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6.23.06 Issue #224

Are Goals Just for Games?
A McKenzie Management Case Study

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management

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This case study is an illustration of a family dental practice maybe similar to yours. The names have been change to protect the guilty!

Dr. James Hauser’s Story:
Disgusted, Dr. Hauser’s venting went something like this:

“I seem to be busy seeing patients all day, but when I look at the production at the end of the day, it is pitiful!  How can I be working so hard and not be making any money?”

I would bet money that ALL dentists have asked that very same question more than once during their careers.  While it’s common that many questions are asked throughout the course of a career, it is few who make the effort to seek the answer.  Maybe one of the reasons dentists’ questions are never answered is because they are fearful that there is no real solution and the problem is just “part of the beast” of being a dentist.  Maybe another reason is because they are afraid of the answers they may get and in order to solve it, action must be taken!  Change?  Oh how we despise to change our ways, even when we are going down the wrong path.

Back to Dr. Hauser’s excellent observation of his concern.  It is obvious that something is broken in his systems and needs to be fixed because “where there is smoke there is fire” and he definitely has something smoldering in his practice.  Let’s see what kind of fire extinguisher we’ll recommend to put out his fire before it burns down the office!

Office Facts:

  • 15 year old practice working 4 days a week
  • 1 hygienist working 4 days a week
  • 15 New Patients per month
  • Production has peaked at about $80,000/month for the past year

In-office Observations:

  • Fees haven’t been increased in over 3 years
  • Hygiene retention is around 40%
  • No job descriptions for staff
  • No daily scheduling goals for doctor or hygienist

Each of these observations is an article in itself, that has been addressed in the past. So, let’s address the last observation – that of “No Goals”.  Lack of daily production goals affects the schedule and how productive it is.  This relates to how hard you work – did you know that?  This is what happens where there are no goals:

  • The Schedule Coordinator is a ”hole filler” – not a coordinator.  You both think that she is doing a good job, only when all the holes are filled.
  • The patients run the schedule instead of the coordinator running the schedule.  The question, “When would you like to come in?” is a dead giveaway.
  • Openings don’t get filled intentionally – only because another patient calls and wants to be seen.
  • One day you have to work like a gerbil on a wheel and the next day you are like a snail on Valium!
  • One day you produce $3,000 and one day you produce $1,000.

“How does something as simple as setting a daily production goal cure the above maladies?” you ask.  Because there is a system that must be followed when scheduling to a goal.  The Schedule Coordinator actually applies a specific thought process to “filling the holes”.  There is now a “method to her madness.” And not just random luck.

Take this short multiple choice test:

  • Would you rather have a day that produces:
    • $750
    • $3,000
  • Would you rather see:
    • 15 patients/day
    • 8 patients per day
  • How many crown/bridge deliveries a day do you prefer:
    • 2
    • 5

Without daily goals, let’s look at what a typical day might be like in your office without goals:

Delivery - Delivery - Composites - Composites - Emergency - LUNCH - Composites - Composites,Try-in-Extraction.  This equates to 9 patients with a total production of $1,200.

Now let’s look at a day with an established schedule goal of $2,750:

Crown Prep - Composites - Composites - Delivery - LUNCH - Crown Prep - Composites - Composites - Delivery.  This equates to 8 patients with a total production of $3,000.

“Way too simple”, you say.  OK, this is an exaggerated example but the point is this:  When there is a goal to schedule to, the Schedule Coordinator has to think about what type of patient she is scheduling with other patients.  It is like working a puzzle so the pieces all fit.


After visiting with Dr. Hauser 6 months later, to observe their progress, this is what he shared with me:

  • Less daily stress for the doctor and the staff
  • Less patients seen per day
  • More production per day
  • Reducing waiting time for patients
  • Less fluxuation in production and collection figures

Contact McKenzie Management today and see how you can turn your “hole filler” into a real Schedule Coordinator by giving her the tools that she needs to make your days more productive and less busy.  Go get that fire extinguisher before your practice slowly smolders away to ashes!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie’s Practice Enrichment Programs can help you….. email

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