by Christopher Piehler

In a recent survey conducted by the Medical Practice Monitor, the majority of dentists said that they would like to improve their skills at running the business side of their practice. (For more results of this survey, see page 10 in our new, consolidated news section, Newsbites.)

Yearning to boost your earnings is a start, but the real challenge is figuring out what specific steps you can take to create more profits without sacrificing the quality of your care, or surrendering free time that you’d rather spend on the golf course or with your family.

Despite what get-rich-quick books or motivational speakers might tell you, there is no magic bullet for building a more profitable small business. There are few fundamental ideas to live by, though, and one of the most important ones is to develop the strongest possible relationship with your customers.

Again, there are any number of ways to do this. For example, the subject of this month’s cover profile (page 14), Michelle Fogg Neal, DDS, goes beyond the usual rewards-for-patient-compliance formula. She gives generously to various local charities, and she also offers her patients the option to cash in the “funny money” they earn from her practice and donate it to a good cause.  This is responsible citizenship and smart business, because giving to those in need makes the patients feel proud of themselves and their orthodontist, creating positive word of mouth in the community.

Speaking of which, this issue marks the debut of our new Word of Mouth section (page 50), which will feature guest editorials by prominent members of the orthodontic community. This month, Al Atta, DDS, MSD, MBA, recounts how getting an MBA on top of his orthodontic education has helped make his office more efficient and his life more fulfilling.  

Thanks for reading, and I hope that your increased profits will be matched by the satisfaction you find in earning them.