Six Factors for Success
By Sally McKenzie, CEO
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Every dental practice faces difficulties. But those practices that overcome the challenges versus those that succumb to them are influenced significantly by six critical factors.
#1 - Sales
You and your team recognize that you are in health care and sales. Yes, I know that the word “sales” causes many of you to bristle, but I’m not talking overnight weight-loss products here. In your practice, “sales” means treatment presentation, effective scheduling, and ongoing patient education. Every member of your team is a member of your “sales force.” Training them to excel as members of your “sales force” is essential to your practice success.
#2 - Risk Management
You review your practice numbers every month and can make adjustments in specific systems as necessary. But if you don’t know what you are looking for, you can’t identify the risk. If you don’t know where your production numbers are supposed to be from month to month, you won’t know if you are facing a serious production shortfall. If you don’t monitor your collections numbers, you won’t know if you are at risk for a collection crunch. Worse yet, you and your team will simply continue doing the same things the same ways because you think they work, but you don’t know they work. Those who review their numbers every month know what to look for, can assess risks to the practice, and most importantly they make adjustments as necessary.
#3 - Staff
You recognize that if your employees are successful, the practice is successful. But it doesn’t just happen. You must constantly work to shape and mold your team of A-Players, starting with an effective hiring process, continuing with clear and specific job descriptions and following up with a well-defined system for feedback/motivation, course correction, and employee performance reviews, as well as established parameters for raises and/or bonuses. Make sure your employees know your expectations, and make sure you have the systems in place to ensure they succeed.
#4 - Patients
You know that at the heart of practice profitability is a solid patient retention strategy, and that requires a robust recall system. Recall is the hub of your patient relations. It is the essential production feeder. The effectiveness of your recall system is among the strongest indicators of the health of your practice. Yet too many practices view recall efforts as a waste of time, which couldn’t be further from reality.
Just consider the numbers: “Jane” is the designated patient coordinator in “Dr. Cole’s” practice. She makes $18/hour. She is responsible for reviewing the list of past due patients and for making six phone calls per day to those not scheduled for their recall visits. Each call takes about 10 minutes, so she must dedicate one hour of her day. On average, 35% of the six calls result in 1.75 appointments. The typical appointment is a prophy, four bitewings, and an exam billed at $230. Multiply that by 1.75 appointments; that hour on the phone yields $402.50 in practice production. And that is for recall alone, not the doctor’s diagnosed but unscheduled treatment that is sitting idle in too many patient records as well. But that’s another story.
#5 - Financing
You make it easy for your patients to pursue treatment by providing financial options. Those offered by CareCredit are my personal favorite. Yes, the practice has to pay a fee that’s about 10%, but the patient gets treatment and the doctor gets paid. All you have to say to the patient is: “How does 12 month interest-free financing sound to you?” And they are usually thrilled to pursue your recommended care.
#6 - Vision
You are committed to continuous improvement as the leader of your practice. An effective leader requires a combination of both tangible and intangible skills. But perhaps the most important is accepting the responsibility of your role as CEO. The old “I just want to do the dentistry” attitude will get you little more than a whole lot of frustration.
Once you accept your critical role as the “boss,” a few character traits must be either already present or cultivated, starting with vision. It is a word that is overused and has been trivialized over time, but the truth remains that the ability to articulate where you see the future of the practice is critical. Otherwise, why should your team care? They are merely going through the motions daily rather than working toward clear and specific objectives.
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
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