6.29.12 Issue #538 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

No Goals = No Growth
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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If you don't have goals you won't have growth. I find time and again with dental teams - if there are no goals, objectives, or measurement systems in place, profits and productivity stagnate or decline. The situation continues until the doctor is facing a financial crisis that could have been avoided.

In the dental practice there are certain benchmarks, i.e. goals, which effective practices achieve: Collections should be 98% of the dentistry produced. Case acceptance should be at 85%; hygiene should produce 33% of practice production; 85% of emergency patients should be converted to comprehensive exam; and the schedule should have fewer than .5 hygiene openings per day. Although I have seen practices of all types and in virtually every area of the country achieve those benchmarks, it doesn't just happen on its own. Protocols are in place, measurements are established, and in many cases the doctor recognized that s/he could not singlehandedly fix the shortfalls and sought additional help.

With multiple systems in the dental practice all affecting your profitability, determining where to start can be daunting. In some cases, it's easier to look at it in terms of four broad categories: Service, Staff, Profit, and Growth.

Establish specific goals related to improving and delivering superior service. The quality of your service has a direct and powerful impact on collections, case acceptance, hygiene production, emergency patient conversion as well as no-shows and cancellations. Create an internal team to examine the total patient experience for both new and existing patients and carefully consider what could be improved. Track common patient questions and concerns. Seek feedback from your patients and act on their recommendations. In today's fluctuating economy, many patients are looking for an excuse to cancel or not show up for their appointment. Make sure that your superior customer service keeps the patients coming.

Establish specific goals related to attracting and retaining excellent staff. If you are experiencing a high degree of staff turnover, it's likely to be one or more of the following systems that needs to be addressed: Hiring and employee selection/testing, staff training for new and existing employees, ineffective or non-existent job descriptions, and/or lack of employee accountability. Issues with the staff permeate the practice and lead to a climate of conflict and daily drama that is both emotionally draining and directly affects practice revenues as well as patient retention.

Establish goals to monitor and improve profitability. If specific practice management systems are in place, you should be able to expect to increase profits each year. Start by taking a close look at your practice management system reports. These are readily available on your computer in your practice management software system.

One of the most critical reports requiring ongoing careful review is the Unscheduled Treatment Report. This specifies who has unscheduled treatment in the records. In actuality, this report is documentation of revenues waiting to be tapped. In addition, take a close look at the Production by Provider Report each month. This shows the number of each type of procedure performed over a specified period of time. Your business assistant should run this year-to-date report every month for each doctor and hygienist, so they can determine how their production compares with the same time periods last year as well as with production goals that have been established for this year.

Establish goals focused on improving patient retention. Patient retention and expanded services are essential to practice growth. The higher percentage of patients you retain in your practice, the greater the value of your practice and the likelihood that new patients will increase. Retaining patients is the key to growth - but if you don't know why patients leave, you can't address the problem(s). In almost every case, patients who leave your practice do so because of system breakdowns that you are most likely not even aware are occurring.

Consider new treatment services. Practices that are struggling are likely doing what they've always done, i.e. crowns, fillings, and prophys year-after-year. Dentists who are doing interceptive perio, endodontics, veneers, bleaching, and implants not only expand their patient base and improve their production, but they also renew their professional enthusiasm for dentistry.

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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