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What you need to know about Google AdWords

We’re sure we don’t need to tell you how important Google is in this Internet-savvy day and age. Need to know the weather predictions for your upcoming vacation? Google it. Need to check your lottery numbers? Google it. The same thing goes for prospective patients when they are searching for a dentist.

With a total of 4 billion average searches a day (StatisticBrain.com), Google is the most widely known search engine, and it produces the fastest results when a user types in a keyword. An organic online presence with Google can take years to build, but Google offers an advertising program that will allow your practice to show on the first page for specified keywords, and this could be set up in a short amount of time.

Of course, Google doesn’t give this advertising space for free. Google charges per click, meaning that you don’t get charged until a viewer actually clicks on your ad and visits your website. The cost-per-click depends on the competition in your area, as well as the relevance of your selected keywords with the content in your website.

Here are the steps to take when setting up a Google Advertising campaign:

1. Set up a campaign with Google Adwords and customize the settings that are best for your practice, and of course for your budget. This is the first step in controlling who sees your ads and how often the ads will show. You will also have the option to set a budget per day and the maximum you are willing to pay per click.

2. Create an ad that will entice viewers to visit your website, and eventually to visit your dental office. Usually a strong call-of-action such as “Call Now!” or “Make An Appointment Today!” will be beneficial in writing your ad.

3. Choose keywords that will trigger your Google ad to show. Try to choose keywords with the most relevance to your practice. To limit unnecessary clicks, it is a good idea to include the city name in the keywords. Most patients won’t drive over 10 miles to visit their dentist.

4. Monitor and test you campaign regularly. It’s always a good idea to improve your AdWords campaign and update your knowledge of Google’s latest suggestions by viewing tips from Google’s support.

“Google Annual Search Statistics.” Statistic Brain. Statistic Brain, 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2012.

Solution21, Inc. is in no way affiliated or endorsed by Google Inc.

 

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Visualize Your Professional Network

LinkedIn’s Growing Importance for Dental Professionals

For me, at first it was difficult to see the value of accepting the barrage of LinkedIn invitations via email.  When considering the utility of social networks, the vast majority of dentists are taking advantage of Facebook to grow and market to local communities.  It’s of course become clear that LinkeIn is a fundamentally different tool, with different advantages, that needs a completely different strategy.  Most people tend to start with a very limited profile and slowly add more personal information once they see the value in growing their professional network.

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Implement Spot Awards in your practice

Developing Logical Leadership: Tips to Implement "Spot Awards" in your Practice

Most leaders appreciate the value of encouraging the hearts of their employees. Companies and business owners adopt a variety of recognition tools. In this article we discuss the values of a technique called Spot Awards and explore how they should be used, how they are often misused and how unlikely it is that they are abused by the employees.

The concept of a Spot Award is to recognize, on-the-spot, a commendable behavior of an employee. The recognition is usually in the form of a token gift, say a small gift card. Many businesses adopt this practice, but most businesses restrict its implementation in one of two ways that significantly diminishes its value. They either restrict who can make the awards (usually managers) or they require that the awards be recommended to an approver who then approves the award, taking away the value of the empowerment inherent in the concept.

So, here is our recommendation of how Spot Awards might be implemented. Determine a nominal value and form of the award. We have traditionally used $50 gift certificates available at the desk of some administrative person. Announce that “any employee can make a Spot Award to any other employee, at any time, for any reason.” Impose just two simple requirements of transparency and immediacy. Transparency can be achieved by asking the person recognizing the employee to provide a quotation to be published in your practice newsletter or posted in an appropriate place in your office when they collect the award from the administrative person. Immediacy requires that the recognition be on-the-spot, presented to the recipient publicly, allowing all in the vicinity to celebrate.

Will employees abuse such privilege? Our experience points to the contrary. In fact, the transparency of the award causes employees to take that responsibility quite seriously. Most employees wish to demonstrate such high standards that they are reluctant to award it for anything but the very extraordinary. After all, they observe, “my name is going to be posted publicly as having made the award!”

An award encourages the hearts of three different parties: The onlookers who feel encouraged by a good deed recognized; the recipient who is obviously pleased by the recognition; but, most importantly, and often of most value, is the pride of the person doing the recognition. Empowered to give the award, the recognizer stands tall in recognizing the employee. This last and most useful value is lost when approvals and authorizations by management is imposed.

Even if abuse were to occur, what is the cost? An occasional frivolous award costs very little. And should there be any pre-meditated collusionary awards, you have a far bigger problem with those employees than the cost of those awards.

 

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The Employee Handbook

The legal and human resources community continues to promote the virtues of written company policies to a community of unenthusiastic and reluctant small business decision-makers. Small employers could see themselves operating “under the radar,” but the threat of litigation may be the “tipping point” motivation for many small business decision-makers to publish and distribute written polices. The statistics from the states’ civil/human rights agencies, EEOC and even courts, overwhelmingly favor the employer. The results indicate that a small business is unlikely to have a discrimination charge filed against it, much less go to court.

However, the small business decision-maker can be bound by not only what’s in writing but also by his or her spoken word or actions. The employer’s past practices may be enough to hold the decision-maker accountable. According to statistics and legal interpretation, the small business decision-makers will more likely meet their needs and desires to maintain control and stay out of court with, rather than without, well written employee handbook language.

The Literal and Permissive Approach May Be a Flight to Safety

The dilemma for the decision-maker and their legal counsel is that once the necessity of the handbook is agreed upon, how should the language read in order to provide the flexibility and control desired along with the legally defensible protection? Assume that the outsider, judges, juries, state and federal agencies, suspicious of the decision-makers’ motives, will take handbook language as literal. Audit the handbook language from a literal perspective. Any promises made must be kept. Consider permissive language rather than mandatory. It “may” be done rather than it “shall” be done. “A pattern of excessive tardiness ‘could’ lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination” is much more manageable language than “being late to work ‘will’ result in termination.”

A practical real life example is the policy of granting two weeks vacation to all new employees. This looks reasonable on paper. But what happens when a top candidate for a job, an applicant that would be considered an “A” player by the decision-maker, comes to the interview with twenty years experience and wants four weeks of vacation? The decision-maker either violates the handbook policy or turns the prospective employee away. Few employers are going to fail to benefit from hiring an “A” player for two additional weeks vacation. Instead consider writing the vacation policy from a “permissive” methodology to indicate that new employees will start at a “minimum” of two weeks.

But What About Treating Everyone the Same?

For the small business decision-maker, treating the employee with great results, outstanding performance or exemplary behavior the same as the employee with mediocre results sends the wrong message. The mandate from Title VII and the EEOC is not that everyone be treated consistently but that the differentiation not be based on age, sex, race, or any other legally protected characteristic. Equal opportunity does not necessitate equal treatment.

Turn Down the Volume and Simplify the Language

At the very least, handbook language should do no harm. At the very best, the language should inspire new employees, support management at all levels in daily operations, eliminate confusion, ward off lawsuits and provide legal counsel with solid defensible documentation that will stand up to potential legal challenges. Given that a particular jurisdiction may take a contractual interpretation of any handbook language, safety lies in writing simple, permissive policy versus voluminous mandatory procedure. Well-written handbook language can provide the perfect balance of desired decision-maker control, defensible legal context and needed communication to employees.

Disclaimer: This document is intended to help readers consider various issues associated with employment practices and handbook language in the workplace. The author is not engaged in rendering legal advice or professional legal services and no attorney client relationship is created. Anyone who creates company policy with (or without) the use of this document should consult with qualified legal counsel before relying on it. The law is rapidly changing and may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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99% of Dentists Are Paying Too Much

99% of Dentists are Paying Too Much

Top Mistakes Practices Make Using Visa/MasterCard
  1. NEVER Go Through Your Bank.
    – Banks make a 20-25% profit.

    Although you may have been with your bank for years, it doesn’t mean they’re going to give you great rates. Banks know that people who walk in and ask for credit card processing did not go anywhere else first. Small to medium sized banks will generally outsource their processing to an independent sales organization and will have little to no control over the rates. Larger banks will handle their own processing and will charge whatever they want. This is a huge revenue source for banks; their average profit margin is about 20-25%.

  2.   “Rate Game” – Lowest Rate Always Wins…Right?
    – “Low discount rate” and “less expensive” are not the same thing.

    For many Merchants, selecting a credit card processor is easy. Just call every processor in the yellow pages. Whoever quotes the lowest rate wins. Right? WRONG!!!

    Strange as it may sound, “low discount rate” and “less expensive” are not only NOT the same, but are in fact usually exact opposites, at least in the Credit Card Processing business. How can this be? Because there are many things you should compare between competing credit card processing proposals besides just the rate.

    If you don’t know the answers to ALL of these questions, then you have no idea if the credit card processing program you are considering is well priced or not:

  3. Overpaying For Equipment
    – Credit Card Equipment comes in many forms: Terminals, Printers, Pin Pads, Software, Check Readers, and Scanners. Only purchase what you need.

    Credit card processing equipment includes terminals, printers, pin pads, software, check readers and scanners. What kind of business you are as well as how you will conduct business determines what kind and what combination of equipment will best suit your business.

    Don’t necessarily buy whatever the salesperson offers you. Ask questions! Buy what YOU need, not what the salesperson wants to sell you. Learn more about the things you need to know when obtaining credit card machines.

    LEASE, RENT or PURCHASE?

    There is a world of difference between leasing and renting. Make sure you understand the differences before you sign the lease.

    Is the device CERTIFIED?

    There are dozens of credit card terminal models and manufacturers out there. Not all are certified on every network. So if you make the mistake of getting hardware that is not certified on the network you are processing over, you have no assurance everything will go smoothly. More importantly, when you run into a problem after business hours, on weekends, or during the busy season, the 24/7 network help desk will be unable to help you out, thus effectively putting the Merchant out of business until the manufacturer’s 9 to 5 Monday through Friday support people return to their desks. For this reason, obtaining non-certified hardware can be a very costly error.

    Is the processing device PROPRIETARY or GENERIC?

    Proprietary hardware is a dirty little industry trick played by a few disreputable credit card services providers. Proprietary terminals are rigged to make sure the unsuspecting owner never switches processors even if he wants to, since it’s either impossible or outrageously expensive to re-program on any other processing network. It also ensures that the sales rep gets another machine sale if the merchant ever sells his business, since the new owner can’t re-program the proprietary device. My recommendation is to stick with the mainstream names in the credit card terminal industry, Verifone and Hypercom, to avoid getting stuck with useless proprietary hardware.

    Should I consider NEW or USED/REFURBISHED processing devices?

    There is money to be saved with used, preferably refurnished, credit card processing machinery provided it is reasonably state-of-the-art. The caveat here is that out-of-date equipment may not support security compliant software which, depending on your processing habits, will result in certain transactions downgrading to higher rates.

    Other land mines include buying broken or on-the-verge-of dying hardware, and purchasing stolen terminals; this includes rented and leased hardware that was supposed to be returned to the lessor or rentor but wasn’t. If the network matches up the serial number on the ‘hot’ list, they rightfully will refuse to program it and the buyer will be the proud owner of a very expensive paperweight. Cases such as this are not uncommon on eBay and other similar sources, so your best bet is to deal new or used only from reputable well known sources.

    Should I consider PERIPHERAL devices such as pin pads, check readers and so on? If so, what about compatibility issues?

    Before you decide on a particular credit card terminal, you need to carefully consider whether your business will benefit from the addition of peripheral equipment that connects to your terminal such as pin pads for debit processing, imagers or scanners for check guarantee or conversion, and so on. This is because there are compatibility issues between individual separate peripherals and you could easily find out the terminal you own doesn’t support the add-on equipment you need in the future.

    Where are the best prices on processing equipment found? From the processor or from another source?

    Purchasing credit card processing terminals wholesale, or at least less than full retail, is the way to go for obvious reasons. This is not possible when you deal with a middleman in the pricing equation such as your processor or bank because they pay wholesale and therefore must extract a mark-up out of your pocket in order to realize a profit.

    Fortunately, there are many wholesale sources for excellent processing machines out there, including wireless credit card acceptance equipment if you know where to look. There is also a vast supply of perfectly good used or refurbished hardware on the market if you know where to find it. Don’t expect your processor or bank to cut their own throats by helping you pinpoint these bargains. They are in the business of MAKING a profit for themselves, not giving it away to others.

  4.  FREE Equipment Scams…………..
    – Higher fees and hidden charges usually take care of the equipment costs.

    Let’s get the obvious over with right away. Deep down, we all know that nobody really gives away anything for free, that magical word that copywriters and salespeople love so much. Yet, human nature being what it is, we can’t seem to ignore a perceived bargain, and salespeople, including credit card merchant service sales reps know it.So these days, every processor has gotten on the free equipment bandwagon, hoping free credit card machines will attract new Merchants.Before you are enticed by similar deal, do your research first!

  5. Incomplete Processing Packages
    – Finding out about fees and contractual obligations after you have signed.

    When a merchant who shops for credit card processing services strictly on the basis of price alone — the cheapest rates, the cheapest credit card terminal or printer, the cheapest lease payment — he almost always finds out, after the contract is signed and it’s too late to do anything about it of course, that the way the processor was able to sell his service for less was by cutting a corner or two and leaving out important and possibly essential services. In the long run, these omissions cost the merchant dearly in terms of lost business and profit.

    • Overcharge on Signature Debit. Did you know Signature Debit cards (aka Check Cards) should cost the Merchant less processing cost than a regular credit card? That’s because Interchange, the processor wholesale cost, for Signature Debit is much lower than for straight credit. But lots of processors don’t pass the savings on to their Merchants and just pocket the change for themselves.
    • Overcharge on Downgrades. We’ve discussed at length about how Interchange downgrades certain types of transactions, resulting in higher percentage fees for the Merchant. But not all processors religiously interpret Interchange accurately for the benefit of the Merchant. Interchange only applies to the surcharge levied by the Card Associations to the processor, not to the merchant; the processor is free to pass this surcharge onto the Merchant as he or she sees fit. So what processor ‘A’ might call ‘Mid-Qualified’, processor ‘B’ might elect to bill the Merchant at the higher ‘Non-Qual’ level and pocket a few extra dollars.
    • Merchant Club fees. Some processors assess “Merchant Club” fees to Merchants, anywhere from $9.95 to $16.95 per month. This ‘club’ entitles the Merchant to free credit card supplies such as paper rolls, ribbons, and so forth. This may be a good deal for very large volume Merchants, but it is a terrible deal for most. Do the math: If your business uses maybe $40 worth of credit card supplies annually, spending anywhere from $120 to $200 annually for $40 worth of ‘free’ supplies is a pretty poor deal.
    • Nickel & Diming You To Death. Some processors charge for things that shouldn’t be charged for at all. Examples might be setup kits, data compliance surveys mandated by Visa and MC, periodic software upgrade fees, help desk fees…the imagination runs no limit. No legitimate processor would charge for any of these items.

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