6.7.13 Issue #587 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

The #1 Reason Dental Practices Struggle
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Imagine the panic that would sweep over you if you had just invested a huge sum of money in a new home, only to discover that those who built your house were never really trained to build homes. Not that they didn’t have any construction experience. In fact, they had plenty of experience building garages, but not family dwellings. Or what if you were lying in the hospital bed and the nurse was about to administer sedation and you heard her say, “I think I know how to do this. Dr. Jones showed me the procedure one day a while back when he had a few extra minutes.

Perhaps you brush off those scenarios as situations in which you wouldn’t allow yourself to be caught. Yet, you have likely placed your personal and professional livelihood firmly in the hands of someone who probably has very little training in the responsibilities that s/he is supposed to carry out. How many employees have you hired who are “experienced” but not prepared?

When faced with hiring employees to handle the business details, many dentists simply don’t know specifically what to look for, and they typically consider any experience to be quality experience. They review an applicant’s resume and see that s/he has worked in a dental office before, and automatically assume that the individual will bring a sufficient amount of know-how to the position. But just because someone has been in the ballpark doesn’t mean they are qualified to play in the game.

Typically, newly-hired business employees join practices and find themselves trying to figure out the systems as they go along. They are waiting for direction, guidance, some clue as to how the doctor wants things done. But the doctor simply assumes that if the employee carries the title of business manager, scheduling director, or whatever moniker the position holds, the new recruit automatically knows what is expected and what s/he is supposed to do. After all, the dentist carries the title of "Dr." and knows what to do!
The new employee, without direction otherwise, is forced to make assumptions that the protocols they followed in the previous office apply in this practice as well. Perhaps the last practice didn’t have a procedure for confirming appointments - the new employee simply doesn’t consider that this one might. The other practice may not have had a collections policy or an expectation that patients pay at the time of treatment. Consequently, the business employee thinks nothing of waving patients out the door and telling them that the practice will bill them for the services.

Doctors meanwhile will dismiss the clear indicators of an untrained or poorly trained team - collections are falling, accounts receivables are up, scheduling problems are increasing, appointment failures are escalating, and so on. Certainly, it’s much easier to assume that the daily mix-ups and frustrations are just part of life in the busy dental practice rather than face the possibility that those inefficiencies and shortfalls indicate a serious training deficiency.

As time goes on, the dentist concludes that the new employee just isn’t working out. After all, this person came with dental office experience; she should know what to do. The doctor told her that she would be in charge of collections. What’s not clear about collections? The doctor had high hopes for this new recruit and is disappointed that yet another employee just doesn’t seem to “get it.” Similarly, the new team member came on board optimistic about the opportunities the position offered, but has become very frustrated she can’t ever seem to get any clear direction as to what is expected. Neither is satisfied with the employment arrangement, yet both could reap the benefits of a successful working relationship if the practice would implement a training protocol for new employees.

Next week, training your team? Don’t do this.

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
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