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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  3.12.04 Issue #105

Streetwise Staff Recruiting

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

       Most dentists are very uncomfortable with the hiring process. In fact, many will go to great lengths to avoid having to deal with it. In other cases, a dentist won’t think twice about firing employees but will turn around and repeatedly hire poor performers, such as in the case of Dr. Tom – real dentist, fake name. He hired and fired 10 dental assistants in 12 months. Clearly, he was encountering a serious recruitment problem. Interestingly, Dr. Tom knew exactly what he wanted in an employee but didn’t know how to go about attracting that employee.

Recruiting the best prospective candidates requires that you go beyond typical advertising. Often the ideal candidates don’t apply for dental positions because they aren’t actively looking for a job. Therefore, they are not aware of the great opportunities your practice has to offer.

  1. Supply and demand-Don’t rely on classified advertising alone. Talk to your supply representatives and other dental professionals. These individuals are in regular communication with other dental practices. They are likely to have a good sense of who in the dental community would be regarded as quality recruits.
  2. Counter offer-Pay attention to the person behind the counter at your bank, the local hotels, other businesses, etc. Carry your business cards with you and when you receive exceptional service from an employee at another business ask them to consider applying for the position in your practice or send you a resume to keep on file should an opening occur. Dentists tend to consider only people with dental experience and often don’t get the best applicants because they are limiting themselves. Keep an open mind.
  3. Patient Pool-Mention to patients that you are looking for a new employee to join your team. If they know of someone they would recommend ask them to encourage that person to apply. The ideal applicant may be sitting right in front of you.
  4. Street Talk-Talk to members of your church, synagogue, social group, kids’ soccer coach, piano teacher, etc. When looking for new employees get the word out on the street.

Keep in mind when you are hiring an employee you are not the only one doing the interviewing. The prospective employee is interviewing you and your practice as well. Package your practice and what you have to offer. Provide the applicant with information that can sell the position including written information on the salary range, employee benefits including insurance, vacation time, hours the employee is expected to work, what you have to offer as an employer that gets the candidate excited about the opportunity. Emphasize the valuable experience and professional growth they will receive in many areas from working with a dedicated and caring staff and helping great patients, to electronic claims processing, computerized billing and so on.

Excellent candidates are out there, but they aren’t as likely to walk into your practice unless you are willing to open the door.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
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Tech Tips For Today!

Designed to improve management techniques through your technology platform

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

    Last week, [see article], I discussed some of the basic steps necessary to set up your scheduler. This week, we continue to work within your scheduler set up parameters. There are also some important practice management rules in this Tech Tip article so you might want to print it and discuss it as a group.

Scheduling Setup Continued

Step 1
Print a complete overdue recall list for the past year. Review the first 15 patient records on the list. Do they all have exactly the same recall interval and amount of time for their next recall appointment? When we go on-site to set up operational business systems, we find most practices allocating the exact same amount of time for every patient that comes in for their professional cleaning. We also find “standardized” recall month intervals. In other words, it seems EVERYONE is on a six month recall when we know at least 40% of the patients require more frequent treatment. This is a great place to start “trimming the scheduling fat” and make your schedule more productive.

Step 2
If your computer system has the capability (most do), run a report for a list of children under the age of 14 with a recall date into the future. For instance, 3-11-04 through 3-11-05. Print the list. Go into their patient record and adjust the time units necessary for their upcoming recall visit. If you are like most offices, you will free up 20 to 30 hours of time from your schedule with just this exercise!

Step 3
If your computer system has the capability (most do), run a report to generate a list of all of your patients that have had dentures performed. Go into their patient records and make the appropriate and necessary adjustment to their next recare visit. You probably do not see as many of these patients as children but the same rule applies. Why default everyone to the same amount of chair time?

Step 4
Set a new general operational rule in the office. The clinical team should note somewhere (either in their own computer terminal or on your paper records) how much time each individual patient requires at their next recall visit.

Step 5
Stick to the new rule! It would be the scheduling coordinator or hygiene coordinator’s responsibility to make sure every patient has the appropriate amount of time units assigned. It is the clinical team’s responsibility to get the scheduling/hygiene coordinator the correct information.


Never, never, never, ask your computer system to “find” the next available appointment! ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, look visually at the available opening in the schedule to find the best fit for the office AND the patient. Your computer system uses linear logic to find openings. In most cases, all it (your computer system) cares about is finding a certain provider with a certain number of open time units. Your computer system will totally skip over every appointment opening to find a match. For instance, you may be looking for a 9 unit opening. Your computer system will totally ignore multiple 8 unit openings just to “find” that perfect match. In most cases, a skilled scheduling coordinator would have scheduled that appointment LONG before that 9 unit opening the computer system “found”. This is especially useful if the scheduling coordinator is trying their best to schedule toward a production goal. Computer systems are great! Believe me, you won’t find a more passionate proponent of their use in dental practices. But, they aren’t magic. A computer system will never be an effective replacement for a skilled and motivated scheduling coordinator!

I welcome any and all readers to email me with specific questions, problems, requests and challenges. Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will lead to a new Tips For Today article! Don’t worry, your inquiry will remain anonymous unless you want credit for the question.

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

If you DON’T do anything to improve your
Practice Performance,
or Profitability,
history is bound
to repeat itself.
Find out how you can make the
most of your practice...GO HERE

The Secret To Getting Your Hygiene Patients To Say “YES” - Part II

Dr. Allan Monack
Hygiene Clinical Director
McKenzie Management

         Few things in life are certain, but when it comes to today’s patient you can just about count on the fact that he or she wants to keep their teeth. They don’t want dentures soaking in the cup on the nightstand like their parents had. Patients who know and understand what they need to do to keep their teeth are far more likely to take the necessary steps to ensure good oral health.

In part one, we talked about explaining both the importance of periodontal probing as well as the diagnostic process to patients. In addition, take time to ask a few probing questions, to establish the patient as an active and involved partner in treatment acceptance.

  1. Engage them in conversation about their oral health goals. This is going to give you invaluable insight into the patient’s perceptions, fears, expectations, concerns, and, most importantly, potential objections to periodontal treatment.
  2. Ask several broad questions and listen to what your patient is and is not telling you. For example, “How do you feel about keeping your natural teeth?” “How would you feel about taking steps to maintain healthy gums to ensure that you keep your teeth?”
  3. Encourage the patient to do most of the talking. Follow the 80-20 rule, listen 80% of the time.

The information you gather tells you what is going to motivate that patient emotionally. The patient will not proceed with treatment if they do not have an emotional attachment to the benefits. The periodontal treatment will help to ensure that I keep my natural teeth. It will also help to prevent other medical problems, such as heart disease. My smile will look and be healthier. All of those are emotional motivators.

As the exam is the basis for the clinical diagnosis, the question/answer period is the basis for the “emotional diagnosis,” which is what drives the patient to pursue the best dentistry you have to offer. However, it can also prevent them from following through on recommended treatment.

In explaining the periodontal treatment, remember your audience. The more technical and clinical the presentation, the more likely the patient is going to feel intimidated and uncertain about proceeding.

  1. Present the findings in terms the patient can understand.
  2. Go into detail about the therapy, what the patient’s responsibilities will be to increase the success of treatment, and what is necessary to monitor and maintain their oral health.
  3. Clearly list the benefits and tie in the emotional motivators at every opportunity.
  4. Encourage the patient to ask questions.

Listen to the patient’s comments and address any concerns. The patient is going to see the diagnostic probing procedure, hear the measurements being recorded, and notice any bleeding that occurs. The patient will not be able to deny whose mouth it is. The patient will have discovered any problems at the same time the hygienist does. In listening carefully to your patient you can determine any resistance to treatment.

If the patient does understand the problem as well as the recommended solution but still does not accept treatment identify what is keeping them from proceeding? It is likely to be one or a combination of the three typical barriers to treatment acceptance – fear of pain, money, and time. Obviously, if the patient comes into the office in pain, they recognize that there is a problem that needs to be corrected, and they are usually eager to proceed. Unfortunately, periodontal disease isn’t painful until it is too late to treat conservatively.

How do you convince someone they have periodontal disease when there is no discomfort, pus or swelling? Through the co-diagnosis process I have explained. How do you get patients to accept treatment when their insurance will not pay the entire bill? Through patient financing programs that benefit both the practice and the patient, such as CareCredit. How do you encourage patients to commit to multiple visits when busy lifestyles threaten to interfere with successful scaling and root planing therapy? By offering appointments at convenient times and confirming appointments. The most important step you can take to help the patient overcome the barriers is to understand them and develop treatment acceptance strategies to eliminate or reduce the barriers.

The more comfortable you are with this type of sequential communication the greater your treatment acceptance. Patients are confident in their decision to say “yes” when they see your confidence in your work. You now have the secret to getting your patients to say yes!

If you would like more information on improving your hygiene department contact Dr. Monack at

McKenzie Management’s Hygiene Clinical Practice Enrichment Program is designed to improve Hygiene Clinical Skills and develop and implement a step-by-step Interceptive Periodontal Therapy Program that will immediately bring greater productivity, with enhanced patient care. For more information...GO HERE

How To Hire The Best Dental Employee

A Dentist's Guide to Effective Interviewing
  • Developing a Job Description
  • Advertising-Sample Ads Included
  • Reviewing the Resumes
  • Telephone Screening
  • The Application- ReadyTo Use
  • Questions for Business, Assistants, Hygienists
  • Testing Applicants and Tests Provided
  • Checking References
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Sally McKenzie
Mark Dilatush

Sally's Mail Bag

Dear Sally,
We have a lot of patients on our overdue recall list. What advice do you have in overcoming reasons of why the patient doesn’t want to return.

Dear Carol,
The most common objection will be the patient wanting to control the situation by saying, “Not now, I will call you back.” When this occurs, the patient has just put themselves in charge of the recall system. If the procrastination is a result of something else that is happening at the moment, then take the responsibility to call them back such as, in three weeks. If the patient still insists on calling back, then inform them that there is no place within your “system” to retain their records under a “will call back status” and instead of inactivating them from the system, would it be okay if they were called back in two or three months? Hopefully, the reason for not scheduling will be overcome in a time period of months. However, if the patient says “no”, then inactivate all records. They get aggravated with you when they’ve told you, “don’t call me” and then someone in your office calls back. A confirmation letter of the telephone conversation should be sent. “We sincerely care about your dental health and want you to know that your records will be kept in safekeeping till you decide the time is right to return to our office.” Consider enclosing an educational brochure that explains the importance of receiving a professional oral health examination.
Good Luck,

Office Managers
Financial Coordinators
Scheduling Coordinators
Treatment Coordinators
Hygiene Coordinators

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 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Apr. 7
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  
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How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Belle DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA  
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How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  

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