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5.19.06 Issue #219

 
   
Quality Training Here...and Now


Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company
sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com

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Dentists often prefer to assume that employees know what they’re doing. And who could blame them? They’re busy providing direct care to the patients. So they go along believing that the new appointment coordinator knows how to schedule correctly because she worked in a dental practice before. Yet there seems to be a proliferation of appointment blunders lately.

They assume the collections coordinator is adept at asking patients for money even though the bottom line is continually teetering between feast and famine. They assume that the business team knows how to use the computer system effectively, yet it’s always a struggle to get necessary reports. They think the hygiene department is productive because the schedule is booked out several months, but the hygienist seems to have unfilled appointments virtually every day.

Certainly, it’s much easier to assume that the daily mix-ups and frustrations are just part of life in the busy dental practice than it is to face the possibility that those inefficiencies and shortfalls are an indicator of an untrained or under-trained team. Without question, training issues present many challenges for practices. And the unfortunate reality is that the corner pet store likely invests more money teaching their employees how to sell $5 in fish food than many dentists will put into training for those team members who have direct control over tens of thousands of dollars in practice revenues.

It’s not that dentists don’t recognize the value of training. Almost without exception, every dentist will acknowledge the importance of having a trained team. But they often talk themselves out of pursuing professional training assuming that the costs are too high in both dollars and time. What’s more, they fear that freshly trained staff member will pack up and take their newly developed skills to the practice down the street. In reality, the employee that has the opportunity to improve their skills tends to be much more vested in the success of the practice. 

Yet doctors convince themselves that training is really best handled internally. They will tell you about Betty and how well she trained Carol and then when Emily came along, Betty and Carol, just took her under their wing and taught her everything she needed to know, and so on. Dentists convince themselves that this “layered” approach to training is actually working. But they continue to be plagued by problems with the schedule, shortfalls in production, holes in hygiene, inconsistencies in practice revenues, and the inability to get clear reports or straight answers from the staff.

Doctor, you don’t have to tolerate the inefficiencies of a poorly trained team nor do you have to spend a fortune to fix it. Quality training is no longer synonymous with time away from the practice and major expense. Dentists, like thousands of other employers, can now send staff to school in cyberspace, saving considerable time and reducing the cost of employee instruction some 70% to 80%.

For example, The McKenzie Company’s Center for Dental Career Development, www.dentalcareerdevelop.com, recently launched an online training series specifically designed for dental business employees, clinical staff, and the dentist. The online courses, which have become an extremely popular training option for many dental teams, familiarize the staff with a few of the key practice systems.

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 through a lesson on patient tracking. And the doctor can learn the latest on conducting salary and performance reviews. It’s the ease and affordability of training programs like these that are becoming more and more popular with dental professionals.

Although the single, biggest contributor to practice inefficiency and mismanagement has been a poorly trained team, with the multiple affordable training options available to practices today it doesn’t have to be. Stop tolerating the inefficiencies and frustrations and explore your training options in the cyber marketplace.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Learning Leadership by Doing


Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com

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Perhaps it was never your intention to be a ‘leader’. You went to school to be a dentist. You may not have given much thought to hiring an assistant or a hygienist or someone to do your billing. Before you realized it, you had a staff of people on your payroll…all looking to you for leadership.

You lead your employees every day. They watch you. What you do - and what you don’t do – ultimately has an impact on your bottom line. Therefore, even if you don’t want to lead, it is in your best interest to develop your leadership effectiveness.

I have always had a strong interest in leadership. It started early in life, being the first-born with influence over younger children in my family and neighborhood. Some research suggests that birth-order plays a role in an individual’s propensity for leadership. But even if you weren’t the oldest in your family, you can still learn to be an effective leader. Remember leaders are not just born, they are made.

Much of my gravitation to leadership, however, comes from life experiences. In addition to being a member of the McKenzie Management team, I am an adjunct faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership, CCL.Founded over 30 years ago, the Center is one of the largest institutions in the world focusing solely on leadership. Their mission is to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide. They conduct leadership training programs then parlay that income into leadership research.

Over the past 13 years, I have had the privilege to meet and work with many leaders who attended CCL programs, from the CEO of a billion dollar global corporation, to military flag officers, to Fortune 500 managers and executives in a variety of industries. Although the arenas in which they work are different from those of a dental leader, your challenges are remarkably similar to theirs.

  • Learning is leading. Executives who remain successful and effective over time are those who continue to learn from their experiences. They use that learning to develop a wider range of skills and perspectives so that they can adapt as change occurs and be effective in an expanded range of situations. But learning does not happen automatically; everyone learns to differing degrees and in different ways. You can improve your leadership capacity by improving your ability to learn.
  • The most critical factors for success as a leader are: building relationships, managing change, leading employees, decisiveness, and resourcefulness
  • "Confronting problem employees" was rated as one of the biggest weaknesses of Fortune 500 executives, followed by "career management" and "balance between personal life and work".
  • When CCL asked executives and managers where they get the most influential and effective developmental training, the answer is commonly  "on the job."

In essence, CCL’s research has shown that developing leadership is an ongoing process. It’s never complete. That’s because learning and change happen slowly and over the course of a career. People learn from challenging situations because their abilities are stretched and they have to perform at higher levels.

Since CCL's founding in 1970, a simple principle has been at the heart of their work: transforming ideas into action. They know that leadership isn't just about theory. It's about what works now and how you can prepare for what's down the road.

Now, McKenzie Management is proud to offer a series of CCL’s Ideas Into Action Guidebooks.  We hand-selected topics that have the most relevance to dentistry. The Guidebooks are quick to read yet packed with practical suggestions to improve your skills as a leader. If you are a leader by default, step up to the plate and start taking an active role in developing your skills. It will pay off in the end!

Dr. Haller is available for dental leadership coaching and development. Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com to find out if you would benefit from one of our leadership programs.

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Investigating, Listening, Learning, and Responding to the Dental Community


Bete Johnson
CareCredit
Director,
Business Development

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Dentists and their teams are in the position of being able to positively impact people’s lives on a daily basis.  Today, because of advances in technology, patient education and practice management principles, dentistry is not just about teeth.  It’s about a person’s overall health and self-esteem; a dentist’s balance between work and family; and managing the practice as a business.  Because of this, the practice’s responsibilities not only include diagnosis and treatment using the latest technologies, but also helping the patient accept recommended care – meeting the objectives for both the patient and the practice.   By offering a patient financing program, practices can not only help patients start treatment right away, but solve the practice needs for reducing no-shows and cancellations, increasing treatment acceptance, and reducing time and effort spent on collections.

CareCredit has responded to these new and evolving needs of the patient and practice. How?  By surveying practices, listening and learning.  We also watch the trends, listen to consultants, doctors, office managers and patients and test new product enhancements.  And, if the new enhancements are proven to make it easier for our practices to do great dentistry, we made them available as quickly as possible.  Our most recent program enhancement, adding a 60-month Extended Payment Plan, was born from the needs of some of our 4 million patients who wanted to have more time to pay for comprehensive treatment.  Our practices also wanted more patients to be able to take advantage of the No Interest financing and we responded by lowering the minimum treatment fee to $300 on all No Interest plans.  Last fall, we launched the most comprehensive package of materials, applications and customer service in Spanish – for both practices and patients. 

We hear daily from practices that they are busy.  Really busy.  Practices underestimate the positive impact that patient financing has on the entire practice, from scheduling, insurance, A/R,  and patient relationships to other key systems.  They often ask if CareCredit’s program can help their office save time.   For most dentists, your practice management software is the hub of your business, and if you have Kodak dental systems or Discus software, you’ll find a link to CareCredit on your main toolbar that instantly pre-populates the patient’s application with the information already contained in your Kodak dental systems or Discus software.  Click on the CareCredit button, submit the pre-populated patient application, and you’ll have a decision in seconds.  For those practices who do not have Kodak dental systems or Discus software, CareCredit provides a complimentary software program called CCware that can be installed onto the computer desktop.  CCware works without Internet Access, allowing practices to:

  • Submit applications instantly and receive a decision in seconds
  • Calculate patient payments and view plans in English or Spanish
  • Access the Resource Center to order supplies, view presentation techniques and letters
  • Submit a Pre-Approval

Because of the valuable input dentists have provided for the last 20 years, it’s helped us find and deliver the needed solutions.  Then we went to an outside research company to gain additional market feedback and were pleased to be found “best in class”.

Ultimately, it’s all about understanding our practices’ needs and then responding with the right solutions.  If you’d like more information on the CareCredit program, contact us at 800-300-3046 x 4519, or for practices already enrolled, call 800-859-9975.

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This issue is sponsored
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McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
2006 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
May 17-19 San Diego, CA Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry* 877-777-6151 Exhibit Only

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June 8-9 Santa Barbara,CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

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Aug. 2-6 Denver, CO Academy of General Dentistry* 877-777-6151 TBA

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Aug 10-11 Santa Barbara, CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

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Sept. 15-17 San Francisco, CA California Dental Association* 877-777-6151 Exhibit Only

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Sept 21-22 Santa Barbara, CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

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Sept. 29-30 Oviedo, Spain Clinica Sicilia 877-777-6151 Over/Top Issue

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Oct. 7-8 Krakow, Poland UNO Dental 877-777-6151 TBA

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Nov. 8 San Diego, CA San Diego Women's Dental 858-755-9990 Top Issues

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Nov. 17 Concord, NH New Hampshire Dental Society 312-440-2908 Breakdown

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Dec. 7-8 Santa Barbara,CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

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