Tips to Help Your Family-Run Practice Thrive
It seems like the perfect setup. You need help running your dental practice and your brother just told you he’s interested in taking over as Office Manager. The two of you are pretty close, and you love the idea of having him in the office every day to bounce ideas off and to provide that extra bit of family support. Your first question to him is simple: When can you start?
Not so fast. While it can be pretty rewarding to work with family members to achieve your goals, it’s not a good idea to hire people just because they’re related to you. Family relationships tend to be rather complicated, and of course that spills over to any business association you form.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know plenty of very successful family-run practices, and dentists who are happy to work with their loved ones by their side. The problem is, if you don’t handle it the right way, hiring family members could do a lot of harm – to both your practice and your relationships.
Not to worry, doctor. I can help ensure your family-run practice thrives. Here are my tips:
Make sure they’re right for the job. Your brother might be excited about taking over the Office Manager role, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best fit. Before you hire him, or any team member for that matter, make sure he not only understands and can handle the job responsibilities, but that he also has the right temperament. Does he have a flare for crunching numbers and reading reports? Does he like tackling human resource issues? Is he a problem solver? If the answer to any of these questions is no, he’ll probably be miserable, and ineffective, in the Office Manager role.
Develop detailed job descriptions. This, of course, is important for every employee, but even more so for family members. In many cases, family members think they can get away with more than other employees because, well, they’re family. That might mean they think it’s OK to stroll in late every day, or to offer deep discounts or even free services to other family and friends.
You have to let family members know what’s expected of them from the beginning, and that comes from detailed job descriptions. Include tasks and responsibilities as well as how performance will be measured. Make it clear they won’t be treated differently just because they’re related to you.
Remember the practice is a business first and a family operation second. What exactly does that mean? The best interest of the business has to come before anything else. This can lead to complications, but if you want a successful practice, you have to deal with issues as partners, not as a family.
Ask the right questions. Putting people on your payroll just because you’re relatives can lead to trouble. You really need to make sure you can work with them day in and day out and that they share your practice philosophy, vision and goals.
How? I suggest you ask yourself and your family members these key questions before bringing them on board:
• Do you want the practice to grow or stay where it is?
This type of communication not only tells you their attitude toward the practice, it gets everyone on the same page, helping you avoid problems in the future.
Have a system in place for raises. It’s important to make it clear how performance will be measured and under what circumstances raises will be given. You really can’t hand out raises just because a family member asks; raises have to be earned, no matter what. Giving out raises “just because” can really hurt your practice, sending salaries over the 20-22% of revenue benchmark and your overhead costs soaring.
Set them up for success. You can’t expect your family members to excel if you don’t offer them proper guidance. Beyond job descriptions, it’s also important to provide necessary training and continual feedback.
While it’s true that family-run dental practices come with their challenges, they can also be pretty rewarding. But for it to work, you have to remember to put the business first. Be sure to develop clearly defined systems and hold family members accountable for their actions. Remember you’re the practice CEO. It’s your responsibility to offer proper guidance and to put family members in roles that match their skillset as well as their temperament. When you do, you’ll reap the many benefits a family-run practice can bring.
Next week: How to deal with conflict in your family-run dental practice.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Changing Patient Perceptions about Routine Dental Visits
“Trips to the dentist - I like to postpone that kind of thing” – Johnny Depp
Even if patients can’t pay, emergency rooms are required by law to treat patients. Unfortunately, most ERs are unable to do more than provide pain medication and antibiotics to dental patients. The cost of the visit itself is often three times more than a routine dental visit, which could have prevented the pain and suffering in the first place.
The average person is still postponing routine dental care because they feel it is not a priority or isn’t necessary. I have heard many patients say they postpone routine dental care because they don’t have dental insurance.
Traditional dental insurance is not the key to health. Most plans only cover up to $1000 per year (a maximum that hasn’t increased in decades), have limitations on coverage and require co-payments. Often the $1000 isn’t used by the end of the year.
“Why do I have to come every six months when the hygienist tells me I am doing an excellent job with home care?”
Studies show that many people do not need to have their teeth cleaned every six months. This is conditioned on meticulous home care that includes proper use of an electronic toothbrush, daily flossing and other recommendations by their dental hygienist. Use of alcohol, smoking and drugs with side effects like dry mouth directly affect the time recommended between professional dental cleanings and evaluations.
Neglect of the teeth can result in the following within a relatively brief time:
Gum disease and bleeding gums
Stained teeth and bad breath
Vital information on oral cancers:
A complete head and neck and intraoral examination is not only important for the early detection of cancer but also for accomplishing a comprehensive assessment of the patient prior to providing dental treatment. https://www.dentalcare.com
*Very recent data (late 2008-2011) leads us to believe that the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population are non-smokers under the age of fifty, which would indicate a paradigm shift in the cause of the disease, and in the locations where it most frequently occurs in the oral environment. The anterior of the mouth, tobacco and alcohol associated cancers have declined along with a corresponding decline in smoking, and posterior of the oral cavity sites associated with the HPV16 viral cause are increasing. http://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/
Oral cancer screening devices should be part of routine dental evaluations. ViziLite® Plus with TBlue® (Zila tolonium chloride) is an oral cancer screening system that was developed to help oral healthcare professionals identify, evaluate, monitor and mark abnormal oral lesions suspicious for pathology, including precancerous cells and cancer that may be difficult to see during a regular visual exam.
Because changes in the profile of the typical oral cancer patient have shifted from the long-time smoker or tobacco user to the 50-and-under crowd who may have cancer from the HPV16 virus, it is imperative that dentists as healthcare providers shift their thinking of the routine dental visit.
Remove the perception of “routine” and “just a cleaning” from the thought processes of the dental team. Educate the team to realize the changing role of the vital dental evaluation and professional teeth cleaning for total health and wellbeing of patients.
For professional training in communication with patients, enroll in one of McKenzie Managements front office/management business training courses today. Details can be found HERE.
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