6.01.07 - Issue # 273 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Goals and Objectives
Customer Service
Internal Marketing

Got Goals?
Get Your Team Onboard

by Sally McKenzie CEO
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You’ve got goals, you’ve got objectives, and you’ve got just a few more months to implement them. Yes, the calendar has turned and we are closing in on summer. Time for vacations, hot weather, and long days. It’s also a great opportunity to look at where you are in reaching your practice objectives and take concrete steps to achieve those goals before the second half of the year sweeps past.

Make this the summer that you go after the great opportunities in your practice, starting with your team. Why the team? Because no matter how important, necessary, or critical achieving your goals and objectives may be to you, you’re not going to do it without the help of that group of people you face every day when you walk through the door. 

Most likely, you have employees who, individually, are hardworking, knowledgeable, and dedicated. They work together under the same roof for 8-10 hours a day, but you can’t really call them a team. They simply don’t know how to function as effectively as you need them to as a group. Consequently, your practice goals, objectives, and dreams too often take a back seat to conflict, turf wars, and pettiness.

It’s not that this group of individuals can’t become a highly functioning team, it’s more that they need to be led in that direction. They simply don’t know how to establish team goals or how to identify the strategies to achieve those goals. And they are looking to you to show them the possibilities of working as a team and give them the tools to function as one. When you do, you’ll reap the benefits of a high performance dental team. In other words, those goals, dreams, and aspirations that you set forth for your practice at the start of 2007 – and probably ’06, ’05, and ’04 – will begin to take flight … at long last.

Effective teams have a few fundamental needs that have to be addressed. First, in order to follow, they need to know what direction their leader is heading. Share your vision and your goals for the practice.

Second, never forget that each individual on your team craves direction and a fundamental understanding of how their day-to-day work fits into the practice’s overall goals and objectives. Your employees need to understand not only the big picture but just exactly how they fit into the frame. The business team needs to understand why confirmation calls are not just busy work but are critical to the success of the clinical schedule. Each individual needs to recognize that their role affects not just themselves but everyone else, particularly the patients.
Third, team members need conflict. Yes, I know you like to avoid this, but it is in managing disagreements that you and your staff learn to work through problems. Your practice goals are not getting the attention they need when Tami is ticked off at Emily because she shows up 15 minutes late every day.

In effectively managing disagreements, not only are you creating a system for dealing with conflict but you’re also strengthening the team’s ability to communicate with each other. It is only in working through the issues of discontent that individuals resolve concerns, learn to trust each other, and, ultimately, work as a team, which brings me to my fourth point.

A true team must be able to discuss all aspects of the practice effectively and respectfully with one another. This type of environment encourages individuals to risk speaking up, to ask for help, and it gives them a safety net to make mistakes. It also creates a setting that fuels the desire and the enthusiasm necessary to turn team priorities into individual priorities.

And finally, move over doctor. Your good people cannot do great things if you are constantly standing in their way. Team members need to feel included in the goal setting process. They need to feel valued for their contributions, and they need to feel empowered to make decisions and take action when it is in the best interest of the practice. If they have to run to you for approval at every turn, they’ll spend far more time running in circles than reaching for your goals.

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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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Going for the Gold

What exactly is it that makes one dental office perceived by patients as being better than the other? Does the patient really know if the dentistry being provided in one office compared to another is actually better dentistry? When a crown is placed on number fifteen is there a way the patient truly knows that it was seated perfectly? Even in our own mouths, as dental professionals, unless we are doing our own dentistry do we even know the quality of the work being done?

Alright, we as dental professionals may have a good idea, but without being able to watch the actual procedure, evaluate all of the margins, see the actual probings, and check with an explorer after a professional hygiene appointment even we do not know for sure the quality of work.

So….what makes a patient perceive one dental office as being better than another? The next time you enter or do business with any service-oriented profession, think to yourself what makes me like it here more than someplace else.  Here are some things that may make your office out shine other offices when it comes to the eyes of your patient. We have all gone to seminars where they recommend you walk in the front door as if you are a patient and evaluate the experience for ourselves, but how many people have really taken the time to do it?

  • Are you greeted by a smiling face, a warm hello, and your name?
  • Is the reception area clean?
  • Is the office cluttered?
  • Is there dust?
  • Are the operatories visibly clean?
  • Did you wash your hands in front of the patient?
  • Are you touching other things and going directly back to the patient’s mouth?
  • Is anybody wearing gloves outside of the operatories?

Patients like to be recognized as they walk in the office. This may be done by a picture in the computer, the chart, or by having an employee that is good with names and faces.

Everyday, all team members should look at the reception room when they go and get their patients. If something needs straightened up it should be taken care of. This is especially important when there have just been a lot of children in the area. This should be added to one of the employee’s job descriptions, but everybody should help.

Over the course of the years, I have had many patients inform me that they left their previous dentist because they did not see regular hand washing or the office was not clean. Maybe the offices were clean and maybe the team was washing their hands regularly but it is the perception of the patient that matters.

Make sure that if the patient is not able to see you wash your hands that you inform them, “Sandy, we will get started as soon as I wash my hands, excuse me for just a minute.”

Clean off your countertops. If something has alginate on it or any type of substance and you can see it and it does not come off, replace it. It may be clean but if it does not look clean it does not matter.

In addition to the appearance of the office, the appearance of the staff is equally important. It is important that employee evaluations include that they appear professional. As employees, take time to iron your scrubs, pull your hair back so the patient is not concerned with it getting into their mouths or on the instruments. Wear shoes and clothing that are appropriate for the office.

Every individual will want to be treated differently. Being able to interpret different personality types will help with knowing how to approach patients. However, there are certain things that we as dental professionals may do to make our office be the gold medal winner when it comes to customer service.

After a long procedure, call the patient and see how they are doing.
If a patient is nervous, continually ask during the procedure if the patient is doing all right. If they say no, stop, listen, and determine what you or a staff member may do to make the experience better for them. Call the patient later that day and see how they are doing. Start and finish appointments at the times the patients are scheduled.

Follow through by returning patient phone calls. Even if you are still talking with another doctor, an insurance company, or waiting for your own doctor to get back, return the phone call and let the patient know that you are following up and will get back to them, and when you will get back to them. The other important part of this is to get back to them.

Let’s face it, our dentistry may be the best in the world but if our dental team does not provide quality customer service, our patients may go elsewhere. Every patient that enters the doors of your practice should be treated as the special individual that they all are.

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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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Myths and Monsters of Internal Marketing

There are many great ideas available for marketing your practice both externally and internally.  Internal marketing is what you offer the patient once they have joined your practice, such as seating on time; post op calls, professional, courteous behavior, etc.  External marketing is the method used to attract new patients to your practice, such as direct mail, coupon offers, yellow page ads, etc.

A recent attendee to McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training proved to be a remarkable and articulate business manager named Clarisse (not her real name).  “ My desk is in the center of the office and I have a complete view of the entire practice operations.  I am accessible to the doctors, staff, and patients at their whim any given time of the day.  Breaks are unheard of except at lunch, which I make sure we get. I know that my attitude can make or break this practice but I find it a challenge to keep smiling under certain circumstances. The myth that I must always be cheerful and accommodating or I will upset the staff or drive patients away is the monster that hovers over me.  After a particular bad day I go home and wonder whom I have slighted in any way.  How do I stay calm when Dr. A complains about assistant B and assistant B says Dr. A needs an antidepressant?  At the same time, Mrs. Brown is asking for a toothbrush because she just came from lunch and Mrs. Smith is standing at the desk with her insurance file to discuss the latest billing?”

Clarisse’s concern is common to many dental practices and the following response helped her to set up a manageable system for multitasking to support the needs of staff and patients.

Assuming that the doctor and staff share the same practice vision and mission, the every day minor miscommunications can be easily handled by just being a listening ear.  Most people need to vent and if you are a kind and open person, you will be on the receiving end of the venting.  However, as Business Manager you need to set boundaries on doctor, staff, and patients so that you can successfully meet all of their needs without “burnout”.

The morning huddle or morning business meeting is an important internal marketing system.  This meeting should last no more than ten minutes and has a definite agenda (provided during the training).  Patients coming in for treatment that day can be assessed for potential problems that they may bring with them.  If there are problems with accounts or insurance, the patient will most surely want to discuss that when they come in.  It is best to call them ahead of the appointment to clarify account discrepancies.   Are there any x-rays, photos or impressions needed for patients that are not on the schedule?  What appointments could be open-ended should there be a cancellation? Where should emergency patients be placed on the schedule? What patients will you compliment that day or what patient will you ask for a referral?  Are there any patients that will take more time than scheduled?  Someone will have to be available to that patient for TLC.  If we are prepared ahead of time for potential scheduling issues, we can eliminate some of the daily stress. Some things cannot be anticipated, like equipment failure, so let’s eliminate what we can.

The fact that the doctor and the staff can come to you for help is a compliment.  When you are sitting at your desk you may look like you are available, but you are not.  You are answering the phone, following up on insurance, updating records, monitoring practice reports, sending statements etc.  Set up a time with the doctor or the assistant for discussion of their personal or business issues.  Have another staff member cover the phones or have a voice mail system set up to direct callers to leave a message that will be returned within the hour.  Try to keep these meetings short and to the point.  Doctor bashing needs to be eliminated and if the issue is an assistant’s job skill then a performance review is necessary.  Always write up a short report and place in the doctor or assistant file for future reference.

When the patient arrives, good customer service dictates that they get the time and attention that is necessary for them to “connect” in a positive way.  If you look too busy you will be perceived as too busy.  Healthy practices need a constant flow of new patients to grow.  You will not receive referrals for new patients if you look “too busy”.

Removing the monster from the myth sets up a positive look at the important work of the Business Administrator.  For help in eliminating monsters, call us today.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or  visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

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