All Stressed Out And No Place To BLOW!
Dr. Harry Jessup—Case Study #621
Dr. Jessup was experiencing that anxious feeling he gets every year over the dreaded holiday bonus! Do I or don’t I? What happens if I don’t? If I do, how much should it be? If it’s not enough, will they be disappointed or even mad at me?
For some dentists, it is difficult to say no to their team members. You recall how hard they worked through their cherished lunch hour to help you with an extraction on #32, or the afternoon that Mrs. Smith stopped by on her way to church to ask you to look at a tooth with a “rough spot.” As it turned out, she needed a root canal, build-up and crown!
But what about those days that the entire team left early to celebrate Suzie’s birthday, and you sent along your credit card? It all evens out. Right?
Around this time of year the whispers in the office are beginning… the phrase “holiday bonus” is being heard by Dr. Jessup and his anxiety is increasing. What if someone asks him if they are going to get bonuses this year? What will he say? He knows that he has a tendency to say yes to everything.
Why a Holiday Bonus?
Is the purpose to share the wealth with your team for a great year? If that is the case, it isn’t a great year for Dr. Jessup. Fixed expenses remain the same and collections are down.
Is the purpose to follow a tradition because he has given a bonus every year before this year? This year he is really feeling the financial pinch but dreads that look on their faces when he hands them a check for $50 instead of the usual $500.
In order to help Dr. Jessup with his inner struggle, it was necessary to look at his practice expenses for the past ten months.
Dr. Jessup’s Practice Facts:
The overhead percentage for staff gross wages in a practice like Dr. Jessup’s should be 19–22%. In this case, he’s at 27%! This is at least $42,500 more than it should be, which is a bonus in itself! The practice was not performing as a result of the difficult economy, yet no team members were laid off or required to work fewer hours. It is obvious when looking at his schedule that he did not need two assistants and he could have reduced the number of hours for his hygienists. However, he elected not to.
Clearly Dr. Jessup cannot afford bonuses this year, based on the total practice overhead as well as the staff wage overhead.
Because Dr. Jessup wants to be included as part of the team when it comes to discussing personal life experiences, he also shares with his team stories about the lavish vacations that he and his family take, as well as the new cars that they are all driving. These revelations make it impossible for his team to buy into the concept that the practice is not doing as well as it did last year.
Recommendation #1: Always think before blurting out an answer to a question. Say to your employee, “Jane, that is a good question. Let me think about it and I will get back to you.”
Recommendation #2: Do not share information about your personal lifestyle with your staff.
Recommendation #3: Make decisions based on statistical facts.
With a little scripting from his consultant, Dr. Jessup expressed to his team members how much he valued them and that he would like to be able to continue the tradition of annual holiday bonuses. However, based on the information that is reviewed every month, this year the practice cannot pay a holiday bonus.
The doctor and team will celebrate the holidays with a lunch at the office and draw names to exchange gifts with a purchase price of no more than $25.00 each. After all, camaraderie is the most important part of being a team.
It is time for your salary review and you’re thinking, “I deserve a raise.” Some of us have a sense of entitlement because we have been at the job for a year or longer and a raise is expected yearly. Is working in your practice a longevity contest? Has having you there really been a benefit to the practice? You may be thinking any of the following:
The true reason for anticipating a salary increase rests on your…
JOB PERFORMANCE and the PERFORMANCE OF THE PRACTICE.
To talk to your employer about a raise:
Focus on how you meet—and exceed—your job description.
Talk about people, things, events and deeds of the job. You better have a good attendance record and get your work done on a timely basis every day. Provide evidence that you are willing to take the time to train or direct new employees in their positions. Provide evidence that you love your work and take the time to become better educated and informed in the latest technology and other skills that will improve the practice and communication with patients. Don’t count on the boss keeping score. Think of a situation in which you did something special to improve. For example, you did some research to find a better buy on dental supplies and you are keeping the dental supply budget at 5%, or you are tracking monthly production goals and are working to increase growth by 15% a year. If you find the practice is in decline, then make a note that you are going to see how to turn things around with new ideas to market the practice. If your job description includes calling overdue and unscheduled patients, keep a record of the calls and the results. If your position includes treatment presentations, track the success of the presentations.
Make a list of highlights of your accomplishments during the preceding year. Compare that with your original job description. Have you exceeded your job description? (Without a written job description there isn’t a way to measure your job performance and accountability.)
Is patient flow in the clinical area better and smoother since you joined the practice? In what ways have you grown or improved your job skills? For instance, if you are a Business Coordinator, have you collected overdue monies and reduced AR to less than 10% in the 90 days past due column?
Write down the key points and you will be more prepared and confident.
Dress for success. Wear business attire that says you are a professional, including a nice suit jacket. Make sure your hair is neat and don’t wear any dangly earrings that distract.
Schedule an appointment and make sure your employer has enough time without being rushed. Don’t schedule between patients or at the end of a tiring day.
Consider your body language. Sit up straight, with your feet flat on floor and eyes straight ahead and level with the doctor’s eyes. Don’t slouch, cross your legs or cross your arms in front of your chest. Lean forward toward the doctor and engage in active listening as you make your presentation.
Thank your employer for taking the time to meet with you. If the decision for the raise is not reached at that moment, cordially ask for another appointment and define the actions you must take to prepare for the next meeting. Consider the economic situation of the country and your own community at present. Cost of living increases are not a given right now and if you can hold on until things improve, it would be a wise choice.
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