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Making the Right Impression

San Diego Dental CPA

Dental CPA San DiegoWhen clients visit your office, they observe. Your clients are going to make decisions and judgements based on what they see. If you don’t already, you need to think in the same manner your clients do. If you were a new client to your office, would you schedule a second appointment? Here are a few elements to consider.

Your Office’s Appearance

Look at your office. Is it clean and hygienic? Is it cluttered, dusty, or musty? Your clients will pick up on elements such as these. Make your office spotless. You risk your professional credibility if your office appears to be dirty. Clients are visiting you for professional treatment, so the environment must be clean. Décor matters too. Consider repainting your walls to be a soothing light blue or green. What artwork do you have hanging on your walls? Project a modern atmosphere to create confidence in your methods.

Your Team’s Appearance

Both you and your team should always be presentable. Is a team member coming to work wearing wrinkled clothing or covered with pet hair? Are phone calls left unanswered? An observant client will notice and it could cost you repeat business. You are in the business of retaining and serving your clients, so your team needs to smile often and set a confident, professional tone.

Keeping your office clean is a key element to client retention. Create an environment that makes your clients feel comfortable. Visitors will interpret your office and the appearance of your team as a reflection of your professional capabilities. It is imperative in today’s age of social media and online reviews that you present a positive impression of your business. A misstep on your part may be read by other prospective clients online.

Make the right impression with your clients if you hope to gain repeat business.

To get started with a professional consultation, please contact us.

Ken Rubin Publishes Article in Dental Economics on Attitude & Motivation

San Diego CA Dental CPA

Ken Rubin, Dental CPA in San Diego, published an article in the October, 2016 edition of Dental Economics magazine, entitled, “Any Dentist Can.”

In his article, Rubin describes how attitude affects the ability to connect on a personal level with current and potential patients, and how these connections play a vital role in achieving greater success in the challenging and competitive world of modern dentistry.

Read more.

Be a Leader, Not a Manager

Dental CPA in San Diego

San Diego Dental CPAPractice leaders set the standard and pace of your work. Managers hover and maintain status quo. Which definition sounds like you? Changing the way your practice is structured or operates can be a vast undertaking. Use these tips to get started on a path for developing an innovative practice that you lead, not manage.

Leaders Innovate

Leaders develop ideas that further practices. Managers use the framework that is already in place. Don’t hover over your hygienists or office staff. Let their work speak for itself and step in where necessary. Demonstrate to your team the qualities you want through your own actions.

Do What You Do Best

The majority of your time should be spent with patients, that is the best use of your abilities. This means you must delegate tasks to other team members. Leaders delegate tasks. Let your office staff handle the clerical side of the practice. Utilize a hands-off strategy where appropriate to free your time for patients.

Track Team Tasks

Rather than micromanaging your team, have them write or email their daily tasks to you. This will allow you to track the team’s progress and use of time. It will also save you from constantly asking, “What did you do today?” Hold your team accountable for their tasks. Request that your team define their tasks in quantitative terms. Spot-check as you feel necessary.

Know When to Hire and Train

When your practice feels swamped, hire and train. Leaders can recognize if their team is unable to handle the current workload. Pushing your team beyond their limits is not going to produce the results you are striving to achieve. Your team will work best when they have the necessary time and resources to do their tasks.

Leaders don’t have the time to micromanage. Leaders know when to back off and let the practice run on its own. This doesn’t mean you should let your entire operation always run on auto-pilot, but focus on letting each team member contribute their abilities in the best capacity. The only way to break through the status-quo is to allow for new ideas and strategies to take hold. This cannot be achieved if you are spending your time hovering over your team. Transform the way you manage your practice and your practice will transform itself.

4 Simple Ways to Make Stress Work for You

San Diego Dental CPA

San Diego CA Dental CPAStress is an inescapable part of life. Whether you’ve just opened your practice or have begun planning for retirement, you have experienced some amount of stress along the way. Doctors, scientists, and media outlets have spent many years warning about the dangers of stress. Too much stress too often can cause negative effects on our physical and mental health. However, before giving in to chronic tension and depression, consider a few ways you can make stress work for you.

  1. Focus on the positive side of stress. In small, sporadic doses, stress can increase brain function for gains in creativity and problem solving ability. It can boost your immune response and provide the motivation you need to engage your issue. Over time, small amounts of stress will even enhance your resiliency for managing future difficulties.
  2. Change your self-talk. Instead of stumbling and dwelling on the negatives of your current predicament, start incorporating the idea of “yet.” The phrase “I can’t…” has an entirely different tone than “I can’t…yet.” Once you have reset your self-talk to allow for the possibility of change, you will find yourself ready to brainstorm creative strategies for moving forward.
  3. Tackle problems one at a time. Select one specific aspect of your life that is causing you too much stress. Focus on the root cause of your stress and decide on a plan of action. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to delegate tasks to a member of your team. New habits take time and training, but can create real change to improve your life. Continue working your plan, refining as needed, until the overstress is no longer a factor. Choose another challenge and start again.
  4. Embrace levity every day. Celebrate birthdays, small victories, and changes in the weather. Add laughter to your workday. These will cut tension in the office and refresh you and your team. Your patients, your team, and you will enjoy the more cheerful and relaxed atmosphere this creates.

By embracing the motivating influence of stress without allowing it to drive you down into anxiety, you can generate positivity, creativity, and effective change. However, if you have chronic stress that is substantially affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. To best help others, you must first care for yourself.

52 YEAR-END TAX & BUSINESS PLANNING TIPS FOR 2016

By Ken Rubin, CPA, PFS

Dear Clients,

There are many important tax changes taking effect in 2016!

Our tips highlight the key tax changes that may affect your business and individual tax returns, and action you should consider taking before the end of the year.

Here are our top 52 year-end tax and business tips for the remainder of 2016!

FOR YOUR BUSINESS

· 1. Reimburse yourself by 12/31/16 for all business expenses you paid using personal money or personal credit card.

· 2. Fully deduct all Staff Meetings/Lunches. Do not categorize these costs as “Meals & Entertainment”. You can take a 100% tax deduction (rather than only 50%) for them if categorized in your accounting as “Staff Meetings”.

· 3. Home office (No longer a red flag!) reimbursement or deduction. If you operate as a corporation, you may reimburse yourself for the use of your home office. The office space must be used regularly and exclusively for business activities even if just for administrative activities.

· 4. Prepay expenses this year. This strategy works best if you are in a higher tax bracket this year than you expect to be in next year.

· 5. Delay receiving income. If tax rates drop under the new president’s tax plan, you will pay less taxes on the income in 2017.

· 6. Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit. If you pay at least 50% of your employee’s qualified premiums, you can qualify for a tax credit up to 50% of the amount you pay. To qualify you must purchase your insurance through the State Exchange program.

· 7. Reimburse yourself for actual car expenses. We can help you determine if the tax savings would be greater than simply using the government 54 cents per mile. Personal use of the corporate vehicle must be on your W-2, and remember to keep a detailed driving log.

· 8. Purchase your car through the business. If the car is used more than 50% for business, use of the vehicle for Section 179 rapid depreciation can be used. Get the largest depreciation deduction by buying a heavy vehicle that is over 6,000 pounds GVW (but consider the higher fuel expense that you will be having).

· 9. Maximize contribution to retirement plan. Make catch up contributions if over 50 years old, consider adding a Defined Benefit Plan if want to contribute more than $53,000 for yourself.

· 10. If your practice is renting the building from you, time your payments. Talk to us about increasing self-rent payment to shift some corporate profit to rental income. Make sure you have a separate bank account for your building LLC and that all mortgage payments are paid from the LLC bank account!

· 11. Maximize donations. You often get the largest tax deduction if your donation can be classified as advertising, especially if you are incorporated.

· 12. Buy equipment, furniture and install it in before Dec. 31. The maximum Section 179 deduction remains at $500,000 ($25,000 for Calif) for 2016 and Bonus depreciation (federal only) remains at 50% on new property. Consult with us about this!

· 13. Disabled tax credit. If you have installed ADA compliant bathrooms, expanded hallways, repaved parking areas, etc. for patients who are disabled, you may qualify for a $7,500 tax credit.

· 14. Give your kids responsibility. Keep a time sheet, job description, and pay regularly through a W-2. Kids can only be paid as employees if they do work for the office. They can be paid whatever the going rate is to pay a non-family member for the same job. Also have them participate in your company retirement plan and establish their own ROTH or Traditional IRA account.

· 15. Include your spouse in the business. Pay your spouse and maximize their retirement plan contribution for the year. There are several other tax advantages that make it worthwhile to pay your spouse.

· 16. If using a medical reimbursement plan, reimburse by Dec 31. You can no longer reimburse for over the counter items (unless you have a Section 105 plan). You also cannot reimburse an employee for insurance paid through a spouse’s employment pre-tax. Consider setting up a formal medical reimbursement plan if you do not have one in place.

· 17. S Corp health insurance. To secure the best deduction for your premiums, you must comply with reporting rules. Your health insurance premiums must be reported on your W-2 as S-Corp owner health insurance premiums

· 18. Cost segregation study. If we have not done one for you yet and you spent over $500,000 on an office build-out or construction after 1986, we could reclassify the asset allocation and write off the assets much faster, thereby reducing your taxes.

· 19. Consider an S Corporation conversion. If your business is a C Corporation. You could save thousands of dollars in taxes each year by avoiding part of the Social Security and Medicare tax on distributions.

· 20. If you have a C Corporation, remember to bonus out all profit by Dec. 31 to avoid double tax.

FOR YOUR PERSONAL TAX RETURN

· 21. Prepay expenses. Pay your January home mortgage payment in December and the April property tax installment in December to get the tax deductions in 2016. If you are making estimated tax payments, consider making your state payment in December to get the state tax deduction on your federal return in 2016 (unless you are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax.

· 22. Rent your home or vacation home to your practice, a colleague, friend, or anyone for up to 14 days per year. You do not have to pay taxes on this rental income, and the payer can deduct the payment if they have a business purpose.

· 23. Consider having a trust own your home and/or gift the home to your heirs over a period of time. Value is determined when the home is added to the trust. This helps you avoid estate taxes. Make sure to gift it within the gift exclusion tax limits ($14,000 per person; $28,000 per couple 2016). Because your heirs do not get a future “step up in tax basis” careful analysis must be done to make the best decision. This type of trust is called a “QPRT”.

· 24. Offset capital gains with capital losses. Dump some losing stocks if you have a capital gain to offset it with this year. Or sell stocks with gains if you are carrying over capital losses.

· 25. Own a business building? If you own it personally, consider converting ownership to an LLC.

· 26. Install geothermal heat pumps or solar energy systems for a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost. The credit also applies to small wind turbines and all of these credits may be claimed for principal residences as well as second homes. There are also credits available for energy saving costs such as insulation and energy efficient appliances.

· 27. Using a HSA for first time this year? You can make the full year’s HSA contribution by December 1st and deduct a full year’s worth of contributions. Also remember if HSA contributions are made through payroll reduction under a cafeteria plan, they are not subject to employee or employer payroll taxes.

· 28. Give appreciated stock or property to charity. You avoid the tax on the increase in asset value and get a tax deduction for the donation if you do not sell the asset first. If over $5,000 must have a qualified appraisal (unless the donated item is a publicly traded stock or other security.) Donate clothes and housewares that you no longer use. You need a receipt to claim the deduction. Donations must be physically made before 12/31/16.

· 29. Do not gift a car or boat to charity – sell it first! You can now only take the tax deduction for the amount the charity sells your car or boat for, not for the actual value. Charities often sell your asset for parts only, which drastically reduces the value and your tax deduction.

· 30. College savings. Consider increasing your 529 plan and ROTH IRA contributions; encourage grandparents to gift money to a 529 plan for your child – it helps them reduce their estate and avoid gift tax exclusion issues.

· 31. Student in college? If your income is too high to take advantage of education credits, consider paying your student enough wages so they can take full advantage of education credits on their return. If income is lower, plan on using the American Opportunity Credit, or Lifetime Learning Credit, or a tuition deduction.

· 32. Did you or a spouse go back to college, even if online? You may also qualify for either American Opportunity Education Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit. Qualified expenses must have been paid by 12/31/16.

REGARDING RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS

· 33. Consider an annual ROTH IRA conversion. You can contribute $5,500 (or $6,500 if over age 50) to a ROTH each year by making a nondeductible contribution to your traditional IRA and then converting it to a ROTH. Until the law is changed, you can do this every year. Limitations exist if you have an existing IRA – check with us first!

· 34. IRA owners who turned 70 ½ in 2016. Although you may take first required distribution before end of 2016, you are allowed to wait as late as 4/01/17. Consider taking first payment in 2016 however, because if you wait until 2017 you will be required to take two payments in 2017, which could cost more in taxes if it bumps you into a higher bracket. If you don’t withdrawal enough, the penalty is 50% of the amount that you were supposed to take out.

· 35. Consider converting an existing traditional IRA into a ROTH IRA. This can be an excellent way to build wealth for your children or grandchildren because a ROTH does not require mandatory distributions and the assets will grow tax free. Note: taxes on the conversion must be paid out of non-IRA account funds.

· 36. Consider making your 401K deferrals ROTH deferrals. You can set up your company 401K plan to allow these deferrals for you and your employees, on an ongoing basis, with no income limitations!

· 37. Individuals not carrying health insurance could face a penalty. For tax years beginning after Dec.31, 2013, non-exempt U.S. citizens and legal residents must pay a penalty if they do not maintain minimum essential coverage.

IF BUYING A CAR

· 38. Try to make it qualify for business ownership. Must use the vehicle for business purposes, over 50% of the miles that are put on the car (for section 179); commuting miles excluded.

· 39. Consider converting a personal vehicle to business use. Document odometer reading at beginning of each year, and keep a good mileage log for at least three months – preferably more.

ITEMS TO GET IN THE HABIT OF REVIEWING ONCE A YEAR

· 40. Update your Will and your Asset Protection & Estate Planning strategy. This is becoming more and more important to have planned out well in advance of a lawsuit or tragedy! Call us for a recommendation.

· 41. Review bank accounts you may have outside the U.S. Tell us if any exist – you are required to report these to the IRS as well as interest income received worldwide. There are HEAVY penalties for non- compliance.

· 42. Make sure your family knows where all your important papers are. This includes life insurance policies, will, investment accounts, and practice transition sales directive.

· 43. Consider mortgage refinance. Rates are still at relatively low rates.

· 44. Consider consolidating. Credit card debt and practice loans if no prepayment penalty.

· 45. Review your business insurance. Do you need to increase the value of the policy to cover new equipment, or furniture you have bought?

· 46. Examine your liability insurance if you have an employee driving to do office tasks. Are you covered if he or she gets in an accident?

· 47. If incorporated, make sure your Corporate Minutes are up to date.

· 48. If incorporated in California, remember to pay your annual $25 annual fee to the California Secretary of State to avoid the $250 penalty and suspension of your corporation. California LLC entities must file their Statement of Information every two years with a $20 fee.

MANAGE COLLEGE PLANNING

Consider these tax-favored ways to pay for college costs:

· 49. A Coverdell education savings account. You may make a maximum contribution of $2,000 per year per child, subject to income limitations.

· 50. A 529 college savings plan. Although there’s no limit to how much you can contribute each year, each state’s plan has its own lifetime limit – typically more than $200,000 per designated beneficiary. You can also treat a 529 contribution as being made over five years for gift tax purposes.

· 51. Tax credits. The American Opportunity Credit is a modification of the Hope Credit and makes the credit available to broader range of taxpayers. Through 2017, you may claim a credit up to $2,500 on eligible college expenses paid from a non-529 account, subject to income limitations. You will need the 1098-T form to claim the credit in 2016.

· 52. Tax deductions. You may be able to deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest, subject to income limitations.

Don’t try this at home! Be sure to call us with any questions before trying to implement tax strategies on your own.

Ken

Beyond Marketing: Turning Interest into Appointments

San Diego Dental CPA

San Diego Dental CPAMarketing plays a vital role in attracting new business. Cleverly designed mailers and strong online SEO strategies can put your practice name in front of hundreds of potential patients. Glowing reviews and testimonials tell website visitors that you provide quality care and have a friendly team. However, when it comes to driving new business, marketing – even great marketing – is only part of the story. No matter how effective your campaign, one of the biggest factors in gaining new patients is scheduling.

Many dentists find it difficult to think about their practice as a business. It is likely that you chose dentistry due to a passion for service and healing, not bookkeeping or sales. Yet nearly any successful retailer will say that the only way to gain business is to give customers what they want, when they want it.

What do your prospective patients want? Convenience, first and foremost.

Consider this: patients have lives of their own. Many work outside the home, many have children. Most working people have limited time off, and may have to schedule their time carefully to leave room for the chance of illness or emergency. Many jobs dole out time off slowly over the course of weeks. Others restrict employees from missing any work at all during certain times of year.

Does your office offer any same-day scheduling? Do you have next-day scheduling? Shift workers may not know what hours and days they will be working more than a few days in advance. In addition, patients who are experiencing pain are unlikely to wait longer than 24-48 hours for an appointment before trying somewhere else.

Do you have office hours covering mornings, evenings, and Saturdays? Patients do not always have the luxury of choosing their shifts or days off. Parents may be reluctant to have their child miss school for an appointment. If you do not have openings during the times that are needed, potential patients will find an office with more flexible hours.

No matter how impressive your practice appears, patients will look elsewhere for an appointment if you are unable to work with their scheduling needs.

Making the changes to provide better scheduling flexibility will take time and may require an investment in your practice. You may want to consider adding an associate or hygienist to help cover additional time. Talk to your dental CPA about what options will best suit your practice needs, as well as the needs of your community.

Why You Need to Market Your Dental Practice

San Diego, CA Dental CPA

Dental CPA San DiegoBy the end of 2015, a reported 73% of Americans were using the internet on a daily basis. This level of digital interaction has changed the business landscape that we face today. Of all internet users, more than 70% use online searches to find information about health. This includes finding and selecting a doctor or dentist. Your online presence, or lack thereof, can have a profound impact on the success and growth of your practice. Consider how these three aspects of online marketing are currently working for – or against – your practice.

First, 21st century business success requires the use of 21st century tools. Your practice needs to have a modern website, with accurate information and a responsive, mobile-friendly design. To today’s consumer, your website is a reflection of your business. Potential patients have a wealth of options to consider, especially in competitive markets. If your website is slow to load, looks outdated, or is not mobile-friendly, most visitors will move on to another practice with greater online appeal.

Second, you should have an active presence with social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. Social media has replaced simple word of mouth for how people share information. By maintaining one or more active social media pages, you engage your community by sharing photos, videos, special offers, personal stories, community events, and more. You may even get patients and staff to share your posts, leading to greater visibility and interest.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. According to a recent survey, 92% of people read online reviews. 80% believe that the reviews they read are as accurate as personal recommendations. If you are not monitoring your online reviews, you are allowing others to control your online reputation. Reviews can also lead to valuable constructive criticism that can help you improve your business and your team.

Ask your patients to post reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. Unless asked, many people will only consider posting when they are unhappy with the service they received. However, patients who are pleased with your practice are usually happy to share their feelings when asked. Consider using some of the more glowing testimonials on your website.

The work involved in successful online marketing can be daunting. However, the cost of hiring a professional online marketing consultant can be more than offset by growth in new patients and case acceptance.

For more ideas to help your practice grow, contact our office.

Why Do We Resist Change?

Dental CPA in San Diego, CA

San Diego Dental CPAChange is scary. Change forces us out of our comfort zones and into the unknown, often into situations outside our control. We are afraid of change because we are afraid that this new challenge might make us look foolish, feel less capable, or even fail.

Change is also necessary. It is impossible to grow your practice, increase your service offerings, or stay competitive without change. Dentistry is a dynamic field, with new technologies and creative techniques being explored continuously. It is critical to be open to exploring these changes and to implementing the ones that will best improve your practice.

Unfortunately, one of the realities you may face is that your most loyal and long-term team members may be the ones who are most resistant to accepting these changes in your practice.

Over time, people tend to develop routines to perform their tasks. On one hand, this can be beneficial, as it can ensure consistency in job performance and can simplify the training of new employees. Often, these team members take pride in mastering the routine of their position and equate this with mastery of their role in the practice.

On the other hand, routines can lead to complacency, which can be devastating for your practice. Complacency can cause team members to “go through the motions,” putting less thought and effort into their routine, and may make their work become sloppy over time. A complacent employee is unwilling to change their routine to embrace the new ideas, methods, or technologies that you need to better serve your patients and grow your business. A complacent employee can even harm team morale and slow the adoption of the changes you seek to implement.

How do you protect your office from complacency and promote change as a part of your practice?

First, create an atmosphere of change. Start small, but design a series of changes to be implemented over the next few weeks or months in your practice. Make the idea of change something that is a normal and accepted part of your routine. This will make bigger changes easier to implement when the time comes.

Second, talk to your team. Make sure every team member understands the changes you want to implement, your reasons for making the changes, and your expectations of their compliance. Be open to answering questions, but do not allow “that’s not how we’ve always done things” to be a reason to slow or avoid changes.

Finally, make your team and yourself accountable for the changes. Track that your changes are in place and that every team member is on board. Meet with your team and discuss the outcomes of the change and how everyone feels about the change. Celebrate victories and strategize improvements. When your team is able to own the change and its outcome, it will be easier to implement the next and to suggest new ideas for future change.

Contact us for more information.

Things to Consider Before Buying New Dental Equipment

San Diego Dental CPA

Dental CPA San DiegoNo matter how well-equipped your office is initially, time, wear, and changes in technology will at some point require you to purchase additional or replacement equipment. There are a few points you may wish to keep in mind before making your final decision on a major equipment purchase for your practice.

First, take your time. Like with any other major purchase, rushing into a decision can be costly. Instead, spend several weeks in preparation for this choice. Meet with your Dental CPA about any tax implications and ask if there is an optimal time to make such a purchase. Consider carefully the following factors to be sure you are choosing the right piece of equipment for your needs:

  • What is the main purpose of this equipment?
  • What features do you want/need it to have?
  • Are you and your team going to need extensive training to use it?
  • How often is this equipment going to be used?
  • Will it fit the space available?
  • Will you have to make changes to the space to use this equipment (ie, wiring, utility connections, etc)?
  • Is the manufacturer reliable?
  • Does the manufacturer provide good service for their equipment?
  • How long should this equipment last?
  • What is the expected benefit of this upgrade?
  • When do you plan to have it installed and in use?
  • If this equipment is to allow new services, is there a demand for those services in your practice/community?
  • Will your pricing for your services offset the investment cost and still be competitive in your market?
  • If the equipment you are buying is used, have you obtained an independent opinion on its condition?
  • How does the cost compare to other models? Other manufacturers?
  • Can you purchase directly from the manufacturer to save on cost?
  • Have you compared pricing from a variety of sources online?

While not all of these may apply to your equipment purchase in every circumstance, it should be clear that major dental office equipment should never be bought on impulse or without thorough consideration and research. Recommendations from other dentists or your dental CPA can also be helpful in narrowing your search.

Your dental equipment plays a vital role in the quality of care you are able to provide to your patients. When it is time to add or replace a piece of that equipment, make sure you take plenty of time to research, refine, and select the right piece for your practice. This will help you be certain that your investment will bring value to your practice for years to come.

Contact our office for more information.