Issue # 228 - 07.21.06
Is Your Practice Thriving or Threatened?
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Dr. James Laramy’s Story:
Dr. Laramy had invited me to work with his practice to help him establish business systems in order to hold his business staff accountable. We were talking over dinner on the first evening of my 4-day visit to his office.
“I have hired a really bright woman to take the most important position at my front desk!” he proudly announced.
“Excellent” I responded. “And what position is that?”
“Managing the collections and billing, of course.” he answered. At this point he is glaring at me as if to ask….”You don’t know that? What planet are you from?”
The next morning I arrive at the “scene of the crime” and meet the staff. As usual, everyone is on their best behavior, including the doctor. I always find it fascinating to hear the staff tell me at lunch (without the doctor) that they wish that I were always in the office because the doctor is so nice today!
Anyway, as I sit in the business area to start my analysis I am observing the activities of these two wonderful employees. This is what I see:
The “billing person” is obviously extroverted and very comfortable communicating with me – a stranger. She is smiling a lot and I immediately like her.
The “receptionist” is reserved but very efficient. She knows the patients by name when they arrive and manages the telephones very professionally but somewhat “robotic”.
Now – before any of my readers take issues with what I just said, allow me to present you with some concepts to consider:
There is a saying that goes something like this:
Nothing Happens Until Something is Sold!
Think about this for a moment. According to Dr. Laramy, the most important position in his office is his “billing person”. She is the one that sends statements, posts the checks that come in the mail, calls insurance companies about the claims that are unpaid, yada yada yada. I propose to you that she doesn’t have a job until something is sold!
Do you realize that when you arrive at work every morning, you work according to whatever is on your schedule. You didn’t create that schedule – your hygienist didn’t create her schedule. The person(s) at the front desk created your schedule and directly influenced the amount of money that you made that day. You dance to her tune!
Guess what? The person scheduling the appointments for your patients can’t schedule appointments until you have a patient to schedule!!! Isn’t that a concept?
The #1 most important employee in your office is the person that answers your telephone! You can call her a “receptionist”, a “schedule coordinator” or “the front desk person”. The title is not important. What IS important is for you to understand this:
The team member that answers your phone must be capable of projecting her smile and warmth over the telephone to the potential “buyer”. She literally invites them into your “store” to buy your products by her mannerisms on the telephone. The caller wants to visit your store. They have already bought what she is selling before they even make an appointment.
This person is directly responsible for each and every new patient that walks into your practice.
So I ask you now…
NOTHING happens until something is sold…and the person in your office that is responsible for answering your telephone…your “receptionist” is in the #1 most important position in your office. Do you have the right person controlling your financial future?
If you would like more information on how McKenzie’s Practice Enrichment Programs can help steer your ship in the right direction….. email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belle M. DuCharme
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New dental imagery software, new computers, new monitors, new cabinetry, new digital x-ray machines, new office location, old management concepts??? Whoa, wait a minute!!
Over the years I have observed many start-up practices. It is common for new dentists to begin their career in an existing practice as an associate prior to purchasing their own office. This practice is a “learning laboratory” for new dentists. What they learn there may determine whether the new dentist remains an associate, establishes a mediocre practice or creates a successful rewarding practice. Having the established dentist as a mentor can be a positive experience but as I have heard frequently, “I don’t want a practice like the one I have worked in for the last five years.” Often, the management systems in place are outdated and inefficient for today’s sophisticated market place. Unfortunately, this is what the new dentist has learned and now has to “unlearn” in order to get off to a “good start”.
Recently, I visited a dentist who had started up his new practice two years ago. He had worked in a managed care practice for ten years. His new practice is 90% PPO Network. He doesn’t do any internal or external marketing and does not know how to attract fee for service patients. He would love to do more dentistry but not in a PPO environment where reimbursement keeps him at break even each month. His training as a managed care dentist has taught him to diagnose very conservatively. I introduced the idea of treatment phasing instead of “watching” or ignoring dental situations that would need treatment in the future. The patient that has come to the practice because you are listed as a Preferred Provider needs to be groomed as a fee for service patient. When the employer changes plans and you are not on the plan the patient has a choice to stay with you or move on to another practice. The way you have marketed this patient will make or break that decision. While treating the PPO network patients you must begin a marketing strategy geared to attract and keep fee for service patients.
People in the business of dentistry who have the successful practices have learned by trial and error and spent countless days attending seminars and courses on practice management and staff motivation. Their advice to the new dentist may suit their own practice but may be entirely wrong for the new dentist.
Staffing, the most challenging issue facing today’s dentist is divided into segments to guide you to:
By thinking before you start-up and getting customized information will save years of trial and error and give you the tools to succeed where others have failed to thrive.
Dental software programs are constantly being improved to manage more data and produce reports rivaling expensive accounting firms, however most dentists use only about 20 to 30% of their programs due to lack of understanding of the software. Showing the new dentist how to use these reports and what reports will be necessary to run a progressive and profitable practice is a must in a technologically fast paced society.
Remember: don’t adopt the management systems of your “mentor” dentist friend or partner without fully understanding the dynamics of your practice. Put the right building blocks together with McKenzie Managements Dentist Start-up Program and reward yourself with the tools to succeed.
For more information on McKenzie’s Start-Up Program email email@example.com.