3.2.07 - Issue # 260 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Guiding a New Team
Mental Agility
Practice Statistics

Inheriting a New Team?
Avoid the Pitfalls
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Congratulations! You just took over a practice from a retiring dentist. It’s exciting. You are the leader of your new team, the owner of your new practice, the go-to gal or guy. Now what?

First, steer clear of the most common pitfall when inheriting employees: Assuming that your staff knows what you want. Don’t assume. Spell out your expectations and the employees’ responsibilities in black and white and for every member of your team from the beginning. Do NOT convince yourself that because they’ve worked in this dental practice for X number of years that they know how you want things done. They don’t and they will simply keep performing their responsibilities according to the previous doctor’s protocols unless they are directed otherwise.

For example, your newly inherited scheduling coordinator may have held her position for a long time. She’s very experienced in scheduling to the previous doctor’s likes, which may be very different from yours. She doesn’t have any idea how you want your day scheduled, or if you want to meet specific production goals, etc. unless you tell her.

Recognize the strengths and weaknesses among your team members. Every employee will bring both to their positions. However, some employees are much better suited for some responsibilities and not others. Just because Rebecca has been handling insurance and collections for the practice doesn’t mean she’s effective in those areas. Look at results. Rebecca may be much more successful at scheduling and recall and would be a much more valuable employee if she were assigned those duties. Don’t be afraid to restructure responsibilities to make the most of team strengths. In addition, be open to maximizing those strengths through professional training

Give ongoing direction, guidance, and feedback to your team so that they know where they stand. Don’t be stingy. Give praise often and appraise performance regularly. Verbal feedback can be given at any time but it is most effective at the moment the employee is engaging in the behavior that you either want to praise or correct.

If the Scheduling Coordinator emphasizes to Mrs. Patient just how much she is going to absolutely LOVE her new veneers and steers the patient clear of buyer’s remorse that is threatening to sink the doctor’s treatment plan, tell her! Explain to the employee what she/he did to deserve your praise. Express your sincere appreciation and emphasize the value of her contribution to the practice. Similarly, if employees need constructive feedback, don’t be shy with that either. If the front desk helper is talking about how gross she/he thinks that whole implant thing is, she/he needs education and constructive direction.

Nip problems in the bud and you’ll avoid numerous thorns in your side. If an employee is not fulfilling her/his responsibilities, address the issue privately and directly with them. Be prepared to discuss the key points of the problem as you see it as well as possible resolutions.

Give the employee a chance to express her/his view of the problem and offer possible solutions. If the employee has a voice in how the situation can be addressed she/he is likely to be more vested in making the solution actually work, rather than just carrying out your “orders” to fix it. 

Monitor the situation and provide ongoing feedback and guidance. One conversation likely will not eliminate the problem entirely. In fact, you may find that the issue reveals shortcomings in other areas that need to be addressed. Don’t ignore problems and hope that they will just work their way out.  They don’t.

Use performance reviews to motivate and encourage your team to thrive in their positions. Base your performance measurements on individual jobs. Focus on specific job-related goals and how those relate to improving the total practice. Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews offer critical information that is essential in your efforts to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity, and staff in your new 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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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Here’s the secret…
Take hold of your thoughts before they take hold of you!

Last week a coaching client cancelled our scheduled call. Having a string of departing employees, and returning from a week’s absence, he found himself with “too many tasks to do”. I responded,

Hello Bob (not his real name) ~
I am sorry to hear that you continue to experience turnover problems. And I know how overwhelming it can feel to have lots of ‘catch-up’ after a vacation.

My only concern is that your leadership growth will require you to move into a strategic mindset. As such, this might be the best time for us to talk. Is it possible for you to put aside 30 or 60 minutes to reflect and ‘think out loud’ with me…to step back from the ‘gerbil-on-the-wheel’ syndrome?

In challenging you to look at your decision to reschedule, I am only doing my ‘job’ to hold up the mirror and encourage you to do things differently. That said, I will defer to you with all my support.

Keep in mind that Bob cancelled several days in advance so that was not the issue. The real problem emerged in his next email.

“I don't really think it will help. I don't believe things will change. If I had a plan in place, I would lock the doors today and never go back.”

From time to time we all experience negative thoughts as well as angry or depressing feelings. Ups and downs are a part of life. But it is important to maintain a healthy perspective and a hopeful outlook. Not that smiling and thinking positive thoughts will increase your revenue overnight, but you will affect your bottom line by being mindful of your mental and emotional energy.

Just like physical exercise, mental agility requires dedication and practice. It begins when you think about what you have instead of how bad things are.

I recently saw a new movie, The Secret. Similar to the 2004 film, What the Bleep Do We Know, it embodies a dimension of ‘energy psychology’. Yes, scientific research is now proving that thoughts have energy! The way it works is that we operate our lives based on assumptions, our mental models. These are the ‘rules’ we follow to make decisions and choices in our life. For the most part, assumptions are unspoken and operate at a subconscious or even an unconscious level. What you believe and expect ultimately becomes your reality. Henry Ford said it best: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Your beliefs inherently are the foundation of everything that happens to you in life!

If you focus on problems and obstacles, you will find yourself moving further into a downward spiral. But when you appreciate what you already have, you attract more of the same. When you amplify your strengths and create images of where you want to go, that energy propels you to new levels of success and achievement.

So start the gratitude process today! Take a look at what is right. Value those gifts no matter how small. Appreciation stirs our feelings, excites our curiosity, and provides inspiration to the envisioning mind. It draws our eye toward the essentials of life.

Rid yourself of quick judgments, fixed perspectives, and old opinions. Make room for discovery and innovation. The ability to open your thinking to different views, to connect with other people, and to shake outmoded paradigms is within you when you adopt the spirit of appreciation.

Set aside five minutes everyday. During that time, imagine that everything you want for yourself and your practice has become a reality. Concentrate and focus on the details. Once you have captured the specifics, imagine how you might feel waking up in the morning. In your mind’s eye, notice how you would respond to people at home and at the office. Picture yourself driving to work and what differences there would be. How would you respond to traffic or aggressive drivers? How would you talk with your staff? What kind of expression would be on your face as you worked? Make your visualization come alive.

Now implement one of these behaviors today. Whether it is greater emotional composure or more encouraging remarks to others, the impact of just one small modification holds tremendous possibility. If you are having trouble doing this on your own, seek the help of a coach’Just as physical trainers improve performance in athletic competitions, coaching offers ways to enhance professional effectiveness.

Imagine what might be.
Determine what should be.
Be a part of creating what will be.

Contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com if you want to open your thinking to a profitable practice.

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

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Do You Have a Practice Road Map?

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. David Campbell -  Case Study #26

“I have no idea what my business staff do all day long.  It seems that every time I walk past the front business area, Kathy and Janice are talking with one another…and it doesn’t appear to be business related because they are laughing!”

This was one of the concerns that Dr. Campbell shared with me during our dinner the first night of my arrival.

“I don’t feel like I have a handle on my practice.  I know that my patients are being taken care of but I don’t know if my practice is being taken care of.  And honestly, I really don’t know how to take care of it.”

Practice facts:

  • 9 year old practice in the same location
  • Gross production and collections have leveled off during the past 2 years
  • No additional days of hygiene added since the practice started

Interestingly enough, Dr. Campbell was not aware of other important practice statistics that he should know in order to determine the “health” of his practice.

“Why do I need to focus on numbers?  I don’t want to think of my patients as “walking dollar signs”, was Dr. Campbell’s heartfelt remark to me.

“Dr. Campbell, I understand what you are saying to me.  At the same time, whether you like it or not, you are a business owner and you have an obligation to yourself and to your employees to manage your business in a profitable manner”, I responded to him.

What any practice owner should know to make sound business decisions:

  • # of new comprehensive exams per month – this is vital in determining how many patients are “coming in the front door”
  • Patient retention percentage – this tells you how many patients you are keeping vs.“going out the back door”
  • Referral sources monthly – helps you determine where to spend your marketing dollars…and where NOT to spend them!
  • Net production per provider – monthly and daily – this tells you if you are meeting or exceeding your daily scheduling goal (which you should have based on your overhead)
  • Monthly production adjustments –how much dentistry you are giving away to friends and family, insurance and bad debt.
  • Net collections –how much money you have to pay bills.  This amount should be 98% of your net production.
  • Outstanding Insurance Claims over 60 days –shows if your Financial Coordinator is working or taking too many personal phone calls.
  • Outstanding Accounts over 90 days.  Should not be more than 12% of your total A/R.  This also tells you if the FC is performing her responsibilities.
  • Credit Balances – how much money you owe to your patients.
  • Total Accounts Receivable – How much money do patients and insurance companies owe to you?  This should be no more than 1 times your monthly net production.
  • Over-the-counter collections – this tells you whether your schedule coordinator is asking for the patients “investment” when the services are performed.  If she is collecting 35-45% of the net production for the month, she is doing a good job.

Most of these statistics are very easy to obtain through your software program.  EVERY practice owner should know these figures monthly.  Dr. Campbell was not aware of his. 

Dr. Campbell’s observations about his own practice:

  • He thought that his accounts receivable was not as healthy as it should be because he saw the number of statements that were being mailed monthly as they stacked up at the front desk!
  • He didn’t have scheduling goals in place but he knew that there were many days that he saw lots of patients but didn’t produce much, as he reviewed his “day sheet”.
  • He felt like he wasn’t seeing very many new patients like he used to but didn’t really know the number or where they were coming from.
  • He definitely knew that it was harder and harder to pay all the bills at the end of the month and have anything left for him to take home.
  • He had no idea how to “stop the bleeding”.

During my four-day visit with Dr. Campbell and his team, they learned how to run the appropriate reports to get the information that was necessary to plot statistics.  Much more importantly, they learned how to analyze these figures and discuss trends.  What is causing them?  What can we do about them?  What is working and what isn’t working?

As I hear from Dr. Campbell monthly and see his practice numbers, we discuss these trends and he feels “on top of things”, as he puts it.  Let’s just say that it is like taking a trip by car….if you haven’t determined the routes that you are going to take, how do you know when you are lost.  You may be making good time but you will never arrive at your destination.  Study your “road map”!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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