12.20.13 Issue #615 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Resolve Those Production Challenges
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Well, here we are. It’s that time again. Dust off the resolutions and the promises to yourself and others. We will soon stand at the threshold of a whole new year. And this will be the one in which you not only resolve to do this and stop doing that, but you actually fulfill your commitment - or so you hope. If you are among those who take part in this annual ritual, you are in good company. In fact, nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Clearly, many of us have a sincere desire to change or improve something in our lives.

While wanting to change is the easy part, actually doing so is no small challenge. And if you’re resolving to change not only yourself but also your practice, you have a whole host of challenging variables, obstacles, personalities, and agendas to overcome. Leading change in any business can be an undertaking of seemingly Herculean proportions. We see it every day in dental practices across the country - we work with doctors and teams that are on the threshold of change. They struggle. They stumble. But they know they have to make a change because the stress, the frustration, and the financial and professional losses are or soon will be so great that not taking action is no longer an option.

Not unlike the patient who knows he needs to make lifestyle changes to improve his health, often it’s not until we face a serious emergency situation that we become truly ready to listen, learn, and take necessary action. Similarly, practice owners will put off making real and necessary change until they face a crisis. They wish the problems would resolve themselves. They sincerely want staff to step up to the plate and work together. They hope patients will finally appreciate the care they receive. But wishing, wanting, and hoping will not create necessary change.

We have long been schooled in the fact that change is never easy or comfortable, but as successful practitioners know full well, it is not only necessary - it’s unavoidable. The key is managing it to the full benefit of your practice and your team. Focus on one area at a time, and break the process down into manageable steps.

 Let's say you resolve to increase production in your practice - a critical area for every office. Start with the obvious. Are you talking to patients about the new services that are available to them? If not, now’s the time to start. Create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) sheet about the procedure(s). Post information on your website as well as links to credible sites that give additional details. Make sure your entire staff is well-educated on the service and prepared to answer patient questions.

Take a look at patient follow-up. When patients cancel appointments and say they will call back to reschedule, give them a reasonable amount of time to do so; however, if they do not reschedule within a few days, they should be contacted. Your concern is the patient’s welfare. It is in their best interest to receive treatment. 

Remember that in the dental practice, marketing is patient education; it’s not high pressure sales. It’s your responsibility to educate patients on the necessity and value of dental care. If the team isn’t sure how to educate patients effectively, train them. Conduct mini-clinics during staff meetings to share key benefits of new/existing treatments the practice offers. Draft question/answer sheets on the most common questions patients ask about specific procedures so everyone is prepared to answer the fundamental inquiries.

In addition to improving treatment education and follow-up, take three more steps to increase production in the New Year:
1. Establish daily production goals and schedule to meet those goals.
2. Implement an interceptive periodontal therapy program.
3. Provide superior customer service that will encourage patients to refer friends and family.

Finally, don’t stop here. Dream big. You can turn each of your practice wishes and desires into reality with the right direction and the right plan. Let McKenzie Management help you get there. Give me a call at 877-777-6151 and we’ll make sure 2014 is your best year yet. 

Next week, leave this behind in 2014.

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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Plan of Action for 2014
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Here we go again, a new year and new resolutions…or perhaps the same resolutions from last year’s list recycled. In any event, what are you going to do to bring your practice resolutions to fruition this year?

Is the same old thing comfortable like a well-worn shoe? You are now used to the lack of revenue to make improvements to the practice. Does your team resist change because they fear being replaced? Does the dialogue with the staff contain the following phrases: "The economy hasn't improved yet?"
“We are usually slow this time of year.”
“I don’t want continuing education because I don’t need it at the front desk.”
“I call the patients and they don’t want to appoint.”
“Dentistry is too expensive for most of our patients.”
“We have had too much turnover and no time to follow-up with our patients.”

All debatable statements, but most doctors just nod and go back to their private office, believing there is not much that can be done. Wrong! Here are nine points to ponder for real New Year resolutions:

1. Assess and define who you are as a leader. Are you a micromanager because you feel nothing is being done to your satisfaction? Is this driving talent to leave your practice? Are you disconnected, allowing others to be the leader and resulting in lost control of your practice? Look outside your box to learn how to be a better leader and know your business well enough to know how to delegate tasks and communicate your expectations to the team.

2. Re-visit your mission statement and the vision that you had for your practice success. Why do you show up every day? Where do you see yourself five years from now?

3. A Business Plan maps out your journey and is structured to keep you on track. Are you continually engaged in the Business Plan for your practice, or is it gathering dust on a shelf somewhere?

4. Examine your recruitment and hiring system. Are you hiring the right person for each position based on a profile of personality type, tested job skill capabilities, commitment to achieving goals and ability to positively communicate with patients and other team members?

5. Measure performance. Do you have a system of Performance Measurements in place to measure your team’s ability to carry out their delegated duties? Without this system there is no accountability for systems success.

6. Examine outside your office. When is the last time you looked at the external environment of your practice location? What has changed as far as economics in your community? Have new businesses opened or are there empty storefronts at every turn? Who is your competition and what are they not offering that you could offer to patients? Do you have a Marketing Strategy?

7. Examine inside your office. When is the last time you looked at the internal environment of your practice? Need updates or a fresh look? Does your lack of newer technology define you as outdated and inefficient? Patient perception is everything. 

8. Invest in continuous learning for your staff and yourself. Change the message from “I need continuing education credits for my licensing” to “I need continuing education credits to gain a competitive advantage in my field.” This includes the entire team. Copy relevant articles from trade periodicals, magazines and newspapers. Present them to the team at the morning huddle and then discuss the next day. Take advantage of free webinars and blogs relevant to practice management and clinical information. Sign up for seminars and specialized training in clinical updates as well as practice management. The more ideas that you expose yourself to, the more likely you are to find the right idea at the right time to change the course of your practice.

9. Review your fees. Has your fee schedule been analyzed by a professional company? Is it updated annually or when appropriate? What do you and your team do to bring value to the services you provide?

Can’t do this by yourself or don’t know where to start? Stop resisting the urge to get help and call McKenzie Management today. We have training programs and consulting services to help practices get on the right path for success and stay there to the fruition of your vision of practice success. Take your resolutions for success in 2014 and make them a reality this year.

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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Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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Building a New Practice? Consider 3 Critical Factors
By Gene St. Louis

So you’ve had enough. You are tired of settling for runner up. You’ve decided it’s time to build your own practice, set your own rules, and hire your own team. In the immortal words of Jon Bon Jovi, “It’s my life. It’s now or never.”  Now let’s just make sure you’re not “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

For some, building an office from scratch is the ideal choice, while practice acquisition is better suited for others. Truth be told, either option will at times feel like hugging a rose bush. If your dream is to build your own practice from scratch, I have one word of advice - STOP. Take a deep breath and a good long look in the mirror. Do you really have the chops to do this? It’s not for everyone. The dream can become a nightmare very quickly. It takes an enormous commitment and no small serving of fortitude, not to mention you’ll need a solid business plan and more than a year’s worth of planning.

It’s important that you are painfully honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. If you have difficulty making decisions, this could be a very long row to hoe because building a practice requires making hundreds of decisions. Some are huge, such as choosing a location and a team of qualified experts. Others, such as picking paint colors, fixtures, and finishes can quickly become overwhelming. And then there’s the multitude of setbacks, frustrations, and delays that commonly accompany most building efforts.

I don’t make these points to discourage you. Rather, my intention is to encourage you to recognize that in building a practice you are taking on a second job that will, at times, require your undivided attention. Can you do that in addition to treating the patients you have now and minding your family obligations? If the answer is yes, there are three key factors that will make or break this experience both in the near and long term.

#1 - The Planning Team
These are the people who will be instrumental in taking your dream and turning it into a reality. They include the lender/bank that will finance your project; the dental real estate agent who will help you choose a suitable location; your various equipment, merchandise, and technology contractors; your architect, builder, and interior designer who will help ensure that the building you have meets your needs and desires for today as well as in the future; your management consultant who will make certain that your management systems are in place and patients are lining up for your care; as well as your certified public accountant and attorney.

#2 - The Location
When it comes to choosing the location for your practice, don’t make assumptions. Do the homework. Study the data. Ask questions. This isn’t a temporary decision. You will be signing on to spend many years at this site. Think carefully about where you want to live and work as well as how far of a commute you consider to be reasonable. Gather as much information as you can about the area. Is this a location where new homes are being built? Is it a long-established and stable community, or is it trending in a direction that could impact the long-term growth and stability of your practice? Is it saturated with other dental practices or can the area support another dental office? Is this an area in which you can attract the types of patients you want to serve, such as young families to support your general family practice or perhaps urban professionals to support your boutique style practice? To ensure a successful future, it will be essential that you gather reliable demographic information and data.

#3 - Your Staff
You can have a beautiful building and a great location, but if your internal infrastructure, i.e. your staff, is slapped together, your practice will suffer under the weight of inefficiency and dysfunction. This is where the advice of your practice management consultant will be crucial. They should help you establish solid management and training systems to build a strong team of star performers who are capable of carrying out your vision and goals daily. Your team will make or break your dream. If you choose them carefully and manage them successfully, you’ll enjoy far more success.

To learn more about how to ensure a successful practice start-up, click HERE

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

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