Make the Most of the Mid-Career Practice
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Every mid-career practice has room to grow and improve regardless of whether you’re among the fortunate who have hit their stride and are thoroughly enjoying success or still struggling to create the practice you’ve always dreamed of. The key is to honestly consider what you really want from dentistry, and whether you would rather settle for what you have or if, at mid career, you’re ready to take your practice to an entirely new level of success. If you’re interested in the latter, read on. I’m going to talk about three key obstacles that could be hampering you’re path to the pinnacle.
#1 Staff. Hiring and personnel issues are a recurring nightmare for dental practices at all stages and particularly those in the throes of a mid-career struggles. A seemingly perpetual string of employee headaches burden the best of dentists. Staff turnover typically occurs about every 18 months. Prepare for it. Implement a hiring strategy long before you’re in the midst of a “two-weeks notice” induced panic. Part of that staffing strategy includes making sure you add someone who will be able to fill a key position, not just collect a paycheck.
Don’t leave it to chance; make certain your next hire is the right fit for both the job and your practice. When you’ve carried out your carefully orchestrated hiring strategy and settled on a couple of serious candidates put them to the test. Make use of computerized testing tools that enable you to assess if the individuals you are considering would actually be a good fit for the position and your dental team.
It’s a safety net that can save you multiple hiring headaches. In many cases, you may be ready to hire a candidate who looks good on paper, interviews well, and appears to have the right demeanor for the practice. But if this person secretly hates asking people for money, she/he is not going to succeed as your collections coordinator. And you likely won’t discover this until you’re facing a financial problem.
Internet tests specifically designed for dental practices enable the doctor to know within minutes if the candidate they are considering would be a good match for the position. It’s a straightforward and accurate barometer that enables the doctor to hire based on real data not gut feelings or good luck.
#2 Training. Don’t skimp on team education and training. Nothing will stampede over a struggling mid-career practice and pound it into further turmoil than lack of instruction. In fact, the single, biggest contributor to practice inefficiency, mismanagement, and lost revenues is a poorly trained team.
#3 Service. If the schedule is booked out weeks for the doctor and months for hygiene, if patients are routinely declining treatment, if collections are low, and holes in the schedule are frequent, these are all system indicators that patient service is a problem. While each system likely needs careful scrutiny and review, you can make changes today that will improve patient perceptions of your practice immediately. Start with the basics:
- Acknowledge every person. Under no circumstances should a patient be ignored when they come to the counter. Acknowledge their presence immediately regardless of what you are doing at the time. It takes five seconds to look over at the patient let them know you will be right with them. If you pretend they are not there, you tell the patient that they are an annoyance and unworthy of your time.
- Welcome each “guest.” Treat each patient as the most important person in your office from the moment they walk in the door until they leave the parking lot.
- Have the answers. Patients expect you to have immediate answers to basic questions. Track the common questions that patients ask. Take steps to ensure that every member of the team is prepared to answer them.
Mid-career practices often suffer from a “we’ve always done it this way” attitude. They’ve settled into a comfortable routine. The doctor isn’t satisfied but doesn’t know what to do to fix the issues. There’s no better time than mid-career to re-focus on your practice goals and turn that slump into an all out stride.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at email@example.com.
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