1.31.14 Issue #621 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Dentistry Less Than the Price of a Chocolate
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This day of hearts, flowers, and of course, chocolate makes it a good time of year for chocolatiers. Perhaps you’re considering something special for that certain someone in your life. If you really want to make an impression, a box of eight Delafee chocolates might be the perfect gift. They will only set you back about $350, and each is carefully wrapped in edible gold. Or maybe a weekend getaway to New York is in order. There you can visit the restaurant Serendipity 3 and splurge on the The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream sundae. What’s so special about it? The price. At $25,000 it is the most expensive dessert in the world.

Or perhaps a box of Connecticut-based Knipschildt chocolates is the perfect choice. According to his website, Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt “makes no compromises; he applies the highest standards of excellence to each and every step of the chocolate confection process.” There you can get a La Madeline au Truffe for a mere $250 – a bargain, indeed.

Hundreds of dollars for a chocolate, thousands for a bowl of ice cream. It’s safe to say that those dealing in these specialty confections don’t think twice about their price tags. Although most dentists I know also subscribe to the highest standards of excellence in each and every step of the process of dentistry, these doctors aren’t offering a few moments of indulgence. No, they are providing a lifetime of care and concern for their patients. The irony - many, many of them suffer immeasurably whenever they must stand toe-to-toe with a $4 fee increase.

They fret, they worry, they hem, and they haw. How will the patients react? Will they balk? Will they leave and never come back? Will they rant on Facebook or Tweet disparaging comments?

Where you set your fees is a personal decision, yes, but your BUSINESS depends on it. Whether you increase your fees, lower them, or keep them firmly planted where they are, there are some key points you want to consider to ensure that you are making a carefully reasoned decision.

#1 - Keep Up with the Joneses
Many doctors will arbitrarily establish their fees without ever checking out what Dr. Jones, Dr. Smith, or any of their dental neighbors are charging. Study dental fees in your area and find out where yours stand in comparison. Information on dental fees is available online and through your local dental society. Income and demographic information, which can be extremely helpful in establishing fees, is available through the local chamber of commerce as well as through private companies. In addition, a variety of surveys and reports regarding the costs associated with running a dental practice are available through the American Dental Association.

#2 - Consider the Message Your Fees Send
If yours are the lowest in the area, you may be setting yourself up to be a magnet for price shoppers. Similarly, if your fees are the highest, consider if your services are on par with rates charged. Perhaps you do, indeed, offer a patient experience and a level of dental care and expertise that warrants the higher rate. Or perhaps you prefer to work with a smaller patient base. That is fine, but you still need some understanding of how your fees compare to the competition. 

#3 Make Logic (Not Fear) Your Guide
The recession certainly took its toll, and many doctors put off increasing fees for a very long time. Others have no established system for doing so. Some have trapped themselves in a financial quagmire, charging only in the 50th to 60th percentile for their areas. Undercharging patients by as little as 7% or 8% each year translates into thousands of dollars lost to the practice. Undercharging by 40-50% translates into a serious financial pounding.

The dentist down the street may be charging in the 90th percentile and may be thriving, but many doctors convince themselves that they simply couldn’t charge that because patients will leave or the doctor feels guilty for increasing fees. Or the doctor doesn’t believe that his/her level of care is really worth that price. Certainly, if you’re charging in the 60th percentile today, you don’t want to jump to the 90th percentile next week, but you do need to develop a plan to gradually increase fees over time.

To speak with someone about receiving a complimentary Fee Analysis for your practice, call 877-777-6151 and mention this article.

Next week, 10 steps to a solid fee schedule.

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
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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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A Day in the Life of an Effective Business Coordinator - Part 2
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

In my article last month, we discussed the hard work that is put in every morning by a trained and efficient business coordinator in your practice. To continue where we left off - it is now the afternoon. Your business coordinator, if she/he is lucky, takes 30-60 minutes for lunch. If you only have one employee in the front office, this person can’t leave for lunch until your last patient is dismissed, in most cases, because she/he needs to make the patient’s next appointment, collect money, or say “goodbye” with a smile.

TIP: If you are working a typical 8:00-5:00 day, your lunch hour would typically be from 1:00-2:00. This allows patients to visit during their lunch hour as well as give you a longer morning to be more productive. You have to admit that after you return from lunch, your motor typically doesn’t run as hard as it does in the morning and this is true for everyone. It also means that the restaurants are less busy!

Step 1. Check-in patients who have arrived for afternoon appointments. If there is a patient who has not arrived for their 2:00 appointment and it is now 2:06, calls are placed to the missing patient. “Hello Mrs. Jones. This is Susie at Dr. Brown’s office. I hope you are okay. We were expecting you at 2:00.”

Step 2. Submit any predeterminations that are necessary, including digital photos, intra-oral photos, radiographs and narratives. Follow up on any returned pre-D’s to schedule the patient.

TIP:  Avoid sending pre-Ds unless absolutely necessary, or you need to protect the practice and confirm that the procedures will be covered. Example: 3-unit bridge to replace missing tooth.

I am not saying this happens in your office, but I often hear the clinical team or the doctor say to the patient, “We will be happy to file a predetermination to your insurance company!” Now why would you even plant that seed in the patient’s mind? You just gave them permission NOT to schedule their appointment today!

Step 3. If you process monthly credit card payments on a daily basis, this is a good time to do so, after all the patients are checked in and before you prepare the deposit for the day. There are some software programs available that will process these payments for you automatically.

Step 4. Call again for direct confirmations to those patients who have not responded to the text and email reminders for the next day. Always try to speak with the patient when possible, opposed to relying on leaving a message on the answering machine.

Step 5. “Dial for Dollars” for any openings tomorrow if the day is not scheduled to goal. If it is, review the following day. The hygienists should always be “scheduled to goal” for the next two weeks. Beyond two weeks, openings are necessary to have appointments available to reschedule or reactivate patients. When you are booked solid for six months, where are you going to put your new patients, the SRP patients, the past due patients and the reactivated patients? Nowhere…so don’t bother calling them, right?  Wrong!

Step 6. Send out professional cleaning and perio maintenance recall notices to those patients with and without appointments. So many times I see offices send notices to patients with appointments to remind them, but not to patients without appointments! 

Step 7. Start preparing the deposit at around 4:30 for small offices and 4:00 for larger offices so the business coordinator is ready to walk out the door at 5:15. Print the deposit reports that illustrate cash, check and credit card payments and balance with the credit card receipts, cash and checks in the drawer. 

TIP: Some offices have found check scanners to be helpful in avoiding daily trips to the bank. However, if you have cash on a daily basis, you will need to go anyway if you want to more easily reconcile your bank statement with your computer software.

Step 7. Now it is time to reconcile the daily production charges with the correct provider by reviewing the Production Summary Report. This is to make sure that exams were posted to the doctor and not the hygienist and restorative procedures went to the doctor and not accidentally to a hygienist, etc. When there is more than one doctor or hygienist, it is even more important to confirm that the production was posted to the proper provider to determine if the daily goals were met.

Step 8. Walk out the door no later than 15 minutes after the last patient. Whatever didn’t get done will still be there in the morning.

These tasks don’t necessarily have to be performed in this order, and many of these tasks are repeated throughout the day. For all the business coordinators out there - your doctors couldn’t do it without you! Thank you for your dedication and hard work.

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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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Should Employees Be Your Friends?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Many dentists have experienced the horror of hiring strangers who end up causing havoc to the practice with embezzlement, poor performance and unwanted drama. If you hire someone who is already your friend, there is a belief that this person will be loyal to you. You are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and you trust this information because you have seen it on a personal level. When times are tough, your thought is that this “friend” will be the last to bail on you to seek another job or more money. But before hiring your friend, consider the following words of advice:

1. Have the friend fill out an employment application and go through the testing and assessment just like any of the other employees would do. Have them read and sign the Office Policy Manual.

2. If training is necessary, have another worker be in charge of the friend - you stay out of the picture. Have the friend report to this person for questions related to the job duties.

3. Set expectations. Let the friend know in writing what exactly is expected of them. Give them a written job description and ask that they approve it before being hiried. As a manager, I had the experience of having a friend of the doctor tear up her job description in front of me and say that it did not apply to her.

4. Be sure the friend understands the hierarchy of the office. If you employ an Office Manager who handles human resources issues, the friend has to go to the manager rather than bypass her/him to get to you.

5. Do not pay a higher salary based on friendship. Pay the friend in-line with the position, with the same benefits offered to the rest of the employees. Make sure you come to an agreement so that there are no miscommunications in this area.

6. Explain to your friend that there will also be performance reviews and periodic performance evaluations, and possibly requests for training to improve skills. 

7. Explain to the friend or family member that at first, there may be a cloud of suspicion around them from the other employees until they prove that they can do the work. 

8. Be careful with announcing after-hours “meetings” or fraternization with the friend that does not include the rest of the team. This can foster hostile feelings from some workers that could result in sabotage of your friend’s work. In one practice, the lead Dental Assistant became so jealous of the doctor’s friend that she took instruments off of her tray set-ups to make it look like she was incompetent.

Many successful dental practices have been built using friends and family, but it is very important not to show preferential treatment. Many good employees have left practices where favoritism is shown to friends and relatives in regards to salary, absenteeism, performance and working hours. The same goes with taking advantage of the friendship. Do not ask the friend to work for less, to not take a lunch or nutrition breaks, to run your personal errands on their time or to be your dumping ground for emotional baggage. Nobody wants to be the boss’s personal “flunky.”

The recruitment and hiring process is an integral part of being the CEO of your dental practice. There are no shortcuts to finding the right fit for any position. Having the right tools, such as Employee Assessment Testing, and taking the time to follow the recommended course will best serve you and your practice. Hiring friends and relatives may sound good and it may be good, but remember not to do this in haste. Having to let a friend or family member go is a lot worse than terminating a stranger.

Want to learn more about hiring good employees, what to pay them and how to keep them? Sign up today for McKenzie Management’s Dentist CEO Training Course or Office Manager Training 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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