10.27.06 - Issue # 242 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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One Good Employee At The End Of The Rainbow
A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Frank Peters  Case Study #99

Finding good staff is difficult and, at the same time, essential for the practice to run smoothly.

Dr. Peters lost his Business Coordinator when she elected to return to school.  He has a small staff with only two assistants and himself.

To make matters worse, one of his dental assistants failed to show up for work ONE more time in a run of many times so he dismissed her.  Rightfully so!  So now he is short two employees!  As a dentist, don’t you just wish that you could work alone and not have the headaches of employees? Hopefully, the good news is “it’s just once in a while” we have a headache!

Considerations at this point:

  • Where does he go to get a good employee?
  • What does he look for on the resume?
  • How much does he pay for this employee?

Where to get a good employee?  My first recommendation was for him to read “How To Hire The Best Dental Employee”.   This book contains all the necessary elements for recruiting new employees.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Friends of existing employees – if you like your employee you will probably like their friends.  “Birds of a feather flock together”.
  • Ask your dental supply representatives – they are a wealth of information and know everything that is going on in every office that they service.  Tell them you are looking for a staff person.
  • Place a notice in your local church bulletin, if an option.
  • Run an ad in a local community paper – on Craig’s List – on Monster.com – on Dentalworkers.com – on DentalTown.com.  The headline of your ad should give a YEARLY salary range – it looks better than $10/hr!  Tell them what YOU have to offer, not what you expect from them.
  • Check with your local dental assisting/hygiene school.  They can post your ad on their bulletin board.
  • Check with your local county dental association or auxiliary association.  Often they will run a list of dentists looking for positions as a courtesy to their members.

What does he look for on the resume?

  • Longevity at the previous places of employment.  You do not want a “job hopper” looking for an additional nickel an hour increase.
  • Is there a cover page expressing why the applicant feels they are a good candidate for the position?  Or did they simply mass e-mail their resume to everyone running an ad?
  • Misspelled words in the resume!  There is absolutely no excuse for this with “spell check”!  This shows a lack of detail on the part of the applicant.
  • Employment reference list. Call their previous employers. Don’t accept “references on request”.
  • Is the resume handwritten or typed?  Please – this is the 21st century.

How much does he pay for this employee?

He has to mathematically determine how much of a salary his practice can afford while keeping his total salary overhead in line with the industry of 19-22%.   Instead of making an emotional decision, he needs to make an informed decision of how much the practice has to collect in order to be able to pay a new employee.  We recommend McKenzie’s Employee Salary Review form.


  • Start your new employee out at a rate lower than what you anticipate their final salary to be until they prove themselves.  By monitoring the office statistics as mentioned in previous articles, you can “see” how well they are performing their duties.  Explain to them in detail what you expect from them and how you are going to track their success.  Review the “job description” with them so they know what you expect.
  • Always hire with the understanding that the first 90 days are on a “trial basis” only.  They are free to leave at any time and you are free to let them leave at any time.  This makes it easier for you IF you need to dismiss them due to poor performance.
  • Pay a new candidate to come into the office for a “working interview”. See how they perform and interact with the existing staff.  Let your staff take them to lunch.  Your staff can learn more than you can in one lunch period.
  • Most importantly….cut your losses early!  It is just like a bad relationship…it doesn’t get better.  You are seeing them at their BEST.  Imagine how bad it will get later on.  Listen to your instincts and don’t try to analytically think of reasons to keep them because you can.

The good news is that after many months of working short-handed, Dr. Peters held out until he found the right person.  It has made a tremendous difference in the atmosphere of the office.  He found a team player that doesn’t whine and works hard.  The patients love her and she enjoys her job.  Maybe there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow….we just don’t wait long enough for the rain to stop!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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