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  03.24.05 Issue #159

Sally's Mail Bag

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Dear Sally,

I would appreciate your advice. I just took over an office and I have closed out one payroll period.  The office average gross was 550k over the last 3 years but we did not come close to that last year and the retiring doctor is still here. To get to my question, I held a staff meeting this past friday and I discussed basic issues.  I supplied lunch and we met in the office.  I have 7 women working here (2 hygiene).  I asked the previous owner, and he said he did staff meetings during lunch and they were not paid.  However, on their time cards everyone added the staff meeting as being paid.  I do not thnk they should be paid as I feel it is part of development-What do you think?

Dr. Ian Distress

Dear Dr. Distress,

A meeting held as part of your business in which employees are asked to participate is considered work and they should be paid. But, if I may, I would like to offer some advice. Don't have the meetings over lunch. Participants are too concerned of where the salt, pepper and mustard are located. They aren't focused. You need one two hour meeting a month and the best time is first thing in the morning or at the start of the afternoon AFTER lunch. Yes, you will lose production but it is important to believe that the long term benefits will help to increase production. I also don't believe it is fair to pay hygienists their "production" salary during a staff meeting when they aren't producing. In other words, if a hygienist is paid $30/hour to do hygiene services she would be paid $15/hour to participate in a meeting. However, this is something that should have been disclosed at the time you took over the practice. If they weren't paid before, perhaps they will be comfortable with this arrangement.

The problem I see for you is that you are probably the "young whipper snapper" dentist and they are still giving loyalty to their former boss. Right now the playing field is not level. The only way I know to level the playing field is to have one of my consultants in the office, who is more of an expert than anyone in there, to present fair and reasonable and obtainable recommendations and objectives so everyone's knowledge level is the same.

If you would like to know more about how we can make this happen for you, please email me personally at

Good luck,


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