7.27.07 - Issue # 281 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Hygeine Product Sales
Peak Performance

Delegation is not Abdication
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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While the fear of losing control is typically the most frightening aspect of delegation for many dentists, ironically, when it is handled correctly, delegation actually can strengthen control because it is about directing the players on your team, identifying the desired outcomes, and creating systems of accountability to realize those outcomes. Delegating duties doesn’t mean abdicating authority. Rather, it’s a means of effectively maximizing all that you and your team have to offer.  But how do you get there? Follow a series of carefully planned steps.

First, as we discussed last week, identify which duties you can hand off to someone else. Next consider your personal objectives and that of your practice. Think in terms of accomplishing your practice goals through those on your team, rather than trying to do everything yourself.

Next bring your employees into the tent. In other words, share information. Part of being on a true team in which everyone effectively carries out their delegated responsibilities is having some concept of the big picture. Your team needs to know and feel a part of your vision and goals. The more your employees feel they are a part of the practice’s total success, the more vested they become in creating it.

Third, delegate the right duties to the right people on your team. For the process of delegation to be effective and for you to feel comfortable handing over the reins for certain tasks, you have to trust that the person(s) assigned will manage the responsibility well.

Remember, not everyone is suited to every task. Some people are going to handle certain delegated responsibilities better than others because of their personality. For example, delegating the development of a more stringent collections system to a high feeling staff member who is fabulous in her patient relations may not work out as you expect because this person is tremendously comfortable in helping patients and tremendously uncomfortable asking them for money. 

Fourth, communicate your expectations. Another key aspect of handing over responsibility of certain duties is ensuring that the employee knows exactly what it is you want them to do and how you expect them to do it. Perhaps, no one has been able to meet your standards because no one really knows what or how it is that you want something done. 

What do you want the outcome to be when you hand over a specific responsibility? For example, if you are going to delegate delivering post-op instructions to your assistant, presumably you want patients to leave fully understanding what homecare steps they will need to follow.  Tell your assistant exactly what you want her to cover with patients. Anticipate questions that the patient might ask and formulate answers. Identify what written materials will be given to patients. Determine who will place follow-up phone calls to patients, etc. Together, you can create a checklist of items that will be covered during the post-op discussion, which will help the assistant understand exactly what you want covered and help put you at ease in relinquishing control. 

An alternative approach would be to give general guidelines as to how you want the responsibility carried out and be willing to let the staff member develop their own plan for carrying out the task.

Fifth, inspect what you expect. Don’t hover but do check in regularly with the person you’ve delegated a new responsibility to. Remember, they won’t ever do it as well as you do if they don’t have the opportunity to ask questions and even, heaven forbid, make a mistake or two. Checking in with the staff member allows you to stay in the loop as long as you’re not swooping in and taking over again. Provide both constructive and positive feedback regularly. Monitor performance and make sure that this person has the training, time, and resources to accomplish it according to your expectations. Otherwise the employee is going to fail and so is your effort to delegate.

Sixth, determine how you will measure your employees’ ability to carry out their delegated duties. Everyone who is expected to perform a task must know exactly what goals or targets they are aiming to hit and how their performance will be measured.  

Seventh, celebrate your success as a highly functioning team.

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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To Sell or Not to Sell

To sell or not to sell. This is the question when it comes to “products to patients” in your practice.  As with many things in dentistry, this is not a black and white answer. There are gray areas that will need to be decided and looked into before making this decision.

Selling ancillary products such as toothbrushes, fluoride home gels, rinses, or toothpaste can mean a considerable profit. However, it is not the right answer for every practice. Determining if your practice should sell ancillary products should be evaluated before investing into the inventory that will need to be kept within your office.

Do you and your team believe in the products? Do you believe that the products you may want to provide to patients will benefit your patients? Will you, your staff, and your patients be completely satisfied with the clinical results? Will those results be what you are expecting? If not, you may not want to sell this particular product and continue looking for a product that will.

This does not have to be love at first sight. Once you have decided that you are going to sell a particular product, give it a test drive. Only order a small quantity to start out. See how the product moves and if patients are compliant with the product. If the product is sitting on the shelf and not moving, first evaluate if the staff needs more training on the benefits to the patient. You know the uninformed, or inexperienced will more than likely pull back and rebuff any new idea. This is also a good time to ask the team for feedback about the product. However, Doctor, it is your decision.  If this is a product you believe in, then the team will need to come onboard with you. Asking the team if they want to sell product, chair side, is not recommended. The doctor may want to ask for input on different products that the team has had experience with in the past or have learned about at conventions or seminars.

It is important to have the entire team onboard when it comes to selling ancillary products and this is best accomplished by making sure they have education on the products. Many companies are more than happy to provide information on their product. Some companies will even have their sales person into your office to do a presentation for the entire team and even provide continuing education units for the team also.

The clinical team also needs to know that product sales can do more than help pay overhead. A commission structure in which the clinical team receives a percentage of what they sell can be structured.  Another point to consider is allocating a percentage of the profits be put aside for the entire team to do with what they want. They or the doctor, after a certain amount of time, possibly one year, may divide it evenly, have a party, go to continuing education or a trip to dental meetings.

Another thing to consider as mentioned earlier is whether or not the dental office will be able to actually make it cost effective to the patient and the office. Can your office really compete with the corporations selling them at pharmacy and large store chains?  There are so many large wholesale stores available to the public in today’s society that a dental office is unable to compete when it comes to price.

Therefore, it is also recommended once you decide to sell ancillary products, to sell items that are not available to the patient over the counter and that are only sold through dental offices. That helps to reduce the possibility of competing with large corporations. When it comes to the multitudes of mechanical brushes available to the consumer it is hard to compete with the retail market. There is something to be said for convenience. Many patients have more money than time and would rather just have the product recommended to them and available immediately.

 How many times do you write a prescription and the patient does not get it filled because of the hundreds of excuses they decide to use? By providing certain products that enables the patient to take it home today may make it more likely that they will use it.. Just make sure you provide products you believe in, that provide a benefit  to the patient and don’t forget to educate the staff, when it comes to your products of choice.

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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The Quest for “Peak Performance”

As an exercise during The Advanced Business Course for Dentists and Dental Business Administrators, I ask the following question: “ What does your perfect dental day look like?  If you could take a picture of that day what would it show?

Dr. Brown’s Business Administrator, Rose, promptly piped up with “A day with no cancellations.”  Dr. Brown said “Cuspid to cuspid upper and lower veneer case times two.”  Both Dr. Brown and Rose agreed that kind of day made them feel great and in good spirits.  They also agreed that the opposite was true when the day fell apart or that big cosmetic case did not schedule for treatment. “It can be like a “roller-coaster” says Dr. Brown.  “I have to admit,  I blame Rose when my case presentation does not result in scheduling the appointment.  The patients seem excited about the work but seem to lose steam at the desk.  Rose looks busy all day but I want to do more high-end dentistry.  Why doesn’t she get them in?”

Rose quickly responded with “ I don’t know what I can say to them when they don’t schedule.  I feel a lot of pressure and when the patient says, “I can’t afford it.” I tend to think that is true".  The patient is more truthful with me than with Dr. Brown. It’s not my fault that the patient doesn’t have the money for the treatment!”

The first step in this problem would be to define the “peak performance” necessary for both Dr. Brown and Rose to see satisfaction on a daily basis.  A characteristic of a “standard performer” is blaming people, situations and circumstances for ineffective results. Other characteristics include:

  • Lack of effective thinking
  • Extrinsically motivated
  • Don’t believe they’re capable of a higher performance level
  • Not generous or sharing with knowledge and not team players

Further conversation revealed that Rose had never listened to Dr. Brown present a treatment plan to a patient.  She was presented a written list to put into the computer and print out for the patient. She told them the cost and then scheduled the appointments. Her focus was on the dollars and whether the patient could afford the fees.  She was never included in the “excitement and enthusiasm” over the “benefits” that the patient was receiving as a result of the dental treatment.  Rose was not part of the “back office team” and she felt it.  “I feel like they are passing the ball to me and I am dropping it.” says Rose.

At this point we began to analyze an actual treatment presentation.  Dr. Brown’s verbal skills were excellent but he dragged on about the technical aspects of the treatment.  This could easily confuse patients with information overload.  After presenting the different options and benefits he abruptly stopped and said, “let’s go to the front desk.”  The patient was then left with Rose who was told to schedule the next appointment.

Characteristics of “peak performers” include the following:

  • Take responsibility for performance
  • Effective thinkers
  • Self-motivated and want to improve
  • Want to perform at highest level
  • Share generously of their knowledge
  • Have satisfying personal and professional lives

In order to bring a “peak performance” to both Rose and Dr. Brown, they had to drop the “blame game” and both take responsibility for their participation in the treatment presentation process.  We worked out a solution to transition the patient to the financial part of the treatment commitment.  We worked out a system that included someone else answering the phones while Rose sat in on the large treatment cases to listen to what the patient was hearing from Dr. Brown. Other financing options (CareCredit) were added to the financial stage of the treatment presentations for those patients who needed affordable monthly payments.  Rose became part of the excitement of transforming smiles that she had missed with the old way and her attitude was upbeat with anticipation.

Dr. Brown was to start using more “patient friendly” terms when explaining treatment and using more pictures and actual examples to demonstrate so that Rose had to answer less clinical questions when presenting financing options. His transition to the financing stage included a question and answer session to make sure that the patient understood enough to give informed consent to start the treatment.

Both Dr. Brown and Rose left the training feeling more confident that they would be able to perform at a “peak” level and work better as a “team”.

Find out what’s keeping you from reaching your Peak Performance. Call today.

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

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

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