How Do You Control Your Practice's Overhead?

Posted by Jason Smith on Sun, Jun 29, 2014

equipmentMany dental practices have poor overhead, but that's not all on the dentists themselves. Practices cost a lot to start, and with dentistry becoming more and more expensive, once you get off to a bad start it can be hard to rein overhead back in.


Hi, I’m Jason Smith, founder and CEO of Four Quadrants Advisory. We turn dentists like you into multimillionaires.

One of the worst habitual offenders in dentistry today is poor overhead. But it isn’t just the dentist’s fault. Inc. Magazine said dentistry as a whole is one of the five most expensive startup companies in the United States. So controlling overhead has gotten harder and harder, plus additional writeoffs with PPOs and insurance companies as they are today. We find, though, if overhead isn’t corrected at an early age in the dentist’s career, that they will carry that overhead for the rest of their career. So in other words, I’m saying if we find a dentist that is 37 years old that has 75% overhead, more than likely they’re going to be running 70 to 75% overhead when they’re 55, and that will lead to a non-stop problem in becoming financially free.

A great overhead percentage in general dentistry should be under 60%. 6-8 years into practicing we have to buy more equipment, we have to reinvest, and we’re running out of space. So if we’re still running high overhead, and then we need to expand our space and take on more debt, then it becomes a perpetual problem that you’re never going to get out of. And if you’re not debt free 8-10 years from retirement, you’re going to have very hard times with saving, and you’re going to have very hard times doing the proper practice transition, because any practice that is debt-laden is a practice that nobody else wants to buy.

This is just a glimpse into the multimillion dollar secret for dentists.

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Topics: dental advisor, dental financial planning, Financial Planning, business of dentistry

The Top 1% Club: Saving for the Perfect Retirement

Posted by Jason Smith on Sun, Jun 22, 2014

oneIt’s hard to be proactive when you’re surrounded by the problems of the present. When cash is tight now, and production isn’t giving you the results you expect, that’s what you focus on. You try to fix now before you think about tomorrow. But if that’s your approach, by the time you’re ready to think about tomorrow it will be here. And it’ll be too late.

You have to save for retirement now, and if you want to retire comfortably and happily, you should be saving a lot. According to the ADA, only four percent of dentists will be able to retire by age 65 – mostly due to poor savings and tax planning. In fact, dentists are only saving, on average, $23,000 a year. But if you’re producing $1 million a year or more, you’re anything but average. You’re the best of the best, even if your results aren’t showing it.

You can do better than that. You deserve better than that.

Only a select few are able to reach the $100,000-a-year barrier. In fact, only the top 1% of dentists nationwide are doing it. We’ve never seen anyone crack $65,000 a year in savings, aside from our own clients. It’s an elite club, made up of dentists who have the ambition and discipline to master their finances and build a bright future for themselves. And you can join them.

If you’re producing at a high level already, you can get to that $100,000-a-year level. You can get control of your cash flow, reduce overhead, fix your tax structure, and free up the money you need to build your tomorrow while still living the life you want to live today. We guarantee that in just a year you’ll have 50% more annual savings for retirement – or you won’t pay us. You can do it all, with our help.

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Topics: dental advisor, dental retirement, dental financial planning, Financial Planning, Tax Advisory

Producing More Won’t Lead to Your Retirement

Posted by Jason Smith on Tue, Jun 17, 2014

jason_smithOne of the biggest misconceptions in dentistry is that the only way for you to achieve your financial goals is by producing more. But piling on more work isn’t always the best answer – and can do more harm than good.

What’s the real problem? Consistency – or a lack thereof. Watch the video to learn more about how the multimillion dollar secret for dentists can be your secret, too.


Hi, I'm Jason Smith, founder and CEO of Four Quadrants Advisory. We turn dentists like you into multi-millionaires.

One of the biggest financial pressures and misnomers in dentistry today is feeling like you have to produce your way out in order to achieve financial freedom. We have clients across the country and the one thing they all have in common is they’re not saving as much as they would like for retirement, and they have a lot of month-to-month financial pressures in their practice because of lack of consistency in cash flow. They’re tired of looking at their bank accounts every 2 to 3 days online to see if there's enough money to pay payroll, and they’re tired of getting calls from home asking for another check in the form of a distribution to pay their bills. And a lot of the ups and downs and lack of consistency and the lack of efficiencies are what lead to ultimately not being able to be proactive with saving enough on a monthly basis and taking the pressure off.

Regardless of where your production is, if you’re not on a roadmap that builds cash all the time it's going to lead to a career in dentistry unfortunately where you wonder why you’re 53 years old and don't have enough money for retirement. The American Dental Association says we save $23,000 a year for retirement as the average dentist, and you should be saving well over $100,000 for retirement. And if we can first put the tools in place to save on a monthly basis in our practices and at home, we can become more efficient and we can get you on a financial road to save more for retirement.

This is just a glimpse into the multi-million dollar secret for dentists.

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Topics: dental advisor, dental retirement, Financial Planning, business of dentistry

Growing to Serve You Better

Posted by Brogan Baxter on Tue, Jun 10, 2014

FQA_Email_Stat2Four Quadrants Advisory has undergone a lot of changes recently, and all for the better. In the last two years, we've grown from a staff of three to eight full-time professionals filling roles from prospecting and sales to accounting to strategy and management. And with our growing team, we now have more and more hours to put into helping our clients grow their practices and build the retirement they dream of.

It’s not just that we have more employees at our disposal. We’re bringing in people with experience – people who have spent years and years working in finance, building up businesses and dental practices to be stronger, bigger, more profitable, and more efficiently-run.

That includes people like:

Kathy Collins, CPA

Bryce Woodyard, CPA

Mathew Ryan, Financial Planner and Analyst

Brian Wilson, Sales

Jason Wager, Sales

Ryan McLaughlin, Accountant

We’ve always been confident in our ability to help successful dentists turn their practices into wealth-building machines. We’ve always been confident that our advice will lead dentists to be able to retire earlier and more comfortably than they could otherwise. We’ve always been confident that we can help dentists transition their practices to their successors, while preserving their legacies and helping them profit.

But we’ve never been in a better position to do all that than right now. We’ve never done it better. And we’re certainly not finished growing. We’re excited about today, and even more excited about tomorrow. If you think you and your practice are ready to take the next step, let us know. Because we are.

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Topics: dental advisor, business of dentistry

VIDEO: Dr. Thomas – From Anxiety to the Top 1% Club in a Year

Posted by Jason Smith on Mon, May 26, 2014

When Dr. Ryan Thomas first acquired his practice, he and his wife Martha weren’t prepared for the new stresses that would enter their lives. After searching for someone  who could help them get back on track, Ryan found us – and it was a perfect fit.

Now they’re more comfortable, less stressed, and getting back to the things they value like spending time together. And with our holistic approach to their finances, the Thomases are already in our Top 1% Club – and it’s only the first year of many we’ll be working together.
Anytime you have that type of a vision going into something, you can be much more effective at what you do. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Find out more about the Thomases, where they started, and where they are today in this video, and see if Four Quadrants Advisory can do for you what we’ve done for them.

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Topics: dental advisor, Practice Transition, dental financial planning, dental accounting, Financial Planning, business of dentistry, Tax Advisory

The Tax Implications of Starting a Dental Practice Transition

Posted by Kathy Collins on Fri, May 9, 2014

tax2The decision to begin the process of transitioning your practice into the hands of your successor is a tough one, of course. It’s been the center of your life for years, and even if you’re totally ready to ride off into the sunset of retirement, it can be tough. If you don’t have your financials in order before you start the process, it can be torture. That includes your taxes.

The way your practice is structured as a business will have a major impact on your tax obligations after selling. There’s a significant difference between what you’ll owe after selling a C-corporation and what you’d own from selling a sole proprietorship, for example. And that all needs to be taken into account before making the sale.

There are two ways to sell your practice – by selling a partnership interest or stock, or by selling off the practice’s assets. Generally you as the seller will prefer the first option, as it carries with it a capital gain treatment of 15-20%. The buyer, on the other hand, will prefer a sale of assets, because then they will reap the benefits of depreciation. If it is not pre-determined by the transition structure in place, you can negotiate with your buyer, and find a level of price and sale type that suits you both the best.

You’ll also need to negotiate the method of financing your buyer will use. In the event that they cannot or prefer not to go through a bank, it’s possible they could pay through seller financing – that is, essentially you would hold a note on the purchase price as negotiated, loan the money to the buyer, and they would pay you back over time. You get the benefit of keeping the bank out as a middleman, and won’t have to recognize the gain from the sale all at once. The flip side to this option, however, is that you lose the time value of money of getting that money to work for you in the market. There are times when seller-financing is ideal, but for the most part, it is not the first choice by anyone because it muddies the relationship between partners.

But when negotiating price, remember this – you won’t be keeping all of the money paid, no matter what. Even if the bank’s not involved, it’s income and you will be taxed for it. So don’t start eyeing that yacht or Lamborghini until the whole procedure is complete – including your tax liability.

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Topics: dental advisor, Practice Transition, dental retirement, dental tax, Tax Advisory

The 3 Pieces to Your Perfect Financial Plan

Posted by Jason Smith on Wed, Apr 30, 2014

When you graduated dental school and opened your own practice, you didn’t think it would be easy – obviously starting from scratch would be tough. But you weren’t prepared for just how tough it would be. You’re running a business, but you don’t have the tools you need to do it. You’re a dentist, not an accountant. And you didn’t get the business training that you need in your undergraduate or dental school curriculum. But you’re expected to have the skills of an entrepreneur and of a scientist. You’re lost.

What you need is a thorough and solid financial plan, which can guide you through the troubles of the present into the prosperity of the future. And that’s exactly what you’ll get from The 3 Pieces to Your Perfect Financial Plan. It’s Four Quadrants Advisory’s guide to getting the foundations of your finances in order, so you can concentrate on your patients rather than your balance sheets. Download it for free today and get started.

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Topics: dental advisor, dental tax, dental financial planning, dental accounting, Financial Planning, business of dentistry, Tax Advisory

What Happens to Your Practice When You Sell?

Posted by Brogan Baxter on Sun, Apr 27, 2014

SoldIf you do everything right, what happens to your practice immediately after you sell it and retire is up to you, for the most part. You can have a custom transition process, and ensure that everything is executed to your liking. That allows you to find the partner who’s best suited to carry on your legacy, and to protect the parts of your practice that you most value.

The problem is that not every practice can handle the requirements of a custom transition. Do you have enough production, a large enough facility, and low enough overhead to be able to take on an associate? If not you may be forced into a walk-away sell – zero to six months of preparation, then you hand over the keys and leave. That probably doesn’t sound like what you want, so your priority should be to get your finances in order so that you can transition properly. You’re preparing the nursery for the baby, so to speak.

If you have done that, what’s your ideal transition look like to you? What’s most important to you, what do you want to dictate? Don’t try to ask for too much – there will be a lot less interest in joining up with you if you’re perceived as a meddler. Nobody wants to run a practice if they won’t actually be running it.

But there are things that you can do to give you peace of mind. Be up front with your successor, both with your philosophy as a dentist and with what things are important to you. You need to find the perfect successor to your practice, not just the first person who’s willing to come in that’s willing to give you a check.

Finally you need to evaluate the way in which you want to unwind yourself from the practice. Are you going to quit cold turkey? Are you going to phase yourself out, and gradually sell the practice to your new associate? If you’re asking my advice, what’s best for all involved is for you to leave gradually, based on my experiences over the last decade. You get to keep working until you feel totally ready to leave. Your patients get to meet your new partner, and see you work together as a team. And your associate gets the increased goodwill that creates, and will end up keeping more of your current patients – earning you more value for your practice.

In the end, a custom transition isn’t just best for you. It’s best for everyone. Remember, it’s a transition, not a transaction.

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Topics: dental advisor, Practice Transition, dental retirement

When Growing Your Dental Practice is a Bad Thing

Posted by Brogan Baxter on Fri, Apr 25, 2014

jengaGrowth can be good or bad for a dental practice, just like for any other business. Growing simply for the sake of it is not smart. Growing at a rate that’s well-thought-out, strategized, and steady is far better.

Many dentists grow their practice just because they want more production. But why? Because you want to make more money? Here’s a little-known fact – many times increasing production can actually cause you to make less money. That’s because in a rush to grow fast and make money, overhead skyrocketed, and now you’re stuck with a little more income and a lot more money going out the door.

There are three ways to increase your revenue.

  1. Increase your production and maintain your overhead
  2. Maintain production and reduce your overhead
  3. Increase your production and reduce overhead

To grow your income, you have to have a good financial team on your side. You need quickly reported numbers, you need to have your pulse on your finances, you need fast interpretation of your situation. If a negative trend begins, you need to know so you can act fast to counteract it. Is overhead popping up five months in a row? Know fast, so you can nip it in the bud.

This applies both to your production and to your overhead. You need solid numbers on both no later than two weeks into the next month, and the numbers need to be reconciled and analyzed by your accountant. To identify trends compare them to the same month last year, and also to the past few months of this year. That way you can see in real time what’s happening in your practice’s financials, and whether it’s a seasonal effect or something new.

Even if you grow intelligently, you can still run into issues. For example, you might get a good news/bad news call from your accountant. “Good news! You made a lot more money this year than we were expecting. Bad news is that means your tax bill is well into the five figures.” Without timely and frequent tax estimates, you can end up with a nasty tax surprise at the end of the year. And that will certainly put a damper on your booming business.

When managed poorly, growth will actually hurt your dental practice. But when you do it right, growing your practice will do nothing short of changing your life.

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Topics: dental advisor, dental financial planning, Financial Planning, business of dentistry

How Dentists Should – And Shouldn’t – Invest

Posted by Brogan Baxter on Sun, Apr 20, 2014

crashLast time we discussed the best ways to build a framework that allows you to invest in ways that will help you build wealth from your dental practice. But once you’ve done that, what should you actually do with the money that you invest?

The short answer is, “invest conservatively.” Chasing big returns can be a hard temptation to resist, though. There’s a direct correlation between increased risk and increased potential rate of return, and many dentists feel the pressure to make large sums quickly to try to build a floundering retirement plan. According to the ADA, the average dentist only saves about 10% of their income – around $21,000 – and at that rate, they won’t be able to hit their retirement goals. To try to make up for it, they get forced into investing aggressively to get the big returns, and many get bitten by risky investments that eventually turn south. Anyone remember 2008?

At Four Quadrants Advisory, we recommend a more conservative investment strategy that concentrates on savings first. You don’t need to chase that high rate of return when your practice finances are structured so that you can save $100,000 a year rather than $20,000. To get that kind of money from investing alone, you need a 500% rate of return.

Focus on what you can control – your savings, not stocks – and avoid extreme risk. In 2008’s financial crisis, those who were heavily invested in risky stocks lost between 30 and 40% of their value. Those who were more conservative in their investments lost much less.

Finally, as a dentist you really shouldn’t be investing your own money. You are trying to run a million-dollar dental practice, you’re seeing patients, you’re running a staff, you’re raising a family. You don’t have the time to give your accounts the attention they need to grow the way you need them to. Get a team of qualified advisors to help you, and your money will be in much better hands.

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Topics: dental advisor, Practice Transition, dental retirement, dental financial planning, dental accounting, Financial Planning