Marketing Planning: Being A Profitable Dental Practice in 2012 Through 2022

Each dentist's specific economic predicament, their community's position and the overall perspective creates many businesses challenges, but also provides opportunities of wide and prosperous potential! Therefore, dental practices needs to respond in various ways to encourage consumers to make dentistry a higher priority.

STOP: Waiting For Results, Sitting On Hands, Watching Time Go By
Dental consumers will keep delaying without reminders of value (of not waiting, of what is out there...), which is especially true in this 'manufactured' environment. Manufactured because dentistry is different, it is needed, and after a while a 'must' for those patients who would have gone to the dentist sooner without a bad 'economic climate'.

Additionally, general dental consumers and even current patients have always needed a higher level of communication. Better and more consistent dental marketing is used to upgrade their perspective to accept advanced dentistry treatments. Stronger, more comprehensive, referral skills will help patients encourage friends, family and colleagues/coworkers to consider higher level dentistry not just moving to a 'nicer dentist' or doing merely traditional drill, fill and fit only what's in their insurance till.

While regular preventive dental visits can be delayed without a short-term downside (pain), significant oral health problems (gum disease, tooth loss) and 'personal driven' reasons (replace missing, damaged teeth/tooth before job interview) will not wait for an economic recovery.

When smile emergencies arise, and toothaches flare up, dentists and dental offices should have a public presence to keep patient numbers on a upward growth trajectory as well as improve value acceptance internally.

Dentists who offer high value services such as biomimetic focused approach, comprehensive periodontal management, Invisalign braces, tooth replacing dental implants, cosmetic dentistry veneers, and life, health rejuvenating smile makeovers should make sure they are the ones these patients will know of, already 'trust', see as providing deep value, when they start looking.

For example: Sedation dental marketing is also a way to move consumers who have put off dental treatment because of fear to get the care they need now. Presenting multiple smile makeover transformations of people from various life circumstances, perspectives and situations is beneficial to making the point that better care is not just for celebrities and TV newscasters.

While specific ideas of approaching marketing is important (like above) too many dentists start out with specifics and get caught up in the details before they understand the overall picture. To that end, below find three ways dentists should know about dental marketing before jumping off.

Being a Profitable Dental Practice ELEMENTS in 2012... Beyond

The Best Dental Marketing Plan has THREE Elements

ONE: Be A Publicly, Proactive, Persistent Dental Practice

  • One of the biggest areas of new dental patient development
  • Also Prepares the 'attention' of patients, consumers not considering dentistry right now 
  • Includes a traditional marketing element like dental postcards not just an online presence 
  • People need to be made aware of the dentist's cosmetic, restorative expertise and services
  • While public marketing maybe more expensive to begin, done right, dentists improve things more broadly, faster, geographically targeted
  • Waiting for referrals, or consumers to think about or searchers is risky at any time, let alone a downturn

TWO: Completely Cover Each Current Dental Patient's Angle

  • Patients want others to know about their dentist if they do things well
  • This is hardly ever done well - it is often generic, impersonal, and infrequent
  • Referrals and smile makeover case acceptance result from effectively communicating value
  • Find more ways to connect with dental patients and more formats to ask for referrals
  • Add elements that say something 'new/advanced' about the dentist, office
  • While standard referrals still make great patients, the new landscape requires enhanced methods
  • Use dental technology to better inform patient of the value dentistry services provide and the dentist's expertise

THREE: Network Your Internet Connection: Dental Website, Social Media

  • Websites, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) is where current dental patients, and consumers are, and will be looking for dentists, offices
  • Thousands of ways to attract new dental care patients online
  • When Online evasion is practiced, dentists shrink their community influence, referral power, expertise value
  • The real 'competition' dentist's have is when they do one thing, if anything, and often haphazardly 
  • Dentists must keep adding online dental marketing repertoire, weaving in your highest value services

Downturn Dental Marketing Conclusion

Comprehensive (yet affordable) assertive and persistent public and internal communication is essential for dentists, dental offices to be viable today and long term. Dental marketing is not only a good thing it is the only thing that consistently gets consumers and patients enough information in the quantity, quality, and the right time of day for them to absorb it effectively.

To achieve the success dentists want this year, or any year, requires getting the marketing they need to reach out to the community of those just waiting for someone to speak up, and say, 'Dental care value is RIGHT HERE!"

Dental Marketing Commentary by
Dick Chwalek

Niche Dental Consulting, coaching to comprehensive, is for guiding dentists (like you) to better, faster, and fit-your-needs solutions.

Original Published Version


July Dentistry Webinars Presented by Northern Dental Alliance Member Consultant

Gayle Christensen is a NDA member, and owner of Christensen Dental Consulting, a firm that works with dental offices, staff members and dentists to improve management practices, HR systems and new patient development.
Gayle Christens

Her and colleague Lorraine Dudley offer Webinars to dentists in Minnesota, the region and all over the country. Below is the tally of webinars scheduled for next month, July.

Click for more about Dental Business Training Center.


JULY - Dentistry Office Webinars



6 July 2012: Webinar Topic

Breakthrough Communications Webinar
 8.00am until 10.00am (CST)

--- Presented by Gayle Christensen

How to become the leader you never thought you could be: Enhance communication with your patients and staff by understanding your own behaviors and how they affect others. 
 **There will be a 10 minute break during this webinar.

12 July 2012: Webinar Topic

Customer Service for the Dental Practice Webinar 
 12.00pm until 1.00pm (CST)

--- Presented by Gayle Christensen

Give your practice a competitive edge with unparalleded customer service that comes from the heart.

17 July 2012: Two Webinar Topics

Strategic Dental Office Scheduling Webinar
 11.00am until 12.00pm (CST)

--- Presented by Gayle Christensen

Take (and keep) control of your schedule and capture the "treasure" that is hidden in your patients charts.

Financial Victory for Dentists Offices Webinar
 1.00pm until 2.00pm (CST)

--- Presented by Gayle Christensen

Increase your collections and smile all the way to a healthier bottom line!

18 July 2012: Webinar Topic

New Dental Patients, Keep 'em Coming Webinar
 12.00pm until 1.00pm (CST)

--- Presented by Gayle Christensen

Give your practice a key advantage when it comes to retaining new and existing patients. Learn easy and effective methods to improve your skills with this vital component to your practice's long-term success.


24 July 2012: Webinar Topic

The Power of Documentation for the Dental Office Webinar
 2.30pm until 3.30pm (CST)

--- Presented by Lorraine Dudley

Reduce your risk of exposing your practice to potential harm by using powerful documentation and insurance management tools.


Gayle of Christensen Dental Consulting, Ham Lake MN

She is also a Northern Dental Alliance member

Also Posted on GayleChristensen.com


RePosted by

Dick Chwalek, NicheDental.com

Dick's a Co-Founder and Member of the NorthernDentalAlliance.com


Dental, Dentists Websites: How They Improve Dentistry, Dental Care Acceptance

"No one wants to go to the dentist, to 'get' dentistry, people only need dental care." 

Of course, this is true, right?

Well, it might be, it can be, it must be, it will be... if one would look at a lot of dental websites today, or yesterday, and probably tomorrow. Sadly. 



Randall Palmore, DMD, FAGD 
"I wanted to personally write you and tell you what a fantastic job you did in developing my Dental practice logo and website. You provided me a great service at a very reasonable cost. I am having tremendous feedback from my website and it is definitely attracting new patients to my office as well as providing an excellent source of information for new and existing patients. 

Since this was my first experience in developing a website I was unsure about putting everything together. I appreciate your attention to details and patience with me as we progressed through the whole process. I will highly recommend Niche Dental (Agency) and Dick Chwalek to all dentists looking to take their practice to a higher level of marketing." 


Continued from oh so Sadly...

To be more positive, okay that would be someone else writing, but as for this dental marketing consultant of curmudgeon county, the world of dentists websites is bleak, dire and often dystopian.

(Just heard that last word, and learned its meaning, so had to use it. Just kidding; what does it mean?)

The picture of dental websites is not really that bad, but to be depressive is fashionable in this downturn of a sagging economy verging on desperate times.  So let's get into the mire of this gummy bear of teeth stressing mess of website development regress.

NOTE: My view is not taken by all or most likely anyone, as far as I have been able to keep my head in the sand, but it sheds some murky light on the subjectiveness of my contrarian view.

Get on with it, or mark my words, I will drag, this slog of dental blog, out!

Then here goes dentists...

• Build value rather than follow the leader of the hack.

• Pile up your dentistry expertise CV & bio profile.

Seeing is believing so find a way to show off what you do:

• Add reality to your great dental care personality, post, blog, tweet, facebook regularly

There is so much more, but I have a day job...

Blog post by,

Dick Chwalek

Developer of Connective Communication©


Personalized Dental Postcards: Power for Improving the Consumer Reality of Dental Care Value

There are many ways for dentists to market their dental services. Direct mail like postcards and other mailers, have a huge advantage over other forms of communication. It is much more likely to be seen, reviewed, and touched by your target audience!

Express Dental Marketing - Personalized Power
Personalize the Vital Value of Your Dentistry
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Express Dental takes direct mail to an ADVANCED level with...
• Powerfully Personalized
• Targeted Concepts
• Turnkey Implementation
• Fast Turnaround
• Consistent Simplicity
• Expertise Underneath

Powerfully Personalized

Personalization is what sets us apart from almost every other dental direct mailer. Utilizing variable digital printing each recipient of your mailings will see their name prominently displayed throughout the piece and “within” the design. Combined with Express Dental’s creative concepts and deep dental marketing expertise, this powerful form of one-to-one communication will significantly enhance the influence dynamic.

Rather than making the consumer feel like you are just looking for some anonymous consumer, this advanced style of marketing greets each recipient personally. While your competition continues to put forward a cold, impersonal mass marketing impression, take your dental marketing to the next level!

The Results Speak For Themselves!

-- As much as a...

• 44% Response Improvement by adding recipient’s name to the printed page (not current occupant)*
• 135% Response Improvement by adding full color to a printed piece*
• 500% Response Improvement by adding recipient’s name, color, and customizing content to interests of recipient*

*Variable Digital Printing Industry Results provided by Xerox

Click to see Personalized Postcard Presentation/Diagram.

NOTE: Express Dental personalized postcard direct mail fees include all printing and mailing costs including postage. Other direct mailers often add fees after you are drawn in by their stripped down priced promotions.

Express Dental fees include all these items:

• Complete Personalization
• Full Color BOTH Sides...
-- Some printing promotions offering only full color front, and ONLY black ink on back
• 110-LB High Quality Paper
• Digital Addressing
• All Postal Paper Work
• Zip Code and Carrier Route Sorting
• Delivery to the Post Office
• Targeted Mailing list...
-- The right lead list can improve your response 60% to 70%.

REVIEW: Variable Printing Dental Marketing White Paper

Get Personal with Your Desired Audience Now
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Targeted Concepts

There are many places online where you can get “dental postcards” –– from cheapo and flimsy to very dull and uninspiring. Express Dental raises the bar on creativity with superior consumer relevance.

Consumers, whether currently seeing a dentist or needing to see a dentist, want to know things have changed since they first visited the sterile and often fear laden dental office of their childhood. They want for themselves and/or their children something better, refreshing, and focused on all their dental health needs. They want dental visits to be comfortable and convenient. They want cosmetic dentistry and orthodontic solutions when they want them. They want to go to a dentist that “gets it” when it comes to what they expect, need, and want!

Most importantly, Express Dental understands many consumers are putting off visits to the dentist for entrenched reasons. Denial of need, procrastination and low value perceptions are significant dental health compliance obstacles, but the consumer will not begin to overcome them without a message targeted to dispel their out-dated impressions. Whether they have a toothache or are aching for a straighter, whiter smile, Express Dental offers a steady hand with advanced creativity.

Remember a high value, targeted consumer lead list can improve your dental mailing response by 60% to 70%. Trust Express Dental to develop your list to fit your desired audience, which is already included in our pricing.

Take your dental marketing to a much higher level of consumer relevancy with pinpoint accuracy.

Oli Gonsalves is a Niche Dental Co-Consultant

Target New Revenues Now
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Turnkey Implementation

Plain and simple: You provide the campaign and financial parameters along with your practice information and photos/images. Express Dental Marketing does the rest.

Saving time and management headaches are major objectives when running a dental practice, whether as a sole proprietor or a multi-doctor, multi-location group. Express Dental Marketing has created a system that turns new patient acquisition into five easy steps.

  • Fill out order form
  • Provide your information
  • Make payment
  • Approve the final product
  • Answer many NEW PATIENT calls!

Turn the Key Now for More Patients
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Fast Turnaround

I need more patients fast! The dentist or orthodontist with this request has located the ultimate source for their dilemma. Express Dental Marketing can put patients in your practice within as little as three weeks!

Choose targeted, creative, and effective advanced dental marketing, direct mail designs in minutes. Express Dental compiles your information and prints in a matter of days. Within a few weeks you are seeing new patients and racking up more revenues.

Turn Up The Volume on Revenues Fast
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Consistent Simplicity

Consistency is as close as you can get to a marketing sure thing. Consumers have a lot of decisions. Families, adults, teenagers, young and old, men and women all prioritize. Making dentistry a higher priority in their lives requires a consistent presence.

Express Dental direct mail is like the Yellow Pages with a personal valet that provides effective reminders about what can be done to improve dental health and smile appearance. This personalized, proactive, high quality, “how about now” approach is the simplest way to reach the harried, waiting-for-a-better solution dental consumer.

Simplify Consistent Marketing Revenues
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Expertise Underneath

There are postcard printers with dental “themed” cards. There are direct mailers with a few dental “designs”. There are marketers with some generic “tooth brushing” and “apple a day” images. In contrast, Express Dental Marketing has a deep foundation in dental consumer communication strategies.

What will family dentists, cosmetic dentists, and orthodontist specialists get from this substantial foundation of dental marketing expertise? These dental practitioners will get complete-effect marketing products that target:

  • Their most desired patient group. Plus...
  • The fence sitting (waiting till my dental health gets very bad) consumer
  • Is there a dentist that understands my fears consumer
  • The “Show me the value” dental skeptic
  • The “Wow me with something cool” consumer
  • The mom, dad, parents who want the best for their families

Dental marketing consultant Dick Chwalek of Niche Dental and NicheDental.com provides the expertise for the Express Dental personalized direct mail concept. Dick also provides custom writing when requested by Express Dental clients/dentists.

For Marketing with Dental Expertise Built-in
CALL 1+888.380.0020 • Email Contact Express Dental Marketing

Also Posted at NicheDental.com


Dentists: Choosing the Right Materials in Restorative, Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry

  AFTER • IPS e.max crowns #6-#11*  
As dentistry and dentists continue to shift in the direction of metal free restorations, it is imperative for both the dental clinician and technician to understand differences in materials as each one has the ability to achieve different things.

If we consider ourselves a team working towards the same goal, Renstrom (lab) and dentists should be on the same page at all stages of the dental treatment plan. When the doctor office provides the necessary information as well as the objectives of the dental patient, it makes it easier for the laboratory technician to choose a material that will deliver the best outcome.

Trying to associate each dental material with its unique brand name can be confusing, especially now when there are so many. Dental lab technicians receive a lot of training and education on products at the lab, but at times it can be overwhelming for our doctors.

Although Renstrom generally does make suggestions based on the circumstances of the case, it is beneficial for doctors to be familiar with the different options. The easiest way to differentiate dental products is to understand the technique or technology that each employs.

At Renstrom lab, usually breaks this up in to roughly four different categories, and also look at some general guidelines.

1.) Feldspathic (smile veneers on refractory die): Oldest system in metal free technology. Used when there is a conservative dentist prep design in order to preserve the natural tooth structure. Indicated primarily in the anterior region for teeth with good underlying dentition.

2.) Pressable Ceramics (i.e. Empress, Authentic): After waxed, sprued, and pressed to ingot, cut-back and layering technique is used to achieve desired smile, tooth aesthetics. Doesn’t have the masking ability that zirconia would if the tooth is darker.

3.) Zirconia (i.e. Lava, Procera, InVizion): Copings are designed and fabricated by dental CAD/CAM milling machines. The coping is designed with the required thickness needed for unsupported porcelain to maximize the longevity of the restoration. This is the strongest of the layered all-ceramics. Can be used for crowns, bridges, and dental implant abutments.

4.) Lithium Disilicate (e.Max): This universal dentistry material is either pressed or milled from a variety of translucent blocks/ingots. Applications include full dental crowns, smile makeover veneers, implant abutments, and three unit anterior bridges. Can be pressed as thin as .3 mm but must consider the stumpf shade of the prepared tooth.

The incisal cut back is done on anterior tooth restorations for added porcelain effects. A Shoulder/chamfer margin is needed for full contour crowns and sharp angles should always be eliminated. The full contour tooth structures are stained and glazed, which eliminates the possibilities for porcelain chipping, and therefore increases the strength and durability of the tooth restoration.

When selecting the best dental material choice, dentists should consider the following factors; stumpf shade, occlusion, single unit/bridge, and also cementation preferences. You should also consider the possibility of any future needs of the patient so that similar materials can be used for optimal esthetic matching.

It is always good to keep accurate records of the specific type of crown or bridge, product, and the shade of the patient. This way if something needs adjusting or future work is needed, a more predictable result can be expected.

To ensure the success of the dental material chosen, check all requirements of the product at hand. Proper tooth prep design is a must when it comes to all ceramics as sharp angles and feather edged margins can lead to early failures. Also, the required thickness of each product can vary and so the specific guidelines should always be followed.

If you are a dentist with questions regarding materials or a particular case, we encourage you to give Renstrom Dental Studio (laboratory) call so we can discuss the best treatment plan for your patient!


Renstrom Dental Studio, Inc
Vadnais Heights/St. Paul MN


Original Minnesota Dental Lab Materials Article posted here.

Renstrom Dental Studio (MN Lab) is also a Northern Dental Alliance member.

Reposted by
Dick Chwalek

Dick is also a Northern Dental Alliance member.


Education Makes World Go Round: Dental Professionals' CE Helps Us Confidently Smile As We Learn

Dental Education, Dentist CE...
Dentists, hygienists, dental assistants even dentist office managers and customer service team members all need to be at their best to encourage, sustain and provide the highest level of dentistry for patients.

NicheDentalCollaborate.com offers a platform to further develop the skills of all dental professionals.

The examples BELOW are of JUST ONE area of dental courses, and other resources, off line and online, students of continuing education can access.

Direct to Dentists CE Online

ALSO Direct To Dental Hygienists CE Online!

  • Eating Well for a Healthy Mouth

  • Eating Well for a Healthy Mouth Additional Exam(s)

  • Eating Well for a Healthy Mouth E-Book

  • Antimicrobials in Dentistry E-Book

  • Tuberculosis

  • Tuberculosis Additional Exam(s)

  • Beyond Anthrax: Bioterrorism and the Health Professions

  • Beyond Anthrax: Bioterrorism and the Health Professions Additional Exam(s)

  • Diabetes Mellitus

  • Diabetes Mellitus Additional Exam(s)

  • HIV/AIDSand Public Health Issues

  • HIV/AIDS and Public Health Issues Additional Exam(s)

  • Dental Management of Common Medical Conditions Additional Exam(s)

  • Nutritional Counseling

  • Nutritional Counseling Additional Exam(s)

  • Oral Histology

  • Oral Histology Additional Exam(s)

  • Understanding Alcohols

  • Understanding Alcohols Additional Exam(s)

  • Understanding Alcohols E-Book

  • Understanding Oral Electrosurger/Radiosurgery: A Practical Approach Additional Exam(s)

  • Understanding Oral Electrosurgery/ Radiosurgery: A Practical Approach

  • Osteoporosis: Prevention, Management, and Screening Using Dental X-Rays Additional Exam(s)

  • Osteoporosis: Prevention, Management, and Screening Using Dental X-Rays E-Book

  • Pharmacology for Dentistry Additional Exam(s)


Written/Posted by

Dick Chwalek


Northern Dental Alliance member Heritage Construction Companies, LLC of Elk River: Richfield MN Dentist's Office Remodeling

Each year NDA member Heritage Construction Companies, LLC of Elk River, Minnesota develops many dental practices and other healthcare related offices throughout the state and region, as well as other retail and commercial sites.

Featured Dental Practice: Paul Berg, DDS, Richfield Minnesota

Remodeled dental practices pictures

Remodeling: Basic Details
  • Location: Richfield, MN
  • Architect: The Foundation Architects
  • Size: 922 sq. ft.
  • Type of Construction: Interior Remodel Timeframe: 10 days
SEE entire case study at Heritage Construction Companies website.

Dentist, Dr. Paul Berg's Testimonial
“We had Heritage Construction complete the remodel for my dental office. They worked seamlessly with the architect and designer. There were no surprises on the financial or the design side. They did exactly what the architect had designed and did it in exactly the time budgeted."

Continued: Dr. Paul Berg's Testimonial "The advantage with Heritage is that they had completed several other dental offices and they know the importance of getting the project done quickly so we can get back to work. We were also able to work around the construction so that we could stay open."

Actual Dental Office Remodeling Pictures (Middle 3 Only)

Final part: Richfield Dentist, Dr. Berg's Testimonial 
"Dan, the job superintendent, kept the subs coordinated and chipped in whenever needed. The subs were efficient and courteous. We were very happy with the whole process and would not hesitate to hire them again for our next project. We highly recommend Andrew Harvala and Heritage construction. ” 

Heritage Construction began in 2004 when Andrew Christensen started the general contractor business to serve the Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and into Central Wisconsin to build commercial and retail buildings that fit the needs of the business, the business owner and the area.

Again Andy Christensen,
"We have been successfully building, remodeling and servicing dental clinics for the many years. With our combined knowledge, experience and skill set, we have become experts in the dental industry. Many dentists in Minnesota and the surrounding states already know about our construction company, whether we have built or remodeled their practice or not. This is because we support the Northwest Dentistry Journal and regularly participate in dental events, including attending the main three MN dental meetings every year.”


Heritage Construction Companies, LLC
Andy Christensen • Owner
13422 Business Center Drive • Suite 2B
Elk River, Minnesota 55330

Andy on LinkedIn.com

Heritage a Northern Dental Alliance Member


Story Posted by

Dick Chwalek

Niche Dental also a Northern Dental Alliance Member.


NDA Member Presents: Dental Office Employee, Small Business Retirement Plan Options

Most business owners share a variety of critical priorities, such as cash flow, managing taxes, attracting and rewarding valued employees, and establishing a long-term strategy to ensure their own financial security. Fortunately, small-business owners also share an option that could help address all of those goals: Sponsoring a workplace retirement plan.

Among small employers (5 to 100 workers) who decided to sponsor a plan, the strategy is generally expected to enhance the overall business, according to one major survey. In fact, the most common motivations for employers to sponsor a plan were to increase their ability to attract and retain employees, and to improve employee morale. In addition, retirement plans offer valuable tax deductions and allow for tax-deferred compounding of investment earnings.

Types of plans

There are several types of retirement plans to choose from, and each type of plan has advantages and disadvantages. This discussion covers the most popular plans. You should also know that the law may permit you to have more than one retirement plan, and with sophisticated planning, a combination of plans might best suit your business’s needs.


A Simplified Employee Pension plan (SEP-IRA) may be ideal for a one-person business or a business with just a few employees. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to start and administer.

The employer — not the employees — contributes to a SEP-IRA. Employees are immediately vested, and each employee decides how his or her money is to be invested.

Although there are some exceptions, in general, a SEP-IRA must cover any employee who is 21 or older, earned at least $500 from the business, and has worked there during at least three of the preceding five years. In 2012, the annual contribution limit for each employee is 25% of compensation (or, for the self-employed, net earnings) or $50,000, whichever is less.

SEP-IRAs also offer small-business owners flexibility regarding both the amount and timing of contributions. As a result, a SEP-IRA may make sense for a business with profits that tend to fluctuate from year to year.


Actually a sophisticated type of individual retirement account (IRA), the SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA plan allows employees to defer up to $11,500 (for 2012) of annual compensation by contributing it to an IRA. In addition, employees age 50 and over may make an extra “catch-up” contribution of $2,500 for 2012. Employers are required to match deferrals, up to 3 percent of the contributing employee’s wages (or make a fixed contribution of 2 percent to the accounts of all participating employees whether or not they defer to the SIMPLE plan).

SIMPLE plans work much like 401(k) plans, but do not have all the testing requirements. So, they’re cheaper to maintain. There are several drawbacks, however. First, all contributions are immediately vested, meaning any money contributed by the employer immediately belongs to the employee (employer contributions are usually “earned” over a period of years in other retirement plans). Second, the amount of contributions the highly paid employees (usually the owners) can receive is severely limited compared to other plans. Finally, the employer cannot maintain any other retirement plans. SIMPLE plans cannot be utilized by employers with more than 100 employees.

401(k)/Profit Sharing plans

A type of deferred compensation plan, and now the most popular type of plan by far, the 401(k) plan allows contributions to be funded by the participants themselves, rather than by the employer. Employees elect to forgo a portion of their salary and have it put in the plan instead.

The requirements for 401(k) plans are complicated, and several tests must be met for the plan to remain in force. For example, the higher paid employees’ deferral percentage cannot be disproportionate to the rank-and-file’s percentage of compensation deferred.

These plans can be extremely expensive to administer, but the employer’s contribution cost is generally very small (employers often offer to match employee deferrals as an incentive for employees to participate). Thus, in the long run, 401(k) plans tend to be relatively inexpensive for the employer.

If you don’t have any employees (or your spouse is your only employee) a 401(k) plan (an “individual 401(k)” or “solo 401(k)” plan) may be especially attractive, Because you have no employees, you won’t need to perform discrimination testing, and your plan will be exempt from the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). You can make a deductible profit-sharing contribution of up to 25% of pay (to $245,000) on your own behalf in 2012, and in addition you can make deductible pre-tax contributions of up to $17,000 in 2012 (plus an additional $5,500 of pre-tax catch-up contributions if you’re age 50 or older). However, total annual additions to your account in 2012 can’t exceed $50,000 (plus any age-50 catch-up contributions).

Note: Beginning in 2006, a 401(k) plan can let employees designate all or part of their elective deferrals as Roth 401(k) contributions. Roth 401(k) contributions are made on an after-tax basis, just like Roth IRA contributions. Unlike pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan, there’s no up-front tax benefit–contributions are deducted from pay and transferred to the plan after taxes are calculated. Because taxes have already been paid on these amounts, a distribution of Roth 401(k) contributions is always free from federal income tax. And all earnings on Roth 401(k) contributions are free from federal income tax if received in a “qualified distribution.”

Note: 401(k) plans are generally established as part of a profit-sharing plan which allows employer contributions.

Cash Balance Pension Plan

By far the most sophisticated type of retirement plan, a cash balance pension plan is a type of defined benefit program. A Cash Balance Plan operates much differently than other types of retirement plans.

Most of the Cash Balance Plans are established for the primary benefit of the owners or executives of a company. Therefore, the contributions for owners and executives are typically very large with a smaller contribution provided to staff to meet IRS requirements. Contributions to the owner can exceed $100,000 per year dependent on the age of the owner(s). During the plan design, the sponsoring company selects the amount of contribution for each owner and executive, up to the maximum amount permitted by law.

These are complicated plans with higher administrative expenses. An actuary is needed to determine funding requirements each year.

Other plans

The above sections are not exhaustive, but represent the most popular plans in use today. Recent tax law changes have given retirement plan professionals new and creative ways to write plan formulas and combine different types of plans, in order to maximize contributions and benefits for higher paid employees.

Small Business Retirement Plans

  • Group 401(k) and Roth 401(k)
  • Cash Balance Pension Plan
  To view Plans at a Glance/Comparison chart, click here. (near middle of page)

Contribution Limits Up to 25% of employee pay, not to exceed $50,000 Employees: $11,500 Catch-up contributions: $2,500 Employers: 1% to 3% of employee compensation Employees: $17,000 Catch-up contributions: $5,500 Employers: discretionary Combined total not to exceed $50,000 or 100% of employee pay Depends. An actuary has to calculate. Can exceed $100,000.

Making the Right Choice

As you review these retirement plan options, keep in mind there are many points to consider. With tax rates likely to rise in 2013, now is the time to be evaluate the business’ current plan and ensure it is meeting the needs of the business owner. Other considerations include evaluating your business’s unique needs and goals, protecting your plan from creditors, and limiting your own fiduciary responsibility. For these reasons, it is generally advisable to speak with a retirement plan expert before making any decisions.

Points to Remember 

1. By sponsoring a workplace retirement plan, business owners may be able to better pursue a wide range of important goals, such as managing taxes, attracting and retaining employees, and preparing for a financially secure future.

2. The vast majority of business owners who sponsor a retirement plan believe that it has a positive effect on their ability to retain employees and on workers attitudes and performance.

3. Of the three main types of retirement plans, SEP-IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs are the least expensive and most convenient to administer. Qualified plans are more complex, but 401(k) and Roth 401(k) plans are typically the most expensive and time consuming to manage.

4. Before deciding on a plan, small-business owners should reflect on the goals they hope to achieve and their financial and managerial ability to pursue those goals in light of each plans unique requirements.

5. It is also widely recommended that business owners consult an experienced retirement plan professional in order to arrive at and implement the right decision.

Sincerely, Rick Epple, CFP®

Rick Epple, CFP®, is the founder and president of Epple Financial Advisors (EFA). We at EFA work in our client’s (including dentists) best interest to understand their unique issues and create a flexible but clear and direct road map to achieve their goals. This consists of a comprehensive and integrated wealth management plan and corresponding unbiased custom solution. Our plan will continue to guide and protect our clients in the years ahead, regardless of the changing market and economic condition.


Epple Financial Advisors, LLC

1000 Twelve Oaks Center Dr. • Wayzata, MN 55391

Phone: 952-470-5049 Email: info@EppleFinancial.com

Originally Posted on May 1, 2012, on blog.EppleFinancial.com by


My focus as a Certified Financial Planner is to help business owners reach their personal and financial goals, and this blog will provide objective information on a wide variety of related topics, from goal setting to estate planning.

Rick Epple is a Northern Dental Alliance Member and co-founder.

Also View Rick's Video on NicheDental2000 YouTube Channel

RePosted by Dick Chwalek

Dick is a Northern Dental Member, and co-founder.


Alleviate Dental Health Value Dissonance: Communicate More, Better, Consistently!

The symptoms of dentistry communication ineffectiveness...
  • Trailing behind other dentists in the community. 
  • Too many patients are delaying their dental care. 
  • About 50% of the public not going to the dentist on a regular basis. 

Take a leadership role;

Collaborate with a communication expert who can help!

Case Study Examples from Niche Dental

Connective Communication© Videos

Connective Communication© Articles

SEMINAR: Connective Communication©

Connective Communication© Collateral Dental Marketing Elements

YouTube.com Dental, Connective Communication© Videos

Public Relations, PR @1888PressRelease.com


Developed, Written and Posted by,

Dick Chwalek,
Marketing Consulting for Dentists, Dental Offices
Co-founder, member NorthernDentalAlliance.com

Also Posted on NicheCollaborate.com

Also Blog Posted At NDC.

Also Posted at NorthernDentalAlliance.com

Also Posted at NicheDental.com


Promotion Purified in 140 Characters for Dentists, Dentistry, Dental Care

Dentists, get noticed! No longer wait, sit by phone, look a schedule without enough new patients.

Twitters about your Facebook page, your site, your dental blog and the latest dentistry news.



Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek@nichedental

Y Do We Think Dental Insurance Covers All When Co-Pays are Required B4 Even Seeing MDs?

Thank U! I’ll be here all tweak



Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all
Richard Chwalek @nichedental

Y Do We Fear Dental Visits More Than Our Teeth Disappearing?

Very interestingly disintegrating

- OK~I’ll b here all tweak



Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek ‏ @nichedental

Dental Marketing's a Science. Actually~Closer 2 a Seance

~When Marketers Conjure Old Tricks 2 Sucker Relatively Many.


Reply Delete Favorite

12:45 PM - 17 May 12 via web · Embed this Tweet


Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek@nichedental

Dentists~Hope2 Retire Better/Sooner~Require Great Lab Work?

Want New/2Remodel Office? Need Employee~OSHA/Team Training?



Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek@nichedental

Tooth Aches. Teeth Hurt. Jaw Sore. Enamel Worn. Smile Yellowed. Root Damaged. Dental Decay. Disease Present-

@DrWhiteDentist ;@RizviDDS @scottshamblott @BlackwellDental @AlmanDentistry @GrauerOrtho


Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek@nichedental

@DrWhiteDentist: Advanced Dentistry~proven oral health and smile improving results.

Biomimetics~a vital part of his comprehensive approach.

Reply Delete Favorite

11:46 AM - 17 May 12 via web · Embed this Tweet


Original Tweet Link 


Tweets dental care insurance not coverage all

Richard Chwalek@nichedental

Dentists~Postcards Work! How?

This Way: Don’t WAIT 4 Consumer 2 Put Off

~Get in FRONT of Them~In HANDS~Unavoidably Work


11:59 AM - 17 May 12 via web · Embed this Tweet


Post by,

Dick Chwalek


Also Promoted/Posted on NorthernDentalAlliance.com