4 Rules for Effective Compensation
Is it time to increase pay in your practice? According to PayScale.com, 88% of employers set their sights on increasing pay this calendar year, and the average pay increase is expected to be 4.5%. But rest assured, the majority of those increases are determined based on careful planning and consideration. In fact, more than 73% of respondents indicated that their businesses use a formal compensation strategy.
It is that last point that dental practice owners would be wise to take note of - a formal compensation strategy. In many dental practices the “compensation strategy” typically involves an exchange between the doctor and the employee that goes something like this:
Employee: “Dr. Tom, could I talk to you for a moment?”
Dr. Tom means well, but he has absolutely no idea how much the employee’s change in pay will impact his bottom line. Certainly, creating a “fair” system for compensation can be challenging in any workplace that is dependent upon teamwork and trust, which would be virtually every dental practice. Reward some and you seemingly punish the rest. Reward all and you send the message that average effort pays the same as excellent. It’s a management minefield for most dentists who struggle with balancing the financial needs of the practice with the financial desires of the staff. How do you navigate this tricky issue? With clear leadership and specific salary guidelines.
Effectively handling the matter of money with your staff requires that you manage their expectations from the outset. It starts on day one - not six, eight, or twelve months after the employee comes to work for you. Explain when raises will be discussed and under what circumstances a raise will be given. Implement the following four rules of staff compensation and start managing payment expectations immediately.
Rule #1 – Establish a Clear Compensation Policy
Rule #2 – Conduct a Salary Review
Consider this example: If your current monthly collections are $48,325 per month and your existing salaries are $9,353, then a $2 hourly raise from $15 to $17 for your assistant who is working a 36 hr. week will increase existing salaries to $9,665, which is within the 20% industry benchmark. However, if your current monthly collections are $39,000 and existing salaries are $9,353 that puts you at 24% of gross production and well above the standard.
Rule #3 – Develop a Plan
Rule #4 – Develop Job Descriptions
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Build-in Summer Fun
The official start of summer is next week. For me it triggers memories of being a kid. Splashing around in a plastic pool on the lawn. The smell of freshly mowed grass and Coppertone sunscreen. Being outdoors at dusk waiting to see the lightning bugs come out and sparkle. No homework.
As a responsible, achievement-minded professional it's likely that you've lost touch with all the joys that summer used to bring you. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. How are you supposed to find room for fun? Your dental office is a place where people need to accomplish work. It isn’t supposed to be an eight-hour-long play date.
Yet research shows that the most productive employees are the ones who enjoy being at work. Having fun at the office isn’t always appropriate, and it certainly doesn’t jive with everyone’s style, but the benefits are plentiful. Improved patient care and service. Increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty. Creativity and profitability! Happy employees are more likely to accept ownership of their responsibilities, and much more inclined to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes. Attracting patients is easier in an environment of hospitality.
You CAN create a more jovial office environment and still mean business in real terms. As with most things, leaders need to set the example - so get back in touch with your inner child and build-in some summer fun. Here are some ways.
Appreciate Good Humor When It Happens
Circulate Fun and Funny Things Daily
Plan a Fun Office Activity at Least Once a Month
Let Patients Know That You Are a Fun Dental Office
Spruce Up the Office
Still, beware: As silly as it sounds, on-the-job fun needs to be taken seriously. It's good only in moderation and in appropriate form (non-sexist, non-racist, non-religious humor). Taken to extremes, it can hinder productivity. But if you put fun into your practice wisely, you’ll build some joy into your day. And the results will have you laughing…all the way to the bank.
If you need a ‘fun injection’ for your office, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.com
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
Setting a Standard
In many dental offices, it is common practice to hold a working interview when hiring a new hygienist. Dentists often assume that if this working interview goes well, then the new hygienist will be able to jump right in and do everything the same way your practice currently does it. However, the result is often that the hygienist and hygiene department are being set up to fail.
In most businesses, regardless of education and experience, employees will go through a training period. How long that training period may be depends on the policy set by that business and what they expect from their employees. So, why is it that dental offices think they do not have to take the time to train their employees?
Yes, hygienists are trained in college to clean teeth and perform root planing. If you are lucky, the hygienist you are considering hiring may even have experience on the software you are running. However, every office that I have worked with utilizes their software in different ways. Where certain notes go within your patients’ charts may be completely different from what your new hygienist was taught in school or at another office.
What information does your office policy require? I have seen notes in charts as simple as “prophy, fl2 and went over brushing”, where other offices choose to utilize the default template set up by the computer company. Some practices use custom templates set up by the hygienists…templates that the doctor may not even know the hygienist designed! Custom templates may not have all of the information needed for future hygienists and doctors to know exactly what is going on with a particular patient. Does the template provide details that will help the front office to get the insurance company to pay, thus allowing your patient to maximize their benefits? These are just a few of the little things that we take for granted, but are very important to the success of your practice and employees.
Does your practice use route slips? If so, how does your office use those routing slips? Is everyone on your team trained to use them in the same manner? Many employees are not aware of the range of information that routing slips can provide. This is really important, especially if you are a chartless office. Many routing slips not only provide information about that patient, but also about other family members on that account. This can prove very important at a morning meeting when there are last minute cancelations on the voicemail, as you can see family members who are due for their hygiene appointments. The routing slip is the communication process between the front office and back office. It is important that it’s filled out correctly and that the receiver reads everything on it.
The two examples above are only two forms of communication in the office, and we all know how important communication is. Employees should be trained on what is expected in your practice. And what about the actual appointment - what are the procedures expected of the hygienist from the minute the patient walks in the front door until the appointment is over? Does your practice do fluoride on adults? What types of fluoride does your practice use and how long do they need to be applied? Which patients use fluoride? What determines the need for fluoride in your practice? Where is the fluoride kept? It’s the little things that may make or break the stress level in your practice.
Who charts periodontal disease in your practice and what determines the need for root planing? What is the office protocol for a root planing appointment? Are all of the hygienists really providing the same quality of care to the patients, or are you just assuming they do? Patients want continuity of care within a practice. They will notice if there is no continuity, and they will run faster out the back door than they ever walked through your front door.
All employees need to know how to answer the phone correctly, greet patients as they enter, and what is expected when it comes to performing their job duties. Employees also need to know what to expect from you as the leader. If no time is spent training your employees on the systems in your practice, how can you expect your staff to be consistent? A highly trained team will help your office to be less stressful and not only lead to long-term employee retention, but also to long-term patient retention and future referrals. Training every employee on office protocol and policy is important.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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