9.28.07 - Issue # 290 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Patient Relationships
Quickbooks vs. Quicken
Leadership Qualities

‘Consumer Analysis’
How Would Your Practice Stack-up?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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It’s all about relationships. No doubt you’ve heard that line many times. No matter what the profession - business, government, education, health care – relationships are critical. And, of course, in dentistry, they will build or break the practice. The relationships you establish with your patients as you are addressing their oral health care needs and wants can last a lifetime. And many practitioners have numerous patients who have been with them for 10, 15, 20+ years. Once they are in the practice, these patients get to know you and your team. They appreciate what you have to offer.

But what about the new patients that you need to sustain growth in your practice? What about the individuals who are considering your practice, but haven’t made their first appointment yet and have no established relationship. They are looking at their dental options from a consumer’s point of view. And like it or not, they are judging your practice against others and basing that judgment on criteria you may not feel is fair.

As most of us in the business of providing a service know, consumers have very high expectations. If you had to step back and take a good hard look at your practice from the consumer’s point of view what would you discover?

Conduct a “Consumer Analysis” of your practice and compare it to two other practices that you are competing with for patients. Develop a series of criteria and score your practice - or ask a friend or relative to score your practice - against the others. Use a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Then step back and honestly consider how you stack up in the consumers’ minds, starting with convenience.

How conveniently located is your practice compared to your competitors? Is parking a problem, is your practice difficult to find, are their stairs patients have to climb? Do you offer convenient appointment times to accommodate busy schedules? Can new patients get an appointment within two weeks or is the business staff telling them they’ll have to wait months? New patients will not wait two, four, six months for an appointment. If you don’t make room for them in your schedule promptly, you must not want them in your practice.

What kind of a first impression does your building make? Will prospective patients who are driving by say to their elves, “That looks like a nice office.” Or will they say, “I wouldn’t want my car parked in that lot.

If a prospective patient calls your office, what impression will your practice make? Is the person answering the phone helpful or does the caller feel like they are just another interruption. Does the Scheduling Coordinator ask the caller if they can be put on hold or just click them into silence? Is she/he prepared to answer key questions that prospective patients are likely to have? Does the person answering the phone have a welcoming or annoyed tone to their voice? 

Never forget that the person answering the phone in your office represents the entire team. And in the first few seconds the caller is making judgments about the quality of your care and the helpfulness of your staff. It may not be fair but it’s reality.

If you have even a glimmer of doubt about the impression your practice makes with callers, ask a couple of friends to pose as prospective patients and give you feedback on their telephone experience.

How well would your team score on follow-through. If a consumer calls and asks for information on a specific procedure, such as implants or veneers, as well as information on the office in general, do you have materials to send them? How long will it take the busy front-desk staff to get the information in the mail? Better yet, do you have a website prospective patients can visit to learn more about the doctor, team, and the practice as a whole? Today having a website is just as important as having a telephone. Dental teams routinely underestimate the value of prospective patient/consumer inquiries. If yours is among them, it’s costing you a fortune.

Pay attention to the seemingly insignificant details. They have a huge impact on whether the consumer/potential patient makes an appointment with you or the dentist down the street. 

Next week, find out what matters most to today’s consumers/tomorrow’s loyal patients.

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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By Susan Gunn

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Why Choose QuickBooks for Your Practice?

At almost every dental meeting’s QuickBooks® course I give, someone asks why he/she should use QuickBooks® instead of Quicken®.  I’m always surprised at the number of times I’m asked this question.

Let’s clear up some of the confusion!

Quicken® is personal financial software and QuickBooks® is business financial software.

Is that really a big deal? Yes, for reasons that are – or should be – near and dear to your heart:

  • Good financial management.
  • A good relationship with the IRS (hopefully long-distance)
Good financial management

There is a bewildering number of small business accounting software available, such as Peachtree®, MYOB® and Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting®.  In addition to whichever software you choose, it must then be customized to complement your practice management software, as neither one is designed to do both accounts payable and accounts receivable.

For instance, ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE (patients’ information, treatment plans, payments, etc), is contained within your practice software, while ACCOUNTS PAYABLE (vendors, staff payroll, etc) is contained within your accounting software.

The reason I recommend QuickBooks® over any other accounting software is its ease of use.  The tasks are logical and the layout makes it visually easy to understand, especially in comparison to other software.

When set up and used correctly by your practice, QuickBooks® provides the critical information you need not only to manage your practice more effectively, but to give your accountant the information they need to prepare your taxes. 

There are two distinct ways to customize your accounting software: for tax accounting or practice financial analysis. 

Most accountants create QuickBooks® for the purpose of tax accounting.  After all, this makes it easier to do the practice’s taxes.  However, if the accounting software is designed for practice financial analysis, the accountant can then take the same information and generate your taxes and you can understand your financial reports more clearly. 

The key is in the practice’s “chart of accounts.”  Simply put, this list is how you analyze the money coming in and the money going out.  The new Practice Management Chart of Accounts, in the Getting The Most Out Of QuickBooks In Your Practice books, was designed with practice financial analysis in mind. 

The layout of the expense account listing determines the Profit & Loss report layout.  When account lists are designed for tax accounting, grouping the expense types is most often overlooked.  When account lists are designed for financial analysis, the expenses are grouped logically together for easier overhead analysis of these expenses.

Good relationship with the IRS

Practices need to keep a six-lane highway between business and personal finances. Why? Consider these common scenarios:

  • You, or your heirs, need to sell your practice suddenly.
  • You need to acquire a practice loan.
  • You are scheduled for an IRS audit.

In all three instances, and many others, you need to answer any questions regarding your practice’s finances without your personal finances being involved.  How can you determine what your true practice overhead is when your personal finances are included in your accounting software? 

When personal finance software is used, the tendency is to include personal transactions.  Quicken can be customized to track your business finances but why bother when a business software is available?  What reports must be customized in Quicken to do, are readily available in QuickBooks®.  When reports can be easily exported into Excel® from QuickBooks® you must cut/copy/paste into Excel® from Quicken®

Professional business finances do not include personal expenditures, regardless of your actual legal business type.  Dental practices are such professional businesses.  These expenditures kept separate will help form good relationships with the IRS.

No more excuses! 

Getting The Most Out Of QuickBooks In Your Practice is a complete reference guide for a dental practice’s use of QuickBooks.  Every practice using QuickBooks needs this book and not because I wrote it.   To understand the day to day practice’s use of QuickBooks, to use it not only correctly but to maximize its use of QuickBooks, to learn how to organize the practice’s financial data, these can all be easily understood. 

Using QuickBooks should not be frustrating.  Using Getting The Most Out Of QuickBooks In Your Practice as your guide can make the most difficult tasks, easy to understand.

Why use accounting software at all? 

A dental practice is a business. All businesses need to know how they make money and where it is spent.  Successful businesses know exactly where it goes, for what, and to whom!

Are you one of them?

Susan Gunn has been a QuickBooks® consultant for over 13 years, written 14 books and has been an Advanced Certified QuickBooks® ProAdvisor since Intuit established the program.  She provides a variety of means to accomplish QuickBooks® competency through books, courses, online and onsite consulting.  A nationally recognized speaker, Susan lives in Arlington, TX.

To order Susan’s book, Getting The Most Out of Quickbooks In Your Practicego here

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Becoming a Better Leader: Itís all in the follow-up

The most successful leaders are aware of their impact. After all, leadership is about influencing people. To be effective you need to know how you are perceived by others.

In the leadership training I do, it’s common to use a 360-degree survey. This is a popular on-the-job appraisal tool that involves gathering performance ratings from a circle of people who work closely with the leader….peers, subordinates and superiors. In some cases external sources such as patients or customers as well as vendors might be included. The results from 360-degree feedback are used by the person receiving the feedback to plan their development. A coach is often involved to help interpret the findings - strengths and weaknesses - and to identify necessary changes.

The exercise of receiving formal feedback is invaluable. Most Fortune 500 companies use 360 reviews to enhance leadership development and organizational success.  However, you don’t need a formal survey to become a better leader in your practice.

In my last article I talked about the importance of doing your own “performance review” through a process called feedforward.This is focused on sharing constructive, future oriented suggestions. Because the goal is to solicit positive suggestions, employees are more likely to give you ideas on how you can be a “better boss”.

So let’s say you’ve started the process -you’ve gathered information from your staff. You’ve thanked them without debating, arguing, defending yourself. You’ve taken notes.

If you’re an exceptional leader, you’ve also acknowledged any wrongdoings. The most powerful words a leader can ever learn to say might simply be “I'm sorry...to accept responsibility and promise to do better.

Caution: What you do from this point on will make-or-break the process.

Having been in the business of helping people to change behavior for the past 25 years, I know that the process may be simple, but it is far from easy. And unfortunately, the fact that you’ve been successful will be one of your biggest obstacles. Research shows that you will tend to reject or deny feedback from others that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. It’s hard to admit that you need to modify your behavior.  How can you achieve positive change? 

Let’s say your feedforward theme clearly identified your need to become a better listener. You’ve heard this before. Perhaps you have a life-long ‘bad habit’ of interrupting.  Once you’ve decided on ‘listening’ as a goal, go back to your staff and say,

I am working on becoming a better listener. Can you give me two positive suggestions on how I can do this?

Another way to solicit specific ideas is to ask your employees: “What are two positive things you have noticed that good listeners do?” Choose one action that you will take…one thing you will do differently. And as the Nike slogan said, ‘Just do it!’.

Involve your employees consistently. After a week or two, ask them again, ‘What are some ways I can be a better listener?’ Be aware that when they provide suggestions your first reaction may be to think they are ‘wrong’ or ‘confused’. We all want to hear what we want to hear. Our belief in ourselves helps us become successful. It can also make it very hard for us to change. 

Recruit your employees to help you to become a better leader. Be consistent in asking them for ideas and suggestions. Remind them that you are trying really hard. Remember that they are likely to be suspicious at first, doubting your efforts as just one more ‘new thing’ that will fall by the wayside in a couple of weeks. Don’t backslide on your promise to improve yourself. By following up on the suggestions you receive, you demonstrate your commitment to grow. You also set the standard for your office – that growth and self-improvement are important for everyone. By using the feedforward process, you shape your office culture into one of trust and accountability. And those are the very cornerstones of a successful, profitable dental practice.

Dr. Haller is available to help you solicit feedback from your staff. Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in becoming a better leader? Contact Nancy at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

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

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