Have you called your business recently?

Your telephone system provides the first impression to your customer; let’s make it exceptional.

Your telephone is indispensable to the life of your business. Have you called your business recently? If you have not, please do! What did you experience?

Does your phone ring and ring and go to voice mail? Is it answered with “Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed?” Or does a Customer Care Representative answer every call within a ring or two?

Your telephone system provides the first impression to your customer; let’s make it exceptional.

Many times, this critical system is taken for granted. It is a frequently used device to which we don’t give much thought or consideration. Over time, and with the growth of a business, a system can become old and outdated, frustrating customers and your employees trying to provide the best service to them.

You may not notice the “creep” of unanswered calls, too many voice mails, calls being answered by the wrong person, or forwarded to the wrong department. Like a well-designed website, a well-designed telephone system can quickly direct incoming calls to the precise individual who can handle customer requests. Granted, the highest level of service would be a person answering every call within the first two rings and then redirecting the call to the appropriate individual or department. In a busy business, this can be impractical and, many times, inefficient, depending upon the volume of incoming calls.

Plan and customize the “flow” of a telephone call for the clients/patients you serve most.

Our busy, multi-office, multi-doctor practice categorizes calls into the two customers we serve; referring offices and patients. Patient calls are divided into “new patients” and “previous patients.” New patients need appointments fast, and previous patients have questions about treatment and insurance.

Referring doctors’ offices are the most significant source of new referrals to our practice. We designed a custom workflow to speed up the referral process, “referring offices dial 9”. Once the phone tree picks up, they know to “dial 9”. These calls are routed to selected workstations primed to service our referring offices. As a backup, we have private direct dial numbers for referring office staff.

Although not perfect, a well-designed auto attendant can quickly direct calls to the individuals who can best serve their needs. Patient calls are routed depending on if they are “new,” “previous,” or have questions regarding “insurance.” After hours and on weekends, the auto attendant can leave instructions on how patients can contact the doctor on call.

Playing phone tag is a “game” that leads to delays and frustrations on both sides of the telephone.

Most importantly, your telephone system is not a “set it and forget it!” Your menu items and call routing should be constantly evaluated and updated to meet the changing needs of your business to serve your customers better.

Analysis Paralysis…try this Instead

A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”

Analysis Paralysis…

Do you seek additional information constantly when faced with making a choice? Once you have more information, does that satisfy you or create even more questions that now require more information and analysis. Does this cycle ever repeat, causing needless delays, postponements and cancellations? Have you fallen down the rabbit hole of information overload?

If so, you may be suffering from Analysis Paralysis.

The good news is that there is a cure.

It starts by realizing Perfection does not exist. One’s constant search for Perfection in knowledge and information is unattainable; it is a stall tactic.

It may be more Indecisiveness that is preventing you from moving forward.

The Father of Modern Business Management, Peter Drucker, provides the best cure for Analysis Paralysis:

“A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”- but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is provably more nearly right than the other.”

Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

I fall back on that last sentence frequently.

I hope it helps you too!

 

Skip the New Year’s Resolutions and Try this Instead

…the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!

 

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I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions!

There, I said it!

If making New Year’s Resolutions were so effective, we would find ourselves constantly making new ones as we conquered the old ones. Unfortunately, less than 10% of those making New Year’s Resolutions successfully achieve lasting Change; 90% fail. Not very good odds. Not a very good plan to start the New Year.

The problem is that the same things keep recurring on our list of Resolutions; lose weight, spend more time with family and friends, spend less time on our devices, save more, spend less, etc. At times our goals are too vague; other times, they may be specific yet unattainable. Either way, you are set up for failure before you even start.

I suggest a different approach beginning with the fact that there is nothing magical about January 1st.

Consider this, the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!

“The best time to do something significant is between Yesterday and Tomorrow. ”     

Zig Ziglar

Let’s learn from YESTERDAY and PLAN for Tomorrow, but TODAY choose to ACT!

ACTION is the only path to achieving Change.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”           

Dalai Lama XIV

Think, if you had to relive Yesterday, what would you do differently? What time was wasted? What could have been done better? What did Yesterday teach you that you can use to improve your Today? The slightest improvement from Yesterday is a better you Today! Repeat that cycle every day, and over time you will have achieved the Change you desire. You begin Coaching yourself, finding the minor blemishes, flaws, and defects that can be improved over time.

Enjoy the journey; it is with you every day.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

Start small; you will quickly achieve success by doing so, reinforcing your new habit. 

If you are stuck, consider the following:

  • Engage your brain and body every day.
  • Focus and finish what you start.
  • Learn to say “No” more.
  • Be more present when in the company of others.
  • Live Strategically rather than reactively. 
  • Avoid Regret.
  • Make better decisions by studying the outcomes of prior decisions.

What did your Yesterday teach you that you would do differently and improve on Today?

Start NOW!

 

 

Section 179…a Primer for Dentists

To understand how Section 179 reduces your taxes, we must appreciate, in basic terms, how your financial statements work and how they are interrelated; the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement or P&L, and the Statement of Cash Flows.

 

Using advanced functions for calculations in REDCap - ITHS

With year-end approaching, we will soon be turning our attention to holiday celebrations and festivities; Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and Section 179 Deductions!

Suppose you are a small business owner, especially a dentist. In that case, you will be visited by equipment sales professionals, especially at year-end, who tout the incredible tax savings one can accrue by using Section 179. With those two words, “tax deduction,” dentists become easy prey for the dental equipment sales rep and many times make large capital purchases for their tax benefits alone.

Section 179 is a part of the Internal Revenue Tax Code, which allows small businesses to take an accelerated tax write-off in the year of purchase for equipment that would otherwise be depreciated or expensed over time. Most of the equipment in a dental practice qualifies. Under the right conditions, it can be a great tool to reduce your tax liability while improving and upgrading the technology in your practice. Pundits are preaching the benefits of Section 179 as an incentive for Doctors to save on their taxes. Admittedly, there is a time and a place where we would agree; however, there are some Section 179 pitfalls practice owners need to be aware of and consider when making that determination.

Let’s take some time to go down the “rabbit hole” and learn some rules to be aware of when considering Section 179.

Rule 1: Only your Tax Professional knows best.

Section 179 has so many nuances that you need to consult with your Tax Professional before pulling the trigger on this. Projections and planning for your current year as well as future years are critical. Many times it is in the future years where the potential problems with Section 179 become apparent. Only your Accountant knows for sure if electing the Section 179 Deduction is beneficial to you.

Rule 2: Your sales rep is NOT your Tax Professional.

In all the excitement of the year-end sales frenzy, your equipment sales rep will most likely illustrate the maximum one-year “tax savings” for you with a quick spreadsheet calculation. I wish this were that easy, but it’s not. As my Accountant likes to tell me repeatedly, “It depends, David!”

“It depends, David.”

Maurice, my Accountant

Buyer beware; this calculation is an estimate only and should have the disclaimer, “for illustrative purposes only!”

Without a comprehensive understanding of the doctor’s financial situation and tax bracket, an equipment sales rep does not have sufficient information to determine the amount of money a doctor will save. You, as the doctor, must consult with your tax advisor before making a large purchase.

“Knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.”

Richard Feynman

Rule 3: Knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.

It seems at year-end, everyone is talking about “Section 179 Write-Off” or “Section 179 Deduction” or even “accelerated depreciation.” So, just because someone espouses this term does not mean they know or understand it! At this time of year, this is a common question to ask, “Can I use the 179 Write Off?” or “How much more equipment can I buy to save taxes?” So which is it? An expense? A deduction? A Write-off? A depreciation?

How exactly does Section 179 reduce your taxes?

If you don’t know, keep reading.

To understand how Section 179 reduces your taxes, we must appreciate, in basic terms, how your financial statements work and how they are interrelated; the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement or P&L, and the Statement of Cash Flows.

First, Capital Equipment purchases are classified as Assets and appear on your Balance Sheet, avoiding your Income Statement altogether. The Income Statement shows your revenue and all expenses incurred to generate that revenue, not your assets.

Capital Equipment is Expensed in the Income Statement through the process of Depreciation. Depreciation is a complex topic best delegated to your Accountant. As the business owner, you should understand that the Depreciation expense accounts for the loss in economic value, over time, of an asset. This loss is the result of wear and tear, consumption, the effects of time, as well as obsolescence. This Depreciation expense is a NON-Cash expense, as no cash is exchanged here, i.e., no check is written. Think of it as an accounting entry or “adjustment.” Be aware there are several methods Accountants can use to depreciate assets. As a result, it is acceptable to calculate Depreciation for taxes differently from how Depreciation is recorded for accounting purposes.

So, say you purchased that new Cone Beam Scanner for $100,000, and your Accountant recommended a 5-year depreciation schedule to match your 5-year bank loan. Assuming the equipment will be fully depreciated to a book value of zero, your Depreciation would be $20,000 per year.  This $20,000 shows up on your Income Statement as a Depreciation Expense, thus reducing your Net Income by $20,000.

Remember, your Net Income is linked to your Balance Sheet through the Retained Earnings section. The Retained Earnings account enables a cash basis corporation to track the balances of all undistributed Net Income. The essential point is that Income is distributed to shareholders (the dentist) from the Retained Earnings account.

Since most dental Corporations are Pass-Through Entities and not subject to taxation, your $100,000 Cone Beam Scanner, depreciated at $20,000 per year, has effectively reduced your Net Income and, ultimately, your Retained Earnings by the same amount. This $20,000 depreciation expense effectively lowers your Retained Earnings by the same $20,000. With a smaller Retained Earnings account balance, Income distributed to the shareholders would be less too. With less Income, taxes would also be less.

There you have it, your Section 179 Deduction works through your financial statements, ultimately potentially lowering your Income and with it your taxes.

Remember, and the critical point here is your mileage may vary, as may your tax savings. Only your Accountant knows for sure if Section 179 is beneficial to you. 

Rule 4: You should never be in a hurry to buy equipment!

Section 179 is available to you year-round, not just on the closing days of the year. It is not a time-limited offer valid in December only!

There is no special Tax Magic for Section 179 at year-end. The rush and panic are created because to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction; the equipment must be purchased and put into service by December 31! Ideally, it would be best to carefully plan your major capital expenditures throughout the year, not rushing at the last closing moments of the year to get the equipment installed.

So, please feel free to purchase your needed equipment throughout the year, not just in December, and still take advantage of Section 179 Depreciation while enjoying using your new technology.

Rule 5: You get the maximum deduction with or without Section 179.

It is essential to realize that your Accountant will fully depreciate all Capital Equipment. Section 179 does not allow for any additional depreciation. Section 179 takes all the Depreciation in one year, no more, no less: no special magic or secret sauce.

Rule 6: You Still Have to Pay for the Equipment!

Write off, deduction, expensing all sound wonderful, but none of these verbs reduce the cost of your equipment. You must still pay for it.

After celebrating your massive Section 179 year-end deduction that just saved you taxes, you are left with the reality of paying on your banknote for the next five years or so.

You have now completely lost the depreciation expense and deduction on your income statement in future years since you took all of your Depreciation in the year of purchase by electing Section 179. In future years you now have less cash because you are now paying on your debt service. You now have a higher taxable income and the corresponding tax bill that further reduces your cash without deductions! Many call this Section 179 “tax trap.”

Rule 7: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

With all the year-end excitement and frenzy is sounds like a great idea to write everything off, but doing so may not result in all the tax savings claimed. In deciding whether to elect Section 179 or Bonus Depreciation, doctors need to consider expected future earnings. One might want to save some deductions for the future when earnings and taxes could be higher.

As with any tax decision, you cannot look at the current year with blinders on. Before deciding to take the Section179 deduction, it’s vital that you and your Accountant discuss this year’s tax implications and the impact it will have on future years. Ask your Accountant if the refund I get this year is at the expense of next year. Don’t fall for the Section 179 Tax Trap! 

Rule 8: Never buy a tax deduction.

Maximizing and growing your Income is the key to growing your wealth and becoming financially independent. Minimizing taxes at all costs is not a wealth creation strategy. Spending your cash to buy a business tax deduction is not a financially sound plan. Your deduction reduces your taxable Income by the amount of your expense, just like if you were buying something on sale. If your marginal tax rate is 35%, you get everything the practice buys at 35% off. The kicker is, and many forget, you still have to pay for the 65%.

Said another way, would you spend $1000 to save $350? Understand that simple question along with the answer, and you are well on your way to creating wealth.

Remember, Section 179 only accelerates Depreciation; it does not allow any additional write-offs, deductions, or Depreciation.

And finally, never buy a tax deduction. If you need the equipment to provide better care to your patients, then, by all means, purchase it, but buying it solely for its tax deduction is a wealth-destroying strategy.

David Darab DDS MBA

Effective LEADers are Conductors…not One-Man Bands

Effective Leaders are conductors who can empower, nurture, and enable others to perform and contribute at their best.

The musicians are on stage, each one preparing and tuning their instruments for the performance ahead. The cacophony from all the other musicians doing the same sounds nothing like the musical score in front of them. This process continues until the Conductor takes the stage. Soon after, with the baton raised, all are poised to begin. As the Conductor brings the baton down, what was noise is magically transformed into music. As the score progresses each orchestral section is queued into the performance by the Conductors baton.  Never does the Conductor stop, sit down, and begin playing an instrument.

Leaders are not one-man bands.

Effective Leaders are conductors who can empower, nurture, and enable others to perform and contribute at their best. This is best accomplished by allowing all team members to work at the edge of their abilities, constantly expanding their skills, knowledge, and abilities. The effective leader embraces this paradigm by letting go and trusting others. There is no time or place for micro-managing here.

The best businesses are not one-man shows.

Letting others contribute maximally enables an organization to magnify their results, achieving what would have been impossible individually. Amazingly, this isn’t even the best part. By allowing others the freedom and opportunity to learn and contribute together, they too begin to exercise their Leadership muscles.


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What Condition is Your Condition in?

Take care of yourself.  Do what makes you happy and enables you to rest and recharge…

 

As Leaders, we are concerned about so many things…

  • how is our organization doing?
  • are we meeting the needs, wants, and desires of our Stakeholders?
  • is our financial health strong?
  • are my decisions sound?
  • do I need more information or less information?
  • should be doing more, or less?
  • are there opportunities I may have missed?
  • is our strategy solid?
  • are my employees happy in their workplace?
  • am I missing Blind Spots?

One question that is not asked frequently enough is…

How are YOU doing?

Just like the airline flight attendants tell us before every flight…

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

If we don’t put our mask on first, we will very likely not be able to help others that are counting on us.

Remember…

Take care of yourself.  Do what makes you happy and enables you to rest and recharge; exercise, good nutrition, meditation, socializing, time for creative activities are just a few ideas to get you started.

I found this on Spotify…fans of The Big Lebowski may recognize it too!

The Title and Lyric says is well…

“I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in”

The First Edition

So…what condition is YOUR condition in?

 

Going Slow in the Fast Lane

Are we or someone we know Driving Slow in the Fast Lane? Is this slowing others up or hindering their progress?

 

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I drive the interstate frequently during my daily commute.

At times it can become a monotonous and hypnotizing experience. I spend the drive time listening to music, podcasts, books on tape, along with thinking and planning my day. Finally, you look around and realize that you don’t remember all the exits you just passed or how long you were deep in thought. It’s crazy how that happens.

It’s like you are on autopilot.

It must happen to others, too, because I encounter a driver going Slow in the Fast Lane, the passing lane every day. And it’s not just cars; trucks are even worse offenders. How could a tractor-trailer driver think they could go “fast” uphill, in the passing lane, yet never do?

The question is, how do I get back up to speed?

So, this got me thinking, having noticed similar scenarios in business with co-workers and employees. They, too, can end up, somehow, going Slow in the Fast lane, hindering the progress of those around them.

The way I see it, there are three possible solutions to remove this obstacle.

The Selfish Way: speed up, swerve around them and leave them behind. In the workplace, this might show itself as manipulation, micromanaging, drama and gossip.

The Get-Out-of-My-Way Way: ride their bumper, flash your high beams and wait for them to change lanes. Highly critical co-workers who exclude and ignore others are demonstrating a Get-Out-of-My-Way mindset.

The Awareness Way: the individual realizes they are hindering others and either speeds up or switches lanes. At work, this is a growth mindset, open to learning, coaching, changing, and helping others achieve their goals.

Do you recognize any of these individuals or behaviors in your workplace?

Are we or someone we know Driving Slow in the Fast Lane? Is this slowing others up or hindering their progress? Are our actions, unbeknownst to ourselves, preventing others from accelerating in their lanes?

Awareness is the first step; taking action is next.

What is your plan to accelerate your Team?

I am asking for a friend.

What’s on your “Do-Not-Do” list?

The items on the Do-Not-Do list are ACTions as compared to tASKS on a To-Do List.

What, a Do Not Do List?

We are all “list” makers; after all, that is how we get the important things done. We can’t cross something off our list unless it first makes it onto the list. Our typical list would contain “prompts” and “reminders” of what tasks, chores, duties, along with other items, need to be done. Our minds are so jam-packed and overflowing with information that to ensure these important items are completed, they “live” in a special place; Our “To-Do” list.

Looking at the opposite, the flip side of things can often be more powerful and revealing. In this instance, let’s consider the juxtaposed “Do-Not-Do” list.

Do-Not-Do List.

Don’t…

  • procrastinate…others depend on you.
  • delay decisions…remember, ACTion is the hard part.
  • micromanage…let your people work to their full potential.
  • do what others can do better than you…your time can never be recaptured.
  • make things more complex…

    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

  • talk before listening…let others speak; you will be amazed at what they say.
  • put yourself first…because you think you are right does not make it so (HiPPO).
  • spend more than you earn…do this, and you may work for a very long time.
  • solve everyone’s problems…others learn when they solve their problems.
  • break a promise…
    “I Meant what I said and said what I meant.”  Dr. Seuss
  • follow the crowds..rarely are they smarter than you.
  • compare yourself to others…

    “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

  • add more to your To-Do List…more is not better; better is better.
  • Say “Yes” automatically…remember your Do Not Do List (Saying No).
  • Major in the Minor…it’s the little things that are most distracting.
  • strive for being busy…being productive is a better choice.
  • (add yours here…)
  • (and here…)

There you go, my Do-Not-Do list, at least for now. This list is less task-specific, acting more like a “filter” to your To-Do list.

The items on the Do-Not-Do list are ACTions as compared to tASKS on a To-Do List.

With time, as one becomes better, more productive, more accountable, and more goal-orientated many of the items on this list will become habitual and automatic. Just imagine how your focus, productivity, and time management will soar while the distractions that “clog up” your day will disappear.

So…what’s on your Do-Not-Do List?

Dealing with Difficult Employees: Nip it in the bud!

People rise and fall to meet your level of expectations for them.
John C. Maxwell

It’s human nature to avoid what is painful, regardless if the pain is physical, emotional, financial, or even at work.

Do any of these sound familiar in your workplace?

  • tardiness
  • bickering
  • absenteeism
  • micromanaging
  • backstabbing
  • employee turnover
  • rules are not followed
  • you walk on eggshells
  • cliques have formed
  • employees team up against others
  • fingerpointing
  • the workplace is stressful and chaotic
  • you move or reassign a problematic employee
  • you have a Drama
  • Gossip
  • you are held hostage by employees
  • people say one thing yet do another
  • requests are ignored
  • poor morale
  • Finally, things appear to be getting worse rather than better?
If any of the above are present in your workplace, then it is time for ACTion.

People rise and fall to meet your level of expectations for them.
John C. Maxwell

This dysfunction prevents your organization from achieving its goals. Even worse, if left unchecked, it could create a hostile work environment. Your employees know precisely what is going, who the instigator is, and are watching you! You must ACT.

You have two choices.
1. ACT, quell the dysfunction, unit your Team, improve morale and get back on track to serving your clients and achieving your goals.
2. inACTion shouts even louder, demonstrating to everyone your inability to lead, your favoritism and selfishness, and your disregard for your Team and the Clients you serve.

The cure is ACTion!

Without a doubt, managing your workforce and engaging in difficult conversations are some of the most demanding and most challenging tasks a Leader will face.

To begin, set employee expectations and hold everyone accountable. Yes, this is much easier said than done! These are complex tasks, but delaying them magnifies the dysfunction and makes the “cure” even harder.
To make these conversations easier, stick to the facts. The facts are always more precise and fresher in everyone’s mind when current.

Don’t dig up things from the past.

 

Use the following formula:
1. State the employee’s defined job duties, your expectations.
2. Review the employee’s present behavior and the adverse effect it has on the business.
3. Coach the employee on the desired behavior and outcome.
4. Schedule a time to monitor their progress, that’s accountability.

Remember: Attitude Reflects Leadership, always!

Once your Team sees you are taking action and holding people accountable, they will take notice. After all, aligning and motivating your workforce is what an effective Leader does.

I/O- Input to Output- How is Yours?

More is not always better.  Better is better.

 

So, how is your Input to Output.?

If you are like most people today your I to O ratio is magnitudes greater than one.  We receive inputs from so many sources in our connected and web-enabled world.  Sometimes though the inputs are so numerous that we can’t possibly interpret or make sense out of them.

More is not always better.  Better is better.

Somehow we must filter all these inputs so we can produce an output that is valuable to us and what we wish to accomplish.

Stop seeking more and more complexity like a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Seek Quality Inputs rather than Quantity.  This way you have a fighting chance to obtain the Output you desire.

One day you might get more Out than was put In!