12.1.17 Issue #821 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 

Don't Be Afraid to Raise Your Fees
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Patients decide it’s time to find a new dental home for many reasons. It could be because they had a negative experience with one of the practice’s team members, or because the hours the dentist works just aren’t convenient. It’s typically not, however, because the dentist decided to raise fees.

Even so, many dentists are hesitant to make pricing increases. They don’t want to risk losing patients, so they charge the same rates year after year. This might seem like a good way to keep patients happy, but if you don’t ever raise your fees, your practice will actually start to lose money and you won’t be able to invest in the technologies that lead to loyal patients.

Believe it or not, patients actually expect you to raise your fees from time to time. Unless they’re already considering leaving your practice, adjusting your fees $4 or $5 a year isn’t going to compel them to start looking for a new dentist. Raising your prices does, however, allow you to provide them with better care, which of course makes them more likely to stay with your practice and refer you to family and friends.

I know the thought of raising fees can be intimidating, but if you don’t do it, you’ll only damage your practice in the long run. I can help you determine if it’s time to raise your fees, and how much that increase should be. These are the most common signs that it’s time to consider a price bump:

You’re falling short of your financial goals. When you don’t bring enough money in, it impacts your life both professionally and personally. You’re not able to make necessary updates to your office, or live the life you envisioned when you started your career.

If you haven’t already, now is a great time to develop a vision for your practice. Create clear professional and personal goals and really think about how much time you’re willing to work to meet those goals. From there, you can determine how much money you need to bring in each month, which will help dictate your fees.

You honestly can’t remember the last time you raised your fees. This is a sure sign you’re not charging enough, and it’s killing your bottom line.

 Let me give you an example. I’ve worked with dentists who were undercharging their patients by about 6%. Most didn’t think this was a big deal – until I told them that seemingly small percentage was translating into thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. I’ve also worked with dentists undercharging by as much as 50%. That’s right, I said 50%. If your practice falls into that category, you’re really taking a beating financially, and it’s keeping you from meeting your full potential.

OK, now that I’ve convinced you to start raising your fees, you’re probably wondering what is the best way to do it. The key is to make adjustments based on logic, and put together a fee structure that’s fair to both you and your patients.

My suggestion? Establish a solid fee for each service and then make adjustments twice a year. Increase by 2% the first time and then 3% the second time, for a total of 5%. You’ll have a much healthier bottom line, and patients will barely even notice the rise in prices.

You pride yourself on having the lowest fees in your area. Sorry, but that isn’t actually a good thing. Your fees send patients (both current and new) a message about your practice. If your office is the least expensive in the community, patients might think it doesn’t have the most up-to-date technology or the best environment. You also run the risk of attracting price shoppers who have no intention of becoming loyal patients – they’re just looking for a deal.

Not sure where prices fall in your area? Do a little research to find out. You can get this information online or through your local dental society. If you determine your fees are indeed the lowest, consider starting the New Year with new pricing.

Your fees are all over the place. I know dentists who purposely set their fees too low for certain services and too high for others. They might discount their hygiene fees, but charge more for crowns, for example. Unfortunately, this structure only annoys and confuses patients, which is a good way to lose them. It’s much better to base your fees on your personal and financial goals, as well as data from the community you serve.

Adjusting fees is part of running a business. To be successful, you have to make sure your rates align with the demographics you serve and the quality of care you offer. While undercharging might seem like a good way to attract and keep patients, it will only hurt your practice. Making the necessary fee adjustments will help keep your bottom line robust while also enabling you to offer patients even better care.

Next week: Take these steps to ensure you’re not undercharging patients.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Office Managers: How to Get a Raise in 2018
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“If I haven’t been offered a raise in two years, is it because I am mediocre?” 
Jan, Dental Office Manager

Everyone needs money to pay their bills and plan for the future and retirement, yet many people barely make it paycheck to paycheck. The question always comes up at some point: “How do I get a raise?” If you’re doing an adequate job and are there forty hours a week working, that should be enough to get an annual raise. Right? Wrong. Front Office Training

In case you haven’t noticed, the world of business has changed and the world of dental business is certainly changing with it. The dental office manager of today must have management skills along with the ability to utilize newer technology to keep a practice in the black. 

Let’s look at the basics first:

Do you arrive to work on time, ready to hit the ground running?
Showing up late when you are the leader is not only poor behavior on your part – it doesn’t help the practice improve its bottom line. Patients being seated late because you or other staff are not there is a recipe for poor patient retention. Poor patient retention means less revenue to support the practice and provide raises. Being prepared shows that as an employee you are invested in your patients’ health and the practice. It is an undeniable show of professionalism and something that the dentist will acknowledge. Employees who show up to work late or are unprepared are usually denied a raise, with tardiness as the reason.

Are you part of the office drama?
It can be so easy to find yourself in a conversation with a staff member who is complaining about another member of the team. But having any conversation about another individual who is not present is gossip. You may be trying to be polite to hear your coworker out, but it is wise to avoid gossip at all costs. Some team members may have initiated more of a “friendship” with you for just this reason. It is important to remain impartial and neutral to all when it comes to gossip. Dentists want to do dentistry, not referee a disagreement with staff members. As an office manager you will not get a raise it you are part of the problem and not the solution.

Are you contributing to production?
It’s not just the clinical team that ensures production numbers will pay the bills and increase profitability. The manager is critical to the positive numbers of the practice. To be considered for a raise you must show that numbers are improving, not declining. Suggestions on time management, scheduling for production, treatment presentations and acceptance, improving collections and insurance processing are just a few areas that need to be monitored and reported to the dentist(s) or CEO of the practice.

Show how your productivity is helping the practice grow. Ask the dentist(s) to meet monthly and review things that worked and constructively mention things that can improve. Offer solutions to solve the issues that you have observed. As a practice owner, receiving valuable input for the practice is impressive and shows you have a “buy in” attitude about the practice business solvency. If your excellent work and dedication help the practice to grow and prosper, you have paid for your wage increase.

Are you a “lone wolf” or part of the team?
A great dental office manager is a leader that people follow. If you are the kind of person who tries to “do it all” then the dentist will see you struggle and see others not working to capacity. This is not what dentists want in an office manager. The trick is to get the entire dental team on board to work towards a united goal. If you are not a born leader you can learn these skills with home study and classes. Toastmaster’s International (http://www.toastmasters.org/) is an excellent resource for learning leadership skills with a supportive group of professional people from all types of businesses.

These are the basics to getting a raise. Other skills that dentist CEOs look for include someone who can communicate beyond the office into the world of website design, writing content, blogging, SEO (search engine optimization) and multi-level marketing through social media. 

Want to learn to be a better Dental Office Manager and get that raise? Call McKenzie Management today and schedule a professional training course in Dental Office Management.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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