08.25.06 - Issue # 233 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Helpers' Into Producers
Fear of Coaching
Hygienist's Closing Tx

Turn "Helpers" Into Producers
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Helpers, doctors and teams are convinced that they simply could not get by without those seemingly magical staff members who are the miraculous answer to the perpetual cycle of too much to do and too little time to do it. I can hear the pleas, “Doctor, we can’t keep up. We’re working into lunch. We’re running late again. We need a helper.” Teams become convinced that the helper is the only answer to the perceived need for more staff. If only the impact on the budget were perception and not reality. 

Before you hire a “helper” make sure you’ll get more than clean instruments and well organized patient records for that investment. You want a producer. For example, if the new hire is a patient coordinator who will increase practice revenues by making sure appointments are kept, that shiny new face in the office can enhance practice production – a definite plus.

Or if the individual is a hygienist who will enable the practice to meet the demands of a growing hygiene schedule – provided it’s not riddled with no-shows and cancellations, the investment is a wise one and the negative financial impact should only last for about 60 days. Beyond that, production should increase, and the wage percentage of gross income should return to the normal range of 19%-22%.

In addition, create a “producer mentality” among the team. If tasks aren’t getting done and practice goals are not being met, is it possible you have certain staff who are locked into the “it’s not my job mentality”? Each employee should understand the bigger picture.  What is the practice in business to do? What is the mission? What are the practice goals?  What is each employee’s objective? When everyone clearly understands the mission and goals of the practice and that they are expected to do what is necessary to achieve those goals, they are more likely to step in when it’s crunch time.

For example, if the doctor is away at continuing education, Jenny, the assistant, may have time to pick up the phone, follow the appropriate treatment presentation script and book unscheduled treatment – helping the practice meet monthly production goals.

To reinforce the “producer mentality” encourage employees to develop producer-focused job descriptions, incorporating into the description exactly how the role fits into or contributes to the success of the entire practice. Provide an example description, such as the one below. Although the dentist has the final say in each employee’s responsibilities, input from the team members is particularly beneficial in encouraging ownership and a producer mentality.

  1. Define the job. Scheduling Coordinator. Greets patients when they enter the office. Updates patient information such as address, phone number, insurance. Provides new patient registration information. First in line to answer all incoming calls. Schedules appointments and handles daily patient records.
  2. Spell out specifically what skills are necessary for the position. Articulate, well organized, good listener, ability to manage multiple tasks and handle regular interruptions. Is comfortable politely directing patients to specific times in the schedule. Ability to work with computer systems and dental software. Enjoys working with and helping others.
  3. Outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Schedules to meet doctor’s daily production goals. Notifies the clinical staff of patient arrival. Tracks unscheduled treatment for doctor. Reports regularly to doctor and team on the status of the schedule. Prepares patient records for doctor. Handles correspondence for the practice. Tracks all conversations with patients on the computer. Runs specific production reports from the computer. Reports on production as compared to the goal at daily and monthly meetings. Orders office supplies. Works with other members of the team to meet practice goals and fulfill the overall practice mission.

Job descriptions are essential tools in clarifying employee expectations, emphasizing individual accountability, reinforcing the “producer mentality,” and encouraging teamwork and collaboration when necessary.

So before you succumb to the cries of woe from your staff and rush to hire another person, look closely at maximizing those already on the payroll. And if you must hire a “helper” make sure you invest in one who will produce.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

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

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Reluctant to Hire a Coach? You're Not Alone.


Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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The McKenzie Management Team Retreat was held last week. Our national consultants met here in San Diego for a rich program of training and rejuvenation. When I spoke with the group, I learned that many of our Practice Enrichment Program ™ (PEP) clients are not using the coaching time that is included in their contract. And there was a common theme from our consultants’ observations as one poignantly stated, He admitted to me that he is just "chicken" to talk to you... fearful of what you may say or what your conversations may uncover”. 

I suspect that some of our dental clients are struggling with a very human issue- fear of change, fear of being vulnerable, fear of not being perfect.  Unfortunately nothing sabotages success as much as fear. 

In her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers describes the limitations that people impose on themselves when they cave into their fears.  People who never take any risks ironically live with a dread of something going wrong. They seek security above all else, but the effect is chronic insecurity. It is actually easier, and infinitely more rewarding, to try new things.  The decision to incorporate more challenge into your life brings a feeling of security because you know you can tackle anything. 

Unless we face our fears, we can’t grow. Without growth, life is stagnant.

One of the biggest obstacles to growth is perfectionism, a common trait of dentists as well as other professionals. For many high achievers, the message came in childhood when well-intentioned parents tried to instill motivation yet delivered fear. I remember being a seventh grade student and being introduced to biology. Although I was blessed with a good brain, I hated dissecting bugs, worms and frogs. I ended up with a ‘C’ in Science on a report card filled with ‘A’s’. 

Pleased with my overall accomplishments, I proudly awaited some form of praise from my parents. However, the first comment I heard was, “What’s this ‘C’ doing here?” I was crushed, ‘they didn’t even notice the good stuff I did’. And in a small and probably unconscious way, I learned the benefits of being perfect – no one can criticize you.   

Like some of our PEP clients, many who are reading this also tend to judge themselves too harshly. The perception is that others will criticize them and find fault too. However, as a ‘recovering perfectionist’ and coach, my job is to offer a safe, non-judgmental place for change to happen, to help identify strengths and talents, and then to leverage those to overcome obstacles for greater success. Coaching is designed to enable people to be ‘good enough’ rather than perfect. Imagine what it would be like to have someone who accepts you as you are, and also helps you to see the part of you that maybe you've forgotten; someone who will stand with you and hold your vision so you can move towards your highest potential.

Coaching is an opportunity. The process entails setting goals for more effective action, and it provides the support needed to make incremental but important behavioral changes. Coaching is akin to having a ‘professional fitness trainer’…someone who works with you on your agenda.  A good coach is someone who inspires you by pointing out what you did well, someone who encourages by aligning with your values and needs.  A good coach is someone on your side.

Along with fear, another significant obstacle to coaching involves financial concerns. A study reported in the January 2001 issue of Business Wire followed 100 executives, half holding positions of Vice President or higher, almost half between the ages of 40 – 49, and one-third earning $200,000 or more per year. The results of their 6 – 12 month showed an average return on investment of 5.7 times the initial investment in a typical coaching assignment or a return of more than $100,000, according to executives who estimated the monetary value of the results achieved through coaching.

I hope that what I’ve written will help our current and future PEP clients, as well as others who are reading this. Face your fear, and do it anyway. Coaching will give you confidence AND financial rewards too.

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.

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

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The Closer


Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Many of you have watched the show, “The Closer”. For those of you that have not watched the show, “The Closer” is the person who continuously gets the suspect to confess their guilt.

In dentistry, the suspect would be considered the patients we see, while their guilt would be accepting their disease and getting the treatment needed in order to make their overall oral health better. Now, who is, “The Closer”, in your office? Meaning who sells the dentistry that is prescribed to the patients in order to get their mouths healthier.

Hopefully, the answer to this question is technically the entire team. Yes, hygienist-selling dentistry is a part of your job description, whether you are selling the periodontal treatment plan or selling the full mouth reconstruction the doctor just diagnosed.

Some Hygienists say or think to themselves, “If it is the dentist’s work, shouldn’t he/she be the one to convince the patient of the treatment needed to be done?” The answer to this is, not necessarily. Yes, it is best if the dentist goes over the recommended treatment with the patient and takes the time to answer the patient’s questions, but everybody on the team has some form of responsibility when it comes to “Closing the Case Presentation”.

This brings us to two comments. One is teamwork and the other is responsibility to the patient. When it comes to teamwork, the entire team needs to be on the same page when it comes to the office’s dental philosophy and perceptions. Below are some ways to establish the philosophy for your team:

  • Have a vision statement
  • Have a mission statement
  • Have a written plan of action
  • Set standards
  • Provide training
  • Provide support
  • Accountability for the entire staff
  • Establish treatment protocols
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Create scripts

Over the years, many dental professionals have had a problem with the term, “selling dentistry”. Well, “selling dentistry” and “patient education” are easily intermingled when it comes to patient care. How can we not “sell dentistry” if we are “educating our patients” about their needs in order to create a healthier oral environment?  Therefore, as long as we as Hygienists are continuously educating our patients on their needs we are a part of the closing team.

In the Code of Ethic for Dental Hygienists, it even states, “We acknowledge the following responsibilities to clients…

  • Serve as an advocate for the welfare of clients
  • Provide clients with the information necessary to make informed decisions about their oral health encourage their full participation in treatment decisions and goals.
  • Educate clients about high-quality oral healthcare.

Being “the closer” is having the patient accept treatment and complete the work.

The Financial Coordinator should have already gone over the financials with the patient. However, as a part of a team it is recommended that the hygienist be aware of the financial protocol in their office.

Here is another question for you. Who would you say has the most patient rapport with returning patients? Who sees the patient more regularly than anybody else in the office? The answer to both of these questions is, the Hygienist. This may or may not be true when it comes to new patients, depending on your interceptive periodontal therapy program protocol in your office. However, when it comes to returning patients the Hygienist tends to spend the most time with the patient and is able to build patient rapport. This is very important when it comes to case acceptance. 

The professional relationship between the Hygienist and the patient is a partnership in which the professional is responsible to assist the patient in identifying their needs and mutually setting goals to meet those needs. It is built on self-reliance. Professional closeness includes trust, confidentiality, honesty, and healthy boundaries. The healthcare professional supports the patient in the pursuit of health by educating the patient so they can identify their needs and make well informed decisions.

Remember, closing/educating is a team effort and the patient should not feel like they just walked off of a used car lot. However, the patient should feel well informed and comfortable with the entire staff by the time they walk away from the dental office. We want our patients to come to us for a lifetime, not just one time. They should feel like they are a part of your dental family/team.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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

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