12.22.06 - Issue # 250 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Do you Have Tools in Your Toolbox?

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Ben Blacker- Case Study #64

My visit with Dr. Blacker started with dinner as we discussed his staffing concerns, the decline in the number of new patients, reduced collections and all the “typical” practice struggles.

As dinner progressed, I was formulating my opinion of Dr. Blacker as an employer and business owner.  His ability to diagnose, prepare and restore teeth were not my focus.  My goal was to improve his practice from a “business” aspect and give him the tools, in order, to be a better business owner and employer.

After analyzing computer-generated reports, reviewing patients’ clinical records and having lunch with the team, it was not difficult to discern that the staff’s “toolbox” needed new tools!

Dr. Blacker was a very likeable dentist, and he had a very loyal staff that had been with him for several years.  They wanted the practice to do well because they respected their employer and took pride in their own work.


  • The lack of computer dental software knowledge prohibited the Financial Coordinator from efficiently managing the unpaid insurance claims and past due account balances.
  • The Schedule Coordinator was still scheduling in a “paper” appointment book.  As a result, follow-up on cancelled appointments was impossible, finding a patient’s appointment was tedious and time consuming. The schedule was manually typed on an old typewriter that was collecting dust at the front desk, etc.  I think you get the picture.
  • The Hygiene Coordinator was a “rover” and spent more time cleaning instruments than she did managing the hygiene department.  “Dr. Blacker said to make phone calls if I had time”, she commented.  Amazing…she never had time!
  • The doctor did not track any statistics for his practice.  His only knowledge of the financial status of his “business” was that it was getting harder to meet payroll every two weeks.  And, it was time for salary reviews again, darn it!

Statistical Findings:

  • # of new patients down 10%
  • Gross production up 12%
  • Net production up 5%
  • Collections down 8%
  • Overhead up 15%

Because Dr. Blacker had no tools in his “business” toolbox, he was not aware of this information, nor did he have any idea on how to get this information.  He received a Profit and Loss statement every 3 months from his accountant, but did not know what the numbers actually meant to his practice in terms of “healthy”.

His struggling business staff did not have adequate tools in their toolbox to obtain this information either.  Actually…they didn’t even have a toolbox to work from!


  • Give each business team member their own personal toolbox that includes the software training necessary to manage their department efficiently and productively.
  • Hire a dedicated Patient Coordinator to assure that the three hygienists are kept busy OR employ a sterilization assistant so the “rover” can dedicate herself to the task of Hygiene Coordinator so she can do her job.
  • Conduct a monthly staff meeting and share the statistics with everyone.  Talk about the positive and negative changes in the numbers and the causes.

Dr. Blacker had an overflowing “clinical” toolbox, overflowing with state-of-the-art equipment and supplies and the expertise to use these clinical tools.  He also had the desire and attitude to want to OPEN his business toolbox; he just didn’t have the right tools inside.

Have you opened your business toolbox, or is it collecting cobwebs?  Maybe you can’t even find it anymore!

Does your business team have a toolbox, and are the right tools available for them to work efficiently and productively for you?  Don’t wait until they ask for “more tools”.  They don’t know what they don’t know! 

Call McKenzie Management and fill your respective toolboxes so you can increase your profitability and reduce your stress.  Start thinking about starting your “retirement” toolbox!

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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McKenzie Management
A Division of the McKenzie Company, Inc.
3252 Holiday Court Suite 110
La Jolla, CA 92037
Email info@mckenziemgmt.com
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