6.8.12 Issue #535 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Perks and Pitfalls of Practice Ownership
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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By virtually every standard, you are living the American Dream. You are an entrepreneur. You are a business owner. You are the CEO, the Big Cheese, the King of the Hill. So, how is it up there at the top? Interestingly enough, it is said that while many business owners believe the benefits outweigh the frustrations and challenges of ownership, only a small percentage of businesses are truly great to own. Is your practice “great to own” - or do you wish things were different?

mailto:info@mckenziemgmt.comDo you wish staff were better, more effective, and more focused on their responsibilities? Do you wish treatment acceptance was higher and required less work? Do you wish you could spend more time shoring up your own personal financial situation and less time worrying about practice funds - in other words, building your retirement? If you were in the market to purchase a practice, would yours be a viable option to consider? Or would the trials and tribulations that you face daily make this an investment that you would pass on?

Now what if I told you that beginning next Monday you would be given a specific step-by-step plan and strategy to address the problems, the frustrations, and the financial challenges?  As an added bonus for following the plan there would be a check worth $8,500 waiting for you at the end of every month - an extra $102,000 a year? Would you feel differently about your practice? Just maybe your practice could be one of those businesses that’s “great to own.” Would you be interested in learning more about this plan?

What if I sweetened the incentive a bit, and quadrupled it to $32,000 per month for a nice $384,000 extra a year. Do I have your attention now? Or how about $123,000 extra a month - for a cool $1.4 million each year. In addition to the added financial resources, you will have the luxury of looking at your fellow dentists and saying, “Recession? What recession? My practice is doing better than it’s done in years. Staff headaches? I love my team, wouldn’t change a single one of them.”

Would you say, “Yes! I want the plan immediately. How soon can we start?!” Or would you say, “Oh Sally, that sounds really interesting, but if it means I have to change something, anything, well you know, the staff is not going to go for it. They really don’t like change, so I think I’d rather put up with the innumerable headaches and frustrations. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing - scraping by, trying to keep the schedule full, trying to collect from patients, trying to keep the warring factions at bay - front vs. back, etc., and trying to do any treatment I can for the patients that actually show up. But, hey, that sure sounds interesting.”

I never cease to marvel at what dentists will settle for. These individuals who insist on precision, excellence, and the highest level of perfection from themselves will tolerate countless practice inefficiencies, high overhead, expenses, staff headaches, and lost opportunities, month after month in their practices. Why? For some, they simply believe that the frustrations are part of running a dental practice. Others have struggled to get ahead for years and know nothing else. But I would be willing to bet this is not the career they signed on for.

Then there are those who say they would like to get help, but they are afraid to spend a few days and a few dollars necessary to make the changes that would dramatically improve the systems to turn their practices and their lives around. They think about hiring a consultant, but they are so afraid they won’t get their monies’ worth that they choose to continue to lose tens of thousands of dollars every month instead. And that is not an exaggeration. The figures above - $8k, $32k, $1.4 million - are real. In recent years and in spite of the recession, McKenzie Management consultants have consistently enabled practice owners as well as dental teams to enjoy real financial success over the long term and career satisfaction like they’ve never known. 

Are you ready to get past the recession and implement a plan and a strategy to enable you to love your profession once again? If so, contact me at 877-777-6151 or email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com

Next week, is “culture” clobbering your bottom line?

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having Sally McKenzie Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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The Top 5 Skills of Great Business Coordinators
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Dear Belle,

I was hired to be a “concierge” office manager in a dental office, but I am so overwhelmed with the administrative duties that it is hard to keep a smile even until noon.  I love my job, but being new to dentistry I wish that the doctor had told me there was more to it than just smiling and answering the phone.

Daisy Deflated

Dear Daisy,

Dentists receive very little practice management training in dental school, yet are expected to become CEO’s literally overnight when they purchase a practice and take on the leadership roles of owner/manager.  The clinical team operates under the dentist’s direct supervision - what they do is visible and tangible to the dentist’s eye. The business coordinator’s job, however, is not as visible and often thought to be a robotic list of tasks such as answering the phone, keeping the schedule full and collecting the money. The dentist often says, “How difficult can that be?”

Even if you were hired because of your pleasant personality and ability to build rapport with patients, which are very important characteristics, the business of dentistry requires management skills and a sense of ownership of the position. In other words, if the patient does not pay the bill, it is your head on the block. If the schedule is full of cancellations, you will be held accountable. The skills of collecting and scheduling require a personality that is more tough-minded and less emotional. Can a business coordinator be both a tough business person and a caring and warm concierge? The answer is yes, with the proper training.  The following are skills that a great business coordinator must possess to build a profitable and smooth operating practice.

1. Personable and Verbal Communication Skills
Dentistry is an extroverted business requiring face-to-face interaction with patients, explaining treatment and confirming financial options. You must ensure that patients understand the importance of keeping appointments and payment agreements, and have the skill to make patients feel welcome while communicating their responsibility to the success of their treatment.

2. Scheduling Skills
Scheduling should meet the practice production goals without stressing the team.  Understanding the “who, what and where” of the schedule is imperative. An awareness of who is responsible, what is happening and where the patient is at every moment during the day will ensure that you know where the schedule works and doesn’t work for the team.

3. Leadership Skills
A team player understands that the strengths of the practice come from each team member's participation in the process. The business coordinator must have leadership skills to unite the team in the direction of the practice vision. The business coordinator is often asked to schedule and facilitate team meetings and to be accountable for the success of these meetings.

4. Numbers Skills
The business coordinator should understand the practice numbers and know how to manage expenses. For instance: knowing whether lab bills and dental supply bills are over-budget. Being able to report how many new patients have come to the practice each month, how many retained or active patients are in the practice and what marketing or referral sources are successful in bringing patients to the practice is absolutely necessary.

5. Time Management and Prioritizing Skills
Ensure all areas of the practice are kept current. Are fee schedules up to date? Are daily calls made to unscheduled patients? Are insurance benefits and eligibility confirmed on each patient coming in on the schedule? Are the accounts receivables 98% collected? Are there unpaid insurance claims to be investigated? Time management can be the most overlooked skill of the business coordinator. A practice that is overstaffed results from the absence of time management skills and the inability to complete tasks.

These tasks can be managed by one business coordinator when the practice is seeing up to 20 patients a day in an 8-hour work day. A well-organized, well-trained business coordinator should be able to maintain the position successfully. Sometimes there may be projects or tasks that can be delegated to clinical staff should there be downtime on the schedule. For instance, if documents need to be scanned, a clinical assistant can do this when not with patients. This is usually a solo, general practice and still represents a large percentage of practices across the country.

For training in the vital skills of managing a dental practice, look to the business training courses offered at McKenzie Management for front office personnel, office managers or the dentist CEO.

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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Know Your Audience
By Nancy Caudill

Times - they are changing for many dental practices across the country. “Things aren’t like they used to be. Patients worry more about the cost now instead of what is best for their dental health. We have more patients that cancel or just don’t show up. Wish things were the way they used to be” and so on. You have either made these statements yourself or have heard your colleagues make them.

What does all this mean? “Times are changing?” To be successful when the surroundings are changing, the practice needs to change as well. To help illustrate this further, here are a couple of examples.

Example #1
Dr. Jones opened her practice 10 years ago in a strip shopping center. She only participated with Delta Dental Premier. The shopping center was thriving with a new grocery store and a couple of local businesses. Dr. Jones was successful in presenting comprehensive treatment plans and 50% of her new patients were coming from a large corporation down the street that provided Delta Dental Premier plans for all of their full-time and part-time employees

Today, only the grocery store remains open, along with an unemployment office. The parking lot is empty most of the day except for the cars parked in front of the unemployment office. The corporation down the street has switched their dental plan to an HMO and only offers coverage to full-time employees. Dr. Jones’ new patients are down 25%. No longer are the new patients interested in comprehensive dentistry, but instead, “only what their insurance will cover.”

Example #2
Dr. Brown sold his practice in a very upscale suburb in Texas and relocated to a more “home town” area to be closer to his grandchildren. He purchased a practice that was primarily all PPO-supported with only a small percentage of “fee for service” patients.  He found it frustrating that his patients were not accepting his recommended treatment of implants for missing teeth, veneers to improve the appearance of his patients’ smiles and treatment for periodontal disease.

Example #3
Dr. Smith had a thriving multi-doctor practice in a suburban area, but the area became depressed with the downturn in the economy. Patients were losing jobs, plants were closing and 50% of all the new patients were seeking hygiene appointments in order to avoid having to pay higher premiums for their dental insurance - not because they “wanted” to see a dentist but because they “had” to see a dentist.

Know Your Audience
Your patients are your audience. Get to know your “audience” as well. You may be surprised to find that the audience you have now is not the same audience you had 5-10 years ago. The faces and names may be the same, but they are now different. So, how do you get to know them now? 

  • Get involved with your community and learn about the changes in the employment situation and how it is affecting your patients.
  • Listen to what your patients are telling you about their lifestyle changes.
  • Be more aware of their financial concerns. Treatment they would have said “yes” to 10 years ago they are now putting on the back burner until something breaks.
  • Many of your parents now have children leaving for college; therefore, additional expenses they never had before.

Of course, this all requires you and your team to listen to what your patients are saying and sometimes what they are not saying. How does this affect you and your team? It may require a change in your approach to your patient’s dental needs. 5-10 years ago you were presenting $5-$10,000 treatment plans and they were saying: “whatever you think I need, Doc.”  Now they are saying: “I need to think about it.” How about making it easier for your patients to accept treatment by simplifying their treatment recommendations? For example, instead of insisting that they have all 3 teeth in one quadrant restored in one appointment, allow them to do only one tooth at a time if that is more affordable for them. Otherwise, offer more flexible payment arrangements for your long-time patients.

Yes, this is against your entire moral fiber. This would never have been advised 5-10 years ago. But we must acknowledge that times are changing - at least for now. In order for your practice to continue to thrive and provide quality dentistry for your patients, get to know your patients and help them to say “yes” to dentistry.

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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