Are You Drowning in Debt?
Over the years, I’ve worked with many dentists struggling to overcome debt. These dentists come to me exhausted and frustrated. No matter what they do, they can’t seem to get ahead. They’re not able to invest in the technologies and upgrades they know will elevate their practice, and the thought of saving for retirement seems like nothing more than a dream.
And I’m not just talking about dentists fresh out of school. Many experienced clinicians find themselves drowning in debt, with most dentists somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 in the hole. How does this happen? While some debt is just part of the cost of doing business, all-too-often it’s a result of poor financial management. Business credit cards, loans, mortgages, equipment leases and lines of credit are all among the many factors that contribute to dental debt.
A large amount of debt will cause frustration for you and your team members and hold your practice back. If you’re constantly worried about money, you’re not able to focus on actually growing your practice – you’re just trying to keep your head above water.
Now is the time to take back control of your finances so you can finally start reaching your goals. But to get there, you first must determine why debt has become such a problem in your practice.
Where should you start looking? Your practice management systems. Typically, outdated, inefficient practice management systems play a huge role in debt. To find out if that’s what’s happening in your practice, take a minute to ask yourself a few questions. Can you remember the last time you updated any of the 20 critical practice management systems? Do you monitor your systems each month? If your answer to one or both of these questions is no, then I think we’ve likely identified the main source of your money woes.
If systems aren’t performing as they should, they’re not doing anything to move your practice forward. Instead, they’re contributing to your debt and skyrocketing overhead costs. Are you ready to turn this around? I suggest you start giving your systems some love. Really look at these systems and determine what you need to do to improve their performance. Take the time to learn them inside and out, and to understand how they impact your profitability.
Keep in mind this isn’t something you can fix overnight. It will take some effort on your part to really dig into these systems, determine what’s being mismanaged, and then make the necessary corrections. This might seem like an impossible task, but it isn’t – especially if you have the proper guidance from an experienced dental consulting company like McKenzie Management.
How your practice will change
Just how much can you expect your practice to improve financially? Once your systems are running at maximum efficiency, your revenues will likely increase 25-35% within two months – which would be a huge boost to your bottom line.
Don’t be afraid to talk about debt
Reducing debt in your practice will take commitment from you and your team. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about your system shortfalls, and be willing to change. But once you do, you’ll significantly reduce your financial obligations and finally start realizing success. You’ll no longer feel like you’re drowning in debt.
Even if you’re ready to make changes, I know this all can seem a bit overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Feel free to contact me, and together we’ll get your practice back on track.
Next week: Get practice debt under control
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
Are You a Team Player?
F/O Training Case #FO458
During the many years I have worked with dental practices and dentist CEOs, there has been a strong emphasis on the need for “teamwork” to make practices successful. Working together as a team is critical to the overall health of any practice, and should create a professional environment that can be fun – which in turn results in exceptional patient care.
What exactly is a “team player” in a typical dental practice? Is “not a team player” a catch phrase to describe a person who performs below the expectation of their job? Or is “not a team player” an employee who is not popular with the rest of the team?
“Dr. Strikeover” (names have been changed) decided to send his business team of four to McKenzie Management for front office training. “I want ideas for strengthening teamwork, such as setting goals in a team meeting and then making the goals happen without a lot of blaming.”
Upon questioning Dr. Strikeover, I learned that the team did not have written job descriptions, and no one was held singularly accountable for results – instead they were accountable by group efforts. Dr. Strikeover’s motto was, “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”
Upon questioning the team, I learned they all had the same job duties and were told to get it all done by the end of each day. In theory it was supposed to work, but what happened was that each person gravitated toward the parts of the job they liked the best and some tasks were left for “when we have time.”
The following important tasks were not getting necessary attention:
• Call-backs to unscheduled treatment
Closely associated with the idea of “team” is the concept of “cross-training,” another term borrowed from sports. Dr. Strikeover had emphasized his belief in cross-training so each person could do the entire job if they had to. Cross-training is only recommended, of course, in areas where it is legal. An assistant cannot be cross-trained to be a hygienist. It is assumed that cross-training involves some actual training; instead it was a system of “when someone has down time we will do cross-training.” What resulted is four people at various levels of training.
McKenzie Management has written job descriptions for each viable position at the front desk. There were four people, but only two worked full time and the other two worked part time, but not on the same days. Of the two full time workers, one became the senior Scheduling Coordinator and the other, the Financial/Insurance Coordinator. They had distinct areas of accountability, yet they could cross over into the others area when necessary. Of the part time employees, one became a support Scheduling Coordinator and the other a Patient Coordinator. The critical but necessary tasks were divided between the four based on the hours in the practice and the knowledge of the task. Business reports were run to establish a baseline for which to set goals for success and timelines were entered into the calendar to track successful completion of work.
There was a mutual understanding that each was to complete the tasks they were accountable for while also supporting each other’s success in completion of their work. If someone needed help with the computer software or any other issue, they each were to help in any way they could.
During the Front Office Training, clear instruction of proper scheduling, patient financial arrangements, collections, recall retention, insurance claim follow-up and broken or cancelled appointment follow-up were provided to get the team on the same page. Now they all share the goal of quality patient care and customer service satisfaction. Each team member has distinct job priorities to complete, and they know they are sharing the practice goals for success.
For customized Front Office Business Training, call McKenzie Management today to learn how you can create the best “team spirit” for your team.
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