. Although there is little sign of this changing at present, that is not to say it never will and it is certainly better to do what one can to protect oneself – not only against the Revenue, but also against claims of unfair dismissal by former associates
If there is no written associate agreement and a practice principle decided to terminate an associate’s contract, that associate could seek legal advice and if it was deemed that they were an employee, they could pursue a claim for unfair dismissal. This could then culminate into a sizeable compensation sum.
In addition, not only are there the risks of compensation claims, there are also tax implications. If the Inland Revenue were to pursue the case, it would be entitled to ask the principle to pay all tax that the associate should have paid as an employee over their entire period of employment. This is regardless of any tax the associate may have already paid.
Consider the criteria of the legal multiple test that is used to determine if someone is an employee or self-employed:
Personal service – does the servant have to perform the service personally or can someone else carry it out
In most associate’s agreements, the right to appoint a locum is provided – however in the vast majority of cases, it is limited and may only apply if the associate were away ill and even then, the appointment of a locum is usually subject to the practice owner’s approval.
Mutuality of Obligation- An obligation to do the work and an obligation to be paid for it.
The overall reality of a dental practice is that the principle or owner does introduce patients. Whilst many associate agreements state there is no obligation, the reality is that such an obligation does exist – otherwise principals would quickly find associates giving notice to leave the practice. When the work is complete, there is the obligation to pay the associate.
Control – how much control does the employer exercise over how the servant carries out their job?
Not only are there controls imposed by CQC, the NHS and the GDC, but in addition many written agreements stipulate that associates must comply with the practice policies and procedures – even to the extent of requiring associates to participate in practice appraisals.
Similarly, most large dental corporates go into great detail within associate contracts to explain exactly how the individual should perform the work, which I would submit is entirely contrary to the notion of associates being self employed. If they are required to attend team meetings and have to attend out of hours emergencies, this too suggests a degree of control that is most commonly found in an employee/employer relationship.
John Grant of Goodman Grant Lawyers for Dentists - a Past Chairman of ASPD