07.28.06 - Issue # 229 Forward This Article to a Friend
Scheduling Productively Communication Hygiene Communication

Thriving or Threatened? Time Will Tell
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Experiencing a few growing pains these days? The schedule is maxed out. The team is stressed out. And it seems that no matter how much you work the money’s always out. Doctor and team spend their days reacting to the pressures of the day because their focus is merely on what they have to do right now and not on where they want to be or how to get there. While the practice may appear to be thriving in reality, it is threatened. Take steps to turn it around.

First, the doctor must develop his/her vision and share it with the team. As the saying goes, “If you can’t see it, you won’t achieve it.” Do you want to make more money? Do you want less stress?  Do you simply want to enjoy your practice, your family, your patients more? Whatever your vision, define it and share it with those who are central to helping you create it. Next, look at the details that will be critical in achieving that vision and in creating a practice that is truly thriving.

Starting with the time. I don’t mean the time on your watch; I mean the time in your day. It’s time to make the schedule your servant and not your master, which means scheduling to meet daily production goals, NOT scheduling just to keep the doctor and team busy.

Establish a realistic financial goal for your practice, let’s say $700,000 in clinical production. This calculates to $14,583 per week (taking four weeks out for vacation, holidays, CE). Working forty hours per week means you’ll need to produce about $364 per hour. If you want to work fewer hours, obviously per hour production will need to be higher.

Use the formula below to determine the rate of hourly production.

  1. The assistant logs the amount of time it takes to perform specific procedures. If a procedure takes the doctor three appointments, she/he should record the time needed for all three appointments.
  2. Next record the total fee for the procedure.
  3. Determine the procedure value per hourly goal. To do this, take the cost of the procedure, for example $900 for a crown; divide it by the total time to perform the procedure, 120 minutes. That will give you your production per minute value - $7.50. Multiply that by 60 minutes - $450.
  4. Compare that amount to the doctor’s hourly production goal. It must equal or exceed the identified goal.
  5. Start scheduling to meet that goal every hour of every day.

If you choose to block the schedule for specific procedures do so based on historical data – actual procedures performed over the past six months – and not on what you would like your ideal day to be. You can work toward creating your ideal days, but first you have to have a clear picture of what your real days have been.

Next look at what’s happening in the operatory:

  • Does your assistant anticipate which instrument you need next?
  • Must you repeatedly stop to adjust the light source?
  • Can your assistant clearly see what is happening in the patient’s mouth?
  • Are you performing procedures or explaining matters to patients that the assistant or other staff members could and should be handling? For example, do you explain post-op care to patients even though that’s the assistant’s job? Or do you frequently sit down with parents to discuss the importance of sealants even though this is the hygienist’s responsibility?

Typically, the dental assistant who isn’t adjusting the light source or isn’t anticipating the doctor’s instrument needs is simply not sitting in the chair properly. The doctor who never seems to have enough time often is not delegating every procedure, patient interaction, and staff matter legally allowable in their state.

All of those seemingly minor inefficiencies add up to minutes, hours, and days lost in your schedule. They have a direct impact on your ability to achieve your goals and turn a threatened practice into a thriving practice.  

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns?  Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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The Real Power of Influence: Using Nonverbal Communication to Increase Your Credibility

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Research shows that when you talk with your employees - and your patients - your words account for only 7% of the message. The remaining 93% is communicated nonverbally.

Humans are sensitive to things like body language, facial expression, posture, movement, and tone of voice. Is there ever any doubt in your mind as to the mood of an employee when they walk into the office?

More than words, nonverbals cue you into what is on another person’s mind. The most successful leaders are alert to the power of the emotions and thoughts communicated nonverbally.

As an example, read the sentence below out loud twice. The first time, say the words in a deep voice and finish in a low tone. The second time, use a high voice and read the words as if you were asking a question.

It’s important that you arrive to work on time.

Same words. Totally different meaning.

The first is a clear message said with credibility. But in the second, the words and the questioning tone do not match. This kind of discrepancy sends a ‘mixed’ message. The communication is confusing. And because language can be censored, your employee will not trust your words. Your questioning tone sabotages the real intention of the message. Not likely that your chronically tardy hygienist will be punctual.

The old saying, "It's not what you say, it’s how you say it" underscores the importance of nonverbal communication and believability. Even on an intuitive level you know that the influence of nonverbal communication. Think about the idioms we use:

It’s not what you say but what you do.
A picture’s worth a thousand words.
Talk is cheap.
Actions speak louder than words.

The ability to influence others continues to be the most important factor for successful leadership. To deliver the full intention of your messages, use the following nonverbal behaviors to raise the impact of your communication.

  • Eye contact. It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. By making eye contact, you show interest in the other person and you convey empathy and sincerity. 
  • Facial Expressions. When you smile, you convey approachability. Your employees and your patients will feel more comfortable around you and they will listen more attentively. Be careful, however, to avoid smiling when the message is serious.
  • Voice. The volume, rate, tone, pitch, and inflections of your speech are major factors in communication. When you use a soft voice, you may be seen as lacking confidence. On the other hand, using a slower, quieter voice in stressful circumstances signals strength and control. A strong voice shows confidence. Yet in matters of disagreement, a booming voice often escalates the conflict.
  • Body Language. The way you stand, walk and move speaks volumes. If you are too fast-paced, you convey tension much more than efficiency. A relaxed, calm posture signals confidence and receptivity. Your posture also influences whether you are seen as competent. Slumped shoulders undermine credibility. Stiffness conveys nervousness. Unfold your arms and uncross your legs when engaged in important conversations.
  • Gestures. When gestures are natural and flow with your words, they enhance the impact of your message. But be careful of distracting gestures – fiddling with pens and clothing, foot-tapping and fingernail clicking. These are seen as signals of discomfort. They show a lack of confidence and diminish your credibility.

Your leadership effectiveness is directly related to your ability to win trust and gain respect through communication. You may think you have credibility but your employees and patients are the final judge. By aligning your verbal and nonverbal communication, you increase your power to influence. Yes, it is awkward at first. Choose to focus on improving one aspect of your nonverbal communication at a time. With consistent practice you will feel more natural. And you’ll be more successful in leading your team, and your patients.

If you are interested in registering for our two day, Leadership Training Lab email Training@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in learning more about Dentist Coaching with Dr. Haller email coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

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Say It “Right” and They Will Keep Coming

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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The nicest, kindest, most giving employee in your office may be the one that affects your patient retention the most. It is not always what is said to a person that makes them like or dislike a particular practice or person, but many times it is how something is said. Whether it is on the phone, at the front desk, in the hygiene room, or the doctor’s room, voice intonations may make the difference of how accepting a patient is towards the treatment being recommended, keeping their appointments, and wanting to be a patient in your practice.

The tone in the senders voice can make the conversation become a negative or positive experience for both people just by a slight change in the pitch of the voice. Two people may say the exact same thing, but the tone that the message is sent will be what sets the attitude of the receiver.

When speaking on the phone, it is a well-known fact that speaking traits, barely noticeable when someone is standing in front of you, become more pronounced. Evaluation on the phone and in the office of the entire staff whose jobs require them to spend considerable time handling patients is very important. This may be done as easily as tape recording typical patient conversations and assessing their speaking delivery skills. In addition, team members should be given the opportunity to objectively critique recorded telephone presentations. (Most states require you to inform callers if you will be recording conversations.)

Evaluating conversations may be based on the following points:

  • Is the voice easy to hear, not too loud, not too soft?
  • Are the words clearly articulated?
  • Is the vocal tone pleasant, not condescending, gruff, shrill, nasally?
  • Is the rate of delivery comfortable, not too fast, not too slow?
  • Does the individual convey enthusiasm, confidence, helpfulness, and genuine desire to assist the patient?
  • Does the staff member show respect for the patient?

Many people have a tendency to mumble, speak too loudly, or consistently use incorrect grammar. Others speak so softly; they are virtually impossible to understand. Consequently, the patient has to work so hard that the interaction with the office becomes a chore, rather than an essential experience.
The office will typically benefit from having prepared presentations to ensure that staff members are ready to handle objections, cancellations, and many other patient scheduling obstacles that arise during routine patient care. The objective of the preparation is to control the conversation, and the goals are to schedule the patient and educate the patient. The presentation needs to be known so well that it comes off naturally to any staff member using it. This will help prevent the dental team from speaking off the top of their heads, and create consistent messages that are being relayed to patients.

Below are some questions you may want to ask yourselves while developing the presentation:

  • What action do you want the patient to take?
  • What is the current situation?
  • My focused objective is what?
  • My general objective is what?
  • What are the benefits for the patient?
  • What new services/practice features do you want to tell the patient about?
  • What specific information do you have about this patient?
  • What do you know about them personally?

Choose words, phrases, and questions that encourage patients to take the desired action and use words that express conviction, such as:

  • Definitely
  • Absolutely
  • Let me recommend
  • Certainly
  • I assure you

Patients buy the benefits of your services- not your services. They need to clearly understand how they will benefit from making and keeping their appointments.

However, no matter how great the script is, the tone of voice used while talking to the patient can make a difference. . Regularly record and assess the quality of your presentations and vocal delivery to ensure you do not fall back into old routines.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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