8.12.11 Issue #492 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

An Increase in Pay - What are Your Chances?
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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A global management consulting firm recently issued a report noting that when businesses routinely raise pay for rank and file employees, whose job duties do not change over the years and who are not contributing to the growth of the business, it takes an economic toll on profits. Well, now there’s a revelation! I’ve been making the same point about dental practices for nearly 30 years.

The company uses the example of “Joe” - a machinist whose wages have steadily increased over several years, yet his responsibilities have remained unchanged. As a result, he is significantly overpaid. The report notes that companies are at fault because they give workers annual increases and bonuses simply for showing up day-after-day and year-after-year - much like dental practices. It simply stands to economic reason that you cannot expect more money unless you make contributions to the growth of the practice and/or enable it to save money.

So what can you do to improve your own chances of moving up on the pay scale? A little self-improvement can go a long way. Let me explain. We all have strengths and weaknesses. For example, perhaps you are a chairside assistant. Your value to the practice should go well beyond the obvious - passing instruments and turning over rooms. The question is, are you maximizing or minimizing that value?

Let’s start with the basics. How effective are you at answering patient questions? Maybe your typical response is something like: “I just pass instruments; maybe the doctor can explain it.” Try being helpful instead. Keep track of questions that patients ask and get the answers. If you make the effort to prepare a “frequently asked questions” document for everyone’s use, you are helping the practice to improve customer service, enhancing your value as a contributing member of the team, and illustrating to the doctor that you take the initiative to address shortcomings in the office.

Do you consistently emphasize to patients the excellence of the doctor’s skill? Or do you find yourself saying things such as: “I sure wouldn’t want to have that procedure done!” It is imperative that everyone on the team is a cheerleader for the practice. If you do not have confidence in the doctor’s ability, you need to find another job.

Do you make patients feel comfortable and build rapport? Or do you seat them and rush out of the treatment room to “take care of other things.” Many patients are anxious when they come in for a dental procedure. You may not be one who particularly enjoys chitchat, but you need to engage the patient in conversation anyway. You are the “opening act” for the doctor. It’s up to you to put the patient at ease and make them feel welcome and comfortable. If you come across as aloof, you give the patient another reason to dislike coming to the dentist, or worse yet, another reason to find another dental home. 

Do you look for opportunities to reinforce the value of care with the patients? Or are you more likely to be commiserating with them over the high price of dental treatment and everything else these days. It is essential for patients to understand that oral health has been proven to directly affect overall health, and is well worth the investment of time and relatively minor financial resources. If a patient is on the fence about whether they should proceed with recommended care and you help them to make the decision to pursue treatment, you have instantly increased your value to the practice.

Do you openly support all of your teammates, or do you quietly confide to the patient that “Mary Jane doesn’t really know what she’s doing...” Speaking ill of another team member is a seriously egregious offense. No matter what your personal opinion is of a fellow staff member, it is essential that you convey utmost confidence and respect for every employee in the practice. Your comments and opinions directly affect how the patient feels about the doctor, the team, and the practice as a whole.

Certainly, increasing your value as an employee to the practice in hopes that you will be fairly compensated for your efforts is a good reason to invest yourself in the success of the practice. But at the end of the day, the satisfaction of knowing that you are committed to being truly excellent at what you do will ultimately be the richest reward for a job well done.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

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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