Top 10 Time Wasters
How many minutes did you lose today? Thirty? Sixty? Ninety? Most likely, you don’t keep track. If you did, it would be entirely too depressing. Consider for a moment what you are doing when you are most productive. I bet it’s what you enjoy doing the most - the dentistry. When you are least productive, you are likely dealing with all of the issues that come with running a practice - e.g. hiring employees, explaining procedures, managing conflict, responding to concerns with patients, paying bills, explaining fees, answering the common everyday questions, and the list goes on. Certainly, all of the aforementioned duties are part of daily life in a busy dental practice. The problem is that these routine distractions can quickly become time wasters. The challenge is minimizing these so that you can focus your energy on the one area you likely enjoy the most and delivers the greatest financial return - the dentistry.
Consider “Dr. Walter’s” situation. To put it nicely, he is a “work-hoarder.” The team needs job descriptions; he plans to write them, each of them…himself…someday. The office has a website but it’s been “under construction” for three years. The doctor is trying to figure out what he wants to include on it. He wants to write the content. He wants to design it. None of which he has the time or expertise to do. When patients inquire about treatment financing, Dr. Walter feels compelled to explain the practice options himself. Oftentimes, he gives incorrect information.
He is a strong believer in having written office policies. In fact, he’s been working on the office policies manual for 18 months. While he may believe in the need for them, because he, and only he, can write them, no office policies manual exists.
He loves to chat with patients. He’s interested in their families, their pets, their hobbies, their jobs. He is known to run at least 30 minutes behind routinely. And he cannot understand why his scheduling coordinator has such difficulty scheduling to meet production. Staff have been trained - not to perform their responsibilities independently and effectively - but to be sure to consult with Dr. Walter on virtually everything.Dr. Walter is “hoarding” a multitude of staff responsibilities that should be delegated. He cannot possibly focus on one area that will have the greatest economic benefit on his practice, namely treatment, because he isconsumed with minutiae. You would think that given the eagerness with which Dr. Walter swoops in to perform any and every task that he must enjoy it. Just the opposite is true. He goes home exhausted every night. He’s frustrated, stressed, and not making nearly the income he believes he should be. Yet he has created an environment of learned helplessness among his staff. They are powerless to take responsibility for their areas because at any given moment Dr. Walter will swoop in, take over, and undo their efforts.
Your time is your most valuable asset, yet it is so quickly and easily squandered. Many dentists begin their careers doing various jobs and wearing several hats. Over time, the majority of these responsibilities need to be delegated and managed more effectively. Work Hoarding is a problem for many practitioners. But there are several ways in which dentists fritter away the minutes and hours in their days:
Poor Hiring: The wrong or weak employees waste countless hours. In some cases doctors must micromanage because they hastily hired an employee merely to fill a vacancy.
Team Trainer: The doctor takes it upon him/herself to “train” new hires. Establish protocols for hiring and training new employees that do not consume the doctor’s valuable production time. Consider outside professional training for new employees to get them up-to-speed quickly.
In-Office IT Expert: The doctor loves to “tinker with technology.” S/he selected all of the hardware and software in the office. S/he installed much of the wiring and installation as well. When there is a problem with the computers, the doctor is the information technology expert in the office.
Firefighter: S/he is continually putting out fires, i.e. dealing with the daily problems, situations, and crises that arise. And because management systems are weak, problems are common. Priorities are unclear, consequently insignificant matters take center stage, and entirely too much of the doctor’s attention is spent either soaking the smoldering embers or, as the case may be, fanning the flames.Next Week, Five More Time Wasters.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.
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How Do You Measure Your Practice Success?
“If my business checks aren’t bouncing, I must be successful,” is what a client bragged a few years ago. You wonder if many business owners (dentists) feel the same way. “Please, just get me through this payroll period and I will be okay.” Does this sound familiar?There are many ways to measure success, not including the personal view of enjoying what you do, having free time to spend with family, setting your own hours, etc. Let’s take a look at 5 tangible areas that each, on their own, is not indicative of a successful practice.
#1 - High Production
High production can easily be misunderstood. Depending on whether your practice accepts PPO and/or other reduced fee plans, this can alter the appearance of your production. For example, Office #1 posts the office fees and makes the adjustments after the insurance carrier pays. Crown posted @ $1000, PPO adjustment @ $200, Net production or contracted fee = $800. Office #2 posts the PPO adjusted fees initially. Crown posted with the contracted fee @ $800, Gross production = $800.
What does this mean? A practice that participates with many PPO plans and is posting the office fee and adjusting after the claim is paid will have a much higher “production” than an office that is posting the contracted fee initially (Office #2) when you compare the services.
Another area to review is adjustments that affect production such as courtesies, bad debt write-offs, etc. Standard in the industry for professional courtesies, bad debt, etc. is 5% of gross production. If you find that you are writing off more than this, not including PPOs, you should be concerned. Measurement of success? Always look at your “net” production dollars opposed to your “gross.” You only collect on net and not gross.
#2 - High Collections
Collecting 100% of your net production should be your goal! Does this make you successful? Not if your expenses are more than your revenues. A healthy general practice should enjoy an overhead of 55-62%, not including the doctor or associate’s salaries. If you find that you are postponing paying yourself a salary until next month, this is a sure sign of an unhealthy practice, no matter how much your business team is collecting for you.
#3 - High Number of New Patients
Typically, a healthy general practice sees 20-25 new comprehensive patients a month in order to grow the practice. However, if you are losing more patients out the back door than you have coming in the front door, it doesn’t matter how many new patients you are seeing. It is also possible to have 50 new patients coming in who are not “quality patients” interested in comprehensive dentistry. This doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to become the type of patient that you embrace - just that you may need to “nurture” them a little longer than other patients IF you can keep them in the practice.
#4 - More Hygienists than your Dentist Friends
#5 - Adding an Associate
Summary: a successful practice is not based on a single indicator, but on many working together in unison. If you are looking to improve the success of your practice in any or all of these areas, contact McKenzie Management today.Forward this article to a friend.
Dental Office Marketing Help from Chef Ramsay
The renowned and controversial television reality star Chef Ramsay has stepped out of the kitchen (Hell’s Kitchen) and is now offering his scalding advice to hotel owners across the country. At the first season finale of his latest endeavor “Hotel Hell” he delivers shocking advice to improve cleanliness, design, customer service and product - which the owner of the hotel acknowledges in time to make some serious and immediate changes and save the business from bankruptcy.
In one scene he gathers all of the guests staying at the hotel and asks them what could be done to improve their stay. Next he asks, by a show of hands, how many guests would stay again and no one raises their hands. The guest complaints range from lack of cleanliness, attention to detail, outdated décor, bugs, broken televisions, no Wi-Fi and overall rundown appearance of the hotel and poor customer service.
The lessons to be learned in this television show (minus the hype and drama) are that consumers want the same things whether going to a restaurant, staying at a hotel or visiting their dentist. Recent surveys show that the following 10 things are what patients want from a dental practice:
1. Friendly, professional and knowledgeable people answering the phone and offering appointments within a week. Patients want to be seen soon when they call and are ready to buy dentistry.
2. Addressing special needs with the latest technology available. Older patients have different needs than younger patients and want to know there is more to their care than a cookie cutter approach. A cavity is not just another cavity. More time spent on prevention and maintenance of what they have is requested. Give the patients what they want now and they will buy more later.3. Spending more time building a trusting relationship instead of upselling dental procedures. Patients want to feel confident that you are the right provider of dentistry for them. They have a choice of whether to return or not, and in some practices where patient retention is very low it is because of this erroneous thinking.
4. Newest and safest technology. Digital technology is here to stay, and keeping the old methods because it is comfortable for you is not what patients want. Paper records lying out on counters, misfiled and not stored safely make patients nervous and reflect their judgment of the quality of care they will receive. Cleanliness and spotless treatment facilities are required, and if not present will be a deal breaker.
5. Make it easy to do business with your practice by blocking your schedule to be able to get new patients or emergency patients in readily. Saying “No, we are booked solid” sends a message that you are too busy to see this patient.
6. Sell the products that you recommend - if not for profit then for convenience to the patient. Sending patients on a hunt to buy a product that will make them healthier is not good patient/customer service.
7. Make sure your fees are fair and affordable. Have a fee analysis done to find whether you are Usual, Customary and Reasonable for the demographic area around your practice. You can then tell patients that your fees were analyzed to be fair. If you have a particular specialty that you are niched to be the “expert” at then you can set your fees higher for this skill.
8. Accept all major credit and debit cards. Offer outside financing such as CareCredit. Being fair and having no surprises with financing dental care is critical to trust. If the treatment changes, the patient must be told before continuing and given options and costs before completion.
9. Explain to patients how appointments are scheduled and the reason it is important to communicate any scheduling changes well in advance. Patients need to know cancellation policies before the cancellation happens.
10. Make sure patients feel good about their care when they leave. Have them do a survey by mail or online. You must have their opinions to create better perception and value. Explain your system of follow-up so the patient knows you will be contacting them in the future.
Mostly, recognize when you need help taking your practice to where you dreamed it could be and building a happy, retained patient base. Call McKenzie Management at 877-777-6151 for a free assessment of your practice and learn about the products and services that can help you improve your practice now.Forward this article to a friend.
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