08.28.09 Issue #390 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dreading Monday Morning? Take Action
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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It’s true, you can become cynical as the years pass. You deal with disappointments and frustrations. People you count on let you down, principles you once believed in become hollow, and the professional dreams and goals you once had lose their luster. I see this happen to too many dentists. I hear it in your voices when you call me, and I see it on your faces at the dental meetings. And even after all the years of working with dentists, I still cannot understand why you are so willing to settle for a practice that you don’t want.  That being said, I do understand how this happens.

The reality is that most dentists are committed to being truly excellent clinicians. You are dedicated to your patients and to providing what is best for them. But you don’t come out of dental school with management degrees or human resources experience. Most of you have never even considered writing a business plan for your practices. You are not experts at guiding your scheduling coordinator in developing the best systems to create the most effective and profitable schedule for your practice. You see conflict on the team and want to run in the opposite direction. You want to pay your staff a fair salary but overhead is a nightmare. And as committed as you are to providing the best for your patients, you cannot do so effectively if your own systems are struggling, if your teams are dysfunctional little fiefdoms, or if you are stressed out from the worry of paying bills and dealing with staff problems.

Consider your practice. Aside from simply feeling things should be better, there are a number of tangible indicators that your office could benefit from by bringing in a consultant such as: you have holes in the schedule that go unfilled, yet patients must wait more than three weeks to get an appointment. You either don’t know what your patient retention is or it’s below 95%. Gross salaries are more than 20% of income. Overhead is more than 55% of practice income. There are no performance measurements in place to evaluate employees. Job descriptions are either non-existent or unclear. Staff conflict is a common distraction. Practice production has leveled off or declined. The list goes on, and the bottom line is you really don’t like going to work. I dare say, doctor, it’s time to hire a management consultant.

There are many of us out there, and obviously, I firmly believe that McKenzie Management is the best. But no matter whom you hire, be prepared to be completely honest with them. Just like when you work with patients, if they are not honest with you, you can’t meet their expectations. The same is true with your management consultant.

Explore what the different companies have to offer. You want an experienced consultant who can address the specific challenges that your office is facing. You need a consultant who can help your team implement systems that will benefit the total practice. You want a consultant who can effectively explain the recommendations, the “why” behind them, and provide access to training and tools that will enable the team to effectively implement your vision.

Talk to the CEO’s of these firms and ask questions, seek references, and talk to those references. Do the consultants you’re considering have a reputable company behind them? Do they have the expertise necessary to address the challenges specific to your practice? Will they customize their recommendations to address your needs? Will they be there for you in the long run to help you overcome hurdles that will arise along the way? Do they offer training and educational materials that can help specific members of the team? Can they explain to you exactly how they have helped other practices? Will they seek not only your input but that of your team as well?

Finally, will they tell you what you want to hear, or will they tell you the truth? It is this last point that is the most difficult for anyone. Just like the patient who doesn’t want to hear that they need three crowns, you’re likely not going to want to hear everything the consultant needs to tell you. But it is in listening that you learn, and it is in learning that you can take the steps necessary to build the practice that you thoroughly enjoy walking into every day of your career.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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