Four Steps for a Successful 2012
By Sally McKenzie, CEO
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Actually, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your practice achieves the level of success that you desire in the coming year. I wrote about six others last week in what I consider to be the top 10 steps that practices can take in 2012 to enjoy greater prosperity and less stress. Below are the remaining four.
4. Stop Worrying About the Competition
Your problem is not the competition. Rather, your concern should be what you are doing to set your practice apart and deliver superior customer service. Train your team. Most business staff have no understanding of how to most effectively manage new patient phone calls, how to build rapport, how to make the prospective patient feel good about calling their office. Additionally, rather than worrying about the dentists down the street, go visit them. Walk into their offices and introduce yourself. Check out the interior, pay attention to how staff and the doctors make you feel when you step through the door. If you don't feel welcome there, I can virtually guarantee that their patients don't either. Study your competition, get to know them, and offer to take their emergencies when they are away.
3. Face the Fire
Problem employees will ruin a practice. They need to be dealt with directly using clearly established policies. Work with a professional to create a policies and procedures manual that is specific to your individual practice needs. The manual may cover as many or as few issues as the doctor chooses, but should include the following key practice policies:
- Equal opportunity statement - This states that the employee's religion, age, sex, or race will not influence hiring, promotion, pay, or benefits in any way.
- Definition of the work schedule - This indicates that all employees are to be at their assigned work areas and ready to provide care for patients at a certain time.
- Salary/payment policies - This details when the employee can expect to be paid, how wage increases are handled, overtime, etc.
- Professional Code of Conduct - This section clarifies the practice's expectations regarding employee dress, punctuality, use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, as well as policies regarding personal phone calls, Internet usage, and personal visits.
- Performance review policy - This section explains exactly how and when employee performance is evaluated, including samples of performance evaluation forms. It may also spell out the practice's policy on progressive discipline and unsatisfactory performance, and it may list those infractions that could result in termination of employment.
- Time off policies - This section explains policies on vacation, parental/maternity leave, illness, military, funeral, personal, jury duty, holidays, personal days, etc.
Preparation is critical. Waiting until employee behaviors are so problematic that they are damaging the practice or dealing with issues such as tardiness, family leave, unprofessional conduct, dress code, etc. inconsistently make the dentist and practice highly vulnerable to litigation.
2. Ensure that Patients Understand the True Value of “Routine” Hygiene Visits
Enhance patient perception of the hygiene appointment by explaining the impact of oral health on systemic health, periodontal health, and oral cancer. This increases the patient’s perceived value of routine care. If a periodontal co-examination is performed and the hygienist talks about the results and educates the patient - even healthy patients - they will have far greater appreciation and understanding when you must recommend that they be seen in four months rather than six.
1. Market your Practice
Recognize that effective marketing requires hard work, diligence, and a fully-funded budget. It's more than a few ads or occasional patient mailer. Marketing is an ongoing system, and everyone on your staff is marketing your practice for better or worse in every patient interaction. Effective marketing involves a series of fundamental steps and ongoing commitment. Most importantly, if you want long-term measurable marketing results, hire a professional dental marketing company. Visit McKenzie Management's Marketing Division HERE.
Certainly, running a dental office presents a host of challenges, and ongoing success requires focus and attention to multiple details. While frustrations and setbacks may occur, with guidance and solid, well-constructed business systems, dental practices can achieve unprecedented success. I know this because at McKenzie Management we have seen it again and again. If you believe your practice has greater potential than it is delivering, make 2012 the year that you achieve it. Give me a call, 877-777-6151 or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll make this your best year yet.
Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at email@example.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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