6.22.12 Issue #537 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Are You Halfway to Nowhere for 2012?
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Summer has arrived, and as families embark on their annual summer vacations the common refrain from the backseat is, “Are we there yet?” I have a similar question for you, doctor. Are you there yet? No, I’m not talking about your summer vacation destination; I’m talking about your practice goals for 2012. Yes, amidst all of summer’s opportunities to escape the daily routine, there is the reality that the year is half over.

Are you well on your way to financial success or are you halfway to nowhere? Will you cling to what you've always done through the rest of 2012 and hope that by some miracle your financial situation improves? Or will you take action and ensure that it does? There is no time like the long days of summer to tackle the challenges that have been weighing on you, your team, and your practice.

I recommend you take just one hour this weekend and conduct a simple six-month evaluation of your practice as a whole. Think carefully about what your practice has done well during the first part of the year and what needs work for the remainder. Don't sugarcoat it, you need to focus on what needs to be addressed not just what you want to address. To help you in the evaluation process, I've provided a few questions for you to answer:

1. Have you and your team established and are you meeting production goals, collections goals, and scheduling goals?
2. Does the practice use system performance measurements to evaluate the effectiveness of all business and clinical systems in the office?
3. Do all members of your team know how to measure the effectiveness of specific systems that they are responsible for?
4. Are multiple staff “responsible” for multiple systems, so instead of accountability, there is finger pointing when things go wrong?
5. Are there established training protocols when business staff are hired?
6. Is business staff turnover common in the practice?
7. Do you have specific job descriptions for each member of your team?
8. Do you assume that staff are clear on their job responsibilities?
9. Is staff conflict and drama a distraction?
10. Are cancellations, no-shows, and holes in the schedule common?
11. Do you typically have more than .5 openings in the hygiene schedule each day?
12. Does your practice have a system to track unscheduled treatment?
13. Does someone on staff follow-up with patients that have diagnosed but unscheduled treatment needs?
14. Has the clinical team ever evaluated its clinical efficiency?
15. Does the clinical team know how to evaluate its clinical efficiency?
16. How often are fees reviewed and compared to similar practices in the area?
17. Have you expanded practice services within the past two years?
18. Do you have an established vision and goals for your practice? If so, are they discussed regularly with the team?
19. Have your practice profits declined or stagnated?
20. Are you stressed about the present condition and future growth of your practice?

The questions above relate to the condition of specific systems in your office, and each directly affects the financial state of the practice. All of the systems are intertwined, so if one is lacking it has a domino effect on the others. For example, staff turnover may be a major problem because there are no clear job descriptions. Or the employees are trying to figure things out as they go along and making costly mistakes along the way because there are no training protocols in place.  Multiple employees are supposed to take care of multiple areas creating conflict and frustration. Practice profits are suffering because there are no clear goals established for production, collections or scheduling - merely vague directives from the doctor. The hygienist is frustrated because s/he is either too busy or too slow.

Frustration and stress in the dental practice are clear indicators of management system shortfalls, but nothing screams “crisis” louder than a practice that is struggling financially. In most cases, teams working in these practices simply do not know how to implement effective systems. They want to be productive. They want to provide excellent service. They want high treatment acceptance. They want full, but manageable, schedules. They want it all - the problem is that they don’t know how to achieve it. Without clear goals, well established management systems and a means of measuring the effectiveness of the systems, the doctor, team, and practice will be left wanting for a very long time.

Next week, reach your goals this year.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com

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

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