Tips: Lead Your Practice to Improved Production

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Owning a dental practice can be overwhelming at times. There’s just so much to do, from managing human resource issues to monitoring financials to providing patients with the best care possible. There’s a lot to juggle, but most dentists would prefer to focus on the clinical—so that’s what they do.

The problem? When that happens, no one is really leading the practice, which can be pretty damaging. Team members feel lost and frustrated, and aren’t anywhere near as efficient as they should be. Practice profits take a hit, as does team morale.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how good you are clinically if you don’t have patients in the chair or happy, motivated team members who are ready to help you meet your goals. For your practice to thrive, you really need to embrace your leadership role and to focus on the business aspects of the practice along with the clinical.

As the practice CEO, production is one of the areas you should monitor closely. Many dentists struggle with meeting daily practice production goals, which of course hurts their bottom line. The good news is, by sharpening your skills, you can lead your practice to improved production and healthier revenues. Read on for my tips to help you do just that.

Establish goals. Sit down with your team members to determine how much money you need to bring in each day to reach your financial targets. This number will give everyone in the practice direction, and will help keep you focused as you go about your day.

Not sure how to determine this number? Let me give you an example. Say you decide you want to produce $700,000 a year. To do that, you’ll need to bring in $14,583 a week (that’s after subtracting four weeks of vacation). Working 40 hours a week, you’ll need to produce about $364 an hour to meet your goal. Want to shorten your work week? Adjust the hourly rate to reflect that.

From there, determine your hourly rate of production by:

-Training your assistant to track the amount of time it takes to perform procedures, including how many appointments are necessary to complete treatment. The total cost for each procedure also should be recorded.

-Determining the procedure value per hourly goal. So, if a crown costs $900, divide 900 by the total time the procedure takes. In this case, it’s 120 minutes. That works out to a production per minute value of $7.50. Multiple that by 60 minutes and you get $450 per hour. Keep in mind this number should be the same or more as your hourly production goal.

Of course, you’ll never meet production goals if your days aren’t scheduled correctly. Train your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule your days to be productive, not busy. Make sure this team member knows what the daily production goals are and creates a schedule each day that can help you meet those goals.

Put the right number of hygiene days in your schedule. When patients are ready to schedule treatment, they probably don’t want to come in three or four weeks after they call the office. They typically want to get in as soon as possible. If they’re told they’ll have to wait, it could prompt them to start looking around for a new office that can see them sooner. This, of course, costs you money, which is why it’s critical to leave enough room in your schedule for new and existing patients.

Here’s how to make sure you do that:

-Count the number of active patients you’ve seen in the last year for oral health evaluations. Most patients come in twice a year for these appointments, so multiply that figure by two.

-Add the number of new patients receiving a comprehensive diagnosis per year. If your practice has 1,000 active patients and 300 new patients, that equals 1,300. Multiply that by two and you get 2,600 possible hygiene appointments.

-Compare that number to your hygienist’s potential patient load. If the hygienist works four days a week, sees 10 patients a day, and is in the office 48 weeks a year, that leaves you with 1,920 available hygiene appointments.

-When you subtract that number from 2,600, it shows you are losing 680 appointments per year, or 14 patients per week. That tells you the hygiene department should be increased.

Focus on education. Educated patients understand the value of the services you provide and are more likely to accept treatment—and that of course boosts production numbers. Showing them images from the intraoral camera, along with digital photography and radiographs, helps them see what you see so they can better understand why they need treatment. It’s also a good idea to have patients watch videos that go over the treatment you’re recommending and to give them educational materials about any conditions you’ve identified.

Be sure to talk with patients about the services you provide that can help them reach their oral health goals. Doing so will help patients feel more connected to the practice, which fosters loyalty. When you take the lead in educating and building connections with patients, your team members will follow suit, which will give you even better results.

The bottom line is this: Focusing on the business side of practice ownership is vital to your success. Becoming a better leader will help you improve practice efficiencies and production numbers, helping your practice thrive.

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