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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator

  5.16.03 Issue #64

Overcoming The Employee Perk Potholes

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

      You give, they take, you give ... if you’re feeling a lack of appreciation from your staff for what you do for them, it’s a good bet your employees are feeling the same. But you forked over big, fat, financial perks in the form of bonus checks just a couple months ago, right. So, by golly, they need to be thanking you all the way to the bank, which they did. Now that little exercise is over and we are back to the day-to-day routine. That routine means you give orders, they take them, and at the end of the day everyone goes home. Now where, can you imagine, did that financial motivation evaporate to?

You cannot purchase motivation with an annual bonus. Inspiring employees to achieve peak performance and to maintain a positive attitude requires a different investment on a daily basis.

So how do you light a fire under them? First, light a fire under yourself. Make a commitment to show appreciation daily. Make it a point to single out a different employee everyday and recognize them in front of the others for a specific task they performed well, a situation they handled with finesse, meeting a practice goal, etc.

Second, give staff the tools to become more productive members of your team. Everyone in the office can benefit if you send one auxiliary to an educational seminar. Ask the designated staff member to attend on behalf of the office and present a mini workshop on what they’ve learned at a future staff meeting. This demonstrates to the employee that you value them and you are willing to invest in their professional growth. It also helps them to take ownership in educating the rest of the team on a new procedure or policy that can be implemented to improve the practice as a whole.

Third, give them a voice. Staff members want to feel that they are contributing to the success of the team. You may be surprised to find that your employees take great satisfaction and ownership in shaping successful strategies and implementing them to the benefit of the entire practice. Staff members provide critical insight into the integral workings of the practice and often their input into the development of policies and procedures is invaluable. The best decisions regarding office policies are those reached by the staff as a group.

The last motivator is money. Salary increases should be performance-based and according to specific criteria, which the employees are fully aware of. When raises are given, make sure the employee understands the entire compensation package. Make judicious use of bonuses. You may have an excellent year because the computer software company with 400 employees opened up down the street – not because the team as a whole made a commitment to take steps to improve production and productivity. If you give bonuses, attach them to goals achieved rather than an annual expectation. Bonuses should recognize doing a job extremely well, not just showing up for work on a regular basis.

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Building On The Theory

How An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
“Digital Chaos” Part 7

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management


Technology Tool Box

#7 Collection system

Last week I discussed the Hygiene business system as an integral part of your business foundation and ways to leverage your technology investment [see article]. This week I will focus on your collection system and ways to leverage your technology platform.

Your Collection system – its individual foundation

Job description – The written, discussed, and agreed reason for employment
Expectations – The performance you expect from this one “system”
Goals – Clearly attainable performance objectives in support of your vision
Responsibility – Who is ultimately responsible for this particular business system
Reporting mechanisms – Which reports they run to measure their performance
Accountability – Presenting the reporting results to the owner and the team
Statistical performance reviews – Compilation of reports for the business system(s) under the responsibility of a particular team member

A designated financial business administrator should report the following at your monthly team meetings.

  1. Production/Collection for the last reporting period (usually a month)
  2. Collection percentage of production (usually by month)
  3. Over the counter collection percentage
  4. Total Accounts Receivable
  5. Total Accounts Receivable with credit balances calculated
  6. Percentage of accounts receivable in the 60 and 90 day categories
  7. Comparison to last reporting period statistics

If this business system foundation exists in your practice, here are some ways you can use your technology to leverage this solid business system.

  1. Add a payment code to your database. Call it “front desk payment”, or, “payment at time of service”. Use this code to post payments made at the front desk. Do NOT use this code to post payments made through the mail (insurance or billing statements). At each reporting period, run a report on this code. Divide the total dollars collected using this code by the total dollars produced for the reporting period (usually a month). The resulting number is a percentage of collections received over the counter at the front desk. In a practice that accepts assignment of benefits, this number should be somewhere between 35% and 45% each month.
  2. Accounts receivable reports should be run at least three times per week. The resulting list should be brought up on the screen (not printed paper). Notes resulting from outgoing phone calls should be entered into the computer system (not written on paper). Planned or promised payments by patients should be noted and followed up on using your computer systems Memo or To Do function. The whole team needs to know what’s going on with patients who have outstanding balances. Entering pertinent notes regarding collections will keep everyone on the same page.
  3. If you are having a hard time estimating the patient’s portion at the front desk, you are probably not updating your systems’ bluebook or insurance table when you post insurance payments. Your computer system (most likely) has the ability to remember exactly what a certain plan pays for a certain ADA code. Many of you do not use this feature, or, use it incorrectly. Get your team the training they need to use this feature. Here is a test for you. If you look out at your front desk and see a calculator within 22 inches of your computer keyboard – immediately ask yourself the question “why”?
  4. Always, always, always run billing every day. There is no reason not to. If you do not know how to set up your computer system to do cycle billing – get trained or call support. Running statements every day will smooth your cash flow, provide a higher level of patient service, smooth your incoming patient billing inquiries, keep you’re A/R in check, and make your staff happier. There is no logical reason why a dental practice would not run billing daily.

Next week we will discuss your treatment planning system and ways to leverage your computer system investment.

Remember, if you have any topics or issues you would like to see discussed, please feel free to email me at

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
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Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?

Getting The Cold Shoulder


Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To Day Issues

Dear Coach,
I feel like I have a great staff. My office manager has been with me 2 years and the rest of the team has been with me for at least 1 year. They show up to work on time, treat the patients well, and generally perform their assigned duties.

The problem I seem to be having is a general indifference toward me. I am very business like in the office and not "buddy buddy" with the staff.
I do not want them to be my "friends", but I think mutual respect is in order.

As examples, nobody says "good morning" to the doctor… me. They say good morning to each other, and chat, but not with me. The same thing generally happens in the afternoon. Nobody says goodbye or have a nice evening!

Again, I do not want friends, but I do want to know that everybody is happy here, and we respect each other.

I would not call myself a hard-ass, but I do expect performance, and I will address issues where they may be slacking, etc, but in a very business like manner.

What gives? Have I alienated them? If so, why are they still working here?
Dr. Buddy Nomore

The Coach Replies:
They are still working for you because your office is a nice place to work, and you have not alienated anyone because they are still performing for you.

You have high expectations and you can take credit for creating a team that can provide that level of performance. So, what gives?

Notice how the team is very friendly to each other. This is because being friendly helps to make the work experience more enjoyable and is part of the work culture.

I will assume that your office manager is a friendly person and enjoys managing her team, because it is the manager that creates the culture in many offices. They continue to perform because they like her.

The owner can become alienated when they lose touch with their connection to the team and that is through the manager. Indifference toward the manager must be avoided.

All owners desire a connection with their team; however, it is up to the owner to create that accessibility.

I surmise that you are not “buddy buddy”, because you do not want to be friends; however, it is not socially consistent to avoid being friendly and want everyone to be happy and respect each other.

The truth is they do respect each other; they just don’t respect you, because you are giving them a reason to behave this way.

If you would not call yourself a hard-ass, one thing is clear and that is you are aware of what being a hard-ass is. Is it possible that you are what you do not want to be, or is it possible that you want to be a hard-ass, because it is a way to put distance between you and the team (all women). Does this distance feel more comfortable?

We all put distance between ourselves and people, issues and events that cause us discomfort. Is it possible that being closer and friendlier challenges your own sense of comfort in your own office?

Addressing issues in a very businesslike fashion is never a problem and it is actually expected. It is when there are no issues that perhaps your inability to smile on a good day sends a message to your manager and staff that you are not to be approached except for a paycheck?

The distance that exists between you and your staff is a distance that you create. When you hire staff, you should hire people that you like. And when you hire people that you like, it is easier to smile and say good morning to them because you are happy to see them. They in turn will say goodbye to you.

Proposed solution: take the initiative and smile and say good morning to everyone as you see them. Do this slowly, not all at once on the same day. Going to lunch with your office manager twice a month is necessary. Do not change your business like manner; this is not the problem.

The Coach

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I was thinking the other day of the best business decision I have made in my 26 years of practice. Was it going computerized in 1989? No! Was it buying an intra-oral camera in 1990? No! Those were great decisions, but by far the best one was hiring McKenzie Management to oversee my practice. That decision has paid and continues to pay huge dividends in production, collection and all systems. Thanks so much!

Dr. Larry Levin
Providence, RI


"Thanks a Bunch" Employee Motivation Program

Employees thanking employees for helping each other is another way of bringing the team together. At McKenzie Management we instituted the "Thanks a Bunch" Program. Materials needed are: bulletin board, index cards, and push pins. Whenever an employee does something for another employee that is not part of their job, that employee writes out a "thank you" index card and places it on the bulletin board under the designated employee's name. At our weekly meeting, the employees who received cards bring them to the meeting and they are read in front of the team. The team then votes on whether or not it is a legitimate thank you. At the end of the month, whoever has the most cards is given the opportunity of pulling from the "money bucket" two times. The money bucket has different pieces of paper with denominations of money from a blank piece, $1.00, $5.00, etc. up to $50.00. The second and third place winner draw one time from the money bucket. You could also have a "prize" bucket instead of money. Recognition for a job well done that helps the team has been very motivating.


Performance Measurements - Book & Audio Tapes

An easy and effective method to measure dental employee performance

by Sally McKenzie, CMC

Rating employee performance is a dreaded task for most dentists. Now it will be easier for you using objective performance measurements that are specifically designed for the dental practice. These extensive, ready-to-use appraisal forms help you measure an employee's performance based on their:

  • Job description
  • Job performance
  • Productivity, innovation
  • Work ethics
  • Cooperation
  • Initiative
  • Time management
  • Attitude
  • Attendance
  • And their ability to follow instructions

Your Performance Measurements kit includes an extensive workbook with copy-ready appraisal forms and measurement graphs to use for each employee, PLUS two audio tape guides. In addition, you will learn: how to determine the number of employees needed for a successful practice, how to design results-oriented job descriptions for all business and clinical staff, use performance charting to objectively measure your employees, and make sound hiring and firing decisions.

Price $97



Advanced Business Training For:
· Office Managers
· Financial Coordinators
· Patient Coordinators
· Scheduling Coordinators
· Treatment Coordinators
· Hygiene Coordinators

Test Your Skills NOW!

The Center for Dental Career Development
Advanced Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl St. Ste. 201
La Jolla, CA 92037

For a FREE Educational Video

The 5 Dysfunctions of A Team- Part II
Absence of Trust
The traditional definition of trust is to be able to predict a person's behavior.
Fear of Conflict
Limit conflict to concepts and ideas and avoid personality focused or mean-spirited attacks.
Lack of Commitment
Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team.
Avoidance of Accountability
Team members who are particularly close to one another sometimes hesitate to hold one another accountable precisely because they fear jeopardizing a valuable personal relationship. Ironically this only causes the relationship to deteriorate as team members begin to resent one another for not living up to expectations and for allowing the standards of the group to erode.
Inattention to Results
Every good organization specifies what it plans to achieve in a given time.
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