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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  3.19.04 Issue #106

All THIS! For only TWO more Crowns a Month!

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

      Trying to convince yourself that you can afford that posh palace in the exclusive business district, eh? Sure, a few more crowns and the most elite, gorgeous, state-of-the-art facility for 200 miles will be all YOURS! I can hear it now ...

“Oh my gosh – interest rates are sooooo low right now. How could I pass up this opportunity to move into this really cool space with gold inlay porcelain tile throughout, state-of-the-art light switches everywhere – you just blink and they come on! Automatic-temperature-controlled, hands-free

water faucets in the bathrooms, a Champaign fountain in the front entrance, and a waiting room fully stocked with ergonomically fitted full-body massaging chairs and a salad bar! I’m going to have to turn patients awaaaayyy. Can you believe this deal - a measly $3 million bucks! Why, I think I’ll call it the Ooh-lah-lah Dental Spa!” ...

And you really think payment is going to be “no big deal”? Let’s see … the line goes something like “all that glitters is not ... more money for your practice.” Many doctors convince themselves that because the space looks good and it’s in a good location, they will be able to improve productivity. However, they fail to consider the 5% parameter. Facility payments, including rent/mortgage and utilities must fall within 5% of monthly collections.

Let’s say you produce $25,000 per month. You collect $21,000 per month and you want to move into a new facility with a total rent of $2,500 per month, which would be a $1,450 increase over what you are paying now. You justify the increase by telling yourself that a couple more crowns per month will take care of it – not a problem. If only it could be that simple. With a $2,500 per month rent bill, you will have to collect a handsome $50,000 each month to stay within the 5% guideline. Therefore, you will have to increase collections by a whopping 29g’s to cover that itty-bitty, little $1,450 per month rent hike. Ouch! … Could someone please grab the smelling salts?

Next week, what to do if facility payments are pulling you under.

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], we discussed some more of the basic steps to setting up your scheduler. We also reviewed one of the “Golden Rules” of electronic scheduling. This week, we continue to work within your scheduler. In particular, I want to discuss “closing all of the cracks” in your schedule.

Scheduling – Closing the Cracks

Step 1
Your practice management software has an “unscheduled treatment list” {Dentrix} or “tickler file” associated with the electronic scheduler. Some practice management systems have multiple “lists” of patients who, for whatever reason, haven’t quite made it back onto the active schedule. Your system may have a list called “just in time” or “short call” tickler file. These are patients who said it was OK for you to call them on short notice to see if they could fill a cancellation gap. Whatever your software calls their lists – I want you to print a complete list (you’ll find it under “Reports”) of every patient on both lists.

Step 2
Take a look at the patients on the lists. Go into their individual records to determine if these patients really do need another appointment. Many times, you will find patients there who have already completed their treatment. You may also find (it depends on how long you’ve used this feature) old, old, entries on the list. Clean up the list! A good rule of thumb is to remove entries older than 6 months AND all entries where the work has been completed. Use your own judgement here. If a patient is purposely waiting more than 6 months to complete their treatment, make an exception and leave them in there.

Step 3
Understand the correct way (when) to put patients on the list. Almost every patient that comes out to the front desk requires another appointment. This is especially true if you pre-appoint the majority of your hygiene patients. Every patient who does NOT make that appointment during the checkout phase – goes into the unscheduled treatment file. If you do this, you know you have all of the patients who made their next appointment in the schedule, and, all the patients that did not schedule their next appointment (for whatever reason/excuse) in the unscheduled treatment file. You have just started to close all of the cracks in your schedule.

The difference between your “unscheduled treatment list” and the “just in time” list is big!

Whatever software you own, you should actually have two lists to pull from when you have a cancellation to fill. Don’t get confused by this. This is great if you use them properly! The “just in time” list is patients who said they would be available in a moments notice. They live or work nearby the office and/or have a flexible schedule. As a general rule, use patients from this list to fill cancellation gaps when the cancellation gap is LESS THAN 24 HOURS away.

Use the patients on the “unscheduled treatment list” to fill cancellations that are MORE THAN 24 HOURS away.

Step 4
The person in the office who is responsible for following up with outstanding treatment plans will use the unscheduled treatment list when making their calls. Notes specific to the telephone conversation should be entered after the phone call is made. Entering the results of the telephone conversation will share the information with the whole. This is VALUABLE information to the clinical team at the next patient visit.

This is definitely something you can do Today!

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


“If you don’t believe in your product or your service you will not be able to sell it.” Donald Trump, from his television show, “The Apprentice”.

Belle M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA
Director/ The Center for
Dental Career Development

      Looking at dentistry as a business of selling a product and a service, Mr. Trump is right…you must believe in what you are trying to convince the patient to buy. However, sometimes the patient is sold on the product. He knows he needs the 3 unit bridge or the implant supported crown but, he is not sure he wants you to provide the service. He may not verbalize this directly. It will come out as, “I want to think about it.” Or “I want to get a second opinion.” Recently I overheard a woman telling her friend that her new dentist, Dr. B, had the newest and most advanced equipment so that he could provide

the best of diagnostic and treatment services. She accepted treatment from Dr. B and not from Dr. A. and when I asked her, “why?” She said that Dr. A had not seemed confident when presenting the treatment plan. He did not look her in the eye. He showed her x-rays in the light of his overhead lamp and she could not visualize what he was explaining to her. He seemed apologetic when presenting his fees. When he left the room, she asked the assistant a question about the treatment. The assistant was not able to answer the question because she was a trainee. This can result in huge dollars of unscheduled treatment. In contrast, Dr. B and his assistant worked smoothly as a team. They showed her several intra-oral photos and digital images to demonstrate the procedure. Most of all she liked the fact that the assistant could answer all of the questions she thought of after the doctor had left the room.

Studies have shown that the dentist is often not the person who should be presenting treatment to the patient. He may be clinically excellent but he has difficulty translating clinical information to lay terms so the patient can understand. And…let’s face it…when the dentist is presenting treatment plans, he’s not producing. Once the doctor has completed the diagnosis portion of the case presentation, the next step toward patient treatment acceptance is the financial aspect. Many doctors do not feel comfortable discussing fees. Due to the practice operating on scheduled production, the doctor should not be explaining fees and appointments, but should be doing dentistry. This is where a trained Treatment Coordinator comes in to answer any questions in regards to the doctor’s diagnosis, phases of treatment, the appointment sequences and alternate treatment. The Treatment Coordinator will also explain other treatment plan options and the fees. After the information is presented, the patient then has an opportunity to ask questions regarding treatment, fees and time commitment. The Treatment Coordinator is prepared with all the related material to discuss the case. She will have the chart, or computer chart, radiographs and or digital images, study models, intra-oral photos, demonstration models, educational brochures and other visual aids at her disposal. A written financial agreement is presented at the end of the presentation for signature and a deposit.

A breakdown occurs when the patient is given a rushed treatment plan in the operatory by the doctor and or the assistant and ultimately ends up at the “front desk” with several questions needing to be answered. The Scheduling Coordinator is on the phone with another patient and is too busy to answer the questions correctly. Now you understand why he may want to “think about it” before making a commitment.

The training necessary to become a polished Treatment Coordinator is not taught at the typical dental assisting school. Having worked as a Treatment Coordinator for many years, my knowledge has come by trial and error. The skills of this employee to present treatment that achieves a consistent acceptance rate is vital to the success of any practice.

When choosing a Treatment Coordinator for your practice, look for excellent clinical skills as well as the following:

  1. Excellent verbal communication and listening skills
  2. Not afraid of rejection, does not mind telling people unpleasant things
  3. Able to prioritize tasks and set goals
  4. Works well unsupervised and is accountable for actions
  5. Resourceful
  6. Not afraid or uneasy with empowerment
  7. Enjoys seeing results of efforts
  8. Confident and cooperative

The Center for Dental Career Development can train your dental assistant or front office person to be a highly successful treatment coordinator with a new level of competency and ultimately take your practice to a higher level of productivity. Knowing how to communicate with the patient at the critical time of treatment acceptance is of utmost importance to the success of your practice.

Belle M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA
Director/ The Center for Dental Career Development, La Jolla

The Center for Dental Career Development can provide you with expert training to improve
your practice’s patient acceptance of treatment plans. For more information on how you can
improve your case acceptance beyond 85%...Go Here Now...

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Sally McKenzie
Mark Dilatush

Sally's Mail Bag

Hi Sally,
My doctor wants me to start calling patients who did not pay when they came in for treatment and who have ignored the statement we sent. Can you give me any suggestions?

Hi Nancy,
The script below has worked well for our clients.

  1. Call, identify yourself and ask for the responsible party,
  2. Your objective: To learn why payment hasn't been made and to secure payment
  3. Identify yourself, “Mr. Jones, Hi, this is Sally from Dr. Thompson’s office. How are you today? (show your compassion) Great. I am calling in regards to your account balance of (amount) and our records show that we have not received a payment since (date) and wanted to make sure you are receiving our statements.” If not, verify their address. “Is that 323 North Street 43216?” “Yes” “Well who knows what the post office did with it. Let me go ahead and send you out another statement today. I just need to know when we can expect payment?”
  4. If the patient is evasive with an exact date, then give them the last working day of that week.
  5. “That will be (date), I will note on your record that we can expect payment of (amount) on that (date)."
  6. Send a statement that day with the message of “This is to confirm your promise of payment of (amount) by (date). Thank you for giving this your immediate consideration.
  7. If payment is not received by the date promised by the patient you are to call again that day.
  8. Remember: Persistence wears down resistence!

Good Luck,

Office Managers
Financial Coordinators
Scheduling Coordinators
Treatment Coordinators
Hygiene Coordinators

For a FREE
Educational Video
e-mail us at:
The Center for Dental Career Development
Advanced Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street, Suite 201
La Jolla, CA 92037


This issue is sponsored
in part by:
The Center for Dental Career Development
San Diego Workshop Series
Spring & Summer Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Apr. 7
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  
 May. 7
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Belle DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA  
 June 4
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  

The Center for Dental Career Development has been approved under the Academy of General Dentistry Program Approval for Continuing Education (PACE) program. Starting 10/19/03 through 10/18/07 members of the Academy of General Dentistry can receive AGD credits for all seminars and workshops sponsored by the Center for Dental Career Development.

Please visit to view a list of upcoming seminars and workshops.

To Register 877-900-5775 or
McKenzie Management Upcoming Events
Date Location Sponsor Speaker
Mar. 25-27 Las Vegas, NV Dental Town Meeting Exhibiting & Seminar
Apr. 2 Denver, CO Metro Denver Society Sally McKenzie
Apr. 7 La Jolla, CA Center for Dental Career Development Sally McKenzie
Apr. 16-18 Anaheim, CA California Dental Association Exhibiting
Apr. 23 Philadelphia, PA Larry Smedley, D.D.S. Sally McKenzie
May 1 Myrtle Beach, SC South Carolina Dental Association Sally McKenzie

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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