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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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9 Top Areas To Address In Your Social Media Policy

I could hardly believe my eyes! I’d read about it, discussed it, reviewed it, even posted about it, but I had never actually seen it… An apparent staff member posting a negative post about their position in their dental office…while at their office!!

Social media is here and whether you are utilizing social media in your practice/business or not, your employees are! It would be great if you could depend on posts being all positive and upbeat, but we know that’s not reality.

You know Social Media and its implications to your business or practice. You know the importance of having some type of Social Media Policy in place for your practice/business, but…. what areas need to be addressed?

The top 9 areas to address in your Social Media Policy:

  1. Policy Statement: This is a generalized statement about participating in social media. Tie it in with your Office Manual and Personal Conduct. Also acknowledge that what’s done on their time is their business. However, certain activities at work or outside work that could affect job
    performance, theirs or another employee’s, or the practice’s interests are a proper focus for policy.
  2. Definitions: Reference the Social Media Channels and Social Media Networks you are referring to in your policy. For example, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, social bookmarking, sharing platforms, etc. Also reference how these might be addressed. For example, internet, mobile, text, email, etc. Also reference Social Media Accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, and any other Social Media Channels.
  3. Objectives: Establish and include guidelines that employees adhere to and why you are initiating the Social Media Policy.
  4. Guiding Principles: Address how you expect employees to use social media at work and outside work. Who can “speak” on behalf of the practice/business. What can and cannot be discussed while at work or on their own time. Assure online activities don’t interfere with job requirements or commitment to patients/clients.
  5. Respectfulness: Keep interaction online (at work or on their time), always careful of what’s posted. For example, don’t say or post anything you wouldn’t want seen on the front page of the local newspaper or want your Grandmother to read!
  6. Disclosure and Transparency: Social media is all about trust and building relationships. Be aware of what you are posting, be honest, and disclose your true identity. Transparency and Authenticity (open and genuine) are the two key elements in Social Media.
  7. Privacy: Address you, the Employers, right to privacy and Employees right to privacy. As such employers and employees have the right to keep personal opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions private and employees are prohibited from violating another employee or their employer’s right to privacy.
  8. Confidentiality: Effectively managing and protecting confidential information is critical. Failure to manage and protect confidential information correctly and what that could result in. ALSO Employees can disagree but external blogs or other online social media channels are not to be used to air employee disagreements. Note: Again, be careful of what’s posted. It’s going to be on the social networks for a long time. If in doubt, don’t post it!!
  9. Penalties: Failure to comply with these Social Media Policies may result in: List what could happen if an employee does not comply. They could include: Warnings, No longer have access to certain information, Disciplinary action, up to and including termination, even Civil or criminal penalties as provided by law (depending on the situation).

Once printed, make copies for each employee. Then have a staff meeting introducing and going over the social media policies of the office. Then have each employee sign that they understand and have received a copy.

This is not an all inclusive list nor do all of these have to be addressed. Your practice or business will determine how involved you need to be with your social media policy.

However, whether your practice is actually using social media should not be the determining factor for whether or not you need a social media policy. The fact that your employees ARE using social media makes having your social media policies in place…critical!

If you have your social media policies in place, what areas did you address not listed here?

***NOTE: This is not meant to be legal advice and I am not an attorney.

 

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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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Facebook Business Page: Do I Really Need It?

One of the questions asked often is:  “I already have a Profile page on Facebook, do I really need a Facebook Business Page?”

That’s sort of like the question (in dentistry) “Do I really need to floss?” You know the answer ….Only the teeth you want to keep!!

Originally, Facebook was only for making connections, not for business, hence PROFILE pages. It was a profile of you, your personal information, likes and dislikes.

Then businesses began to see the power of Facebook and started creating PROFILE pages for their businesses (which is actually against Facebook rules).  So in true Facebook fashion…Facebook started making changes (imagine that!) and created the BUSINESS page portion of Facebook.

Profile pages are very limited as to what can and can’t be done as far as a business is concerned.  The most noticeable being viewers have to wait to be confirmed after sending a “friend request”.

To see how the two differ let’s look at PROFILE -vs- BUSINESS page this way:

Your PROFILE page is really a personal page (and not to be used as a business per FB).  It’s like your home.  If someone comes to your door at home, they knock on your door and have to wait to be let in.

Your BUSINESS page is just that….your Business.  When someone comes to your place of business, they walk right in (during business hours of course). They don’t have to wait to be “confirmed”.  Remember we live in an age of ‘instant gratification’!

With that said, think about people interested in doing business with you having to wait outside until you let them in (PROFILE: waiting for you to confirm their ‘friend request’).

That could sometimes take days.  By that time, you may confirm them, but they may have already found someone else to do business with.  You’ve lost a potential client or patient.

With a BUSINESS page on Facebook, your visitors walk right in as soon as they “Like” you.  The “Like” is just opening your door.  No waiting for you to approve them.  Come to think of it, when did you ever have to wait to be approved before you could enter a store or business to shop or receive services?

We also talk about branding and how important it is to brand our business.  In fact we spend a lot of time…writing posts, uploading pictures, creating videos, posting our bios, responding to viewers…branding our business…to get viewers and potential clients and patients to come to our Facebook page….only to have them….wait while you approve/confirm their friend request!

That’s like finally getting a new prospect to call your office….only to be put on endless hold…and hope they are still on the line when you get back to them!

Why would you want to make a prospective new client or patient wait to see all you have available to them when they don’t have too??  You’ve spent and invested too much time in getting that prospect to your Facebook site to make them wait!

Then if you’ve seen the light and are thinking….”OK, If I create a Business page, will I lose all the people I’ve connected with on my Profile page?” Absolutely not!  You still are connected to them, can market to them, and will point them to your business page.

If you’re comfortable with creating Facebook pages, you can create your own business page (connected to your profile page) or outsource it to a social media specialist.

So in answer to the original question: “…..Do I really need a Facebook Business page?” Answer:  “Only if you’re in business!”

The point is, when you’re in business, you always want to put your best business foot forward. So unlock your doors and be “Open to the public”.  Create your Facebook Business page and let your new prospects… walk right in!

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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals, who want to keep it simple and easy to understand.  Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie:  Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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4 Social Media Myths

Social Networking Icons
Social media is the buzz word in marketing. You can be watching TV, eating in a restaurant, or on your computer and you will see or hear some mention of a social networking site. It may be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, or another of the many social platforms.

Whether you are on the social networks or not, you’ve even come to recognize their logos. Social media has become a way of life and a powerful marketing avenue for businesses.

But as powerful a source as social media presents, there are some business owners who still aren’t utilizing this incredible opportunity to grow their business sighting one or more of these 4 myths:

Myth #1: It’s Just A Fad

Social media is still in its infant stages, however, it’s already proven its value and is definitely here to stay! Facebook just announced they have over 500 million active viewers who spend over 500 million minutes per day on Facebook alone.

Traditional advertising, newspaper ads, telephone ads, and direct mailers are static in nature. They are usually advertisements about your services. Once the printed piece is presented there is no opportunity for connecting with and engaging the viewer and answering their concerns.

Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs allow you to connect and engage your viewers with one on one conversation or group conversations.
What does this mean for you: More potential new patients and more treatment acceptance.

Do you know anyone who likes…really likes…going to the dentists? I don’t and I’ve been in it for almost 30 years. But one of the most amazing facets of social media is the ability to become real, not just an advertisement or a picture in a telephone ad…you become real!

Your viewers get to see their dentist as a real person, your personality, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, even your ups and your downs… you’re real…you’re human. You also have become their “go to” person in your field of expertise.

Viewers are reading your posts, learning more about dentistry, finding out why they should visit a dentist and have their treatment done, seeing there can be medical complications when treatment goes undone. All because you are presenting valuable information in your posts previously unavailable to patients due to limited time and access for information while visiting your office.

All of this combines into establishing credibility, gaining trust, and building relationships and hopefully take some of the fear away associated with “going to the dentists”…and if a patient or potential new patient knows someone with a dental problem, who do you think they are going to refer them to….you!

Myth #2: Social Media Platforms Are Only For Teenagers

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are no longer sites just for teenagers. Businesses have found these networking sites to present an incredible opportunity for connecting with and engaging their audience.

According to Inside Facebook, a Facebook tracking source ,the fastest growing demographic, is Women over 55. Women also comprised over 56.2% of Facebooks audience, and 45% of Facebook’s US audience is women over age 26.

What does this mean for you: Women make around 80% of the decisions concerning purchases for themselves and their family.

What percentage of women are in your practice and what’s their average age…bet they fall into one of these two ranges above. Women are extremely active on the Internet and social media networks. When your phone rings at the office, well over the majority of the calls are from women scheduling appointments or getting information.

Myth #3: Too Time Consuming and Overwhelming

The number of social media platforms available and all the information about social media can be overwhelming, IF you try to use all the networks starting out.

One of the best pieces of advice is to start with just one, possibly two, of the social networks and become comfortable with how to use it. It’s better to be active and consistent on just a couple of sites than to be semi-active and inconsistent on a bunch of sites.

Time is always a big factor in managing social media, but once past the learning curve, much of the work can (and should) be put on “auto-pilot”.

If you determine you want to be active on the other sites but may not feel confident enough or may not have the time to manage the sites, you can always choose to outsource some or all your social media activities.

What does this mean for you: Choose where you want to start and jump in…take action!

Realize you can assign someone in your practice (person must see the benefit and be social) to manage your social sites, however, this person should never post for you in the 1st person as speaking for you. You will also want to have social media policy in place for “what to and what not to” post.

As you grow you will learn much of your posts and information can be done ahead of time and preset to post in the future. There are a lot of sites that allow you to make one post and then that site will automatically post your information to several other network sites…sort of “one post does all”

Myth #4: It Will Cost Too Much

Your advertising budget is one of the largest expenses associated with your practice. You have your newspaper and telephone book ads, magazine ads, direct mail outs, and possibly printed newsletters.

Two major problems with traditional print ads: 1) They are static as mentioned earlier in this article and once read, there’s no interaction with the viewer. 2) With print ads, especially direct mail outs, at best there is only about a 5% return on the investment…what happened to the other 95% of your investment dollars?

Solution: Social media marketing – interacting with patients and potential new patients.

What does this mean for you: All the social media networking sites are Free to join, come with unlimited use, and are marketing your practice…24 / 7 / 365!

It would be a mistake to pretend social media is totally free because there is the time involved with maintaining your sites, especially when maintained well whether maintained in-house or outsourced to a third party.

When you factor in how many, or should I say how few, people are actually reached with traditional advertising, the cost of budgeting money for an ongoing social media presence pales in comparison.

Add to that the fact only about 15% of the population still uses telephone books and print ads with the other 85% using online sources, you can see why creating and maintaining your online presence is critical to your practice.

Bottom line: When done correctly, social media marketing has the ability to cut your advertising budget by as much as 90%! This translates to more money into your children’s college fund, more money to travel and enjoy life, and …last but not least, more time on the golf course (or your favorite hobby)!!

The primary objective of social media marketing is a bridge that gives you access to people, information, and even companies that in the past, you didn’t have access to. Its one-on-one contact and its word of mouth advertising in the best of forms and…most of its ….Free.

Through your social media communities and patient inactivity you establish your practice’s online visibility, make contacts, gain their trust, and build profitable relationships ultimately leading to more new patients, more treatment acceptance, and more product and services sales.
Isn’t that what you’ve wanted to do since you opened your practice? With social media…you can!
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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals, who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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7 Marketing Strategies: Then and Now

In the late ’60s, Virginia Slim cigarette ads used the saying: “You’ve come a long way, baby!” I don’t think there’s a more targeted saying that could be used to describe marketing as we know it today….from even just a few years ago.

Traditional marketing meant direct mailers, print ads in magazines and telephone books, radio and TV ads, even billboards to reach viewers and potential new patients. But the problem with traditional marketing is as people have become better at blocking these traditional messages, traditional marketing has become less effective.
Let’s take a walk back in time a few years ago to get a better picture of Then and Now:

1. Then: An employer could purchase a “targeted” e-mail list of names for sending newsletters and special offers.

Now: Spam filters are used extensively plus marketer’s are limited by the National Canned Spam Act from sending “unsolicited messages”

2. Then: Sending out direct mailers to large lists of purchased names for a specific area

Now: Peoples mail boxes are full of junk mail and the mailers rarely make it past the trash can

3. Then: Specific trade publications had a large subscriber readership for reading your ad

Now: Publications are losing subscribers, laying off staff , and in some cases have stopped publication or scaled back their issues

4. Then: Businesses hired telemarketing firms for business solicitation

Now: Caller ID has become a standard feature on home, work, and even cell phones plus more and more people are adding their numbers to the national Do Not Call Registry making it more and more difficult for even the best of trained telesales reps.

5. Then: Radio and TV advertisements in cars and homes were almost guaranteed to generate results

Now: Commercial free channels and programs like Sirius radio, DVR’s and TiVo, DVD’s, MP3, iPods and iTunes has dramatically limited radio and TV effectiveness in advertising.

6. Then: Trade Shows were great for reaching the business audience and came with high “booth” rental fees

Now: Trade shows today have seen a huge decline in their attendees due to airline and hotel fees and lost production if the practice or business had to close while attending the trade show, causing many shows to scale back or to go out of business.

7. Then: The effectiveness of your marketing for the most part was measured by the amount of money you were able to afford to spend on your advertising budget. But even the “big guys” ads were static in nature, meaning no contact, no engaging, no information exchanged, and no relationship formed. Once placed they just sat there until they expired or they were renewed.

Now: Today people are tired of the barrage of marketing messages and are very good at deleting, trashing, and blocking traditional marketing, which is also changing. However, with social media marketing you no longer have to spend vast amounts of money for advertising to reach your target market. With social media, you build your online communities, you build relationships with your followers, and there IS contact and engaging conversation, information IS exchanged, and relationships ARE formed and the good part is….it’s working for you and your business 24/7 – 365! You really have come a long way, baby!

Consumer shopping has totally changed from Then! Is your marketing ready for social media Now?
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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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