6.29.07 - Issue # 277 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Pre-Screen Applicants
Pre-Sell Dentistry
Starting a Practice

When Employees Leave, Opportunity Knocks
This is the second in a four-part series on hiring and firing in the dental practice.
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The room finally stopped spinning. The thundering herd that was pounding between your temples eventually took leave. And, at long last, you recognized that this seeming disaster – in the form of a two week’s notice - is actually teaming with opportunity.

Since that fateful day, you’ve followed the steps we covered in Part 1. You’ve carefully assessed your practice needs, updated or created a job description for the position, and advertised effectively. Now you’re ready to consider the candidates. Pay attention to the details and don’t cut corners on the process or you’ll pay dearly. How much? It’s estimated that hiring the wrong person will cost you 1.5 to 5 times their annual salary before the unpleasantness of the experience finally goes away. Take these steps to avoid that.

Read don’t just scan the resumes. Highlight those qualities that match the position’s requirements. Look for longevity in employment. Be careful of those applicants that only note years, such as 1999-2000. Chances are this person was hired in December of ‘99 and fired in January of 2000. Watch for sloppy cover letters. The applicant may have poor attention to detail. Flag resumes with “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” The “Yes” candidates are the first to be considered.

Pre-screen applicants on the phone. Address your most pressing concerns up front. If there are gaps in employment history, now is the time to find out why. Ask the applicant what salary range they are expecting. Find out if the applicant has a list of “must haves” for their next employment position. Listen for tone, attitude, and grammar on the phone, particularly if the position requires handling patient calls. Based on their phone demeanor, would this person represent your practice well?

Prepare for the interviews. Conduct interviews using a written set of standard questions for each applicant to compare responses to the same questions. Avoid asking any personal questions during either interview, on the phone or face-to-face. Ask follow-up questions based on the applicant’s responses. Gather facts about the applicant’s experience that can be verified. Take thorough notes during the interview and jot down personal details to keep track of who’s who. The candidate is likely to be on their best behavior in the interview. If they don’t impress you now, it will not get better after they are hired.

Test for the best. Take advantage of Internet testing tools that are now available to dentists. Such testing has been used in the business sector for years to help companies identify the better candidates for specific positions.

The McKenzie Management test, which was developed in cooperation with the Institute for Personality and Aptitude Testing, is a computerized assessment that measures dental practice job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. For example, you want to hire Jessica as your front desk employee. Her resume looks great, she interviewed well and seems like she’ll be a good fit. However, one of the key responsibilities in this position is collections. What Jessica’s resume doesn’t tell you is that she hates asking people for money. If you hire her, she’s likely to find herself in a position she is not suited for, and you are likely to find yourself wishing you’d known a little more about her before you brought her on board. That’s where applicant testing comes in.

The procedure is simple: Applicants being considered answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling her/him to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the dental practice position being filled. You can discover up front if candidate Jessica will be comfortable talking to patients about financial arrangements or if Joelle is the right person to manage your schedule.    

Check ‘em out. Once the interview and testing process has enabled you to narrow the selection down to a couple of candidates, check their references and work histories. This step can yield tremendously helpful information and will save you from multiple hiring horrors.

Next week, employee firings need not burn.

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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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Pre-Selling Dentistry, or Educating Patient’s?

What exactly is pre-selling dentistry? So many times I have heard hygienists make the comment that they do not feel it is their job to sell dentistry. Let’s take a look at the difference between pre-selling dentistry vs. selling dentistry.

  • Pre-selling or selling dentistry may also be termed:
    Informing the patient about their mouth
    Educating the patient
    Pointing out opportunities
    Planting a seed
    Making a suggestion

Many hygienists, once it is placed in one of the above terms, will say, “Oh, yes, I do that all the time.”  

For instance, when the hygienist picks up the mirror and probe or explorer to check around for suspicious areas he/she notes in their mind that #3 has a large old filling but it is stable, and looks at the tooth that is missing in the upper left quadrant, #14.

This patient has treatment pending for either an implant in the space where #14 is missing or option number two, a bridge. The doctor has gone over the options with him at a previous appointment. However, the patient has not accepted the current treatment and nothing else has been treatment planned.

Many hygienists will remind the patient of the need for the treatment that is pending, but there are also many hygienists that will proceed with the prophylaxis, not mentioning anything to the patient. The reasoning in their minds is that they do not sell dentistry or “it is the job of the dentist, I can’t diagnose treatment.”

It is true that hygienists are not legally allowed to diagnose treatment needed. However, the hygienist is allowed to educate their patient about what they see in the mouth when it comes to what may need to be done by the dentist.

For example the hygienist may say to the patient in the above scenario, “Mr. Jones, you have a very large old filling in the upper right, #3.  It looks all right to me at this time. When it does need to be replaced, doctor will probably want to do a crown on that tooth, but we will have doctor take a look at it. I also noticed that you have treatment that needs to be done in the upper left area where this tooth is missing. What have you decided when it comes to your options?”  Now, give the patient time to answer.

In this verbiage, we made sure that when the treatment pending is brought up to the patient it is in the form of an open-ended question. We do not want to ask, “Have you decided what you want to do in the upper left area?” This only leads to a yes, no answer. When the patient is given an open-ended question it will lead to more conversation in a natural occurring way, enabling us to do our job without a nagging approach when it comes to the patient’s perceptions.

In this scenario, it has also set the patient up to hear from the doctor that they need a crown, while if the patient does not need a crown it will not be embarrassing to the hygienist when the doctor simply states, “I do not feel that tooth #3 needs a crown at this time but we will check it at your next professional hygiene appointment.”

Many things happened in this two minute conversation, because the hygienist tends to have the patient rapport, it is nice for the patient to hear from the hygienist that he may need something done before the doctor ever walks into the room. Also, the more often a patient hears that there may be something wrong the more trust that is developed.

Now, if the patient did not need to have it done at this time. What next? The hygienist should make a note to, have doctor check #3 at the next professional hygiene appointment, it may need a crown in the patient’s record. This will also be the hand written note that will be placed on the patient’s invitation style recall card. Thus, creating a need to return other than to just get their teeth cleaned. Now, the patient has something that may be failing on them at any time.

When the patient is due to come back in six months, the personal note that was written on the invitation style recall card sent to the patient is also available for the Scheduling Coordinator when she talks with the patient. Having this note available allows the Scheduling Coordinators to remind the patient that not only is he having a professional hygiene appointment, but doctor will also be checking the upper right as there is a large old filling that may need to be replaced.

When the patient comes back in six months, the hygienist will inform the doctor at the morning meeting that the patient needs to have #3 checked for a possible crown. When the patient is in the hygiene chair, he will be told, “I am going to have doctor come in and examine the tooth on the upper right which is tooth #3. We are monitoring that large filling you currently have as it will need a crown when it does need to be replaced.”

Using the actual tooth number along with the location in the patient’s mouth allows them to make a mental note so when it needs to be done he will think, oh yes, #3 I remember that being mentioned in the past.

If the patient now needs the crown on tooth #3, he is more likely to accept treatment. Sometimes the patient may not need the crown for a year or two. So, it is being checked at every recall.

Not only is pre-selling and selling dentistry important to the doctor and the entire team but it is equally important to the patient. The patient should be educated and know exactly what is currently going on in their mouth and what the future may bring based on the current condition of their mouth.

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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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Starting Up a Dental Practice?
Give It Your “Informed Consent”

According to Robyn Thomason, a Risk Management Analyst for The Dentist Insurance Company, “Buying a practice may be a dentist’s most important financial and professional commitment.”  She goes on to explain that the start-up dentist must be informed enough on several issues in order to make an intelligent decision when purchasing a practice.  With the enormity of the details on issues such as: the sellers motivation and involvement in the practice, pre and post sale, the patient records and the accounts receivables, the existing clinical standards of the office and the legal compliance, contractual agreements or existing malpractice claims etc., it is necessary to have the counsel of an experienced attorney preferably one with experience in dental practice sales.  

Just as important as the legal counsel of an experienced attorney is the advice, recommendations and training received in the Practice Start-up Program offered at McKenzie Management.  Achieving a smooth and seamless purchase and transition is every dentist’s goal.  Understanding the business of dentistry including recruiting and hiring the best team, establishing an effective recall system, setting up the hygiene department, understanding financial and billing policies, understanding dental insurance and how to make it work to your advantage and the list goes on. These systems are the everyday challenges the dentist will face and will need the best advice from experts.

Experience and years of listening to dentists has taught me that the biggest challenge in the average practice is staffing.  When purchasing an existing practice there will be an existing team. The buyer does not have to go with the status quo.  Review of the Office Policy Manual or Employee Handbook (if one exists) will describe the conditions of employment and current benefits that the employees are entitled to.  If there is not a policy, then one should be written to take affect after the purchase. Advice on setting up the Office Policy or Employee Handbook is part of the Start-up Program at McKenzie Management. The buying dentist can decide what the office hours will be along with duties, wages and benefits.  Once in the practice, the new dentist can meet with the staff and explain the changes.  Employees will be asked to read and sign the Employee Handbook.  Take into consideration the following when evaluating the existing team:

  1. Are there written job descriptions for each team member and when were they last reviewed.  If no job descriptions then write them.
  2. Look at the rate of employee turnover.  Are there office “cliques”?
  3. Are there regular performance and salary reviews and when was the last one?
  4. Are salaries low or high for the community? 
  5. Are licenses and credentials up to date? Everyone should have CPR current.
  6. Are the team members neat, efficient, experienced and with a positive attitude?
  7. Are the team members willing to share your practice philosophy and mission statement?

It is vitally important that the existing Business Administrator (Office Manager, Receptionist) fully support the transitioning dentist.  If this key person cannot transfer allegiance to the buying dentist, then it may be advisable to replace her with someone who will communicate enthusiasm and confidence.  The new dentist may have a different approach to diagnosing dental disease, which the existing Business Administrator may not fully understand because she is comparing it to her former employer.  She may attach a judgment to this, which will be picked up by the patient. 

Advising the start-up dentist through the challenges of hiring the best team and providing a proven system of success is an important part of the Dentist Start-up Program.  On-going training for Business Administrators is just as important for the success of your practice as the training of the clinical staff.  Your Business Administrator is vital to the sale of services and products and she must understand the benefits to the patients.  Most dentists are not aware of the barrage of questions the front office team will get about procedures and products.  If the questions cannot be answered to the patient’s satisfaction, the patient will not be able to make an informed decision and often leaves the office without scheduling an appointment or not buying the product that was recommended to them.

It is vitally important that the Start-up Dentist is informed on all business issues that will affect the success of his/her practice.  Get informed; join us today for the Dentist Start-up Program or the Advanced Business Course at McKenzie Management.

For more information on McKenzie's Start-Up Program and Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.
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