to Your Practice
When you consider that it costs
five times as much to attract a new patient as
it does to keep an existing one it becomes abundantly clear that
investing time and effort in a patient retention strategy is far
more than just a good idea. Certainly, today’s “high
expectation” patients may check out the doctor they heard
about from their coworker or friend. But don’t assume that
inactive patients won’t return to your practice. Patients
appreciate it if you value them enough to make the effort to reconnect.
with your targeted patient list. This is the report you generate
from your computer of all patients past due for recall appointments
in the last twelve months. Give your inactive patients a good reason
Send a direct mail letter to every adult in your active
and inactive files who is or was a patient in good standing.
Be sure to include information about the importance of ongoing professional
dental care. Also take the opportunity to educate patients about
new techniques and procedures available in your office, options
for achieving that beautiful smile, continuing education programs
you and your team have completed that will benefit the patient directly.
If you’re sending to families, include information appealing
to parents’ desires to provide the best care for their children.
reasonable financing options for patients. Establishing
a relationship with a patient financing company makes treatment
more affordable and more likely patients will proceed with both
necessary and elective dental treatment. Send an announcement to
your inactive patients informing them that patient financing is
now available and this is one of many steps your practice is taking
to ensure your patients receive the care they want and need.
the patient’s schedule first and the six month schedule last.
Six month scheduling is the “bait and switch” of dentistry.
Dentists take the bait – The schedule is so packed. I’m
so successful. Patients are lined up for blocks. Then the switch
– another 2 p.m. hole in the schedule today, the hygienist
is stacking inactive patient charts instead of treating active patients.
And once again, doctor, you’ve been duped into thinking that
this low payoff system actually works. Practices scheduling
patients six months out average only 76% patient retention
and have a nearly 50% higher loss of patients than
similar-sized practices that do not pre-appoint.
a real schedule with a real recall. The hygienist explains
the need for follow-up prophies and exams to the patient. The patient
addresses the envelope in which their recall notice will be sent.
The hygienist instructs the patient to schedule the next appointment
when their notice arrives in the mail.
Appointments scheduled two-to-three weeks ahead are less likely
to be cancelled or result in no shows. Use a professionally
written and printed recall notice – no postcards. Why
no postcards? They tell the patient that you are cheap. You want
the patient to invest in a $5,000 treatment plan, but you won’t
spring for more than 23 cents in postage and a one line message?
Think about it.
When the recall notice is sent to the patient include information
on the latest practice news, including new equipment, new techniques,
continuing education updates on the doctor and staff – it’s
the added value of your practice that sets it apart from the one
down the street.
daily patient contact a priority. Assign a patient coordinator
Make a specific number of calls to past due patients each day.
a specific number of appointments.
a specific number of patients complete treatment.
so the hygienist achieves a specific daily or monthly financial
a specific number of unscheduled time units in the hygiene schedule
Each month monitor recall and ask your patient coordinator to provide
a report to the team during the monthly meeting. Give your inactive
patients a reason to try your services again, chances are they never
really wanted to leave in the first place.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
YOU FIND YOURSELF WAIST DEEP IN
HERE TO ANSWER THESE
10 EASY QUESTIONS
DELIVERY from Sally McKenzie, President & CEO, McKenzie Management
& Associates, Inc.
am pleased to announce that Dr. Nancy Haller has joined the McKenzie
Management Team as Executive Coach
Dr. Nancy Haller
Dr. Haller holds a doctorate
degree in psychology and served as a Commissioned officer in the
United States Navy where she provided personnel screening, team
building, and managerial effectiveness training. Following her honorable
discharge, Dr. Haller founded Applied Psychometrics. She has worked
with Fortune 500 managers and executives at the Center for Creative
Leadership. Dr. Haller also is a valued resource in change and conflict
management situations. Her understanding of
behavior and business dynamics combined with her engaging style
make her a trusted advisor to managers and executives.
Over the past 14 years, Dr. Haller has worked with a diverse
group of companies in the public and private sector, from large
corporations to family-owned businesses. Dr. Haller’s expertise
has benefited businesses from dental practices to service industries
in bolstering employee productivity, reducing turnover, and improving
Haller’s assistance to the dental profession will include:
pre-employment testing, conflict management and dispute resolution,
job analysis and employee review, change transition, communication
skills training, departmental and organizational team building,
executive coaching and leadership development, counseling for life
issues and work performance.
Dr. Haller will be a featured columnist in our weekly e-Motivator
Newsletter. And can be reached at McKenzie Management 1-877-777-6151
Ext. 33 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Dr. Haller,
I pay my office staff very well but I am so frustrated that I still
have to tell them what to do. It takes up way too much of my time
when I should be seeing patients. Do you have any advice about how
to motivate them?
Dear Dr. Frustrated,
Your office sounds busy, which is both a blessing and a challenge.
Managing the demands on your time becomes even
more crucial when business is booming. It’s natural that you
expect your staff to help you out when the pressure is on. But productivity
and efficiency in your personnel team are the result of consistent
training and coaching. Unfortunately because developing
employees takes time, it generally gets neglected…until
problems arise. By then emotions can flare up and it feels like
you’re putting out fires.
Building a strong, cohesive office requires time upfront, but the
investment yields long-term gains. The foundation of a good staff
begins in the selection process hiring the right
people, matching their skills and work styles as closely as possible
to the responsibilities of the job. Pre-employment assessment can
be an invaluable tool to strengthen the processes you already have
if you hire the right people, hiring is just the first step. Since
there are no perfect job candidates, it is much
more realistic to expect that your employees will have strengths
and talents, as well as areas they need to improve. Those are referred
to as developmental needs. Once they are
on-board, it is necessary for you to train your staff. Help them
understand not only the concrete parts of their job, and even more
importantly, how you expect them to do those tasks. In
turn, you are coaching your staff to assist you in achieving organizational
Here’s an example.
Joan was hired as the scheduling manager. Her socially poised, enthusiastic
personality made it easy for her to talk with patients. However,
Joan is not a strongly detailed person working
in a job that requires more precision than is natural for her. When
the office is quiet, Joan is accurate with appointments. However,
on days when the office is hectic and there are lots of distractions,
Joan makes errors. She writes down the wrong procedure, or the wrong
tooth number in the book.
Joan seemed like the ‘right’ hire for this job. Her
strengths/talents are her outgoing, personable style. She interacts
with others easily. Her developmental challenge is to pay more attention
to details. If Joan is going to be a productive member of the dental
team in her office, she will need to learn processes about scheduling
that maximize accuracy. This requires her boss
to ‘coach’ her. Through consistent discussions, Joan
and her boss can identify the issues and/or distractions that reduce
her precision. Together they can implement strategies and policies
that enable Joan to maximize her strengths (her
wonderful people qualities) AND improve her attention to detail.
employees need not take lots of time, especially if it becomes part
of the normal day-to-day functioning in the office.
Make it a habit to tell your employees when they do things right.
Every day. Verbal appreciation and recognition
is far more valuable than bonuses and tangible rewards.
When employees err, remind them in private of what you want them
to do, or how you want them to do it. Performance-based
feedback is essential. It tells your employees that they
are ‘on track’, or it gives them information that they
are off-course. Be brief and objective. Stick to the matter at hand.
Ask them what kind of help they might need to perform better. Voice
confidence in their ability to succeed. Give them encouragement.
And remember to praise them. It is very important
to notice even the smallest efforts they make toward their identified
goal. If you repeat this cycle over and over, in time your employees
can be star performers.
more information on Executive Coaching and Leadership Development…
DOES YOUR OVERHEAD
STUDIES FROM THE CENTER FOR DENTAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Belle M. DuCharme, RDA,
Director/ The Center for
Dental Career Development
The Center for Dental Career Development in La Jolla, California,
we offer advanced business office training for Dentists, Office
Managers, Business Administrators, Financial Coordinators, Treatment
Coordinators, Scheduling Coordinators or any other position that
has to do with the business of managing a dental practice. The uniqueness
of this training lies in “customizing” the experience
based on the data collected from the office that is here for training.
The training is not “canned” or strictly from a textbook.
The training is designed to teach the twenty systems that operate
your office and what can be done to make it more profitable and
a more enjoyable place to work. An intensive program of two eight-hour
every operating system in your practice is presented to your front
office person or staff by one training facilitator. The training
room is designed for concentration. No ringing phones or interruptions
are allowed during the training period. This is not a seminar where
you listen to new and great ideas go back to your office and forget
about it a week latter. This is the real information your staff
needs to manage your practice. Study guides and management forms
are provided or developed at that time to be used in your office
for your specific needs. Before coming to The Center, your office
is given a list of reports to provide for the training. A questionnaire
about the office and a temperament profile for each staff member
is requested before the training commences. It is necessary that
the training facilitator be able to examine these reports to provide
information to improve the performance of the practice.
Director of The Center, I have developed a Case File of experiences
with clients that I feel I should share with you for the betterment
of the business of dentistry.
FILE 120: A front office staff of three joined me for training
from Indiana. Upon looking over the information prior to their arrival
I had determined that the production and scheduling required only
two front office personnel to manage the practice. During the initial
introduction period of the training I discovered that all three
had the same title “Patient Coordinator”.
“Who is responsible for recall?” I asked. “We
all are,” was the answer in unison. “When is the last
time you called some one on the list?” They all looked at
each other. “Probably last week”, the senior member
said. “Who is responsible for follow-up on unscheduled treatment?”
“What’s that?” they inquired. “Patients
that have been presented treatment plans and have not scheduled
or have cancelled or have stopped in the middle of treatment. Can
you produce a record of these patients?” I answered. “No,
our computer doesn’t do that and we don’t give
patients treatment plans, we just schedule it.” Answered
again in unison. The senior member of the staff did most of the
talking unless I directed the question to another staff member.
“Doctor doesn’t do any large or difficult treatment
that would require a treatment plan be given to the patient.”
I had observed by looking at a weeks worth of scheduled treatment
that Dr. Yuha had performed a couple of single crowns, several resin
fillings and sealants.”How about informed consent?”
I asked as I continued to gather information on this practice. “What’s
that?” the senior member of the staff answered. I explained
informed consent and how important it was that the patient understands
the treatment and possible risks. I then produced a copy of an “informed
consent” form and showed it to them. The senior staff member
commented, “In the five years that I have worked for Dr. Yuha,
I have never seen anything like that. Do you suppose he does only
easy dentistry so that he doesn’t have to deal with that form?”
I moved on. “Are any of you former dental assistants or have
you had any formal training in dentistry?” They all answered
“No”. They all had excellent backgrounds in
customer service and fully understood the financial arrangement
aspect of the business, however.
Yuha had indicated that he wanted his staff to have definitive
job descriptions and areas of responsibility clearly defined
so that he knew who to go to when he had a question. He had never
given a performance review to any of his staff because he didn’t
know how to measure their performance. He wasn’t sure what
they did at the front all day.
temperament testing the staff, I set out to give them separate job
descriptions and areas of accountability. Each one of them was responsible
for presenting to the doctor a monthly report having to do with
their area of expertise. They were all cross-trained
to be able to “fill in” during illness or vacation periods.
I included clinical training in their program because they were
lacking general knowledge necessary to guide patients to accept
treatment. Dr. Yuha clearly lacked confidence in his treatment presentation
skills but worse yet, he did not have a trained staff member to
“sell” his dentistry. I recommended the Treatment Coordinator
Training here at The Center.
was an intensive two days but the staff left happy and with purpose
and direction as to what they needed to do to organize
and lead the practice to new goals of productivity.
names, state of residence and personal information of clients mentioned
above have been changed to protect their identity.
you at The Center.
M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA, Director
than it is?. . .
. . . but not sure
where to start?
Sending Those "Cutesy" Postcards! Go 1st Class!!!
is not the message you want your patients to receive. A professional
notice sent in an envelope invites serious consideration as well
as providing an ideal opportunity to enclose a pre-med prescription
or an educational brochure that will help raise the patient's
awareness. This investment in patient retention gets existing
patients to stay active and active patients means more word of
I’ve got a really smart office manager that has been with
me for nearly a year. Her annual review is coming up and I would
really like to give her a nice raise, not only to reward her but
also as a means of keeping her for the long run. I’ve had
a few office managers in my 28 years of practice, and this one by
far is the sharpest. My collections alone have gone up substantially
because of the policies that she has initiated. Would you give her
a percentage raise and what would be considered an adequate percentage?
Or would you just give her a substantial one time bonus and a smaller,
more modest raise?
Mid West Dentist
Standard business practice for salary % increase is 5-6% year. That
may vary 1-2% depending on the economy in any given year. To keep
your payroll in line, remember that no more than 22% of your collections
are for salaries and 3-5% for payroll taxes and any employee benefits
you provide. While she’s done a great job in instituting collection
policies that brought in more money, that will eventually become
the norm (as it should be). Whatever raise you give her now is permanent
and not easily taken back. Be honest and fair not only to her but…
to your business for the long term.
US TRAIN YOUR
Center for Dental Career Development
Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street,
La Jolla, CA 92037
OUT OF YOUR
Hygiene Clinical Consultant for
CAN HELP YOU
develop a profitable
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