Dental Study Clubs



One of the hardest parts about running a dental practice can be feeling like you’re doing it all alone, the good news is that there’s an answer to this problem, and that answer is dental study clubs. Once you graduate from dental school, you’re no longer surrounded by peers. Yes, you hire staff, but leaning on them to help you overcome some of the struggles of running your business isn’t a possibility. 

Dental study clubs consist of groups of dentists who meet frequently to discuss best business practices, issues they may be having, plus many other topics that can help them build and grow their practice.

In this episode of Beyond Bitewings, the Edwards & Associates Team discusses the different types of dental clubs, the pros and cons of being a part of one, and what you can expect when trying to find the right club for you.

If you’d like to have your question answered on a future podcast, contact Edwards & Associates. Or contact any one of the excellent ADCPA affiliates across the nation at 


Full transcript.

In-House Patient Plans




Many dental practices look at credentialing with insurance companies as a way to attract patients, but there are other ways that dental practices can increase and grow their patient base. One of those is through in-house patient plans. On today’s episode of Beyond Bitewings, the team welcomes Katie Franklin, Program Director for Smile Advantage.

Smile Advantage helps dental practices implement and run in-house patient plans, and Katie is discussing why every dental practice should consider adding one as a resource for their patients. Not only are these plans attractive to those who may not have insurance, Katie has also found that even those with insurance many times take advantage of these plans.

Katie and the Edwards & Associates team also discuss what type of typical benefits are offered with in-house patient plans, what goes into implementing them and the costs involved, how to get the whole team on board, and why these plans don’t make sense in some cases.

If you’ve been considering implementing an in-house patient plan for your office and would like to talk to Katie, reach out to her at (314) 885-4640, or email her at Or learn more by visiting:

If you’d like to have your question answered on a future podcast, contact Edwards & Associates. Or contact any one of the excellent ADCPA affiliates across the nation at


Full transcript

Paying Employees During the Texas Winter Storm

I couldn’t open my practice last week due to the historic Texas winter storms.  Do I have to pay my employees even though they didn’t work?  Can they file unemployment?  Help! 

Let’s start with…must you pay them for the time although they didn’t work?  

Keep in mind this is a super simplified explanation.  I am not an employment attorney.  If you have complex questions you should seek advice for your specific situation.

Hourly employees:

If they were able to work a few hours, you must pay them for the hours they worked. If you have a written policy for bad weather days (like paid vacation or paid personal time off, etc.), you must pay them according to that policy. If you have no written policy, you are not required to pay them for any hours they did not work, even if they were willing but could not reach the office or the office was closed.

Salaried non-exempt employees:

They may use paid leave according to the leave policy you have in place. Or they may choose to have their pay docked instead of using their paid time off. [Note: you must always get written authorization from the employee before deducting any monetary amounts from his/her pay.]

Now…could you pay them for the time they didn’t work even though it’s not in your policy? 

Certainly. Call it goodwill and bank it! Or allow employees to use their PTO balances even if that’s not your policy.  

As for whether you should pay them for the closure if you’re not required?

The decision to pay your employees that couldn’t work is one you will have to make personally. Remember, they’re going to be hurting from the lack of income just like you are. Hopefully, you can find a balance that will benefit your practice and your team. Just make sure whatever you decide, you apply it to the entire team. Don’t pay one for the time and not others. Being selective will likely turn into a problem down the road.

Can they file for unemployment if I don’t pay them for the time they didn’t work?

According to the Texas Workforce Commission website, because a disaster has been declared, there is an option for your employees to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DAU).  The eligibility period begins 2/14/2021 and ends whenever the practice reopened.  However, just because it is available, does not necessarily mean it will be approved.  There are many variables that ultimately play into final approval by TWC.  The TWC is still overwhelmed because of the pandemic.  That definitely won’t make the process quick.  But the employees should at least apply and attempt to receive the assistance.  And they should do so as soon as possible.

Preparing For The Next Pandemic

Preparing for the next pandemic, sound scary, right? We would probably all prefer to forget about 2020! But as hard as it was, it taught us that you can never be too prepared for the unexpected. 

In this episode of Beyond Bitewings, the Edwards & Associates team discusses what dental practice owners can do to prepare themselves for the next catastrophe. The next significant event may not be a pandemic. It could be something much more local, like a flood. No matter how large or small, it’s important that you have the resources and capabilities to handle it.

How much cash should you have on hand? Are there opportunities to cut costs, and how aggressive should you be with those cuts? What are other areas you should analyze when trying to plan for a significant event? These are just some of the questions answered in this podcast so you can be preparing for the next pandemic.

Have a question? Contact Edwards & Associates to get your question answered and possibly featured in a future podcast. Or contact any excellent ADCPA affiliate across the nation at



Full transcript.

Beyond Bitewings: How To Hire the Right Dental Staff

“I have to hire dental staff.” Hiring can be a challenging event for any dental office, and it may sometimes feel like a hit or a miss when it comes to finding the right staff. However, it doesn’t have to be such a burden or a guessing game.

In this episode of Beyond Bitewings, the Edwards & Associates team welcomes Linda Allen, a Management Consultant for dental practices across the nation. Linda focuses on helping dental offices hire the right dental staff and guides them in creating atmospheres and opportunities to help keep those valuable team members onboard.

Linda discusses the current challenges with staffing for dental offices in addition to specific issues that have arisen because of COVID. She also talks about what to look for in potential staff members to make the absolute best hire.

This episode features discussion on topics like developing great interview questions, the importance of a working interview, understanding how to lead a team, plus so much more. If you’re looking for ways to hire smarter and build a better team, this is the episode for you.

Have a question? Contact Edwards & Associates to get your question answered and possibly featured in a future podcast. Or contact an ADCPA affiliate at



Download the full transcript.

ADCPA Study Club Events

11/17/2020 9:31:17 AM

ADCPA Study Club Events

ADCPA to Co-present Dental Study Club Events:

As an ADCPA member, we have partnered with Dental Consultant Gary Takacs for a series of 6 virtual, continuing education opportunities, the ADCPA Study Club Events are for ADCPA clients and non-ADCPA clients and their teams. 

ADCPA ( is a world-renowned academy of accountants and its mission is to enhance its members’ expertise through the sharing of knowledge and resources to provide progressive consulting, accounting, and tax services to dental professionals.

The ADCPA has continuously strived to deliver the best learning opportunities to dentists around the world because we want our clients to succeed. In this respect, we have partnered with Gary to present a series of 6 continuing education virtual study club events. Study Club events will begin November 17, 2020, and will continue every other month thereafter.

These study clubs will be cover a wide range of topics necessary for success in today’s challenging dental environment and we are inviting you to attend at no cost.

Upcoming Topics and Dates:

  • Study Club #1: How to Successfully Reduce Insurance Dependence in Your Practice

Date: Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

  • Study Club #2: Mastering Dental Marketing & Learning to Influence

Date: Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

  • Study Club #3: 10 Elements of a Thriving Practice

Date: Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

  • Study Club #4: 24 Systems of a Thriving Dental Practice

Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

  • Study Club #5: New Patient Experience & 6 Digital Photos

Date: Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

  • Study Club #6: 5 Tips to Master Scheduling

Date: Tuesday, Sep 14th, 2021

More Information:

These events will have two time-slots, Eastern: 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM (Central 5.00 PM to 7.00 PM) and Pacific: 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM (Central 8.00 PM to 10.00 PM) because we want to make this most convenient for you.

The material being presented in these study clubs was developed from Gary’s years of experience growing his own co-owned dental practice and helping dental offices achieve peak levels of performance.

These study clubs are filled with practical information that you and your team members can immediately use to strengthen and enhance your practice.

How To Register For The Study Clubs Series:

Starting with January’s event, we will email you the details of each study club one month ahead so you and your team can register for each event individually. You and your team are invited to all of these sessions but for CE reasons we require you to register for each event separately.

Each study club will be presented for 2 hours each and you will be able to earn 2 hours worth of CE Credits for attending the event in full.

The topics will cover step by step instructions to achieve the goals of each topic. There will also be a 30-minute Q&A session with 3 ADCPA members at the end of each study club.

How to Join:

Here are the links to register for the very first study club session on November 17th:

Eastern: 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM (Central 5.00 PM to 7.00 PM) – (Link no longer active)

 Pacific: 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM (Central 8.00 PM to 10.00 PM) – (Link no longer active)

We are excited about Gary hosting these virtual study clubs with the ADCPA as a means of thanking our local dental community for their support.

This series will be an excellent CE event and we look forward to seeing you and your team members in attendance. Finally, if you are a specialist, you can invite up to 3 additional referral sources to join these scheduled series.

How To Take Control of Your Practice

09/21/2020 09:32:51

Taking Control of Your Practice

Are you looking for a little more control over your practice but don’t have tons of extra time to make it happen? What if we told you it only takes 15 to 20 minutes each morning to take control of your practice? Our favorite practice management consultant, Dr. Sharon Tiger, explains how in this blog brought to you by our friends at Surety Dental Solutions.



We’ve been busy!

07/09/2020 06:00:00 AM

Have you been missing us? No worries, we’re still here and we’ve been busy! Not only are we preparing mountains of tax returns while still keeping up with all things related to Covid-19, we’ve been participating in conversations about reopening dental practices and practice management in general. Check out the latest blog brought to you by our friends at Surety Dental Solutions, written by our favorite practice management consultant, Dr. Sharon Tiger. Also listen to the latest edition of The Art of Dental Finance Podcast with Art Wiederman featuring both Sharon and Robert. You won’t be sorry you tuned in! 

Private Equity Dental Practices: A Cautionary Tale

5/21/2020 2:24PM

The previous “big thing” before COVID-19 was the unprecedented number of Private Equity groups buying dental practices. The appeal is no surprise. The partnership will allow you to focus only on dentistry. After all, they have lots of business experience and your degree is in dentistry. Just think of it! No more managing staff. No more researching the best lab or taking out expensive loans for equipment. No more gathering financial data or answering directly to your CPA. 😉 Or maybe it allows you to get out of dentistry entirely. The pros are obvious—less responsibility and a big payout.

Not so long ago, only bigger multi-location practices were in the sight line of Private Equity groups. But now they’re finding ways to roll up several single-location practices into a desirable portfolio. And why is PE so interested in dental practices that they’re finding more creative ways of doing deals? Well it’s simple…dental offices are profitable and lucrative. And PE wants a piece of that pie.   

Those of us serving the consulting and financial needs of the dental industry see the trend very clearly. It’s going the way of the medical profession, where you now find very few privately owned practices. But owning a dental practice is about more than just doing dentistry and more than just making a living. Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you want to determine the direction of your practice—its personality and quality level? Do you want to keep your profits or share those profits with investors? And most importantly, do you want to be told how to care for your patients? Private Equity gives lots of assurances of not directing how your practice will provide dental care, but that often is a bait and switch job

Bloomberg had a good article this month about the effect of Private Equity on the medical field.

bloomberg businessweek

This is one of many tales we’ve heard of the affect non-medical owners have on practices. It’s not a paranoid perspective, but what has been demonstrated time and again. We’re not here to lecture you about the evils of Private Equity owners. And when you’re offered that big payout, we understand you have to think about your family and your financial needs. But we do want you to go into any transaction with your eyes wide open to all matters under consideration, which include more than total dollars. 

  • Will I really continue to be in control of my dental care decisions?
  • What long term effect will this have on my industry? On my colleagues? On future dentists? On my child that planned to follow me into this field?
  • Could a private dental buyer give me a competitive offer as an alternative? 
  • Could I bring in a partner to relieve some administrative burdens?
  • What future revenue will I forfeit by doing this deal?

It’s a seller’s market right now. Both Private Equity groups and individual buyers are looking for valuable practices. Younger dentists are searching for practices that will afford them the entrepreneurial opportunity you’ve had, and they’re motivated to compete against big players in the industry. And lenders are willing to make the loans to help them. Our point in all this? Your decision whether to sell to Private Equity will affect far beyond yourself. 


Authored by Evan Reynolds, President of Dental Space Advisors

How To $AVE BIG DOLLARS When You Renew Your Office Lease

Most dental professionals are searching for ways to cut their overhead cost, however, many largely ignore the valuable opportunity to materially reduce one of their largest operational costs. This opportunity comes in the form of an office lease renewal which usually only comes around every five or ten years. Most dentists wait until there are only a few months or even weeks left on their lease to start discussions regarding lease renewal terms. This procrastination results in the landlord possessing all of the advantage as they know you have no intention of going anywhere else. The building owner will usually offer the busy dentist a “preferred renewal rate” and that generally ends the negotiations. The dentist never really had a chance in this one-sided scenario however it is very common for the vast majority of dental tenants. The biggest problem is that most dentists do exactly the opposite of what they should do when they are renewing their lease and in the process forego significant savings. A dentist that leases 2,000 square feet can easily forfeit $20,000 to $40,000 over the term of a typical dental lease by failing to effectively negotiate their lease renewal.

The key objective for a building owner is to maximize rental income and your goal is to minimize rental cost as much as reasonably possible. So how do you go about effectively negotiating your lease renewal? The short answer is that you approach it as if you were absolutely going to move your practice to a new location. It is important that you convince the landlord that you have serious, viable relocation alternatives and that there is a real possibility that you will move. Every communication with the landlord must reinforce the premise that you are diligently evaluating the alternatives in the market. This may include relocating to a new lease space or perhaps purchasing an office condominium. The landlord needs to know as early as possible that you are considering other options and that they have something to lose. It is often costly for a landlord to re-lease a space as it much more preferable to renew an existing tenant. They will have a vacancy for a period of time after you leave and will have to spend money on refurbishment and leasing commissions.

The objective is to maximize your negotiating leverage and this can be a challenge for most dental tenants. Dentists are at a huge disadvantage in the world of commercial real estate. They often have to sink large dollars into their space for build-out and are usually hesitant to move due to potential patient confusion (not to mention the hassle of moving itself). The building owner views a dental tenant as being largely captive. They are aware of the tendency for dentists to stay where they are for long periods of time. The average dental tenant stays in one location for about 18 years.

You may think that this strategy requires too much time and effort, however, you should hire a commercial real estate broker (at least nine months prior to lease expiration) that specializes in working with dental tenants to manage the process and lead negotiations. Very little of your time is required if the process is managed appropriately by an experienced broker. The best part is that the broker exclusively represents your interests and is paid by the building owner. Landlords much prefer to negotiate directly with the tenant and might discourage you from having representation. The fact is that your broker’s commission is a small fraction of the overall savings that can be generated by effective representation (the landlord’s broker typically gets a greater fee if the tenant does not haverepresentation). Hiring a broker also reinforces the idea to the building owner that you are serious about evaluating other alternatives.

In addition to the cost savings that can be captured during a lease renewal, there are other aspects of your lease that can be improved. You can potentially eliminate a personal guarantee that was required in the original lease (important when selling a practice), get your security deposit refunded or change other terms of the lease that need improvement.

Effectively negotiating the renewal of your lease can save you significant dollars and the opportunity only comes around a few times during your career. Make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity and put more money in your pocket instead of the building owner.

Cover Your Assets Part II: Know the signs

Almost 1 out of 6 dentists have been, will be or are being embezzled.

In a recent post we outlined the profile of a typical embezzler and were troubled to discover they often look like model employees. So if embezzlement is a big risk but you can’t spot an embezzler by appearance, how do you know it’s happening? Fortunately even expert criminals leave red flags to help bring a problem to your attention. Some things to look for:

Increase in: Decrease in:
·        Accounts Receivable ·        Collections
·        Patient adjustments ·        Job performances
·        Bad debt write-offs Also look for:
·        Refunds ·        Employee lifestyle changes
·        Overhead ·        Disorganized books

One major area of concern is Cash Receipts. Here the crafty embezzler can find many ways to siphon cash from your practice to her hand. One way is called “lapping.” In this method:

Patient A owes $400—pays $400—staff embezzles $400

Patient B owes $400—pays $400—payment is credited to Patient A

Patient C owes $500—pays $500–$400 is credited to Patient B; staff embezzles $100

At this point the accounts for Patients A and B look great. Patient C’s account shows he hasn’t paid but unless he receives a past due statement, he’s in the dark. The embezzler avoids that problem by continuing to post payments just in time to avoid past due balances and continues to drain a bit off the top when convenient. But your A/R will continue to rise. And you will often find patient accounts with incorrect balances—they just come to your attention in various ways. You may chalk it up to mistakes that happen from imperfect employees. But continued “mistakes” can be a big indicator of things more nefarious.

Be sure it’s standard practice that the patient receives a receipt at check-out, with account balance details if possible. These days, customers are often asked if they want their receipt and frequently decline. Don’t allow that. Just the fact that the staff member knows someone is seeing the posting helps deter them. Print out your Day-Sheet daily and keep them in a secure location only accessible by you. These should be reconciled to your appointment book and to your daily receipts. Checks should be electronically deposited daily. Cash should be taken to the bank daily or secured in some way. Credit cards should be batched out daily. The longer the delay in any of these tasks, the more opportunity there is for manipulation.

Just some key procedural steps and a little vigilance cuts down on key opportunities for theft—theft of your family’s income. Your practice is important in your life—be watchful of it! – Lynn Ledbetter

Help Wanted: Things to Consider When Hiring an Associate

When you think you are ready to hire an associate, consider why you think you need one.  Are you just too busy?  If so, is it because your systems are a mess, or do you really have too many patients for one doctor? A good problem to have!  And at what point are you in your career?  We have some clients who need associates but the owner dentist is too young to consider an associate for a possible buy-in scenario.  In that case, you have to be sure you don’t recruit an associate with ownership aspirations.  What else should you consider?

  • Make sure you have enough patients to support a second dentist. How many patients should that be?  Most practices should be seeing 30 to 45 new patients per month.  According to industry sources, 85% of those should accept treatment.  No associate wants to just do the procedures that you don’t want to work on.  So, consider the associate will see the new patients.  Then you will need to attract at the very least, 30 new patients per month for the associate to have an opportunity to produce over $10,000.  Any less than that and you are risking patient relationships by being too aggressive with treatment.
  • Take a look at your systems. Make sure the reason you are busy is because of the patients, not your systems.  Take a step back and really look at those systems.  Better yet, hire a consultant to take an objective view of the practice.  Sure, it’s expensive.  But it’s the best investment you will make in your practice.
  • Be realistic. Do you have the space necessary to support another dentist and the related staff that comes along with bringing on an associate.  Right away you will need another chairside assistant.  Eventually, you are going to add front desk and hygiene personnel to support the increase in patient flow.

Keep in mind, again according to industry sources, that 80%, that’s 4 out of every 5, associateships or dental partnerships don’t work out.  Why most of them fail is due to expectations that didn’t correlate between the dentists or weren’t communicated during the search for the associate.  Be transparent.  Go overboard.  Meet, build a relationship.  Take the candidate to dinner, lunch or better yet some sporting event where you have a captured audience for several hours and can talk, talk and talk some more to get to know each other.  Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight.  You have to start before you really need someone, but you can see it coming.  Or if you are too close to the operations to see the details, ask us for our opinion.  We work with several hundred dentists and have seen many situations with associates over the last 15+ years. – Robert Edwards

Cover Your Assets: Your most vulnerable asset and how to stay alert

Your assets.

There is much focus today in the “small business owner” arena on protecting assets. What are the assets of a dental practice? There are lots! In fact dental offices are asset heavy as small businesses go. You’ve got your dental chairs, your x-ray machines, numerous hand tools, televisions, and computers, boxes of gauze and rubber gloves as well as oodles of other supplies, and the list goes on. If you operated a Best Buy, your inventory would be most at risk, which is why there are security detectors and staff stationed at the doors. But your patients and staff are not likely to walk out with either your dental chairs or your latex gloves. And why not? Well the big stuff would be tough to sneak out and there’s not a lot of money to be made on reselling gloves. So what do you have at risk?

Your CASH!

Not physical cash in most cases because that is going the way of the dinosaur. But funds from your bank account, your credit card, even from your patients and insurance providers. It should start becoming clear who is most able to perpetrate these crimes…your administrative staff. “Not my staff!” you say. You treat them well, sometimes like family. They’re loyal to you, surely. And besides, you know what a thief looks like. They act shady, wear black, probably don’t shower. Your staff are professionals, often moms and grandmothers, and they do their jobs really well.

Yep…they’re the very ones. It’s like a dagger in your heart!

The embezzler.

So what does an embezzler actually look like? Unfortunately they look like the model employee. They typically:

  • Arrive at work early and stay late
  • Are extremely well-liked by other staff and patients
  • Are one of the “family”
  • Never take vacations
  • Insist on handling everything him/herself

Almost 1 out of 6 dentists have been, will be or are being embezzled. We’ll be providing more information and tools you can implement to safeguard your practice in future blogs. Our advice for the moment: BE ALERT. Most dentists are just too busy or too content to notice the leak in their practice. If you suspect employee theft, don’t brush it off to paranoia. Those red flags may mean something.