Team Members: Show You’re Worth Every Penny and More
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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“I’ve been here a year. I show up on time every day. I do my job and I am a loyal employee. I deserve to make more money.” Many dental employees are convinced that those are the only criteria they have to meet to receive a pay hike.
It never even occurs to many workers that if the dental practice itself isn’t bringing more money in, the doctor cannot afford to pay more out in salaries – no matter how hard working, dedicated and conscientious the employees might be.
So before you ask for more money, consider the financial realities of the dental practice you work in. For example, if the practice’s current monthly collections are $48,325 per month and team salaries are $9,353 a month, a $2 hourly raise for the dental assistant from $15 to $17 working a 36 hr. week will increase existing salaries to $9,665, which is within the 20% industry benchmark. However, if current monthly collections are $39,000, existing wages are $9, 353 that puts salaries at 24% collections and well above the standard. Meaning, you’ll need to do something to boost revenues before you expect the doctor to increase expenditures.
And there is plenty you can do. The fact is that employee productivity has a huge impact on the profitability of the practice and can directly improve your income potential provided you make one very important commitment: Focus on delivering measurable results daily. Follow these steps to make that happen.
- Develop clear, results-oriented job descriptions.
- Work with the doctor in establishing your own performance objectives/job expectations that are consistent with the doctor’s overall practice goals, such as scheduling to meet production goals, keeping the hygiene schedule full, eliminating the insurance backlog, improving the new patient process and materials, enhancing your assisting skills, etc.
- At the monthly business meeting be prepared to report to the entire team the status of your area of responsibility. If you are the scheduling coordinator and last minute cancellations and no-shows are pounding the production goals, what strategies and procedures will you propose to control the problem? Seek suggestions from your teammates. Bring the issue to the table, so that it can be addressed. Don’t take the attitude that no-shows and cancellations are just a fact of life. You don’t have to have all the answers but you do have to be open to changing systems that aren’t working and to implementing new strategies to address challenges that are costing the practice money. Remember, your success is directly tied to the practice’s overall success.
- Develop a list of specific steps you can take to be a valuable asset to the business. Monitor your progress and your accomplishments using concrete numbers whenever possible. For example, if you developed a new patient welcoming procedure and materials that increased the number of patients coming into the practice and pursuing recommended treatment plans, document your strategy, measure the outcomes, and report the results to the doctor and team.
Consider a few other areas that have a direct impact on your income potential in the practice. How well do you follow instructions? Has the doctor attempted to teach you a specific procedure multiple times but you just don’t seem to get it? Are you cooperative or confrontational? What is the quality of your work product? Do others have to come in and clean up after you? Do you take the initiative to solve problems immediately or do you routinely hand them off because it’s “not your job”?
Do you communicate openly and respectfully with the doctor, your teammates, and the patients? Are you flexible? Or do you become difficult when schedules and best-laid plans spin out of control? What steps do you take daily to improve your specific area, the operation of the practice, the patient experience? What steps do you take daily to reduce practice expenses, save time, or increase revenues, improve treatment acceptance?
Remember, you may be a hard working loyal employee but the practice simply may not be able to increase your salary at this time. Squelch the urge to use threats or make demands. Requesting a raise with the attitude "if I don't get it, I'm leaving" will only tell the doctor and team that you are uncompromising and only out for yourself. Be professional and, if your job is worth keeping, be willing to better the practice and you’ll likely better yourself as well.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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