As a dentist, you may have thought about some of these questions as they pertain to your practice. Read more on recommendations from Fred on the topics below.

Case Study:

  • Transfer of accounts receivable, with a wrinkle 

Transition Roundtable:

  • We ask two experts the same question on a complex issue 

The Importance of Personal Appearance

I’ve had several applicants arrive for interviews whose resumes were impressive but they had tattooed arms, facial piercings, and wild hairdos, so I didn’t hire them. Should I have a written policy on professional appearances, and if so, what should it contain?


Contacting References and Handling Reference Checks

I’m interviewing new employees. I’ve heard checking references is a good idea; what are your recommendations? On the other hand, what am I allowed to say when a prospective employer calls our office for a reference for one of our former employees?


The Basics of a Personnel Manual

I definitely need help in setting up an employee manual because I have no idea where to start. What are the main components? What’s important and what isn’t?


Annual Performance Reviews

Performance reviews: I hate doing them; and they’re time consuming. Are they really necessary? If so, how do I conduct a meaningful performance review?


Employee Benefits Summary

Since my employees do so much for me and work hard every day, I would like them to know the value I provide them in terms of compensation and benefits. Do you have any advice on how to do this in a constructive, positive way?


Managing Patient Payments during Tough Economic Times

Within the past year or so, I’ve noticed more people have had economic trouble and are slow in paying, or aren’t paying on their past-due accounts. I’m hoping you can shed some light on how to handle this situation.


Setting Team Expectations

I’m looking for some help in how to let my team know what I expect of them and how I’d like them to participate in reducing stress in the workplace.


Saying Thank You ...

Saying Thank You before the thought fades away.


Understanding Restrictive Covenants

There is a need for employers to have appropriate protection in maintaining customer relationships after an employee leaves. As seen in Dental Economics Magazine.


Online Backups

I read your article last month on backing up data properly to guard against computer crashes and other events. Can you give me some more information on online backups?


Employees Behaving Badly

We’ve all heard the horror stories; some are NOT urban legends!


Inappropriate Patient Behavior

We have a patient who sometimes ‘misbehaves’ during visits by either playing practical jokes on the staff or making inappropriate sexual and politically incorrect comments. What are the steps we should take, up to and including dismissal?


Ethical Conduct when Delegating Duties in Dentistry

I want to be sure I’m following the right “ethical” path when delegating tasks and duties to my team. What recommendations do you have to keep me on the straight and narrow?


Bring On an Associate Before Selling?

Is it a good idea to have an associate work in my practice for a time before selling the practice?


Written Financial Policy

I feel as if my team is well versed in patient payment arrangements, but I know we could do better. Sometimes, patients aren’t clear about how they can pay for dental services and that they have options available to them which may help them move ahead with needed treatment without incurring a financial burden. What would you suggest to make sure we are ensuring a high case-acceptance rate and getting paid for services?


Financial Arrangements

We realize that every person’s financial situation is different. For this reason, we have worked hard to provide a variety of payment options to help you receive the dental care needed to enjoy a healthy and confident smile with respect to your budget.


Advertising, Discounts and Co-Payments

I read the article by Erin Raden in Inscriptions, “Dental Practice Act Summary of Changes” in September 2008. From what I understand, if I provide a discount or fee reduction as a courtesy or promotion, I might need to change the way I submit insurance claims when I’m contracted with an insurance company as a participating provider. What is your take, and your recommendation?


Budgeting for CE

I’m still trying to configure a budget for 2009. I wonder which expenses I should really focus on to create a healthy profit. One of my first thoughts is to consider how to pay staff for attending continuing education courses, especially since the Western Regional Dental Convention is coming up. What is your recommendation?


In a Down Economy

My business has been doing quite well over the last several years. But now, I’m not alone in finding times are tough. I thought I could weather the storm, but the down economy is hitting me, like it is other dentists, I’m sure. What do you recommend a dentist do in a down economy to boost his or her business?


HIPAA Revisited

Recently I came across a colleague who was dealing with a complaint regarding a breach in privacy involving a patient in his practice. How can I be sure that all the HIPAA Guidelines are being followed in my office? What systems do I have in place that could jeopardize the Privacy Act?


Continuing Education Compensation

Should I compensate my employees for continuing education courses away from our hometown? How about courses in town? What if they choose not to attend CE courses that I subsidize and ask for them to attend?


Credit Balances

I know that you can keep credit running on account until all treatment is done but what then? I was also told by Arizona law that the doctor does not have to return any money owed to the patient if it is under $50 dollars, and may just adjust it off under miscellaneous adjustment. What a mess this is.


Accountability for Vital Signs

My staff seems to just “go through the motions” throughout the day. I want them to see the big picture of making the office work, to be more accountable for their actions, in order to make the office run more smoothly and be more productively. What is the best way to institute a change?


Contract Employees

We hired a contract hygienist to work in our practice for the past year. Now that the contract is up, the hygienist is filing for unemployment benefits. What are the hygienist’s chances of collecting?


Just Not Profitable Enough

I’ve been working my dental practice for several years now, and I’m just not making the money I would like to make. What should I be looking at in terms of my income and expenses, and how can I trim overhead to take home more money?


Proprietary Information

Should I include a confidentiality agreement concerning business systems used in my practice (proprietary forms, special clinical protocols, software, etc.)?


Personnel Manual Fundamentals

I know I should have an employee manual for my office, but I haven’t the foggiest idea where to start. Should I buy one already written? Is that enough, or should I modify it for my office? Will it solve all of my staff issues?


Patients Who Threaten



Patient Survey and Follow-Up Marketing

Do you know of a good way to get a truly honest response from patients in terms of their satisfaction with a dental practice?





I’m Confused About the At-Will Employment Issue



Documenting Employee Performance

Where do I start and how comprehensive should the documentation be?


Computer Crash and Losing Records



Secondary Businesses


Can I implement a policy that prohibits employees from bringing other business into the office, and if so, what’s the best way to handle it professionally with the staff?


Compensatory Time Off Instead of Overtime Pay

My staff would prefer to have compensatory time off instead of overtime pay. Would doing so be in compliance with Arizona employment law?


Daring to Delegate: 10 Rules for Success



How Dentistry has Changed Since September 11

Dr. Greg Pafford’s interview with Fred Heppener for Inscriptions magazine


Financially Healthy



Making Payment Work!

From the AzDA Journal Inscriptions, Volume 11, number 2, Aug. 1997


Take a Proactive Approach



Dentistry During Changing Economic Times



How Sound is Your Practice’s Data?

Working to help dentists automate business systems through computer applications, I have come across an unfortunate event that is not only devastating, it is happening far more often than imaginable: COMPUTER HARD DRIVES CAN CRASH!


Putting PASSION back into Dentistry



Successful Management Techniques



What Happens if You’re Not There?



Broken Ankle Leave of Absence

One of my employees broke her ankle during a weekend skiing trip. She has a note from her physician that excuses her from work for the next ten weeks. Am I required by law to hold her job open?


Cell Phone Use Policy

Can I implement a personal cell phone use policy that states phones are to be shut off during business hours?


Checking References

What are we allowed to say when a prospective employer calls our office for a reference for one of our ex-employees who was dismissed or resigned?


Chronically Late and Repeat No-Show Patients



Incentive Bonus Programs

I’m considering implementing an incentive bonus program. Where do I start? Are bonus programs effective? What are the pitfalls?


Over the Sick Day Quota

How do I handle a situation with an employee who has gone way over our quota of sick days as outlined in our employee manual?


Patient Records Request and Storage

When can we throw records away, and how long are we required to keep patient records?


Paying for Continuing Education When Traveling

What are “the rules” for paying my staff while we’re traveling for continuing education, including my hygienist?


Conducting Background Checks for Potential Hires

Should I conduct background checks for potential hires?


Substance Abuse

I suspect one of my employees has a substance abuse problem. What are my options?


Romance in the Dental Office

What is the general trend with regard to policies on office romances?