7 Ways to Grow Your Practice in 2016
If 2015 was a struggle and wasn’t what you envisioned, you know it’s time to make changes if you want to be successful in 2016. The problem? You’re not sure where to start.
If your practice is hurting, you’re likely frustrated and even a little nervous about what the future holds. This all might seem stressful, but with a little help you can get your practice back on track. That’s where I come in. I want to help you make 2016 your best year yet, and for your practice to reach its full potential. That’s why I’ve put together these seven tips, all designed to grow your practice in 2016.
1. Consider Hiring a Treatment Coordinator. I know many dentists like to give their own case presentations, but spending 5-10 minutes discussing treatment chairside just isn’t enough. Patients will be able to tell you’re in a hurry, and won’t ask the many questions they have about treatment.
I suggest hiring a Treatment Coordinator to handle case presentations for all producers in your practice. This team member should take patients to a quiet, comfortable room to talk about all aspects of treatment. The Treatment Coordinator should address any perceived barriers to care, and educate patients about the importance of going forward with treatment and maintaining their oral health.
Patients likely won’t accept treatment right away, making it important for your Treatment Coordinator to follow up. He or she should schedule a phone appointment with the patient if possible, or plan to call in two days. During this follow up, your coordinator should address any lingering concerns and continue to educate patients. This will make patients who are on the fence much more likely to say yes to treatment.
2. Train your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule to meet daily production goals. I’ve seen this happen in many practices over the years. The Scheduling Coordinator schedules producers to keep them busy rather than to meet practice production goals, and their bottom line suffers because of it.
Setting production goals is vital to your success. If you haven’t already, sit down and determine how much money you need to bring in to meet both your professional and personal goals. Factor in overhead costs as well as how many hours you’re willing to work to meet those goals. That number should dictate your schedule.
Want more tips to fix your schedule and increase production? Focus on clearly communicating procedure times with your Scheduling Coordinator, and develop a plan designed to quickly fill the holes left by broken appointments. This will streamline your schedule, and help ensure you meet daily production goals.
3. Hire the right people. When it’s time to bring on new employees, it’s important to find the best people to add to your team. Although it’s tempting, resist the urge to hire the first person with an impressive resume. Hiring the wrong person can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue, so be sure to develop a hiring system and follow it.
4. Develop job descriptions. Not only do you need to hire the right team members, you also have to set them up for success. This starts with creating detailed job descriptions that clearly outline your expectations and performance measurements. Job descriptions offer direction, and eliminate any confusion about who’s responsible for which tasks.
It’s also important to make sure employees understand that raises will be based on performance measurements. If team members know raises must be earned, and know exactly what they need to do to earn them, they’ll be more motivated to excel in their roles. And that, of course, leads to increased production.
5. Focus on education. The more educated patients are, the more likely they are to accept treatment. If you want to improve patient education in your practice, I suggest taking the time to talk with patients about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Ask them about their concerns, and tailor your education to address those concerns.
Use an intraoral camera so patients can see what’s going on in their mouths, and show them educational videos. Let them know about the services you provide, and the experience you have treating similar cases. This will make them more comfortable with your practice, and that means higher case acceptance rates.
Educating your patients also helps them feel a connection to your practice. Remember, if you build a rapport, provide exceptional customer service and offer education, your patients will not only be more likely to entrust you with their care, they’ll be more likely to refer you to family and friends.
6. Don’t rely solely on pre-appointing. I know this is a popular practice, but it’s become outdated. The truth is, pre-appointing patients six months out leads to cancellations and no-shows, while also giving the illusion your schedule is booked when it really isn’t. This in turn keeps patients who are ready to go forward with treatment from making an appointment.
I understand if you don’t want to give up pre-appointing entirely, so try developing a hybrid system. Is there a patient who’s known for cancelling at the last minute? Ask that patient if you can call a few weeks before they are due to schedule an appointment.
I also suggest you focus on recall to fill your schedule. Task your Patient Coordinator with calling and scheduling a certain number of patients each day. Trust me, this will do wonders for your production and your bottom line.
7. Offer third party financing. Cost is one of the main reasons patients say no to treatment. Third party financing, like CareCredit, helps make dentistry more affordable. Let patients know this is an option and you’ll see case acceptance and practice production rise.
I want 2016 to be your year. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to success and profitability. Need more guidance? Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here to help.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Leadership Resolutions for the New Year
While we are busy making resolutions to better ourselves for the coming year, an area that doesn’t receive enough focus is to be resolute about becoming a better leader. Sure we have resolutions for weight loss, cessation of bad habits, and getting more organized, but few leaders actually resolve to become better leaders. Many of us have the desire to achieve more in 2016, and since you are in a leadership capacity as a Dentist, there are few things you control that will help you to achieve those goals as much as improving your leadership ability. Let’s take a look at 9 things you can resolve to do to become a better leader in the New Year.
1. Don’t forget your strengths. We tend to think of making improvements by correcting weaknesses, yet the best leaders stand out with the presence of great strengths. That is not to say that correcting a weakness or fixing a flaw isn’t useful, but think about the best leaders you have worked with and odds are, they were excellent because of something they did profoundly well. Consider your strong points and how to leverage and build on them. If you don’t know them, ask a colleague or two who you trust, or even think about using a 360-degree feedback instrument.
2. Stop multi-tasking when engaging with another person. This behavior tends to have the effect of leaving the person in front of you feeling they are less important. When engaging with other people, don’t email, text, or pay attention to someone else. Provide your undivided attention. If you must take another call, apologize – and if appropriate, reschedule your time together. Don’t keep them waiting for you.
3. Communicate more powerfully. Your primary leadership tool is language. Use examples and metaphors from other elements of business, literature, or current events to illustrate your points. Improve your vocabulary and integrate new words and phrases as you become more interesting and even exciting to listen to. Don’t forget your tone, emphasis and non-verbal communication as well. It all plays a part in how powerfully you are received.
4. Assert yourself. Leaders need to step up and be visible. Whether you are advocating a new point of view, supporting a customer, or sponsoring an employee for a promotion, a little bit of extra assertiveness can help all leaders. Don’t worry about being pushy. Be polite. State your position and be firm. I am frequently surprised by how leaders I work with default to a deferential position when communicating with others. That doesn’t mean to not allow for other perspectives, but it does mean to actively promote your own.
5. Be the role model of key behaviors. You are being watched. All the time. Everything you do. People are paying close attention to your behaviors to determine what is acceptable and what is not. Remember, employees will do as you do; not as posters on your wall might say.
6. Spend more time thinking strategically. Most leaders I work with get mired in tasks and thereby get farther and farther from their bigger-picture work. The quick litmus test is whether you are focused on what to do or how something should be done. Strategy is about what to do and tactics are about how to do it. Carve out a little time each week to think about what needs to be done and why, instead of evaluating alternatives.
7. Manage your own energy levels to keep them high. Emotions have a contagion effect and your energy levels do as well. While you don’t need to be fired up at all times, having a high positive energy level will increase the influence you have on others and promote stronger levels of engagement from your team. You will also find that this increases your productivity and has a variety of additional beneficial effects.
8. Take a leadership role in a change effort. Nothing says great leadership like leading a positive intentional change for your practice that results in some kind of improved condition. The term ‘change agent’ is a bit overused for a reason. That’s because there is not a great deal of leadership required to maintain the status quo. Being the change agent will provide you with the platform to do your best work this year.
9. Demonstrate care and concern for others. Leadership is after all about supporting and inspiring your people. It is hard to lead effectively if people do not sense that you care. Leadership is a relational skill and it depends in large part on how others perceive you. Whether they interact with you directly or through others, look for opportunities to manage to their perception that you care.
Resolving to become a better leader this year will yield great results for you in both the short and long term. Not all of these resolutions may be for you, but perhaps you can find one or two that will make the difference this year. Happy New Year!
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at email@example.com
The Courage to Change
Many of us were introduced to specific manufacturers and instruments while we were in college. Sometimes we were introduced to instruments because our professors preferred them. In other cases, perhaps the manufacturer gave a special deal to the college or donated equipment/funding to the school. Although you may have learned using specific tools, software or equipment, there are still many ways to increase your knowledge base and add new skills to your repertoire.
There is not enough time for you to learn every instrument, software or equipment that is out there. But with the New Year approaching, I would challenge all of you to try a new piece of equipment, instrument, or product at least quarterly. If you always use the same thing you were taught in college, how will you stay on the cutting edge of dentistry?
We all learned about one power scaler more than another, often due to the comfort level of the instructors at school. But remember that magnetorestrictive ultrasonic systems are not the only option out there when it comes to power scalers. There are also piezoelectric ultrasonic systems, and there are many benefits to this type of system compared to magnetorestrictive ultrasonic scalers.
One benefit is patient comfort. The system does not need as much water to keep the tip cool, so patients do not feel like they are getting a bath or drowning. It is more comfortable to the patient as it moves in a linear motion and not an elliptical motion. The calculus is removed in sheets, like you would remove ice from a car window, whereas the magnetorestrictive system bangs the calculus off of the tooth.
There are also benefits to the practitioner, as there is a lot less vibration in the hand piece, if any, so the tactile feel is better than the magnetorestrictive system. The provider will use the same technique as hand scaling. There is also decreased fatigue, as a lighter touch is used and the movement is not as fast because you don’t need to worry about the tip overheating.
One of my favorite piezoelectric systems is made by Acteon. It has multiple tips to choose from depending on what your patient’s needs are. The wrench system for changing tips is very easy, and the handpiece feels very light.
This is just one area you might want to explore when looking into the different technologies out there. You may even want to try a new hand scaler like the Blackjack by American Eagle, particularly if you tend to scale only with Gracey instruments. If you use scalers or universal scalers on a regular basis, you may want to try the Scandette, which is also made by American Eagle.
Even if you do not choose to try American Eagle’s XP Technology line, which are instruments that do not need to be sharpened, you may find that you like the quality of the edge that has been created by American Eagle. I have found that my instruments are easier to sharpen and the edge comes back quicker when I am sharpening their standard instruments.
If you don’t want to try a new manufacturer, you could still try a totally different style of instrument. Other than my 6/7, I do not use any of the same instruments that I learned with during college, and I definitely do not have any regrets.
Patients notice when new technology is implemented in your practice, and they appreciate knowing that your office keeps up with the cutting edge of dentistry. Remember how they noticed when you went to digital x-ray or digital impressions?
New equipment increases patient comfort and saves time. Patient retention may be increased by you and your team by bringing new information, products and better experiences to your patients. The time is now for you and your staff to challenge yourselves by trying something new.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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