Sharpen Your Leadership Skills to Grow Production
There really is a lot that goes into running a successful dental practice. As the CEO, there’s plenty you need to think about, from human resource issues to profit and loss to delivering top-notch patient care. It can all seem a little overwhelming, which is why so many dentists choose to focus most of their efforts on the clinical, virtually ignoring everything else.
Taking that approach will only serve to damage your practice and keep you from meeting your full potential. It really doesn’t matter how good you are clinically if you don’t have patients to treat or a happy staff that’s motivated to help you meet your goals. If you want your practice to thrive, you must embrace your role as practice CEO and start focusing on ALL 20 business operational systems.
One of the biggest areas dentists struggle with is production. They just can’t seem to meet their daily goals, and it kills their bottom line. Sharpening your leadership skills will help turn this around so you can grow practice production and revenues.
Ready to get started? Here are a few steps you can take as a leader that will also help you grow production.
Set goals. You can’t meet daily production goals if you don’t have any. Establishing goals will give you and your team direction. As the practice leader, it’s up to you to sit down and develop these goals – but it’s a good idea to include your team members as well.
So how do you do this? Let’s say you want to produce $700,000 a year. That means if you take four weeks of vacation (which I highly suggest you do) you’ll need to bring in $14,583 a week to meet your goal. If you work 40 hours every week, you’ll need to produce about $364 an hour. Rather work fewer hours? You’ll need to adjust that hourly rate accordingly.
Here’s how to figure out your rate of hourly production:
- Task your assistant with logging the amount of time it takes to perform procedures, including how many appointments are necessary to complete treatment and the total cost for each procedure.
- Determine the procedure value per hourly goal. If a crown is $1200, for example, divide 1200 by the total time the procedure takes. In this case, it’s 120 minutes, giving you a production per minute value of $10. When you multiple that by 60 minutes, you get $600 per hour. Compare this number to your hourly production goal. It should be the same or more.
- Remember, you have to train your Scheduling Coordinator to keep you productive, not busy. You should be working to meet or beat your established goal every hour of every day.
Train your coordinator to schedule the correct number of hygiene days. When patients call your office to schedule their hygiene appointment, they don’t want to be told they’ll have to wait weeks or even months before they can see you. This can be frustrating for patients and might prompt them to schedule somewhere else – costing you money. Leave enough room in your schedule for both new and existing patients to avoid this scenario.
It’s also important for your Scheduling Coordinator to keep in mind the hygiene department should account for 33% of your total practice production, and your hygienist should produce 3x her/his daily wage.
So how can you guarantee your supply meets demand? Follow this formula:
- Count the number of active patients you have seen in the last 12 months for oral health evaluations. Remember, most patients come in twice a year for these appointments, so multiply that figure by two.
- Add the number of new patients receiving a comprehensive diagnosis per year. If your practice has 1000 active patients and 300 new patients, that equals 1300. Multiply that by two and you get 2600 possible hygiene appointments.
- Compare that number to your hygienist’s potential patient load. If the hygienist works four days a week, sees 10 patients per day, and is in the office 48 weeks a year, your practice has 1920 available hygiene appointments.
- When you subtract that number from 2600, you can see you are missing 680 appointments per year, or 14 patients per week.
Show patients the value of dentistry. When patients are educated and value the services you provide, they’re more likely to accept treatment. Spend time educating them with videos, images from the intraoral camera, digital photography and radiographs. Let patients know how you can help them reach their oral health goals and how important it is to maintain their smile. Don’t just stay focused on the treatment; take time to build a rapport with your patients.
This also shows patients you care, making them feel more connected to the practice – meaning they’ll be more likely to remain loyal patients who accept treatment. Take the lead in offering this type of education and building a rapport with your patients, and your team members will follow.
It takes more to build a practice than just being good at dentistry. You have to develop relationships and pay attention to all the business aspects that play a role in whether your practice struggles or thrives. Work on becoming a better leader and use those skills to grow practice production and your bottom line.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Let Bad Employees Go and Find the Right People
Dentist Case Study #176
The doctor’s concerns: “I hired a new Scheduling Coordinator six months ago. She seemed like the perfect fit at the time. She had a great resume and experience working at another dental practice. The problem is, she comes in late most days, my schedule is always a mess and the other team members feel like they have to pick up her slack. A few of my other employees have even threatened to leave if she doesn’t. What can I do?”
Time to let go
Firing a team member is never easy or pleasant, which is why it’s best to hire the right people from the beginning. To do that, you must set up a hiring process that weeds out candidates without the proper qualifications, or who simply don’t have the work ethic you’re looking for. It might take you a little more time to get someone on board when you take this approach, but the person you hire will actually help move your practice forward, rather than hold it back.
So how can you find the best employees for your practice? Here’s how we advised this doctor, who couldn’t be happier with his new Scheduling Coordinator. She’s streamlined his schedule, has him meeting production goals each day and is a team player who’s willing to help out however she can.
Create a detailed ad. If you want to attract the best and brightest, you have to put an ad together that gets their attention. Be sure to include all the pertinent information (such as job title, hours and location) as well as a salary range. You’ll get more responses from serious candidates if you do.
Don’t hire the first person with an impressive resume. This can be tempting I know, but it will only lead to heartache in the long run. Take the time to go through the resumes you receive and look for common red flags, such as large gaps in employment history and several employers in a short period of time. Remember, resumes are marketing tools and candidates have been known to exaggerate their experience and skill level.
From there, call qualified applicants for a phone interview. You can find out a lot about a person in a 20-minute conversation, and will probably realize pretty quickly if the person on the other end of the line just isn’t the right fit for the job.
Ask open-ended questions. During phone interviews, and again during face-to-face interviews, be sure to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Give candidates the opportunity to tell you about their experience, and ask for specifics. If answers are vague, it could be a sign the interviewee doesn’t have as much experience as you thought.
Get input from the rest of the team. After you complete the face-to-face interview, have a few of your team members take the candidate out for lunch. This will give them a chance to get to know potential new employees before their first day. When they get back, ask for their impression of the applicant. If they say he or she was rude or spent the entire lunch hour complaining rather than asking questions about the practice, you probably want to move on.
Confirm the person you’re considering is right for the role. Before handing out any job offers, it’s important to call references and verify previous employment. I also suggest having applicants take a temperament test to help ensure they have the type of personality needed for the position. For example, you probably don’t want to hire someone who isn’t good at managing people or who hates working with numbers to be your Office Manager.
There are plenty of talented professionals looking for work in the dental industry, you just have to take the time to find them. Going through this process will help ensure you hire the very best people, and don’t waste time and money on employees who will do nothing but harm your practice. The effort you put into the job search will be well worth it in the end.
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