Thinking About Hiring a New Team Member in 2017? Read this First
In last week’s article, I talked about how important being proactive is to your financial success, especially during these changing times. This week, I want to hit on another factor that determines whether your practice struggles or thrives: your team.
No matter how talented you are, you need a solid team behind you to help your practice reach its full potential. You need motivated, trained employees who are willing and able to do their part to move the practice forward.
Some days, though, it feels like you just don’t have enough team members. Patients are waiting on hold because no one has time to take phone calls, treatment rooms aren’t being turned over quickly enough and instruments seem to pile up before anyone gets around to cleaning them. Hiring another helper sure would be nice, and might even lead to a more pleasant practice environment. With another person taking over some of the many tasks that must be completed each day, you assume everyone’s stress level will go down while practice efficiencies drastically improve.
While this all sounds lovely, unfortunately it isn’t reality. Hiring new team members isn’t always the answer. Sure, it seems like a good idea; adding more people to perform tasks will alleviate the workload, right? Not necessarily. These new hires, as well as all of your employees, need proper training and guidance to improve practice efficiencies. If you’re not providing training as well as direction through detailed job descriptions, hiring all the people in the world won’t do you any good. To have an effective, solid team, you, the practice CEO, must provide guidance and motivation.
Now I know many of your current team members might be pushing for you to hire more help. They say they’re stressed and overworked and having someone else around would provide some relief. But again, if they’re working with broken systems and don’t have the proper training, these new hires will just add confusion to the practice. So before you post that help wanted ad, take a look at your systems and determine where they can be improved. Offer training where it’s lacking and take the time to finally create those detailed job descriptions, complete with performance measurements. Trust me, this will make a huge difference.
Still not convinced? OK, think about what hiring another person does to your overhead. Look at wages paid in your practice, including the hygienist’s (but excluding the doctor’s). They should be no more than 20% of gross income, not including payroll taxes and benefits. If the current gross salary expense is around 22%, you’re already reaching the tipping point. Adding another person could increase gross wages to 27%. Where are you going to get that extra 5% or 7%? Are any staff members volunteering to take a pay cut? Probably not.
If you’ve looked at your systems, trained your employees and determined you actually do need to bring someone else on board and know you can afford it, then I suggest you focus on hiring a producer rather than a helper. A Patient Coordinator is a great example. This team member will increase practice revenues by out-bound patient contact from your recall system and making sure appointments are kept. This will increase production and thus practice revenues.
When you hire a producer, the negative financial impact should only last about 60 days. Beyond that, production should increase, and the wage percentage of gross income should return to the normal range of 19-22%.
I also recommend creating a producer mentality among your team members. What does that mean? If tasks aren’t getting done and team members are stressed, it could be because some employees have the “it’s not my job” attitude. Make sure everyone understands the bigger picture. What is the practice mission? What are the practice’s goals? What is each employee’s objective? When everybody clearly understands practice goals and realizes they’re expected to help achieve those goals, they’ll be more likely to step in whenever necessary.
As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about the improvements and changes you want to make in 2017 to reach true success and profitability. A strong team will help you get there, but that doesn’t mean you need to hire helpers to alleviate stress and workload. Instead, evaluate your systems, offer necessary training and create job descriptions to make sure your current team members have the tools they need for success. And when it is time to hire, instead of looking for helpers look for producers who can improve efficiencies as well as grow your bottom line.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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The Reluctant Front Office Team
Front Office Training Case #3801FO
“Dr. Brown” (names have been changed) and his three business staff, “Jane, Ericka and Donna”, signed up for Front Office Training because, even though there were three of them working full time, many tasks weren’t getting done and Dr. Brown had problems paying bills at the end of each month.
The three ladies were delightful in personality, though Donna didn’t say anything during the training unless asked and even then was reluctant to answer questions. She had been a dental assistant and was great at chairside, setting up the rooms and sterilization. When Jane told Dr. Brown that she needed more help at the desk, she suggested Donna because Donna knew the patients and was good at her job. Offering her a two dollar an hour raise caused Donna to accept the position at the desk. Donna was to call patients with unscheduled recalls and treatment, and was responsible for seeing that both the doctor and hygienists’ schedules were full. Jane and Ericka claimed that neither had time for these tasks because they were too busy answering the phone, checking patients in and out and presenting treatment at the desk.
Before a client participates in a training program with McKenzie Management, we like each participant to complete a personality temperament test along with the CEO dentist owner. Jane’s temperament leaned more towards a leadership type while Ericka was more an active communicator and very “feeling”. Donna, on the other hand, was more introverted and wore her heart on her sleeve. There are no “bad” personalities, but there are indicators in the temperament test that can help determine what types of personalities are suited for certain jobs. None of the ladies had written job descriptions and it was understood that all were to “get the job done.”
Jane was more of a leader and was thought of as the “office manager” unofficially, but had never been given the authority of one. Because there weren’t written job descriptions and performance reviews, the ladies did what they felt were the most important tasks and avoided tasks that they were not comfortable with. Donna did not like calling patients even though it was her job. Her introverted and feeling temperament type indicated that this was not a comfort zone for her. She felt the need to go into the clinical area to “help out”, and as a result the work she was hired to do was not getting done. During the training Donna admitted she was not happy with her new position and wanted to be a dental assistant again.
Change is difficult for most people. There is fear involved and sometimes risk for many who like things the way they are and don’t see how change can improve things in general.
The training included creating solid job descriptions for Jane and Ericka and revealed that the practice needed only the two at the desk full time. With Jane and Ericka now having more direction and clarity on how to manage the practice, we were able to implement systems to make sure all work was completed and the accounts receivable and unpaid insurance claims were being paid.
The measurement for the success of collections is the Accounts Receivable report, along with the Outstanding Insurance Claim report. The AR report tells you how much is owed and how long it has been owed to you. If the balance falls in the 60 days aging column, then action is required to collect this revenue. If there is 10% or more of the total owed in the 90 day aging column, then your cash flow to cover overhead is suffering. Any insurance claims aging past 30 to 40 days is a sign that attention is required.
With a system as valuable as this one, someone has to be in charge to make sure monies are collected promptly and correctly. Jane would now be in charge of seeing that balances were collected so there would be money to pay the bills. Donna returned to her position as a dental assistant but has also learned how to answer the phone and make outbound calls to patients who have not scheduled treatment. Even though it is not an area where she felt confident, she actually enjoys making a few calls a day to help out.
Need help with your front office systems? Call McKenzie Management today and schedule a Front Office Training Program for your team.
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