3.2.12 Issue #521 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

"Experience" Is Not Always the Best Teacher
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Dr. “Rick” is a new dentist. He has been in practice for a couple of years and has had to let one office manager go, and he is now worried that his current manager isn’t going to work out either. The first office manager was “part of the package” when he purchased the practice. Dr. Rick had concerns from the start about her performance. According to the selling dentist, “Wanda was a delight. She never caused any trouble and was quiet as a mouse. She just kept to herself and didn’t bother anyone. In fact, when the office wasn’t busy, she would just curl up in her chair and read the magazines.” Not exactly what one would call a “Go-Getter.”

mailto:info@mckenziemgmt.comWanda didn’t adjust well to Dr. Rick’s youthfulness, his desire to change the direction of the practice, and especially his expectation that Wanda only read the latest People magazine on her own time. The two parted ways. He then hired “Jenn.” She brought a track record of dental practice experience with her, and as Dr. Rick soon discovered, an attitude as well. Jenn happens to think that some of Dr. Rick’s requests are a “waste of her time.” She also likes to comment that she’s worked in dentistry longer than he has. She is repeatedly making references to how the doctor she used to work for did things. Dr. Rick was certain she would be such a good fit for the practice. Where did he go wrong?

Like dentistry, hiring and retaining staff is both an art and a science. One of the most common mistakes hiring dentists make is they focus almost exclusively on previous dental office experience. They pay little attention to other key indicators of employee success, such as length of time in previous jobs. They rarely consider the types of employees they are attracting through advertising. Seldom do they test prospective applicants, and rarely do they create an environment in which the new recruit is properly trained to succeed.

The following are the most common reasons why new hires don't succeed or merely become mediocre performers.

  • Job descriptions and/or job performance expectations do not exist.
  • Performance reviews are not conducted within the first weeks and months of the hiring.
  • The personality types of the applicants are not considered.
  • Interviewing techniques do not enable you to learn the most about the applicant and their qualifications.
  • The dentist embellishes the explanation of the practice and the prospective employee's opportunities for growth.
  • References are not checked.
  • The applicant's skills/fit for the practice are not tested.

When faced with an open position, dentists commonly feel pressured to fill the job as quickly as possible. Consequently, they are far more likely to settle for less or skip critical steps in the candidate selection and hiring process. That was the case with Dr. Rick - he was in a hurry to replace Wanda. He eventually learned that Jenn had similar attitude issues in her past jobs, but it was the fact that she had dental office “experience” that gave him the excuse he was looking for to fill the position quickly and cut corners.

Slow down. Approach new employee hiring with the same level of care, consideration, and planning as you would a dental procedure. You wouldn't rush through a crown prep - don't rush through the hiring prep either. Consider these steps:

1. Take 15 minutes and think about what you want the person in this position to do.

2. Update or write a job description for the position, so it is tailored to attract the kind of employee you are seeking.

3. Don't just focus on filling the vacancy. Assess what system changes you want to make before you bring in a new or additional employee. Maybe the business manager who just retired was averse to change; consequently, systems became inefficient. Now's the time to get the systems up and running as you want them to be.

4. Plan to provide training. You are setting yourself up for disappointment and your employee up for failure if you do not provide necessary training. With professional training, systems are integrated into the practice that establish the means to monitor and measure employee performance and results according to your expectations - not the previous doctor's or the new employee's assumptions about how things should be done.

Next week, making the investment in your new hire.

For more information on this topic and for additional Dental Practice Management info, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

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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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Scheduling Resolutions
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“Empowerment isn’t magic. It consists of a few simple steps and a lot of persistence.” - Ken Blanchard, author of “Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute.”


Dear Belle,

I am frustrated beyond words. My new business coordinator is not any better at scheduling than the last one I had. Today was a good day with production but we had patients waiting in the chairs and in the reception room. I had a seat appointment scheduled in the middle of a large prep case and a new patient exam at the same time. I told her I want to be busy but I don't want to die young. What can I do to empower her to do it right? 

Dr. Rolling in the Deep

Dear Dr. Rolling,

Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges a general practice faces. The complexities can be overwhelming to the person in charge of this task. To bring resolve and function to this system, it is recommended that we examine the basics of what a dental practice schedule represents and the factors that must be present to make a great scheduled day. 

Does the business/scheduling coordinator have a daily production goal to schedule? Without having a dollar goal, the scheduler will be motivated to fill every slot of open time because she/he doesn't know if goal is met for the day or not. This can be stressful for the clinical team, and making goal is accidental if not planned. If goal is met, open time can be held for opportunities that will present themselves such as emergency patients that need endodontic care or crowns, new patients that want to be seen that week and hygiene patients that have work tobe done and would rather stay than come back.

Does the business/scheduling coordinator share the dentist's vision for the perfect day? In order for the person in charge of scheduling to do their job well, it would be desirable to be able to visualize or see in writing what the doctor would like the day to look like. If the doctor would like quadrant major dentistry scheduled from 8:00-11:00 and a new patient exam at 11:00 and a seat at 11:30 and the same again starting after lunch - it would be of benefit to communicate this to anyone scheduling appointments.  Block scheduling has been popular in the past to train new people how to schedule for production. As an exercise, take a blank schedule and draw it out as you see the perfect day. Indicate who will be helping, when and where with marks showing doctor time and assistant time. Having this kind of template is very helpful to the scheduler. 

Does the practice hold morning meetings and are the past and future schedules examined for ways to improve? At the end of the day - if it was a “perfect” day - analyzing why would be a great training experience for the entire team. It is not only the business/scheduling coordinator that makes or breaks the schedule. The entire team must be onboard to make the schedule work. During the morning meeting, the following can be discussed:

  • Where to put emergency patients.
  • Any patients that need FMX or panorex not indicated on the schedule.
  • Open-ended appointments or patients that have other work to do that could stay if there was a cancellation at the same time.
  • Patients on hygiene that have incomplete treatment plans where an exam may be of benefit.
  • Patients in hygiene that may have minor treatment and can stay to complete today.
  • What worked on yesterday's schedule and what did not and why?
  • Patients that have balances on their account that must pay prior to being seated.
  • If there is going to be a traffic jam at the front desk at a certain time, perhaps appointments can be scheduled at the hygiene chair.
  • Family members who are due and have not scheduled yet.
  • Patients with special needs such as the elderly who want blankets and neck pillows to children who are phobic and nervous.
  • Someone to answer the phone if the business coordinator is presenting treatment and making financial arrangements.

Dr. Rolling, it would behoove you to stop blaming the person, and look to fixing the system of scheduling in your practice. Persistence in improving the communication about the schedule to the entire team is essential to enjoying your patients and doing dentistry the way that you want to.

For business training on improving all office systems including scheduling, call McKenzie Management today at (877) 777-6151 and sign up for a course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management'sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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How to Interview for Quality Employees
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

As a management company, there are statements that we dread to hear from the dentist such as: “Susie just gave her two-week notice” or from the employee: “I just gave my notice.” On occasion, I do hear “I let Susie go today” - but truth be told, we usually don’t hear that often enough.

Hearing that a staff member is leaving is never pleasant because it means that we are back to the drawing board and in need of a new employee. First, we must start with tools in the practice that are welcoming to a new employee. Without the following items in place, it is much more difficult to find and keep a good employee:

  • An employee policy manual so there is no question about benefits, practice expectations, office hours, etc.
  • A specific job description for the position.
  • A plan for training the new employee.
  • A performance review after 30 days of employment to cover areas that need improvement.
  • A 90-day review to “invite” the new employee into the practice as part of the team, otherwise they should be gone by now and a new potential employee is being trained.

Good Employee vs. Good Human Being
First, please note that there is a huge difference between a good human being and a good employee. For some reason, employers get this confused and think that they are synonymous. You can be a good person but a lousy employee for the position that you are looking to fill. You can also be a good person but, after two weeks, you are not the right person for this position.

Don’t get confused between “good person” and “good employee.” As soon as you realize that the good person you just employed for the position is not going to work out due to their lack of skill, lack of ability to learn the skill, tardiness, poor use of the English language or whatever the reason is, DON’T keep them. You are only fooling yourself into thinking that things are going to get better - but they don’t. This is the honeymoon and you are seeing them at their BEST!

Resume Reviews
Resumes come in all forms and reviewing them can be tedious and time consuming.  As a result, it is always important to have a “plan” of identifying key things very quickly. Please don’t ask applicants to fax or mail their resumes. It is much easier for you to manage them through emails, and if they are struggling with the use of email, then they won’t work in your high-tech office anyway. Consider the following steps:

1. Look at the Resume Closely
Count the number of misspelled words. Example: reviewing a resume from a hygienist that misspelled “hygienist” on more than one occasion.  Remember that this resume is not spontaneous and the applicant has had plenty of time to review it for errors, ask friends to review it, use spellcheck, etc.  There is NO excuse for misspelled words on a resume.

2. Job History
How many different jobs have they had in the past 5 years? If they have had 5 jobs in 5 years, there is a problem!

3. Call their Cell Phone
Example: the voicemail answers with some obscene music and a message that you would not want your mother to hear. You can gleam insightful information by listening to voicemail greetings.

4. The Cover Letter
You specifically asked in your ad for a cover letter but to your dismay, it is missing. Instead, you receive only a resume with an introduction that indicates they are looking for a wonderful office to work in where they can utilize their skills as a file clerk…and you stated clearly that you are seeking a Schedule Coordinator.

5. Contact Previous Employers
Please do your homework and don’t skip this step! With the applicant’s permission, contact their previous employers. If they don’t give you permission, that is telling in itself. You may ask the following questions: “Were they employed and what were the dates of their employment?” and “Are they eligible for rehire?” It is interesting how many previous employers will say “No” to the rehire question.

For more information on the design of your employee ad and resume screening, consider Sally McKenzie’s book, “How To Hire The Best Employee”  GO HERE

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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