Week’s ‘till Doomsday
You suspect something is wrong just by looking
at the person’s face. There’s an uncomfortable tension
and then it starts. “Doctor, I have something to tell
you.” Oh, you can just feel it. This is a Mylanta moment
waiting to happen. “I’m giving you my two week’s
notice.” The words hit you smack between the eyes. A
thundering stampede is now pounding its way across your temples.
it is. In one sentence, five year’s of
is going to trot out the door in two weeks. How could she?! In those
first few moments after impact, irrational thinking typically sets
in, and you are probably taking this all too personally. “What’s
wrong with me, my practice? How, after all this time, could she
just up and find anotherrrr job!”
Chill, doctor, that employee may be walking out, but opportunity
could be walking in, provided you hold the door. When an employee
leaves your practice, you’ve just been given the invitation
to fine tune and, if necessary, overhaul systems. No more status
quo, it’s time to shake things up. Chances are pretty good
that certain systems haven’t been running as well as you believe
they could. Collections, scheduling, hygiene, recall, perhaps one
or more of those has been quietly nagging at you, but you just looked
the other way, waiting for the right moment. Well, tah-daahh! It’s
an employee leaves the practice, the opportunity to make change
comes charging in. Take advantage of it. Resist your own powerful
urge and pressure from staff to just get a warm body in that position
as soon as possible. That warm body needs to do more than fill a
spot on the flow chart. He or she is going to affect you, your team,
your patients, and your profit quite possibly for a very long time.
Easy answers and fast fixes now can metamorphous into complicated
problems and staff issues down the road. Treat the hiring process
as you would dentistry – with careful and deliberate planning
week 10 steps to the perfect hire.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
VP Professional Relations
and Front Desk Staff Turnover
Last week, I clarified some common myths regarding technical support
from your software vendor [see
article]. Part of that article involved training. As Sally’s
article above talks about the dreaded “two weeks notice”,
some of you may not even get that much warning hence having
software training budget is definitely in order. Let’s focus
on receiving quality, professional training from
your software vendor in your time of need – turnover time!
Staff Turnover – the beginning of the erosion process
Mary has worked at your front desk for 14 years. She comes into
work one day and tells you she is moving to another state. Her last
day is the last day of this month. How do you handle the situation?
What many offices do:
Place an ad in the local paper. Many of you list your practice
management system right in the ad as a “plus”, or
a reason you might hire them.
Take a team member who is happy in their current role and throw
them at the front desk – just temporarily of course.
Use the leaving employee as the pseudo software trainer for the
new employee coming to take their place.
What you should consider doing:
Every healthy/growing business has employee turnover. Dentistry
is not immune and it never will be immune. Do not panic. There
is no fear of the unknown if you have a plan and a system in place
to handle this inevitable situation. The key word here
Place a professionally written ad in the newspaper. NEVER
mention your practice management software in the ad.
By doing so, you alienate many (possibly more than qualified)
candidates that may have used a different system. There’s
another reason. If an embezzler has figured out how to take money
and hide it on a particular practice management system –
guess which ads they are going to respond to? Keep their knowledge
of your practice management software as a “mental plus”
during the interview process. The question is a valid question.
Just don’t advertise it!
Taking a perfectly happy, performing employee and making them
responsible for running your business operations
could be an exit route for the transformed team member. They may
do it out of loyalty. They may perceive this as being a team player.
Heck, they may even be good at it. But, if they don’t come
to you as the owner of the business and ask you for the opportunity
because they believe THEY would be happier there – I wouldn’t
The employee who is leaving can work side by side with your new
employee. Certainly watching, listening, and doing the routine
will help the new employee learn how you want your practice to
function. This is NOT practice management software training!
next step is to get the new employee fully trained on your software
as it pertains to their job description AND get the rest of the
team trained on any new updates OR features of the system that you
currently do not use.
Cookie Cutter or Customized Training?
could call your software vendor and simply ask for a trainer on
a certain date and leave it at that. What you will receive is “cookie
cutter” training. Actually, you will probably be disappointed
and blame the trainer or the new employee. Neither of these outcomes
will make you feel good.
What you should do is call your software vendor and ask
to speak to your trainer. Have a list ready. In the example above,
your list may look as follows ...
new business coordinator
Process patients (check in – check out)
Post insurance payments
Show us how to start charting
Show us how to scan documents and save them
Show us how to create PowerPoint treatment plan presentations
Show us how to email our patients
Show us how to track our lab cases
trainer will be able to estimate the number of hours needed to teach
everything on your list. You should plan on being closed or at the
very least, the trainer and trainees should be away from
the hustle and bustle of patient care.
With a list, your trainer will be able to budget their time wisely.
You will only pay for the training you need. You will have your
Believe it or not, some or most of this training is available
without having a trainer travel to your office. Many software
vendors offer internet based remote training via collaboration software.
Collaboration software allows both the trainer and the trainee to
see each other’s screens and control the mouse. Add a telephone
headset (which your office should have anyway) and you can receive
this training an hour or two at a time.
The bottom line? Too many dentists blame staff turnover as the reason
NOT to invest in software training. In my experience, under-trained
or legacy trained (trained by outgoing employee) new employees are
starting off in your practice with two strikes against them. In
my experience, the more training commitment you show to an employee,
the better the employee retention and performance. Your
software company’s trainers are wonderfully gifted specialized
educators. Use them!
you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Mark's Technology Workshop titled Using
Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues on Dec.
10th in La Jolla. For more information email email@example.com
or call 1-877-900-5775
The Cold Shoulder
Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To
has been my practice over the years to leave the financial management
to my office manager. I do not like to pay attention to those
details even though I know that I should. My office manager seemed
to enjoy the work and our practice continued to grow. About a year
ago, her husband took a job in another state and had to leave. One
of my staff in the front office volunteered to manage the financial
issues of payments at time of service, down payment on all crown
and bridge cases, and collections. In the beginning she seemed happy
and cash flow seemed identical to that of when my long time office
manager was handling these responsibilities. I was delighted to
let her run the show. For some reason, I recently decided to review
our receivable reports only to discover that receivables and collections
were excessive and non existent, respectively. My financial operations
staff member hadn’t said a word nor indicated any type of
problem. When I brought this to her attention, she had a long list
of circumstances to explain everything. I am not sure what to believe
and what to do. This situation is financially untenable, but she
is very adamant that she has everything under control. What am I
The first issue concerns your leadership responsibility.
Despite the fact that this is your business, your lack of desire
to manage your own financial future is no different than your staff
member who apparently has taken on a job greater than their abilities.
Both of these behaviors contradict certain emotional truths.
healthy perspective on money might be that money is a means to an
end and that is all. It is neither a danger nor a friend. People
who do not like to look at money are manifesting some very basic
fears that now interfere with the efficient management of the business.
This cannot continue without severe catastrophic consequences. You
were fortunate to have discovered this problem before it became
a critical business survival issue.
I will offer you the following observation. Everyone of your staff
is dependent upon your ability to make money. Your leadership capacity
is severely diminished in the eyes of your staff when you do not
take responsibility for the management of cash flow and the solvency
of the business.
second issue is that your front office staff person saw an opportunity
to enhance their value to the practice by volunteering
to do a job that they were incapable of doing. You have to respect
a person who takes on more responsibility, but you cannot continue
to respect a person that continues to do a job knowing they are
in over their head and that everyone’s survival is hanging
in the balance. Again, you are obliged to monitor your staff for
their attitude and productivity and to make the appropriate decisions
so that the right person is doing the right job.
response, I advise you to have a meeting over lunch. At this time
you will clearly state that down payments must be collected, that
receivables cannot extend beyond any certain time, and that collections
is a necessary part of her job and must be kept to a specific limit.
Give them the opportunity to discuss the situation from their perspective
over lunch and then give them the necessary parameters and offer
them a time frame to achieve these goals with the understanding
that if these targets are not met, she will have to go back to her
The third issue is a lesson for you. Even though people may volunteer
to take on more responsibility than they can handle, you as the
owner of the business cannot simply ignore the feelings and attitudes
and performance of your staff by assuming that everything
is good. I am very certain that her attitude over the last nine
months has changed as the financial affairs continued to become
progressively worse and worse. I am sure that her anxiety level
over not performing the job correctly was manifesting in her relationships
with you and with the other staff members. You’re responsible
to be aware of the emotional atmosphere in the office and of this
person cannot be delegated nor ignored.
you are a person that wants to believe that your dental practice
is a family. I would advise you to rethink that vision. It is more
effective to see your dental practice and your staff as a team trying
to win the game or a machine functioning smoothly. The family metaphor
is inappropriate if you do not want to have cash flow problems.
On a strong team, everyone has to be healthy and everyone has to
be 100 percent there everyday. If anyone has a problem, then it
is a team problem and everyone will help solve it. This person was
left alone long enough to not only get herself into trouble but
created the potential to drive the practice into financial ruin
had you not suddenly become curious.
next issue concerns finding a person who has the right experience
and attitude to do financial management and add to the
positive atmosphere of the team. It should be someone who shares
values and interests with the other team members, as well as someone
that you personally would enjoy taking to lunch on a regular basis.
final issue concerns your responsibility to manage your
financial obligation through the delegation to this new
person. This person must have your confidence and the only way that
they can generate your confidence is to be someone that you can
talk to. Therefore, when you find someone to manage your financial
matters, be sure that it is someone that you will look forward to
going to lunch with at least once a month. You must find someone
that you like to talk to because the issues of money are far too
serious to give to someone you consider an acquaintance.
lack of attentive management to the financial details permitted
your staff member to get themselves into trouble. I do understand
that issues of money can be very distressing, especially to those
dentists who fashion themselves to be technical artists. I am in
complete support of their art and their technical ability, but just
as their art is a personal reality, there is another reality which
is that dentistry is a business; and therefore, only when it is
run like a business does everybody, artist and staff, feel good
about the business, themselves, and the future.
Want your issues answered? Ask the firstname.lastname@example.org.
miss The Coach’s workshops on Oct. 8th, Office
Politics …The Enemy Within, on November 8th,
Your Practice Back – Leaderhip Development for Dentistry.
For more information email email@example.com
or call 1-877-900-5775
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don’t know what to do when a patient needs immediate treatment,
i.e., root canal or crown due to serious decay and or pain and they
desire to wait. How can I tell them they must have the work started
now…today. I have said, “My secretary informs me we
have the time to treat you Mr. Jones and we can begin the treatment
at this time.” Telling the patient “I feel you should
have it now” was meant for “I do not want you to be
in pain over the weekend.” Yet ,they still put it off and
then they call me on the weekend and say “you were right the
tooth is killing me and I can not wait until next Tuesday.”
Do you have any suggestions?
guess is the emergency patient is not convinced they need it and/or
the cost is prohibiting them from having it done. My recommendation
is to have a relationship with a patient financing company such
Credit so the patient understands they will have to pay a very
low monthly fee. Perhaps you could do just emergency treatment,
i.e., and open and drain on the root canal tooth, medicate, put
them on antibiotics, and charge a lesser fee, (I know I’m
not a dentist but you get the idea.) Explain it's a temporary measure
and reschedule them. I think it’s very likely they are in
sticker shock and that has overcome their pain threshold.
you wondering if your hygiene department is producing what it could
Allan Monack's hygienist produces $1231 a day seeing
1 patient an
hour with a
prophy fee of $70.
your hygienist producing?
Monack is the Hygiene Clinical Consultant for McKenzie Management.
He can help you produce the same results.
To find out more about the Hygiene
Clinical Enrichment Program [go
here], contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call: 877-777-6151
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