Are You Practicing Dentistry with One Foot Out the Door?
CEO Training Case #CEO236
“Dr. James” (names have been changed) signed up to attend the 2-day Dentist CEO Training course offered by McKenzie Management. He had been in private practice over 15 years ago, sold the practice, and became an associate in another practice. He wasn’t happy in either role and decided to update his skills and start over again.
“It’s too late to switch to another profession, so I have to do it right this time,” Dr. James confided. We discussed why he had sold his practice. “I wasn’t a good leader; mentally I just wasn’t there. The overhead got out of control. New patient numbers fell off and retention was very low. I couldn’t afford to practice so I sold it.”
“Are you committed to making it work this time?” I asked. “Yes” he said. I feel with the right tools, I can make it happen. Quitting is not an option now.”
The two-day course is custom and comprehensive, and for a dentist like Dr. James who never had formal business training, it was at times confusing. Dr. James asked many questions and acknowledged that he now understood how each business system connected to the success of the practice.
“I never managed my employees, I didn’t look at reports, I didn’t control my expenses…”
We started with the basics of the Mission Statement and Vision for the practice, and his leadership capabilities. It wasn’t just about how Dr. James felt in these areas – his team needed to be on board too.
It is critical to recruit and retain only those who are fully committed to the vision of the practice. Everyone must be a team player. A team player can be defined as a staff member who understands and fully embraces the vision, seeks to always meet the exacting standards and expectations of the practice, and views his or her role as more of a mission than a job.
If you have any conflict amongst your staff, you must quickly move to resolve it. If team members cannot resolve their conflicts and move beyond them, you may need to find new employees. Conflict within staff is often sensed by patients, creating an environment of hostility and tension. There is no room for this kind of conflict in a health care facility.
Solid business systems are necessary for everything that happens in the practice. Consistency in follow-through builds patient respect and loyalty. Regularly audit each system to ensure they are effective and remain true to established expectations. Everything from how to answer the phone to how to present treatment becomes part of the system, and every team member is fully trained with the process. Good systems create a practice where you can, at any time, see problems developing in time to correct them before the bottom falls out.
Learning to generate practice management reports from the computer software should not be left up to business staff only. As the dentist CEO, the reports must be viewed weekly, monthly and yearly. Overhead can quickly get out of control if you don’t watch and manage the numbers.
Lab costs should be kept to 10%. Shop around to get the best cost and remember to analyze your fees to make sure this expense isn’t eating your profits.
Dental Supply expenses must remain at no more than 5% of total expenses. Again, shop around to maintain quality at a fair price.
Facility expenses should not exceed 5%.
Dr. James is now prepared to put his foot back in the door of practicing dentistry. He is confident but also knows that if he needs help, McKenzie Management will be there for him every step of the way.
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