3.5.10 Issue #417 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

What’s Your True Value to the Practice?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The current economy aside, the fact is that many dental employees will walk into their employers’ offices expecting, requesting, and even demanding raises.I’ve been here a year. I show up on time every day. I do my job. I deserve to make more money.” Unfortunately, too many dental employees are convinced that those are the only criteria they have to meet to receive a pay hike.  

I recommend a little different approach to determining whether it’s time to receive that hard earned raise - calculate your true value in the practice by asking yourself a few key questions. What recent problems or critical issues have I resolved? You should have a list documenting your contribution as a team who is focused on finding solutions, not creating problems. What new responsibilities have I taken on since my last raise? Showing up with a smile on your face three out of four days a week is not enough. What have I done to increase practice revenues and/or cut costs or save time? Virtually every employee in the office is a frontline team member. You are responsible for carrying out key systems daily and you should have a good sense of what is working and what could be improved. It’s your job to recommend strategies to improve ineffective systems. 

Next, you absolutely must consider the bottom-line financial realities of the dental practice that employs you. 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 and existing wages are $9,353 that puts salaries at 24% collections and well above the accepted standard. Meaning, you’ll need to do something to boost revenues before you can expect the doctor to increase expenditures on your behalf.  

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.

  1. Develop a clear, results-oriented job description.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 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.
  1. 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.

Ultimately, although you may truly be consistently delivering results for your employer, 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 –you’ll know if it’s not – 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 sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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