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6.27.08 Issue #329 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Recession - Proof Your Job

A relationship isn’t meant to be an insurance policy, a life preserver, or a security blanket. —Diane Crowley

Weary of the latest economic headlines? Wonder when it will end? Dentists have rising overhead costs for equipment, products and supplies and also bear the burden of rising shipping costs. Patients reading the newspaper or watching television may decide to cut back on spending everywhere and that includes the dental office.

Dentists who own their practices cannot be fired but they can take a pay cut. If production and collection statistics fall below the ability of the practice to pay for necessities, action has to be taken. There is an old saying that no one is irreplaceable—especially if that person doesn’t visibly contribute to the practice success.

What can you do to make yourself an asset that the dental practice cannot operate without? Key business personnel are necessary to operate the successful growing practice. True, the dentist may be able to answer the phone, file insurance, collect fees, answer questions about financing, research unpaid insurance claims, send out new patient packets, check email, post insurance checks and send statements, but not while doing dentistry.

What does it mean to be a key person to the practice success? First, look to your job description and make sure you are doing the complete list of duties to the satisfaction of your employer. For instance:

  • When was the last time you called inactive accounts to get them back in for a professional cleaning and exam?
  • What is the treatment acceptance rate compared to the treatment presented?
  • Are you enthusiastically recommending diagnosed treatment and motivating patients to make appointments or are you telling patients to just call when they are ready?
  • Are you taking the extra time to educate patients on the value and benefit of recommended dental procedures or are you telling them to just read over a brochure and call back if they have questions?
  • Are there any unpaid dental claims past 31 days on the insurance report that you haven’t researched and responded to?
  • Is the 90 days past due on the Accounts Receivable report less than 12%? If it is higher, are you making collection calls and getting payment commitments?
  • Are you collecting the co-pays and deductibles at the time of service every day to result in a 45% over-the-counter collection rate (for practices that accept assignment of benefits)? Unpaid claims and overdue monies represent practice revenue not collected and possibly the difference between a layoff and a retained position for you.
  • Are you making at least 5 calls a day to unscheduled recall? Results of this practice have shown a 20 to 30% increase in patient retention. Even in the worst of times, people need professional teeth cleanings and exams, basic restorative, endodontic and oral surgery, and periodontics to stay healthy. Cosmetic bleaching and purely elective restorations can wait but don’t stop suggesting to those who may benefit.

Second, consider going beyond your job description and getting the team involved in an internal/external marketing campaign to improve patient satisfaction. These are some things you can do:

  • Start a patient survey to get feedback from your patients.
  • Visit local businesses and leave cards and “dental care” packets for employees.
  • Offer economic incentives to people who work in your building or in the neighboring businesses, such as a special package of services, and then make sure to give them the best customer service they have ever had in a dental office.
  • Start a patient “Birthday Club” and send cards signed by the team.
  • Treat every patient like a VIP every day. Say, “We appreciate you and always look forward to seeing you.”
  • Ask your patients for referrals to their friends and family. They may think you are too busy or not seeing new patients.

We have experienced downturns in our economy in the past. The best way to counter the negativity is to remain positive and take action that will benefit all. For help turning the negative to the positive, consider ensuring that your business systems are operating at peak efficiency and enroll in one of McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training Programs. When you know that you have the tools to measure your practice growth and performance and have been taught what to do in slow times, it can be a source of comfort and confidence that you are doing all you can do to protect the practice and your job.

If you would like for McKenzie Management to train your Business Coordinators, please contact us at 877-777-6151 or, or visit our website at
Interested in having Belle speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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