Manpower, Materials, & Management Make or Break Your Practice
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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We’re on the topic of the 5 M’s, a longstanding management model that can be applied to the dental practice. We covered the first two M’s in last week’s issue – message and measurement. While the first two are essential in achieving excellence, it’s the final three M’s that will make or break your practice, beginning with Manpower/Team Power.
It’s often said that a company is only as good as its people, the same is true for a dental practice. The quality of your employees reflects the quality of your care, at least in the eyes of the patient. Ensure that yours represent the best you have to offer. Never hire someone simply to fill a position. Instead, follow a clearly defined hiring plan:
- Write ads that will attract the better candidates. Remember, status and salary sell.
- Update the job description to spell out responsibilities.
- Use that as a guide in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of applicants.
- Use phone interviews to narrow the list of candidates.
- Prepare standard questions and compare answers of applicants.
- Test the applicants.
Computerized Internet testing tools available through McKenzie Management allow you to determine if the individuals you are considering are a good fit for the position and your practice. The procedure is simple. Once you have a couple of strong contenders for a job, the applicants answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, you receive a statistically reliable report enabling you to determine if the candidate would be a good match for the position. It’s a scientifically-based tool you can rely on in making critical hiring decisions. And in the dental practice, every hire is critical.
Materials - In this case, that would be training materials. The single, biggest contributor to inefficiency and mismanagement is a poorly trained practice team. The lack of instruction provided to business staff, in particular, can cost dentists thousands upon thousands of dollars in lost revenues. Yet in today’s dental marketplace, a wide variety of affordable training options are available.
For example, dentists have access to onsite training as well as online programs. Online, employees can become acquainted with key systems and management techniques at a fraction of the cost. In fact, some of these programs, such as those offered on the McKenzie Management website reduce the expense of employee instruction some 70%-80%. In roughly 30 minutes, a front desk employee can point and click through a tutorial on the causes and remedies of broken appointments. She/he can review a course on reducing accounts receivables. The hygienist can click her/his way through a lesson on patient tracking. On site programs enable employees to get monthly on-site training and support on practice-specific systems.
Management – If only the success or failure of your practice were contingent solely upon the quality of your dentistry. But there are 22 systems and dozens of variables that affect your practice, all of which require ongoing assessment and monitoring. Hold regular staff meetings to monitor management systems.
- Block off two hours each month over the next year.
- Develop an agenda with input from the entire team. Include all areas that impact the profitability/success of the practice. For example: new patients, recall, collections, treatment acceptance, production, unscheduled time units, uncollected revenues over 60 days, overhead, etc.
- Assign each member of the team to report on the system they’re responsible for.
- Seek input from everyone by asking questions such as, “What is your reaction to that? As the patient, how would you react? What are the advantages of this approach? What are the potential disadvantages?”
- Delegate responsibilities and establish deadlines for completing tasks identified during the staff meetings.
- Share ideas for improving the work environment, the patient experience, and the efficiency of the practice.
- Designate the amount of time you will spend discussing each issue and avoid getting bogged down on unrelated topics.
- Discuss only what is on the agenda.
- Eliminate outside interruptions. If possible, hold staff meetings off-site. Many local libraries, community colleges, and other public facilities have public meeting rooms available for use.
- Hold meetings at least once per month, more frequently if you’re implementing several changes.
Implementation of the 5 Ms of a successful dental practice has a huge impact on that one very important “M” : Money.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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