3 Ways Bad Hires Hurt Your Practice
When it’s time to hire a new team member, most dentists panic. They don’t know how they’ll ever find someone to replace Suzy the Scheduling Coordinator or Bob the Hygienist, and they certainly don’t want to keep the position open for too long. So instead of conducting a proper search and going through all the necessary steps, dentists tend to hire the first person they find who seems like a good fit for the job.
While it might be a relief to get the position filled as quickly as possible, this isn’t the way to find quality team members who want to help your practice grow. The truth is, hiring the first person who sends in an impressive resume will likely cost you time and money in the long run – especially when you have to start the hiring process over again because the seemingly perfect candidate just didn’t work out.
As much as you might not want to hear this, it’s important to go through the proper hiring process when it’s time to bring on a new team member. This includes reading resumes for common red flags, conducting phone interviews, asking the right questions during face-to-face interviews and asking candidates to take temperament tests to help ensure they have what it takes to excel in the position. If you skip these steps, chances are you’ll end up with a bad hire who doesn’t do much, if anything, to contribute to practice success.
Don’t believe me? Here are three ways hiring the wrong person can hurt your practice.
1. Productivity and profits will suffer. I hate to say it, but some people want to put in the least amount of effort possible and still collect a paycheck. They’re just not motivated to excel in their positions, so they don’t. This of course hurts practice productivity and your bottom line, but could be avoided if you take the time to get to know candidates and check their references before extending a job offer.
You’ll also have problems if you hire someone who just can’t handle what the job entails. Here’s an example. You just hired Cindy, who has a friendly personality and exceptional phone skills. You decided that meant she’d be great at handling collections. The problem is, Cindy hates conflict and avoids it at all costs. Putting someone like Cindy in charge of collections will do nothing but hurt your practice, yet I see dentists do it all the time. Bottom line, make sure the candidates you hire have the skill set and personality to excel in their roles. If you don’t, it could cost you big.
2. It will hurt team morale. Hiring the wrong person doesn’t just make you miserable; it also effects your team members. Team members know when someone isn’t pulling their weight or can’t handle their responsibilities. This often makes their jobs more difficult, which leads to unhappy employees and staff conflict. When employees are unhappy they start looking for new jobs – leaving you with open positions to fill once again.
And don’t forget, if the new team member can’t handle the job, he or she will be miserable too. Maybe when Susan sent in that slightly exaggerated resume she thought she would be able to overcome her lack of experience and excel in her new role. When that doesn’t happen, employees like Susan become frustrated and unhappy, especially if they know they’re bringing the rest of the team down. If you don’t have to let them go first, they’ll probably start looking for a new job, which again means it’s time to restart the hiring process.
3. You’ll lose patients. Trust me, patients notice when things are off at your dental practice. When team members are unhappy, it shows in the way they interact with patients. Customer service suffers and the practice just isn’t as efficient. Patients don’t want to feel uncomfortable during their dental visits, so if they notice tension among team members and problems in the practice, they won’t hesitate to make their next appointment at the practice down the street.
Hiring the wrong people can cost you thousands of dollars, not to mention lead to undue stress and frustration. Instead of hiring the first person with an impressive resume, focus on finding team members who will truly help your practice thrive. Once you find the right team members, give them the tools they need to succeed and you’ll be well on your way to practice success and profitability.
Next week, How to set new team members up for success
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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How to Improve Collections in Your Practice
It just doesn’t make sense to you. Case acceptance is up, yet revenues are down. You should be paid for the services you provide, yet you still seem to be struggling to make ends meet. This is frustrating, but there’s a simple explanation. The trouble lies in collections.
According to the industry standard, you should be collecting 98% of “net” production, which is the total charges to patients less any adjustments that affect those charges. That might include insurance adjustments, bad debt write-offs and courtesy adjustments. For practices accepting insurance assignment, over-the-counter collections should range between 40-45% of total production.
Not the case in your practice? It might be time to make some changes to improve your collections and boost your revenues. Here are a few tips:
Train your team. Make sure the person you put in charge of collections is properly trained for the job and comfortable making collections calls. Let the team member know just how important collecting payment is to the practice’s health and how often he or she needs to reach out to patients with outstanding balances. Develop a written script for these phone calls and use other methods to reach out to patients as well, such as snail mail, text and email.
Have a policy. If you don’t have one already, put together a financial policy that makes it clear when payment is expected. Here are a few things to consider including in your policy:
• Offer third party financing through a company like CareCredit
Grow over-the-counter payments. Finding a way to grow over-the-counter, or OTC, payments will also help get you closer to your collections goal. These are payments made at the front desk via check, cash or credit card for services provided that day. When you collect payment day of, you don’t have to worry about billing patients later. It might take a little bit of education, but eventually patients will get used to paying before they leave, saving you and your team time and headaches trying to collect payment later.
Don’t waste time waiting on insurance. If your practice accepts assignment of benefits, it’s important to determine how much insurance will cover without sending a pre-authorization. This just wastes time and might even keep patients from scheduling treatment. Patients are more likely to schedule right after they’ve heard the treatment presentation rather than two weeks later when you call them with insurance information.
Remember, you still need to contact the insurance company to determine the patient’s deductible, limitations, waiting periods and maximums, but your Financial Coordinator should be able to determine about how much patients will owe before they leave the practice. To avoid angry patients if the number is a bit off, be sure to explain this is your estimate, and final payment might need to be adjusted based on what their insurance agrees to cover.
Implement a Financial Agreement. Once patients are scheduled, I suggest giving them a Financial Agreement to complete. This should happen after the Financial Coordinator goes over the procedure, the fees and the patient’s expected portion. The agreement should include:
• Patient’s name
What’s the benefit of using this form? It makes it clear exactly how much the patient is expected to pay at the time of service. It also helps ensure the patient understands the amount quoted is only an estimate and could change once the insurance remits payment. If patients overpay, they’ll receive a refund check. If they underpay, they’ll need to take care of the balance. Patients should leave your practice fully understanding what they’re responsible for, making them more likely to pay on time.
It’s frustrating when you don’t get paid for services rendered. Follow these tips to improve collections and boost revenues in your practice.
Who is Managing the Money in Your Practice?
Panic mode sets in when the Office Manager walks out, leaving the practice with many concerns such as patient accounts and how to post insurance checks, calculate write-offs and balance the day sheet – to name a few. Having only one person accountable and knowledgeable of these important systems is asking for big trouble. Far too many dentists admit sheepishly that they don’t know how the accounting part of the software works, have never read the software financial reports and usually steer clear of handling money and insurance filing. They take the deposit and the day sheet at the end of the day and seldom ask any questions.
The desire to trust that everything is okay at the desk without controls in place is like inviting the fox into the henhouse. The person you blindly trust may not have your best interest at heart, and that is where the temptation to take from you secretly comes into play. The purpose of this article is not to cast suspicion on any member of your staff; it is to make you aware of your responsibility to the practice and your duties as CEO of the business.
An electronic security system for your business or home can give you the feeling that you are protected – until you forget to set the alarm. It is understood that if someone really wants something you have, they will figure out a way to try and get it. You must be vigilant, aware and informed of what is going on around you at any given moment. You have to be able to recognize when the alarm goes off.
How do you protect yourself? Hire slowly and check references carefully. Have the applicant sign a release to obtain a criminal background check. Make sure to check the laws in your state regarding the background check terms. This is not foolproof because many embezzlers were not prosecuted by their former employers, and there may not be a record of criminal activity on file. Embezzlers often move from state to state and getting a sense of community history is difficult to acquire for these applicants.
Handling money or having important financial responsibilities on the job may make an employer want to look at the credit score or credit report of the applicant. An applicant deep in debt may be more tempted to steal, but the issue is whether this is legal or fair in the hiring process.
Mike Goldstein of Credit Karma answers some questions in regards to a potential employer’s right to check your credit score.
“The short answer is no, credit bureaus do not share your credit score with employers. Subject to restrictions in state law, employers may, however, ask to see your credit report. When your information is requested, credit bureaus will send over a variation of your credit report meant specifically for employers. This means that they won't see quite everything that a lender can see, for instance, with the biggest difference being the absence of your credit score.
Access to your credit report is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which sets the limitations on when and by whom your credit information can be accessed. The FCRA sets a few restrictions specifically on employers who are using credit reports to screen new job applicants.
Before anyone can check your credit report you must give consent with limited exceptions. If you don’t give consent there is a possible negative implication like denying an employment opportunity. If the potential employer decides not to hire you based upon the report, they must provide a copy of the report for you. This is meant to protect consumers and to give the applicant a chance to address and correct those errors.”
Beyond the Fair Credit Reporting Act, some state governments have also increased regulations on credit background checks by employers. Currently, eleven states have taken action to ban or limit employer access to credit reports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The eleven states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Keep in mind that employer credit checks are limited to credit reports; a potential employer can’t request an applicant’s credit scores. The best line of defense is to follow the comprehensive advice of the American Dental Association’s publication “Protecting your Dental Office from Fraud and Embezzlement”.
It is never too late to get business training to ensure you are aware of your practice numbers and can spot any potential problems before they affect the life and health of you and your practice. Call McKenzie Management today for customized business training.
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