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  03.17.05 Issue #158


Staffing Issue or Productivity Concern?

Sally Mckenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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So you feel you need to hire more staff. From your standpoint, it’s obvious. Anything beyond the absolutely necessary isn’t getting done. Collections are dropping because there isn’t time to follow-up with patients. No one has time to make appointment confirmation calls. Instruments aren’t ready when you need them. And on and on. By the time you make the decision that you can’t live without another warm body to “help,” the entire team is stressed to the max and you are pressured to solve this problem and now.

Hiring more staff, after all, is quicker and easier than pursuing alternatives such as streamlining duties, evaluating the time spent on tasks, as well as examining the mechanics and/or the materials involved in performing those tasks. And the team will be much happier, which will make your life much more blissful too. Or so you think. Oftentimes “solving the problem” with more staff ends up creating far more stress, more headaches, and costs a lot more money than you ever bargained for.

Before you toss someone else into the mix, look first at who’s responsible for what in your practice today. Frequently, dental teams that feel they are buried in busyness often suffer from a lack of clearly defined job descriptions. If you don’t have job descriptions, it’s time to establish them. For assistance, go here.

Provide an example description such as the one below. Although the dentist has the final say in each employee’s responsibilities, input from the team members is particularly beneficial in encouraging individual ownership and responsibility.

  1. Define the job. Scheduling Coordinator. Greets patients when they enter the office. Updates patient information such as address, phone, insurance, or provides new patient registration information. First in line to answer all incoming calls. Schedules appointments and handles daily patient records.
  2. Spell out specifically what skills are necessary for the position. Articulate, well organized, good listener, ability to manage multiple tasks and handle regular interruptions. Is comfortable politely directing patients to specific times in the schedule. Ability to work with computer systems and dental software. Enjoys working with and helping others.
  3. Outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Schedules to meet doctor’s daily production goals. Notifies the clinical staff of patient arrival. Tracks unscheduled treatment for doctor. Reports regularly to doctor and team on the status of the schedule. Prepares patient records for doctor. Handles correspondence for the doctor and to the patients. Tracks all conversations with patients on the computer. Runs specific production reports from the computer. Reports on production as compared to the goal at daily and monthly meetings. Orders office supplies.

Before you hire more people to increase productivity, focus on improving the productivity of those you already have. Job descriptions are the cornerstone for virtually every system in the practice. If you are feeling pressured by all the tasks that just don’t seem to get done, look first at who is responsible for doing what. I guarantee that putting employee duties/responsibilities in writing will have an immediate positive impact on your income, your stress level, and the overall quality of your team.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

The McKenzie Company Upcoming Events
Date Location Sponsor Speaker
Mar. 17-19 Atlanta, GA Hinman Dental Society Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Mar. 31-Apr. 2 Las Vegas, NV Dental Town Gathering Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Apr. 1 Walnut Creek, CA Contra Costa Dental Society Sally McKenzie
Apr. 9 Portland, OR Oregon Dental Association Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Apr. 15 Destin, FL Excellence in Dentistry Sally McKenzie & Exhibit
Apr. 21 Nashville, TN American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Sally McKenzie & Exhibit

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

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