11.30.12 Issue #560 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Spread Holiday Cheer without Breaking the Budget
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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As the year winds down, I hope you and your staff are seeing a bit more “sparkle” on the practice profit margin and you can take time to celebrate the Holiday Season. After all, there’s nothing like a little “rockin’ around the Christmas tree” to build camaraderie and esprit de corps among the team. But how do you ensure that you spread the holiday cheer without having to scrape your pockets, dig under the seat cushions, and hand over a chunk of cash? Follow a few guidelines to keep the party on pace and the budget in line.

First, involve employees in the planning. Making them part of the process helps to ensure that you can deliver a celebration they will enjoy. That being said, a good time doesn’t mean a blank check. Provide clear budget guidelines, and encourage the party planners to be creative. The office is not the place for a party, but a restaurant may be too predictable. Consider a museum, an ice rink, or perhaps a day at the beach. You could hire a limo and treat the team to “dinner on the go,” stopping at one place for appetizers, another for the main course, and a third for dessert.  

If you do choose to hold your party at a restaurant, select items in advance from a limited menu. Include a variety of appetizers, pasta, chicken and fish. Skip the filet mignon. While you don’t want to skimp on food, you can be selective. Keep in mind that toasting the success of the practice once or twice is great, but libations should be limited. An open bar is an open invitation to potential problems and liability. If the event is held during the day, keep the guest list to employees only. If the party is in the evening, the expectation is that spouses/significant others would be invited as well. Keep in mind that employees with young children often have evening obligations. Therefore, a party that is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable can be an added stress and expense for some.

If you do give gifts, know your employees’ interests well enough to present a personal gift. Yes, it takes more time and effort, but the level of appreciation will be much greater as well. When making gift selections, remember that the gift isn’t for you, it’s for your employee. Just because you enjoy fine wine doesn’t mean your staff will appreciate that bottle of vino. And giving everyone the same gift spells l-a-z-y. Gifts purchased en masse, be they boxes of chocolates, holiday music CDs, etc. are often viewed as meaningless tokens of obligation rather than genuine expressions of appreciation (regardless of the price and your good intentions). Additionally, gifts with your practice name and logo on them will likely remain in the box.

In the spirit of “it is better to give than receive,” use the holiday party as an opportunity to give to others as well. Encourage staff to bring non-perishable items to the party that will be donated to the local food pantry or collect unwrapped new toys for area toy drives.

While talking shop should be discouraged, making it a point to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year can go a long way in showing genuine appreciation to your team members. Prior to the holiday party, sit down and write a personalized note to each member of your team. Recognize and thank each individual for something special that s/he contributed to the success of the practice over the past 12 months. During the party, call each person up and read the note aloud. Showing sincere thanks and appreciation to those who help you succeed on a daily basis is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  

If a holiday party is not in your budget this year, consider offering staff members flexible scheduling over the holidays. This is a potentially huge reward with little/no impact on the bottom line. It can be a relatively easy way to thank employees who, like most of us, struggle to keep their work and personal life in balance. 

Keep in mind that while the holidays offer an opportunity to recognize hard work and thank employees for their commitment to the practice throughout the year, they should not to be the only time of year in which you acknowledge their efforts.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Patient Retention
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

You’ve been practicing dentistry for 20 plus years, yet you still have the same amount of hygiene days as you did when you added a hygienist 18 years ago. You are seeing new patients and get about 12-14 new patients a month, but you have open time in hygiene too. This may be a good time to ask yourself: “what is going wrong?” Shouldn’t you need more hygiene time if you are keeping your existing patients and having new patients come in the front door?

Having new patients come in the front door is very important. However, it is even more important to keep your existing patients while adding new patients to your practice. First, we will look at what is hot right now in marketing: social media and getting good reviews online - and the more the better. Even when deciding what to buy at a store, people are looking to see what others thought of the product delivered after they have used it for a while. The same is true in dentistry. Patients want to know that other people have been happy with the office they are looking at going to.

Are you and your team taking the time to read the reviews that are written by your patients? If a patient comments that something needs to be worked on, are you making the necessary changes, or are you ignoring it? This is one place to start making a difference in your practice. Work on increasing the number of reviews you have online, and attempt to make them all five star. After a new patient visits your practice, ask them if they were happy with their treatment and hand them a thank you note. Ask them to take a minute and go to their favorite site and give your office a review.

As we all know, there are a few main reasons why people are not pounding the doors down at dental offices: fear, pain, cost, and not seeing a need. Making sure the patient is comfortable throughout the entire appointment is very important. This is as easy as stopping every so often and asking the patient, “Are you doing all right?” If they aren’t, then find out what is bothering them. They may have a kink in their neck and need the headrest to be changed, or they may have extremely sensitive ears and the sound of the ultrasonic scaler is driving them nuts. Possibly it is the vibration or even the temperature of the water on their teeth. At times, changing the tip on the ultra sonic, adjusting the power, or using the ultra sonic only in the areas where you really have to will make a difference in whether a patient stays in your practice or goes to the dentist down the street. There are little adjustments we can do to make a patient more comfortable without taking away from our ability to provide quality of care.

If the patient is not numb enough, give them some more and do something else like your clinical notes in the other room and come back. Call patients that have had root planing and see how they are doing. Doctor, if you did a big cosmetic case or a lot of implants and crowns, call the patient. These small gestures leave a lasting impression on patients.

Hygienist, when the patient leaves your room, they should be informed about the treatment needed and why. The clinical questions should be minimal when the patient is handed off to the front desk, and if they still have questions, the hygienist that saw the patient should answer the clinical questions. With that said, doctors, it is best if you do the periodic exam towards the beginning of the appointment. This will allow the hygienist more time to reinforce your treatment recommendations and answer any questions the patient may have about the treatment needed or the procedure that will be done.

The more educated and informed patients are by your dental team, the more comfortable they will feel in your office. It is equally important that the person responsible for going over the insurance and patient portion estimates make sure they have dotted all I’s and crossed all T’s. The closer your office is with patient portions, the happier the patient will be. 

There are many other changes your office can make to ensure that patients will never want to leave to go to another practice. They may even be willing to pay a little extra insurance premium so they can stay in the care of your practice!

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151

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Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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Good to Great - Customer Service
By Gene St. Louis

“Good is the enemy of great; Complacency is a key reason that we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives because it is just so easy to settle for a good life! People are NOT your most important asset. The RIGHT people are your most important asset! We expect that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy – instead we find that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats…. And then they figured out how to drive the bus. The old adage ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. The right people are your only asset.” - Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.

How do patients view your customer service? It all comes down to a few areas, i.e. customer service, employee morale and positive vs. negative image. Is attitude a contributing factor in customer service? You bet it is! I believe it is the top in one of four key factors in self-development, and ultimately customer service, that makes one practice good and another great. Dentistry has a lot to offer to someone with the right “will do” attitude vs. a “can do” attitude. I would rather have an employee with the right “will do” attitude then one with “can do” attitude any day. Let me explain.

ATTITUDE is the key factor to the “cycle of self-development.” There are four cycles to self-development:  Attitude, Knowledge, Practice and Skill. Every one of us goes through these cycles of development every time we are introduced to something new. Think of riding a bike, switching to digital radiographs, introducing ortho or implants in our practice, new materials, etc.  

Need to; Want to; Can do; Will do. Here is an example of each: I may know I need to work on accounts receivable because we have a large amount of money due to the practice, but I just don’t have the time to do it, so I don’t. I may want to work on the accounts receivable because the doctor has been really crabby and slow lately with very little in deposits, but the hygiene department and the fact we had someone out of the office sick caused me to get behind in my daily submittals of insurance claims and confirmations so I prioritized and worked on that instead. I know I can do the accounts receivables but why should I? I am already working past the time of the clinical team. I get in earlier too. Anyway, the other front desk person can do it and should do it. I do everything. I will do the accounts receivable because I am ultimately responsible and it is my job to make sure I balance my workload, I will fit it in a little bit everyday so that by the end of 7-10 days I have completed it.

Understand techniques and processes of the systems or procedures. This is where most training stops! Why? Because most practices train by fire, meaning we find a warm body that may or may not have experience in dental and say “you are hired!” We are not clear with job descriptions or the systems within our practice. We repeat the same thing within the system over and over and expect different results.

Practice with training and coaching, practicing makes it permanent. Meaning when you were in dental school or hygiene school they didn’t let you see patients your first week, month and not until the end of sophomore or beginning of your junior year. You had to practice until you finally felt confident and comfortable with it. An example of this is purchasing new technology. Many times you are not perfect out the gate. You must practice and take more classes, etc. 

You achieve new levels of performance. Skill is knowledge and practice at its peak. You have mastered it. It is your competitive edge on other dental offices.

Struggling with attitude in your office? Begin with evaluating your office to see why you lack customer service or how to improve your customer service. Several key areas to help your team become more responsible are:

  1. Being a good leader means leading by example
  2. Effective communication is the foundation skill for building effective teams
  3. Encourage, don’t discourage
  4. Establish a culture that recognizes success and avoids blame for failure
  5. Avoid micro-managing
  6. Manage the system and lead the people (staff)
  7. Be available should team members require assistance on a given task
  8. Always recognize effort and reward it

 “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets credit.” - Harry S. Truman

You make a difference with patients and we make a difference with YOU. We will help you build enduring greatness through a blend of humility and professionalism in your office. Interested in how? Call 877-777-6151.

Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email gene@mckenziemgmt.com

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