6.8.12 Issue #535 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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The Top 5 Skills of Great Business Coordinators
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Dear Belle,

I was hired to be a “concierge” office manager in a dental office, but I am so overwhelmed with the administrative duties that it is hard to keep a smile even until noon.  I love my job, but being new to dentistry I wish that the doctor had told me there was more to it than just smiling and answering the phone.

Daisy Deflated

Dear Daisy,

Dentists receive very little practice management training in dental school, yet are expected to become CEO’s literally overnight when they purchase a practice and take on the leadership roles of owner/manager.  The clinical team operates under the dentist’s direct supervision - what they do is visible and tangible to the dentist’s eye. The business coordinator’s job, however, is not as visible and often thought to be a robotic list of tasks such as answering the phone, keeping the schedule full and collecting the money. The dentist often says, “How difficult can that be?”

Even if you were hired because of your pleasant personality and ability to build rapport with patients, which are very important characteristics, the business of dentistry requires management skills and a sense of ownership of the position. In other words, if the patient does not pay the bill, it is your head on the block. If the schedule is full of cancellations, you will be held accountable. The skills of collecting and scheduling require a personality that is more tough-minded and less emotional. Can a business coordinator be both a tough business person and a caring and warm concierge? The answer is yes, with the proper training.  The following are skills that a great business coordinator must possess to build a profitable and smooth operating practice.

1. Personable and Verbal Communication Skills
Dentistry is an extroverted business requiring face-to-face interaction with patients, explaining treatment and confirming financial options. You must ensure that patients understand the importance of keeping appointments and payment agreements, and have the skill to make patients feel welcome while communicating their responsibility to the success of their treatment.

2. Scheduling Skills
Scheduling should meet the practice production goals without stressing the team.  Understanding the “who, what and where” of the schedule is imperative. An awareness of who is responsible, what is happening and where the patient is at every moment during the day will ensure that you know where the schedule works and doesn’t work for the team.

3. Leadership Skills
A team player understands that the strengths of the practice come from each team member's participation in the process. The business coordinator must have leadership skills to unite the team in the direction of the practice vision. The business coordinator is often asked to schedule and facilitate team meetings and to be accountable for the success of these meetings.

4. Numbers Skills
The business coordinator should understand the practice numbers and know how to manage expenses. For instance: knowing whether lab bills and dental supply bills are over-budget. Being able to report how many new patients have come to the practice each month, how many retained or active patients are in the practice and what marketing or referral sources are successful in bringing patients to the practice is absolutely necessary.

5. Time Management and Prioritizing Skills
Ensure all areas of the practice are kept current. Are fee schedules up to date? Are daily calls made to unscheduled patients? Are insurance benefits and eligibility confirmed on each patient coming in on the schedule? Are the accounts receivables 98% collected? Are there unpaid insurance claims to be investigated? Time management can be the most overlooked skill of the business coordinator. A practice that is overstaffed results from the absence of time management skills and the inability to complete tasks.

These tasks can be managed by one business coordinator when the practice is seeing up to 20 patients a day in an 8-hour work day. A well-organized, well-trained business coordinator should be able to maintain the position successfully. Sometimes there may be projects or tasks that can be delegated to clinical staff should there be downtime on the schedule. For instance, if documents need to be scanned, a clinical assistant can do this when not with patients. This is usually a solo, general practice and still represents a large percentage of practices across the country.

For training in the vital skills of managing a dental practice, look to the business training courses offered at McKenzie Management for front office personnel, office managers or the dentist CEO.

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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