Before You Fire any ‘Warning’ Shots, Target your Personnel Policies Instead
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Dr. Bob Baker – Case Study #101
Dr. Baker’s concerns: “Nancy, I love dentistry but I am not a business person and I really don’t understand what makes a practice successful monetarily. I want all my patients to be happy and like me.”
Dr. Baker wasn’t saying anything different than the majority of dentists that McKenzie works with. This is just one reason why it is so important for any dentist to have a business-thinking coordinator in the front office. SOMEONE must understand that concept of “making money” and in many cases, it is not the dentist!
Dr. Baker’s practice facts:
Dr. Baker’s team members were frustrated with his generosity. On one hand he was always complaining about not making enough money and how he wasn’t busy, etc. Then, they would observe him “giving away” dentistry, even when the patient was informed of the cost and had made financial arrangements to pay for the procedure(s).
The team wanted Dr. Baker to be successful. He was a very likeable dentist and was easy to work for…but not easy to work with. His team was putting forth the effort to encourage their patients to accept recommended treatment and he was talking the patient out of the very treatment that he had recommended six months ago. They were very discouraged because they knew that the practice could be very productive, as they had wonderful patients that trusted them and were willing to have their work done.
During my 4 days in the office, over $3,000 worth of dentistry was either “given away” or negated after it was sold to the patient. This is $12,000/month and $144,000/year! This is enough to decrease his overhead to 55% and give his team members a well-deserved bonus or salary increase.
Doctors…it is very costly to be Dr. Nice Guy and it gets you nowhere except a non-productive practice where patients don’t know the difference and unhappy employees. Patients respect you for telling them what their dental problems are and how you can help them. It is NOT your fault that they have the needs that they have but it IS your fault if you don’t address their needs and make your best recommendation to solve them. Be Dr. Great Dentist instead!
Craft fairs this time of year are fun and a way to obtain one of a kind item from local artists. I could not resist and bought a small plaque with the quote “Worry is a useless emotion.” It reminded me of the many times I have worried over important and silly things at the same time. Without action or resolve, worry is a waste of time and can be costly in time, money and relationships.
Employee management is the biggest challenge most dentists will face in their careers yet this area is where most dentists are ill equipped. Addressing the employment laws from state to state to put together a template for an acceptable employment policy is a huge undertaking and the cost too prohibitive to pursue. As senior trainer for the Dentist Start-up Program and the Advanced Business Training I could give an outline and suggestions on the contents but not the legal side. The ADA has a “fill in the blanks” employee policy manual advising legal counsel for some areas. Many dentists still did not take the time to “fill in the blanks” because they needed more guidance as to what to write. For those reasons and more McKenzie Management is pleased with the new Employee Policy Manual written by attorney, Michael Moore. It is easy to understand and covers most areas of potential conflict and miscommunication encountered in dental practices. With Mr. Moore’s professional expertise and “hands-on” help, this policy can be customized easily for each dentist’s unique practice. With the “worry” taken out of whether you have fair and equitable policies for all employees, you can concentrate on building positive relationships that enhance the practice.
The following are issues taken from actual case files of McKenzie Management relating to the absence of an Employment Policy Manual.
I started my practice six years ago with one person and myself. I did not see the need to create any kind of “policy” at the time. I now have four employees and need to hire another hygienist. I still don’t have an office policy. The new hygienist I am thinking of hiring wants more benefits and I want to give them to her, however I am not offering this to my other hygienist. I worry that my first hygienist will find out and leave or demand the same. What should I do? Dr. Dave in SF
Dear Dr. Dave in SF,
Now is the time to draw up that policy. It is never too late. Right now you have “crisis driven” policies. This means that policies are created when an employee makes a demand. I suspect that each of your employees has asked for benefits at hire and there is an absence of uniformity. It is getting more complex and impossible to control spending. Your total employee costs (salaries and benefits) should not be more than 22 to 27% of collections. A dental hygienist salary and benefits should be no more that 33% of her/his production. This does not include doctor exam fees.
Our office has updated to new computers in every operatory and three at the front desk. There is a mad dash at lunch hour to check e-mail and some employees are at the computer surfing the net all lunch hour. I don’t want the staff to get mad at me but I am annoyed with this behavior and as harmless as it seems… is unprofessional. I don’t have anything in writing to state how the Internet is to be used. Should I? Dr. Sharon B
Dear Dr. Sharon B,
It is time to update your Employee Policy Manual to include the use of the Internet. Due to HIPAA regulations, access on a “need to know” basis of patient records needs to be protected. Password protected entry to certain levels should be mandatory. In the policy manual it needs to be stated that the Internet is intended for the dental practice business only. The office computers should be off limits to all staff for surfing the net or checking e-mail. Lunchtime is their time but the computers and other business machines belong to the practice.
Want to take the “worry” out of your practice, call McKenzie Management today for information about The Advanced Business Course, Dentist Start-up Program and our practice enhancement products.
For more information about the Advanced Business Training and Dentist Start-up Programs for your educational benefit, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.
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