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  04.12.05 Issue #162


Talk About Business!

Debbie Rae,

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In dental and dental hygiene schools across the country students are taught how to perform clinical procedures. Few dentists and even fewer hygienists have a business background and know how to run a successful business or manage people. By necessity, most dentists discover upon opening their own dental practices that they must learn basic business skills if they want to stay in business and maintain an excellent team of dental professionals.

Because hygienists are generally employees rather than business owners, many never feel the need to learn business skills. It is not until the hygienist's pocketbook or job security is affected will they feel the need to become an active participant in the business and discuss ways to achieve daily production goals.

One cannot really blame hygienists for their ignorance about the business side of dentistry since they are taught only how to perform clinical procedures in school. However if this hygienist can learn how to think like a business person then your hygienist can too!

The McKenzie Company teaches dental teams nationwide how to monitor over 30 practice statistics , learn what the numbers mean, where to get the numbers and how to affect positive change to become a successful and profitable dental practice. McKenzie clients share such things as practice production totals, collection rates, accounts receivable and overhead expenses with the entire team. By sharing with team members they gain a better understanding of why the doctor wants the hygienist's schedule kept to a daily production goal or why promoting the doctor's treatment to patients is so critical.

Employees soon learn that without having enough money coming in from patients and /or insurance companies, paying for services rendered, there is nothing left for such things as staff lunches, new uniforms, health insurance premiums, better equipment, or staff raises!

While employees may never “care” as much about the business as the owner, the thought of taking a cut in benefits or a wage freeze should cause a team player to pay better attention to the business side of the practice and how they can directly make a difference or… it may be time to find a new team player.

The McKenzie Company believes in specific job descriptions and setting measurable goals to evaluate individual performances. Team members are empowered and held accountable for the success of the systems that are in their job descriptions. For instance, the hygienist is held accountable for his or her production and reports at the monthly team meeting on how the hygiene department performed last month in comparison to set goals and same time last year. Reporting one's progress or lack thereof to fellow team members can either be a proud moment or an embarrassing moment where suggestions for improvement should be expected.

Three goals, for example, that The McKenzie Company may set for the hygiene department all fall in the 33% range. First, not including doctor's exams, the hygiene department is expected to produce 33% of the total office production. Secondly, each hygienist is expected to provide 33% of their production in periodontal procedures such as 4910, 4342 and 4381. And finally, the hygienist compensation should be no more than 33% of his or her production.

To begin having your hygienists focus on the business, request that they retrieve these production analysis reports from the practice's management software prior to your monthly meeting and report the results to the team. Have it as part of your monthly meeting agenda.

If your practice philosophy is that bitewing x-rays are taken once a year then have the hygienists report on how many year-to-date adult and child prophy's compared to sets of bitewings were actually done. The answer should be in the 50% range.

Another good exercise to do quarterly or when raises or fees are increased is a production per hour analysis. If the hygienist is paid $30/hour and the prophy is $75 then her salary to production will not fall in the 33% range. That's okay if the next hour she is performing a perio maintenance or a quadrant of root scaling.

The hygiene department is a department within a business. Good business principles require that every business know the success of each department.

Next week….how opening up the lines of communication puts the business headed in the “right” direction for everyone.

Debbie Rae, RDH MBA is a Senior Consultant with The McKenzie Company. If you have any questions or comments or interested in having Debbie speak to your dental society of study club, please email Debbie at or call 1-877-777-6151 ext. 29

The McKenzie Company Upcoming Events
Date Location Sponsor Speaker
Apr. 15 Destin, FL Excellence in Dentistry Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Apr. 21 Nashville, TN American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Apr. 29 Roanoke, VA Roanoke Valley Dental Society Sally McKenzie

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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