Take These Steps and Hire Only the Best
Hiring quality employees is not unlike providing quality dentistry. It requires planning, use of the right tools, and a methodical process - beginning with the employment advertisement.
Although unemployment remains high and your ad may attract several responses, you don’t want merely a pile of applications. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. The best applicants have to be lured in, and that begins with the right advertising. Your ad should be the one that causes even the casual want-ad reader to stop and take notice. One of the most effective techniques to grab the attention of your reader is salary. Ads that fail to note salary are ignored by 50% of the prospects. Display salary prominently.
Consider what your target audience is looking for; dental auxiliaries, for example, have five primary objectives when searching for a dental position:
Highlight all of those in your advertising. Clinical assistants want to do more than just pass instruments. They are looking for progressive offices that will delegate tasks and give them the opportunity to work more closely with patients. A dental business employee position would be listed as “Administrative Assistant” and would be placed in the “Clerical” section of the classifieds. Think carefully about the words you choose. Use active verbs and don’t abbreviate the wording. For example:
With the right advertising you will attract the right candidates. Don’t rule out hiring a business assistant with no previous dental office experience. While professional training is essential, this person will likely be very open to learning your preferred approach. Once you have reviewed the applications submitted, identified positives and negatives for each applicant under consideration, and conducted email and telephone pre-screening interviews, you are ready for the face-to-face interview.
Prepare a checklist that includes standard procedures for each interviewee, for example:
Allow at least one hour for each applicant - preferably 90 minutes. Schedule the interviews when you will be able to give applicants your undivided attention. Try to be flexible to accommodate the applicants’ schedules as well. Eliminate barriers that will cause the applicant to be more guarded, distracted, or otherwise uncomfortable. For example, is there a desk between you and the candidate? Will there be phones ringing and interruptions? All of these can negatively influence the interview and create a situation where the applicant has neither the inclination nor the opportunity to provide the information you seek to gather.
Use a written set of standard questions for each applicant to compare responses to the same questions. Ask additional follow-up questions based on the applicant’s responses. Gather facts about previous experience that can be verified. Take thorough notes during the interview to help you keep track of who’s who. Jot down personal details such as what the candidate wore and distinguishing features. Remember, the applicant is likely to be on their best behavior in the interview, but things aren’t always as they seem. Before making a decision, gather as much information as possible.
Once you’ve narrowed your list to two or three applicants, test them for skill set and to determine if they are a good match for your team. Testing tools available through McKenzie Management provide a statistically valid and scientifically based hiring assessment tool for dentists. The computerized assessment measures job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. The procedure is simple: Applicants answer a list of questions online. Within minutes, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling him/her to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the position. It’s straightforward, accurate, and fully compliant with legal requirements associated with employee testing.
The interview is one-step in a multi-step hiring process. Only through thorough preparation and a well-laid plan will you achieve the best results.
Fall Into Practice Systems That Need Attention
It’s fall and you got your insurance letter out informing patients of unused benefits and have been making follow-up calls. Last minute cancellations in recall, because patients are either sick with the latest viral infection or are realizing they should save money for the holiday gift giving bonanza, are building your stress hormones to explosive levels. You are breaking out the holiday decorations and thinking of whether to send holiday cards or invite everyone in for mulled cider and a cookie. The weather is getting cooler and it is dark in the morning and sometimes it is difficult to gather the enthusiasm to call all of those patients who have not showed up this summer and are now overdue.
If the schedule is just not as productive as you want, don’t sit and despair - there are plenty of things to do to tune-up your practice and get a more positive mind-set. Look around the office, can it use a little redecorating such as touch-up painting, replacing worn upholstery or getting some new artwork for the walls? A fresh look can raise spirits and encourage patients to update their look too.
The holidays are a traditional time to thank patients for their loyalty during the year. Put out some apples from the local farmers market in a basket and give them away at the end of the appointment, or give away tiny pumpkins with a big thank-you from the team.
Have you updated your CPR training? Get a trainer in and invite staff from neighbor offices or from your specialist team and have a little tea party or light lunch. The same goes for OSHA training – this can be a good opportunity to network while sharing the cost of training with another office.
What about staff dentistry? Have a half-day devoted to getting staff recalls and treatment up to date. After all, if we don’t follow our own advice, then we’re not helping patients to make the right choices for their health.
Revisit your Mission Statement. It is probably collecting dust somewhere and you most likely forgot what it says. Maybe you have a new team and you want to rewrite it with a fresh new meaning. “Why do we get up and come in here in the morning?” It’s fun to give you and the team a new purpose and get everyone steering in the same direction as we go into a new year.
Plan to give time or raise money for your favorite charity this year and get the staff involved with the project. It is a feel-good way to connect with the community and let them know who you are.
Look at your logo. Does it still represent your “brand” or practice “niche” that you have developed over the years? Get the team involved with the “rebirth” of your logo or perhaps have the patients involved with voting for the new design. Does the team have personal business cards? Have a contest as to how many new patients show up with their card and give a reward to the team member that wins.
Edit the notes on statements to include having needed dentistry completed by the end of the year for healthcare write-offs or to use monies in cafeteria plans and HSA accounts. Everyone is so busy this time of year that it is our job to remind people of this valuable asset. Get the team together and take a continuing education course together on practice management or the latest clinical buzz. This builds team spirit and accomplishes licensing updates.
It is easy to lose sight of the practice needs when the holidays come to take our attention away. This can be the most productive time of year if we get proactive and do something to create positive energy.
2 Tricks That Treat Your Cash Flow!
Dr. Abbott contacted McKenzie Management with concerns about her practice’s cash flow. She felt that she was staying busy, she had adequate numbers of new comprehensive patients, but for some reason that she could not put her finger on, the cash flow was not indicative of her hard work. She asked that we visit her practice and work with her for six months to find the “leaks in the bucket.”
Dr. Abbott’s practice statistics:
The statistics above were facts that Dr. Abbott was aware of, but there were other facts about her practice that she was not aware of. Below are two tricks that Dr. Abbott learned about her practice that increased her revenue and put more money back into the practice. As a result, she was able to increase the salaries of her team, introduce computers into all the treatment rooms and go “chartless” and take more money home for her family.
Trick #1 - Collect a “Guestimated” Patient Portion At The Time Of Service
To determine what % of OTC should be expected in Dr. Abbott’s office, we performed the following steps:
$300,000 / $800,000 = .375 or 37.5% to be considered OTC
Now that Dr. Abbott knows how much should be collected on average every month OTC, she can implement a system that will allow her Schedule Coordinator to reach this goal.
1. When an appointment is made for a patient that requires a “patient portion,” ALWAYS guestimate the patient’s portion and inform them of the amount that will be due at their next appointment.
2. Write this amount on the back of the appointment card as a “friendly reminder.” Here is the script: “Mrs. Jones, just as a reminder, I will write down your portion due at this appointment on the back of your appointment card.”
3. Include this amount in the appointment note in the computer. This will serve as a reminder when the patient is checked out on how much to ask for (assuming that nothing changed clinically) and also allows another team member to check out the patient should the Schedule Coordinator be away from her desk or out of the office.
Notice that I said “guestimate” the patient’s portion. There is no guarantee how much the insurance carrier is going to pay, so we are asking the patient to pay an amount with the understanding that if the insurance pays something different, we will inform them.
I have found, in over 30 years of working in the dental field, that patients want to know how much they are expected to pay. They understand, when informed properly, that it is a “guestimate” and they are responsible for any remaining unpaid balance. I have also found that it is not necessary, in most cases, to explain all the details involving deductibles, downgrading of composites to amalgams, fee schedule differentials, etc. They just want to know how much they need to be prepared for at their next visit.
Trick #2 - Stay On Top Of Unpaid Insurance Claims
A healthy Accounts Receivable in a family dental practice that accepts insurance assignment would be no more than 1x the monthly Net Production. Dr. Abbott’s A/R was 1.85x. The means that she had over $56,000 on her Accounts Receivable that should have been collected. Upon further review, after printing the Outstanding Insurance Claims Report, over $40,000 of that amount was outstanding claims over 60 days!
To avoid Dr. Abbott’s loss from happening to you, ask your Financial Coordinator to run the Outstanding Claims Report every month and all claims that are over 30 days (15 days if they are submitted electronically) should be reviewed and the insurance carrier should be contacted to check on the status of the claims. Ask for the contact’s name and make a note on the claim itself of the results of the call. Stay on top of this.
Here is hoping that these two tricks will serve you well. Happy Halloween!
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