11 Reasons Your Practice Production Has Plateaued
You’ve heard about those high-producing dental practices, the ones bringing in $1 or $2 million a year, but your practice certainly isn’t among them. You’d love to know their magic formula for success, because right now your practice is stuck and going nowhere fast. You’ve hit a plateau and you have no idea how to navigate around it.
The truth is, there is no secret formula. The most successful practices develop a business plan of action that keeps them moving ahead at full speed. They review production numbers every month, not just at the end of the year. If they see they’re headed toward a plateau, they put in a recovery plan that gets them over it, even if it means asking for help.
Over the 34 years that I’ve coached dental practices, I’ve found there are 11 indicators that mean a production plateau is imminent. Take a look at these indicators and ask yourself how many of them are happening in your practice right now.
1. Business staff turnover. Hiring team members might not be your favorite task, but hiring the right team members is vital to your practice’s success. When it’s time to add someone to your business staff, you have to hire someone with the necessary skill set. Is the person you want to hire good at math? Does he or she have the right temperament? If the answer is no, it won’t be long until this bad hire quits in frustration, and you’ll have to start the dreaded hiring process all over again.
2. Your staff isn’t trained properly. If you want team members to excel, you have to take the time to train them. Set new team members up with all necessary training and tools from the beginning, and you’ll see a huge increase in practice production.
3. You have no expectation level for systems. You can’t just tell your patient coordinator you want to keep busy, or tell your office manager to send out statements. You need to have specific goals for your systems, and you must communicate those goals with the team members responsible for them.
4. There’s a lack of practice performance systems. A system’s success cannot be dependent on one individual in your practice. Everyone needs to know how the systems should be performing to both industry standards and the practice’s vision, whether that’s achieving 85% case acceptance or a 98% collection to production ratio.
5. Team members have unclear job descriptions. Your team members aren’t mind readers. They need clear directions, and job descriptions that include performance measurements as well as outline exactly what their duties are and what systems they’re accountable for.
6. Patient retention is declining. This is a big one. You can’t lose out the back door more than 50% of the new patients coming in the front door. If you are, I guarantee you’re headed for a plateau. But before you throw money at marketing to attract new patients, find out why current patients aren’t coming back. Is there a customer service issue? Are your fees too high? And, of course, you also have to look at and fix your recall system. This is the most neglected practice system, yet it’s the principal vehicle for patient retention.
7. You have a lot of unscheduled treatment. Your patient coordinator should be tracking unscheduled treatment, contacting patients on the unscheduled treatment report and getting them scheduled – not just calling when there’s a hole to fill in the schedule. Your coordinator, armed with a well-written script and winning personality, should reach out to at least five unscheduled patients a day.
8. You haven’t added new services in years. Patients want to go to the most up-to-date practice that offers the services they need. If your practice sticks with the same old, same old, not only are you not as efficient as you could be, you’re not as attractive as the high-tech practice down the street.
9. You’re not clinically efficient. Clinical inefficiency leads to slow treatment room turnaround, and that’s costing you money. Make sure you have everything you need in the room before you start treatment. Delegate more to the dental assistant, as your state allows. Never compromise on the quality of the dentistry you provide, but challenge yourself to cut production times by just 10 minutes. You’ll be amazed by how much your production per hour increases.
10. You don’t review fees for increase. Every year your costs go up, and that means your fees should as well. Many dentists don’t like to raise fees because they’re afraid it will mean losing patients, but that simply isn’t true. If you base your fees on solid data, you can create a fee schedule that is affordable for your patients and fiscally sound for your practice.
11. There’s no practice vision. You are the CEO of your practice, and are responsible for setting goals and establishing a vision. You have to develop clear and specific objectives, and communicate them to your team. If you can’t see where the practice is headed, how do you expect your team to?
You have control over your potential income. If you monitor these practice indicators, you’ll avoid plateaus and grow your income to levels you never thought possible. Soon you’ll be among those high-producing dentists everyone else in the industry envies.
Next week, how to improve your patient retention system and increase production.
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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