CEO's Ask the Tough Questions
As much as you may want to, the fact is: you alone can't do it all. The successful practice needs a team of people committed to achieving excellence in every practice system. In most cases, this won't happen without team training. But reaching the true pinnacle requires that each person feels a sense of ownership in the practice, as if each employee was the CEO of his/her respective area.
As the “CEOs” of their specific practice systems, employees can be a tremendously valuable resource and a major factor in total practice success. Part of creating a “CEO mentality” is seeking input from those on your team, and that requires asking more questions. Employees can be a powerful resource in identifying better ways to do things as well as where to save money.
One of my favorite questions to periodically ask the dental team is, “What is it time to get rid of?” As practices grow and mature through the years, procedures that were critical 10 years ago may be inefficient and antiquated today. For example, patient recall required far more paperwork in the past. Today, it should be a streamlined and efficient system that is largely achieved through email and text messaging. Patient forms that once needed to be printed and distributed to patients in person or through the mail can now be available on the practice’s website or sent to the patient via email - saving on printing and mailing costs.
Particularly for practices that have been in operation for 15-20 plus years, owners and team members can get settled into a “this is the way we do things” mentality. Looking at streamlining processes and updating technologies to improve practice efficiency and productivity can be a highly effective way to reduce costs over the long-term. Speaking of costs - another of my favorite questions for the “team of CEOs” is: “What would you change if you were paying the bills?”
Perhaps you have a situation in your practice in which someone different is always ordering supplies. Consequently, no single individual is accountable. As a result, items are ordered only to find that the office already had plenty of this or that product. Streamlining certain duties, such as ordering supplies, can help to ensure practice resources are used most effectively. Paying attention to specific budget targets will also encourage the team and the doctor to more closely evaluate the value of larger purchases. Look for ways in which unnecessary expenses can be eliminated. The more effectively the practice can manage and increase available revenues, the greater the likelihood that the entire team can benefit financially from the success of a practice that is well in the black. And that brings me to my final questions for the CEOs: “What systems are working well? How can they be improved? How can that success be replicated in other systems?”
Just as it is far too easy to complain and find fault, often in dental practices it is far too easy to focus on what isn't working and disregard those areas that experience consistent success. Look at those systems that function well. Discuss the attributes of each and what sets them apart. Then consider how similar approaches can be implemented in other areas. For example, if scheduling consistently runs like a well-oiled machine, what steps have been implemented to ensure consistent results? Perhaps the scheduling coordinator understands that s/he is scheduling for production. S/he has received training in how to direct patients to particular time slots. S/he has a well-prepared script so that s/he always knows exactly what to say to patients and how to say it. S/he receives regular feedback from the doctor and hygienist so s/he knows precisely what is working well and what needs to be adjusted.
Luck doesn't determine the success of practice systems any more than it determines the skill of the doctor. It is through specific procedures that are routinely evaluated and continually improved. It is through training and employee education. And it is in empowering the team to think like practice owners, so that at the end of the day, it is a total team effort that leads to total practice success.
Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.
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