Playing, it’s no Game
Now that you are kicking off your New
Year with a fresh commitment to hold regular staff meetings –
as I know you are – and to look carefully at all
your systems over the next several months – as I know
you will – I want you to take some time to engage in
a little exercise too. I promise you won’t break a sweat,
but it just might get your heart rate up. Before the next staff
meeting, ask your financial coordinator and another employee to
be prepared to show the rest of the team how the practice
with a patient, we’ll call her Mrs. Jones, who has just seen
the hygienist, and, before she leaves the office, she needs to schedule
multiple appointments for a crown or other higher dollar procedure.
The purpose of this is not to see how effectively appointments are
scheduled. Rather, the objective of this exercise is to enable everyone,
including the doctor, to observe how and if the practice’s
financial policy is implemented on a regular basis.
And, most importantly, it gives the team the opportunity to objectively
consider what improvements can be made in that system.
some doctors and team members this exercise is going to be a real
eye opener. If you’ve been wondering why you closed 2003 well
below where you expected to be this just might clue into what was
behind last year’s slip. It is not uncommon
in dental practices for the business staff to virtually ignore the
payment issue entirely when the appointments are scheduled for crowns
and other major procedures. Many practices don’t even discuss
payment until the procedure is complete. Consequently, the patient
has no real investment in keeping the appointment,
increasing the likelihood that she may cancel or not show. What’s
more, the patient is silently dictating when and on what terms she
will pay for the dental care.
some practices, failure to make payment arrangements with a patient
in advance of more involved procedures indicates that no
financial policy is on the books and no clear processes
are in place for handling this type of situation. For others, the
employee simply does not know what to say or how to say it. Often,
the typical exchange goes something like this, Lori, at front desk,
says to Mrs. Jones who is on her way out the door, “Would
you like to make a payment today?” Mrs. Jones,
of course, says “No. Just bill me,” and shuts
the door behind her. Meanwhile, the good doctor wants collections
to increase and tells Lori to do exactly that. Dutiful Lori says
“Sure doctor, no problem.” Turns around, rolls
her eyes, and wonders how the heck she is going to get patients
to part with their hard-earned cash.
Next Week, the collections drama ... make sure your leading
lady is following a script.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
SEEN YOUR YEAR END NUMBERS ...
PANIC TO PROFIT - TURNING PANIC TO PROFIT
PANIC TO PROFIT - TURNING PANIC TO PROFIT
An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
VP Professional Relations
Last week, [see
article], I finished discussing the financial coordinator position.
This week, I’ll start exploring the scheduling coordinator’s
job/technology responsibilities. Each dental office is different.
You should consider the following data responsibilities as “bare
minimum” for the position.
scheduling coordinator should be responsible for the following...
The collection of accurate patient/account data before patient is
would normally be the welcoming person at the front desk. This responsibility
may be ultimately shared with the financial coordinator [see
January 16 issue] but the scheduling coordinator can drastically
improve their own performance and enjoyment on the job by having
complete information. Imagine knowing individual
recall intervals, individual recall time units needed, patient’s
preferred day and time to schedule, as well as pre-med requirements.
Imagine having every patient’s family scheduling needs at
your fingertips every time you go to make an appointment. The completeness
and accuracy of patient database information is a must for every
2. Scheduling to office production goal
Your scheduling coordinator is responsible for keeping your office
at maximum production. One way of doing that is setting a production
goal and scheduling toward that goal. Your scheduling coordinator
is also responsible for printing and reviewing the provider
allocation of time units for each ADA code at least every
6 months. The dentist(s) and dental assistants have to have the
time to review the provider allocation for accuracy. They in turn,
hand any changes to the scheduling coordinator. The scheduling coordinator
updates the ADA codes and provider allocation accordingly. It is
the provider allocation of time within each ADA code that allows
the scheduling coordinator the ability to keep the book as productive
as possible without under booking or overbooking.
3. Managing unscheduled treatment
Unscheduled treatment could be outstanding treatment plans or overdue
recare patients. Either way, it is unscheduled treatment. The key
tool at your scheduling coordinator’s disposal is the “unscheduled
treatment” or “tickler file” list inside your
practice management system. Your scheduling coordinator is responsible
for making a minimum of 5 outbound telephone calls each
day and entering the notes of these conversations into
your practice management system. The basic premise behind this list
is as follows. If someone needs treatment but doesn’t schedule
– they go onto this list. If a patient cancels or breaks an
appointment – they go onto this list. Period! Your scheduling
coordinator calls from the list (on screen), schedules from the
list (to keep the list clean), and enters pertinent notes onto the
list (to keep the list current and the whole team informed).
Next week we will cover more scheduling coordinator responsibilities!
You didn’t think I was done did you?
Remember, we are here to help. Email
me your questions or comments!
you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
The Cold Shoulder
Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To
Concepts of Leadership and Management
A Continuing Discussion
To reiterate last week’s discussion [See
January 16th issue] ... there is a great deal of talk these
days about leadership. It is a big concept that is thrown around
in national and international politics and corporate America.
Today, the concept of leadership from politics and economics has
been rationalized down to the level of the small business.
This process has led to ambiguity, distortion, and confusion over
how it should or should not apply. These detriments not only confuse
the office staff who pines for a great leader on horseback, but
also is distorted by the business owners who perceive themselves
to be more responsible than they really are or need to be.
This week's column is a continuing discussion of the difference
between leadership and management. For the sake of clarity,
I believe that all business owners must be managers first and leaders
second. The reason for this definition is that the goal of the office
practice is simply to carry out the product and services as promised,
effectively and efficiently. The typical office practice is not
challenged with the responsibility of guiding millions of people
and billions of dollars. Ours is a very simple challenge: make
money and enjoy the day.
For our purposes, the concept of focus is about what the
brain pays attention to. Different people in different
positions of responsibility will pay attention to different aspects
of the business. The administrator is focused on tasks and responsibilities
that are different from the specific focused concerns of the clinical
assistant. A similar distinction can be attributed to the business
owner. There are times where he/she must focus on the particular
procedure of the moment, and there are other times where
he/she must focus on the overall direction of the business.
greatest return for the effort will occur when good management pays
attention to the daily purpose of the business.
The purpose of the business is to make money, and therefore, managing
the personnel and making sure that transactions are completed thoroughly
is the responsibility of good management. When there is good management,
every transaction is initiated and completed within the quality
constraints of the personnel and the structure of the business.
Good management maintains a firm grasp of what is producing
profit and what is not.
concept of leadership as it applies to the necessity of good focus
is a perspective that does not enhance the day-to-day requirement
for precision and accuracy. One will often say that leadership must
maintain a vision into the future, picking a star
to follow somewhere over the horizon. This is a very reasonable
definition when you apply it to something as large and complex as
a corporation or a government; however, such grandiose definitions
tend to lose their meaning when applied to a small business environment.
owners need to be focused and to be actively engaged in the transaction
process. Hypothesizing the horizon is a component of leadership
that does not instill the kind of loyalty and commitment from the
staff that one might presume, because the nature of the small business
environment and the typical office staff simply does not
require such grandiose vision to be happy.
office staff in any office will be far more loyal and committed,
if the business owner focuses on good quality, punctual service,
and attentive patient care. The management perspective is more relevant,
because the actual direction of the typical small business environment
is really very simple. Focusing on rendering quality, service
and care will produce an expanding market and the accompanying
increase in the number of financial transactions. The typical office
is not diversifying into multiple markets nor coping with technological
advances; therefore, the applicability of broad-based leadership
definitions does not apply.
All brains love the novelty of creativity, because creativity
is a form of stimulation requiring the processing of new
information in new patterns. New information is actually a form
of entertainment for the brain. With this principle
in mind, it is reasonable that taking initiative to be creative
is a natural impulse and will surface from time to time in every
office. However, how is it handled?
Within the small business environment, good management wants to
pay attention and encourage the initiative of its employees to improve
the structure or operation of the business, because this improves
profitability from within the organization. Nothing new must be
added. Therefore, individual employees who take the initiative to
either create structure in the office or initiate new procedures
help to manage the overall management process.
Management always looks favorably on improved efficiency. Thus,
the basic task of good management is to encourage staff to improve
the business as a whole by maintaining levels of productivity and
continuing to repeat or imitate the guiding principles of the business
as established by the owner everyday.
concept of leadership embraces the principle of initiative by being
proactive and moving into areas of profit before the competition
or before such areas of opportunity are even discovered by anyone
else. Taking such initiative creates market opportunities that can
produce substantial changes in business structure and profitability.
These leadership principles have their place, however, I think it
is more reasonable to recognize that proactive initiatives
in the small business environment are limited.
is my belief that initiatives that are too broad or discussions
that are too frequent will undermine the regularities that office
staffers actually prefer and enjoy. Talking too much about
changing direction, trend, or market increases the office
team’s sense of insecurity due to visions of new procedures
and responsibilities and contributes to a breakdown of team and
individual focus. Therefore, talking about taking the initiative
in marketing opportunities possess the capacity to expand the external
business vision and undermine the internal business structure, because
the staff and the business owner do not share the same return on
would like to request your stories of Dentists and Staff members
who have experienced the difference between management and
leadership. Send them to Coach@mckenziemgmt.com.
No incriminating information will be published.
Want your issues
answered? Ask the email@example.com.
Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?
YEAR'S RESOLUTION FOR 2004
Production by 25%?
job descriptions for staff with performance measurements?
the accounts receivable by 15%?
a full one hour for lunch?
on an associate dentist in the first quarter?
perio treatment in the
hygiene department by 28%?
another operatory first quarter?
fees 3% the first of March and October?
dental assistants how to make temporary crowns?
2 hour monthly meetings with system measurements?
Every Office Manager Needs To Stay On Top!
Top Selling Books
Cash Flow, Hiring, Hygiene, Performance Measurements, Recall
Rate for this week's newsletter subscribers.
Management, Inc. has been named the WINNER
in the DentalTown Magazine and DentalTown.com
2003 Townie Choice Awards™
for Practice Management Consultants.
is an overwhelming honor to be singled out by literally
thousands of dental practices across the country as the
number one dental practice management firm,” said
Sally McKenzie, President, McKenzie Management. “We
know that dentists take great care in selecting only the
very best products and services, and to be among this
elite group is truly a testament to the commitment the
McKenzie Management team has demonstrated over the past
23 years to provide consistently superior consulting products
and services,” added Ms. McKenzie.
The McKenzie Management Team looks forward to continuing
to provide the very best consulting services so that dental
practices in turn can perform at their very best.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE SUPPORT AND VOTES!
My office has a different situation than that addressed in last
week's newsletter. My perceived problem is lack of patients. We
have an excellent hygienist, front desk person and assistant. I
am a solo practitioner.
We have a base of 500 patients and have been unable to grow this
base. The hygienist is in 3 days per week and it has been difficult
to get 7 hygiene patients per day or 21 patients per week. How do
I remedy this lack of patients?
The first thing you need to do is to determine how many days of
hygiene you need. If the hygienist has the capacity to see 21 patients
a week and let's say she works 49 weeks a year, 2 weeks vacation
and a week of holidays that is 1029 patients. If they come in 2
times a year (which not all should if you have perio therapy being
performed) that would be 515 active patients and you say you have
500 patients. What are you using to determine 500 patients? If it's
charts in the file, that is the wrong criteria. Go to your
computer system and print out a report of patients due for recall
between today and one year from today, with and without appointments.
That is your true active patient base. If that number is less than
the 500, then you have lost patients due to a patient retention
problem somewhere in the "system". The system could be
made up of: recall system, customer service, how patients are handled,
patient complaints from fees, to parking, to your statements, to
your financial policy can be some of the reasons why patients will
leave the practice. While getting in new patients is important to
growth, the most cost effective way to get in new patients is to
keep the ones you have and get them to refer. I hate to see you
paying out hygiene wages when it is a possibility that you have
lost patients and don't have enough to support three days a week.
You may have to downsize hygiene work days or continue to financially
subsidize the department while closing the back door and marketing
for new patients. This is not an easy task without a game plan.
You have a definitive problem and while I know I have a service
to sell here, the only way you can solve it is to have the practice
"analyzed" so a definitive plan of treatment can be prescribed.
Give us a call so we can discuss some solutions, 1-877-777-6151.
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