5.17.13 Issue #584 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

7 Strategies for a Successful Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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1. Emphasize the Value
At every visit, stress the value of care and spell out for patients in writing exactly what services and products you and your team provided. Remember, just like retail customers who shop for goods and services, patients are still investing in dental treatment; the difference is that today’s consumers are spending their dollars more cautiously. But just like food, gas, and clothing, oral health care is a necessity, not a luxury.

2. Pan the Punitive Policies and Procedures
Are your “routine policies” creating barriers for new patients? There are still many practices that don’t answer the phone over the lunch hour. This may be the only time prospective patients have to take care of personal business, but they cannot even schedule an appointment. New patients want to talk to a real person right now; they don’t want to leave a message. Stagger the lunch breaks, and answer the phone during regular business hours.

3. Make Yours a Fee-Friendly Practice
Establish a solid fee for each service. Study fees of other area dentists and income demographics of your patients. Base your fees on the quality of your work and the quality of your team. Use fee psychology. Patients are more accepting of fees ending with $1, $2, $3, $4, $6, $7, and $8. Provide treatment financing, such as CareCredit.

4. Hiring? Ensure New Employee Success
Update or write a job description for the position and tailor it to attract the employee you need. This is a critical tool in the hiring process. It clarifies what skills the applicant must possess, explains what duties they will perform, and it assures that you will have a clear objective when considering each candidate’s credentials. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’re less likely to settle for “good enough.”

To help ensure employee success long after the hire, provide some form of personnel policy manual that spells out the office code of conduct, dress code, policies regarding tardiness, overtime, sick leave, office policies and procedures. All employees deserve to know the rules of the game and what they need to do to continue playing. Give direction and constructive feedback often, particularly to new employees. Your team will enjoy far greater success if you offer feedback frequently.

5. Script Your Success
Scripts ensure that when it comes to day-to-day patient communication, everyone on the team conveys the same message. When new patients call the practice, a script ensures that whoever takes the call is prepared to gather necessary information. A script allows clinical team members to consistently reinforce the value of each visit to patients.

Scripts are especially valuable when discussing matters involving money. When it comes to collections, a script enables even the most reticent to effectively request payment from patients. They enable staff to expertly address issues involving insurance, and a well prepared insurance script enables you to educate patients about insurance limitations. Without education, patients rarely understand that while standards of dental care have improved dramatically in the last 25 years, dental insurance coverage remains virtually unchanged. Yet with a carefully developed script, the practice financial coordinator can sit down with the patient and review what’s covered in their dental plan. Discuss the calendar year cap, deductibles, co-pays, coverage for preventive care, etc.

6. Meetings - Agenda for Success
Every staff meeting must have an agenda that includes standard items the practice is continuously monitoring. One person – not the doctor – is responsible for compiling and distributing the agenda. Post it where staff will see it and can add items as they come up during the month. Issues that present themselves regularly but require more involved discussion should be put on the monthly meeting agenda. List the most critical issues highest.

7. Texting Keeps Schedule Full
If your practice has large numbers of working professionals, it’s virtually guaranteed that the vast majority prefer communicating using email or text messaging. Moreover, most working professionals keep their calendars on their computers, iPhones, and Androids. They’ll know immediately if they can keep that appointment and so can your practice. Use text messaging and email to remind busy patients of their appointments. Confirm appointments and fill holes in a matter of minutes.

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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