6 Mistakes You Likely Made in 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, perhaps you’re a little disappointed with your practice’s performance. This was going to be the year you finally met your full potential, but unfortunately that isn’t how it played out. Instead of enjoying success, you found yourself dealing with underperforming employees, staff turnover, up and down production numbers and skyrocketing overhead.
Perhaps it’s safe to say 2015 wasn’t your year? That maybe there were a few obstacles keeping you from having the profitable, thriving practice of your dreams. Here’s a look at some of the most common weaknesses found in struggling practices that may help you turn things around in 2016.
1. Patient Focus. If patient retention rates and production numbers fell in 2015, it might be because patients didn’t feel a connection to your practice – sending them looking for a new dental home. Patients want to feel like the team cares about them and their oral health, and that you always have their best interest at heart.
How do you make this happen in your practice? First, focus on customer service. Make patients feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the door. Train team members to greet patients with a warm smile, offer to help them in any way they can, and let them know they’re in good hands.
Once they’re in the chair, focus on educating your patients as well as building a rapport. Talk to them about any problems you find, and provide education about the importance of maintaining their oral health. Let them know about the services you provide that can help meet their oral health goals. Ask about their families and jobs. Bottom line, show patients you value them and they’ll be more likely to stay loyal.
Focus on providing exceptional customer service, look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate, and make an effort to build relationships. You’ll soon notice your patient base begin to grow – leading to increased production and a healthier bottom line.
2. Raises were given…just because. This is a great way to send overhead costs soaring. Raises simply can’t be given on emotions, they should be based on clearly defined performance measurements.
Why? Giving your employees a bump in pay just because a year has passed since their last pay raise or because they asked for more money does nothing to motivate them to improve performance. In fact, it does the opposite. In their mind, if you’re willing to give them a raise they must be doing something right, so underperforming employees continue to underperform, yet take home bigger paychecks.
In 2016, make it clear how performance will be measured and under what circumstances raises will be discussed. Hold performance reviews to help keep employees on track to meet their goals. You’ll find your employees will be much more motivated to excel, leading to increased production and revenues.
3. Employees didn’t get clear direction. If your employees are going to help your practice succeed, they need clear direction from you. This comes in the form of detailed job descriptions that outline your expectations, performance measurements and job duties.
Most dentists think developing job descriptions is a waste of time. Trust me, it’s not. They give employees the roadmap needed to succeed, and leave no doubt about their responsibilities and your expectations.
It’s also important to provide training. Make sure new team members get the training they need to perform their jobs effectively, and provide training every time you implement a new technology. Proper training makes team members more efficient and confident in their skills, and that translates into increased production.
4. Little focus on recall. The recall system represents one of the best ways to grow practice production and revenues, yet it’s also one of the most forgotten systems.
Empower your Patient Coordinator to take control of the recall system. Task this employee with calling and scheduling a specific number of past due patients a day. Make sure he or she is trained in sales and is armed with all necessary patient information before making these calls. This will give a big boost to your production numbers and your bottom line.
5. Ignoring staff conflict. I know you’d rather not deal with problems that come up among team members, but ignoring conflict will only hurt your practice. When there’s unresolved conflict, team morale drops, production falls and customer service suffers. Address conflict right away, and work with your team members to find a resolution so they can once again work together toward one common goal: helping your practice succeed.
6. Lack of follow up. Most patients don’t say yes to treatment right away. They usually need time to think about their options, and to talk it over with their spouse. That’s why you have to follow up.
I suggest following up with patients two days after the initial presentation. That way, the presentation is still fresh in their mind. Make sure the team member who calls – ideally your Treatment Coordinator – is prepared to discuss any perceived barriers to care, as well as the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment.
2015 might not have been a great year for your practice, but I can help you turn it around. If you’d like more guidance, email me and I’ll send you a link to my Practice Potential Assessment. Together, we can determine what changes you need to make to ensure practice success in 2016 and beyond.
Next week, 7 ways to grow your practice in 2016.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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