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Tips to Help You Create Job Descriptions that Get Results
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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While hiring the right people is key to creating a strong, productive team, that isn’t all it takes. I don’t care how much experience or talent a new team member has, it won’t matter if you don’t offer any direction.

All too often, dentists hire new team members and expect them to hit the ground running without much in the way of training or guidance. Sure, this might save you time up front, but it’s also a good way to set your new hire up to fail – and cost you money in the process. That’s why it’s so important to create detailed job descriptions for every role in your practice. Job descriptions serve as your team members’ road map to success, outlining exactly what their tasks are as well as your expectations.

If you’re like most dentists, you probably don’t think you need job descriptions. Trust me, you do. Team members will be more productive and more satisfied when they understand their role in practice success. And that, of course, is good news for your bottom line.

I know what you’re thinking: But Sally, I don’t have time to write job descriptions. Besides, I have no idea where to start. That’s where I come in. I can help you craft job descriptions that will give your team members the guidance and confidence they need to excel in their roles. Ready to get started? Read on to learn about the four elements you should include in every job description.

1. The Job’s Definition. This is the first thing you should think about when you sit down to write a job description. Ask yourself what you need the person in that role to do each day. Don’t leave anything out. Include every responsibility and task, from offering a warm, friendly welcome to every patient who walks through the door to making a specific number of collection calls each day.

2. The Necessary Skills. It doesn’t matter how much you like “Sarah” the front office employee or how good she is with patients – if the thought of working with practice reports (or numbers in general) sends her into a cold sweat, she’s probably not the right choice for the open Office Manager position. For employees to excel in their role, they must have the right skill set. That’s why I suggest you list out each required skill in the job description, no matter how small it might seem.

3. Job Responsibilities and Duties. Remember to be specific. It’s not enough to say the Patient Coordinator is responsible for calling and scheduling past due patients. Instead, make it clear this team member is expected to reach out to at least five recall patients every day and get them on the schedule. That way there’s no doubt what you expect from your Patient Coordinator or how the employee’s performance will be measured. 

4. All-Inclusive Statement. You should have a statement that makes it clear the job description isn’t all-inclusive. I’ve had many dentists tell me they’re worried employees will use their job descriptions against them. For example, if Dr. Andrews asks his assistant Lucy to perform a certain task, she might refuse to do it because it’s not listed in her job description.

Although this scenario can come up, in my experience most team members don’t have that kind of attitude. Typically they want to do whatever they can to help move the practice forward. But you do need to be prepared just in case an employee decides to play that card. That’s why I recommend adding a line at the end of every job description making it clear employees are expected to perform any other duty as directed by the doctor or their supervisor. This little line ensures employees can’t refer you to their job description every time you ask them to do something that isn’t on it.

Your team members want to excel in their roles and do their part to help the practice meet its full potential. The problem is, they can’t do that without proper guidance from you, the practice CEO. Detailed job descriptions outline exactly what their role is while also making your expectations clear. Once they have job descriptions, they’ll no longer feel lost. They’ll be happier to come to work each day, and you’ll have more efficient, productive employees who are no longer holding your practice back. Instead, they’ll start contributing to practice success and profitability.

For additional information on this topic and more, 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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Want to Boost Case Acceptance and Your Bottom Line? Offer Options
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dentist Case Study #289

The doctor’s concerns: “I’m just not as productive as I used to be and it’s killing my bottom line. Patients aren’t accepting treatment as often as they once did and I have no idea why.”

Practice overview: This doctor first opened his practice 15 years ago. He sees about 20 new patients a month and eight emergency patients. He focuses on general dentistry and placing implants.

Why patients are saying no to treatment: To get more patients in the chair and fix this doctor’s production numbers, we first needed to determine why patients were opting to skip recommended treatment. In some instances, it was because they simply couldn’t afford it, and the doctor didn’t offer third party financing like CareCredit to help ease the financial burden. He does now, making patients much more comfortable accepting expensive treatment plans.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only change this doctor needed to make. It became clear his case presentations needed a bit of a makeover. He usually spent 5-10 minutes chairside telling patients everything they needed before sending them on to the Financial Coordinator to make an appointment. A typical case presentation might go something like this:

“Samantha, it looks like you need some crowns and a few composite restorations. I also want to replace that missing tooth with a bridge or implant. Sound good? Let’s get you on the schedule.”

From there, the hygienist would enter all this information into the computer and then print out a treatment plan. In the case above, Samantha is looking at about $8,000 worth of dentistry. All she planned to pay for was a cleaning, so that price tag, as you might imagine, comes as a bit of a shock. The result? Samantha leaves without scheduling, and might even make an appointment with another dentist for a second opinion. Often, these patients never come back.

Our recommendation: This doctor routinely gave patients overwhelming treatment plans, which isn’t the best way to get patients on the schedule. Instead, we suggested the practice focus more on educating patients and offering them options, even if that means less overall production. The hygienist should spend time educating patients about potential concerns and showing them images taken with the intraoral camera. Then it isn’t a surprise when the dentist recommends treatment.

Here’s a better example of how to make treatment recommendations chairside:

“Samantha, we’ve found a few areas of concern today that I’d like to address, the first being two broken-down silver fillings. I’m afraid they might crack, which could lead to a dental emergency. To avoid that, I’d like to replace those fillings with two beautiful porcelain crowns. I know you have a busy work schedule, but you won’t need to be out of the office for long. We can complete the work here in one visit. Once we get the new crowns placed, we can address the other areas. Does that sound good to you?”

From there, the hygienist can let the Financial Coordinator know what was discussed and how much time is needed for the appointment, and Samantha can ask any questions she has about the procedure or payment before scheduling. The new price comes to $2,000 and can easily be paid via CareCredit. Samantha schedules before she leaves.

OK, so what happens when patients still don’t schedule?

Even when you present treatment this way and offer financing, not every patient is going to say yes. Maybe the cost still makes them nervous or they’re worried about taking the time off work. If cost is the motivating factor, alter the treatment plan even more. The doctor could talk to Samantha, for example, about replacing one filling instead of two. If the patient still says no or wants time to think about it, follow up two days later. Be prepared to address any lingering concerns and provide necessary education.

So how did this new way of presenting treatment help our doctor? His case acceptance rate went from 38% to 70%. Not bad! He’s increased production and his patients are now getting the treatment they need. Offering alternatives is a great way to make patients more comfortable accepting treatment and help ensure they stay loyal to your practice. It worked for this doctor, and it can work for you too.

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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