The average small business — including dental offices — spends about 36 hours each month on back-office tasks like payroll and human resources. Whether you handle everything yourself or delegate, that’s a lot of time that could be spent on providing patient care, building your practice or enjoying some work-life balance at home with your family.
The right tools can streamline your back office, allowing you to automate repetitive tasks and streamline many duties that require direct attention. Here are a few ways you can use technology to make your practice much more efficient.
1. Outsource payroll
You’re not a tax expert, nor should you have to be. But, the consequences of not meeting payroll tax requirements can be unpleasant. According to the Internal Revenue Service, small businesses were hit with more than $5 billion in civil penalties related to employment taxes in 2017. Payroll service providers can calculate, withhold and file payroll taxes for you. Once you enter employees’ and contractors’ wage and hours information for each pay period, good payroll software should do everything else automatically.
Switching to a full-service provider can save your team 15 hours a month or more.
2. Go paperless for HR
HR software can help you go paperless for all your employees’ paperwork, and it also saves time and headaches when it comes to things like paid time off tracking and time-off requests. Typically, there is a stack of tax forms, employment agreements and photocopies to organize and file, but cloud-based HR software even lets employees fill everything out themselves — and frees up employees to start learning the ropes on their first day.
And, if employees need to review a document or request time off, they can usually take care of it without creating a paper trail for you to clean up later.
3. Use time-tracking software and scheduling tools
If you’re currently using a calendar or spreadsheet to make your schedule, it can be a difficult, manual process. Time-tracking software can save you time in the back office and alleviate some of those logistical headaches. Most software options also sync easily with your payroll and HR software, smoothing out the payroll process even more. And you can publish and share schedules with your team or allow staffers to switch shifts as needed. Plus, if you need it, time-tracking software allows hourly workers to clock in and out easily.
4. Use expense tracking software
Expense tracking can be tedious and time-consuming — and one of the least enjoyable parts of running your practice if you have to chase down receipts and invoices each month. The good news is that there are several cloud-based solutions that help practices automate expense-reporting tasks. It’s even possible to put your smartphone to work to scan receipts as well as organize and submit your expense reports online. Take time to review the available software options — and what they can do — and ask for demos from the companies. Most will offer a free trial period so you can see if it’s the right fit for your practice.
5. Make sure your accounting software integrates seamlessly
Accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks can typically be set up to automatically share data with your payroll, time tracking and expense tracking software. When everything is synced, it means that all your finances will stay well-organized and accurate. You’ll no longer have to worry about reconciling expenses at the end of the month. And you’ll get a better view of your finances, avoid duplicate data entry and cut down on mistakes.
Chances are, you’ll win brownie points from your accountant, too.
While there is no one correct approach to streamlining finances and people management for every dental office, it’s worth taking the time periodically to explore how you could be doing things more efficiently. Chances are, there may be several inexpensive solutions that free up you and your staff to provide even more great care.
About the Author
Mark McKee is president and COO of OnPay, the ADA-endorsed payroll service for dentists. He has more than 15 years of experience in institutional investing, equity research and analysis, private equity and investment banking.