Budget Busters Choking Profits?
A recent news story reported that the long-lost cousin of a loner living in Nevada would be the heir to millions in gold coins. Overnight the woman went from substitute teacher to multimillionaire - not a bad deal. Most of us don’t win the lottery or find ourselves on the receiving end of a long-lost relative’s riches. Rather, it’s hard work and perseverance that must pave the road to financial success.
In the dental practice, that long road also involves 22 systems and dozens of variables that directly affect the financial wellbeing of the business and your subsequent path to riches. If your wealth seems to be the stuff of distant dreams, perhaps it’s time to take a close look at a few financial realities, starting with practiceoverhead. Examine the areas listed below and compare your practice overhead numbers to the target percentages listed next to each item.
You know what your overhead targets are, so how do you actually hit them? First, consider the areas that are most likely to be well above the benchmarks. Payroll is usually number one. If your payroll costs are pummeling profits, here’s what may be happening:
Consider your employee rolls. When determining the need for more business staff, keep in mind that administrative tasks, specifically patient check-in and check-out, take approximately 10 minutes per patient. If your practice is seeing 15-22 patients per day, which would total 150-220 minutes of patient contact, one person is able to effectively manage the front desk duties. If that person is spending more than 240 minutes handling patients, or half the day, the practice’s systems need to be evaluated and the time and motion efficiency put towards working the systems.
As for assistants, if the procedures are streamlined, one assistant can efficiently maintain two treatment rooms for a general dentist using two operatories and seeing 13 or fewer patients a day. This would include setting up the room, seating the patient, assisting the dentist, dismissing the patient, and cleaning up.
Next, assess your procedures for giving staff raises. Tie raises to performance, and raise, or perhaps establish, performance standards. Set guidelines for raises when you hire an employee and explain to current staff when raises can be discussed and under what conditions they are given. Job descriptions are a must for everyone. Use performance measurements to determine raises. And if the practice is losing money, you don’t give raises.
The third major contributing factor to inflated overhead is low hygiene production. Typically, this is the result of a malfunctioning recall system. The hygienist’s salary should be no more than 33% of her/his production (excluding doctor’s fees). If the hygienist receives a guaranteed salary, the expectation must be that s/he be scheduled to produce three times her/his wages.
Incorporate an interceptive periodontal program into the practice. This can be initiated seamlessly with the patient check-in process. The business assistant greets patients and hands them a questionnaire and brochure with a checklist educating them on the importance of addressing the signs and symptoms of gum disease. The patients check any symptoms they have experienced, which opens the door for discussion in the treatment room.
Pay attention to other areas of overhead as well. Dental supplies should run about 5% of monthly collections. If yours are higher, make sure you are budgeting these expenses and working with your dental supply company and dealer representatives to help you control costs.
The miscellaneous category often includes several smaller items that add up to big bucks. Certainly, many items in this category are necessary. Nonetheless, pay attention to what’s labeled as miscellaneous and ask questions.To learn more about your office’s overhead numbers and what you can do to improve them, visit www.mckenziemgmt.com for a FREE Overhead Assessment and report.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Be a Trust Builder
Teamwork is a hot topic in dental offices. It’s likely that when you advertise for a new staff member, you include “teamwork” as a job requirement. During the pre-hire interviews, you probably ask prospective employees if they are “team players” and it seems that everyone says: “Yes, I am!” So why is it that when they actually join your team, they tend to pursue their own self-interest? They resist or challenge the ideas of others most of the time. They fail to communicate important details to co-workers. They isolate themselves from teammates.
Dental leaders say “teaming” is the one thing they need more of. But before you can be a team builder, you must first understand that trust is at the core of good teamwork. Trust is the foundation. The reason that trust is so important is because a lack of it increases project completion times, drags out decision making, and delivers poor communication. Low trust takes away from the bottom line. So your job is to be a trust builder. In fact, the primary goal of a leader is to enable their team to trust.
Unfortunately, many dental leaders confuse trust with the namby-pamby virtue of being “nice” and overlook the fact that the most effective teams experience disagreements and tension from time to time. What enables trust is not “niceness” but respect. Trust is less about employees liking each other and more about them respecting one another so they get the job done and the practice is successful. Building trust doesn’t happen automatically. It requires attention and it takes a development path. Here are 10 basics to help you to be a “trust builder.”
1. Insist that employees know what you are trying to achieve. Share your vision with them and put it into simple, easily remembered words and phrases. Repeatedly remind people, and periodically ask them to recite the mission. The purpose is that it becomes second nature, a mantra, to everyone on your payroll.
2. Create ground rules. These are basic policies about conduct as well as clear job descriptions. Be sure team members know exactly what is expected of them.3. Understand that running a productive and profitable dental practice is a complex group effort. You can only succeed if everyone takes responsibility for his/her chunk. Hold people accountable to the rules.
4. Ensure everyone participates. It’s easy for groups to be dominated by the most extraverted personalities. Don’t let that happen. Introduce the element of equal “air time” by going around the room to hear from each employee.
5. Accept that everyone on the team is fallible, and that when mistakes happen the team will work together to fix it.
6. Provide employees with the information and resources they need to get their jobs done. Coach them to be flexible. Change is constant and the need for adaptation is crucial.
7. Find ways to prioritize the work so that even if you can’t accomplish everything you set out to do, the team stills has a viable, successful outcome.
8. Maintain a positive, constructive attitude. If things are going poorly, help identify what’s going wrong and propose solutions.
9. Be vulnerable. Actively seek opportunity to connect with your employees on an individual level by being the first to share appropriate, personal details. Put yourself out there and watch the magic as people willingly open up with their own personal information and experiences.
10. Affirm employees and value their contributions. Look for people's strengths and catch them doing things right.
Note that teams are not static. Employees come and go, and each time the trust must be rebuilt. Regular team maintenance is required to sustain trust. No matter how strong the team is, the members are human beings and come from all types of cultures and environments. This not only creates conflict but more importantly, it reduces the level of trust within the team. Personal problems and home situations are the greatest challenge. Include maintenance as part of your leadership routine and plan for it. No matter how many hats or functions are juggled, the maintenance must be conducted just like changing the oil of a car engine.If you believe you have built a solid team, ask each employee how much trust they have in each individual team member. Consider a 1-5 scale with 5 being high. The responses will enable you to know the strength of the team, and what is required of you to build it stronger.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.comInterested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
Patients Notice Everything!
Dentists want to attract new patients and keep their existing patients. We spend time, energy and money looking into marketing, keeping our websites interesting, and tracking new patient traffic. These efforts are important and should never be neglected. But we can’t stop there. We need to realize that when our patients come into our offices they are typically on “high alert.” They are paying attention to everything, from the cleanliness and décor of the reception area, to whether or not the rest rooms have enough toilet paper. We need to focus on what they see and perceive from their points of view. It is important that we never drive away a good patient by neglecting some of the basics. A few suggestions:
Clean Reception Area
Hand Washing and Gloves
Treatment Room Cleanliness
None of these suggestions are hard to accomplish. They also don’t cost any money! Ensuring that your existing patients have confidence that you care about their time and are providing them with a clean, safe environment will encourage them to refer their friends. Patients notice everything.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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