6.01.07 - Issue # 273 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Myths and Monsters of Internal Marketing

There are many great ideas available for marketing your practice both externally and internally.  Internal marketing is what you offer the patient once they have joined your practice, such as seating on time; post op calls, professional, courteous behavior, etc.  External marketing is the method used to attract new patients to your practice, such as direct mail, coupon offers, yellow page ads, etc.

A recent attendee to McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training proved to be a remarkable and articulate business manager named Clarisse (not her real name).  “ My desk is in the center of the office and I have a complete view of the entire practice operations.  I am accessible to the doctors, staff, and patients at their whim any given time of the day.  Breaks are unheard of except at lunch, which I make sure we get. I know that my attitude can make or break this practice but I find it a challenge to keep smiling under certain circumstances. The myth that I must always be cheerful and accommodating or I will upset the staff or drive patients away is the monster that hovers over me.  After a particular bad day I go home and wonder whom I have slighted in any way.  How do I stay calm when Dr. A complains about assistant B and assistant B says Dr. A needs an antidepressant?  At the same time, Mrs. Brown is asking for a toothbrush because she just came from lunch and Mrs. Smith is standing at the desk with her insurance file to discuss the latest billing?”

Clarisse’s concern is common to many dental practices and the following response helped her to set up a manageable system for multitasking to support the needs of staff and patients.

Assuming that the doctor and staff share the same practice vision and mission, the every day minor miscommunications can be easily handled by just being a listening ear.  Most people need to vent and if you are a kind and open person, you will be on the receiving end of the venting.  However, as Business Manager you need to set boundaries on doctor, staff, and patients so that you can successfully meet all of their needs without “burnout”.

The morning huddle or morning business meeting is an important internal marketing system.  This meeting should last no more than ten minutes and has a definite agenda (provided during the training).  Patients coming in for treatment that day can be assessed for potential problems that they may bring with them.  If there are problems with accounts or insurance, the patient will most surely want to discuss that when they come in.  It is best to call them ahead of the appointment to clarify account discrepancies.   Are there any x-rays, photos or impressions needed for patients that are not on the schedule?  What appointments could be open-ended should there be a cancellation? Where should emergency patients be placed on the schedule? What patients will you compliment that day or what patient will you ask for a referral?  Are there any patients that will take more time than scheduled?  Someone will have to be available to that patient for TLC.  If we are prepared ahead of time for potential scheduling issues, we can eliminate some of the daily stress. Some things cannot be anticipated, like equipment failure, so let’s eliminate what we can.

The fact that the doctor and the staff can come to you for help is a compliment.  When you are sitting at your desk you may look like you are available, but you are not.  You are answering the phone, following up on insurance, updating records, monitoring practice reports, sending statements etc.  Set up a time with the doctor or the assistant for discussion of their personal or business issues.  Have another staff member cover the phones or have a voice mail system set up to direct callers to leave a message that will be returned within the hour.  Try to keep these meetings short and to the point.  Doctor bashing needs to be eliminated and if the issue is an assistant’s job skill then a performance review is necessary.  Always write up a short report and place in the doctor or assistant file for future reference.

When the patient arrives, good customer service dictates that they get the time and attention that is necessary for them to “connect” in a positive way.  If you look too busy you will be perceived as too busy.  Healthy practices need a constant flow of new patients to grow.  You will not receive referrals for new patients if you look “too busy”.

Removing the monster from the myth sets up a positive look at the important work of the Business Administrator.  For help in eliminating monsters, call us today.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or  visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

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