8.10.18 Issue #857 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Grow Practice Profits with These Tips
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Like it or not, your practice is a business. As nice as it would be to just focus on treating patients and perfecting your craft as a dentist, you really have to embrace your role as practice CEO if you want to be successful (and of course you do).

As the CEO, you must pay attention to practice profits and understand what influences revenue losses and gains. I know just thinking about all that can seem overwhelming, but not to worry. You don’t have to do it all on your own. I’m here to help and have put together a few tips to get you on the right track so you can start growing practice profits. Hygiene

First, Put Together a 10-Point Financial Assessment
Before you can make a plan to increase profits, you have to get a handle on your practice financials. Many dentists struggle with this, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds. I suggest you start by asking yourself these 10 questions:

1. Are you bringing in as much money as you believe you should/could be?
2. Are you saving enough money for retirement?
3. Are you waiting to start saving money for retirement until practice income increases?
4. Do you ever skip making payments to your retirement fund?
5. Do you have enough revenue to cover continuing education costs for both you and your team?
6. Do you think twice before investing in new equipment for the practice because you’re worried about how much it costs?
7. Do you delay making improvements to the practice’s appearance because you’re worried about how much it costs?
8. Are you effectively marketing your practice and services to both existing and prospective patients?
9. Are you concerned about staff raises?
10. Do you feel like you can’t possibly work any harder?

Answer these questions honestly and you’ll learn what you need to know about your practice’s financial health. From here, you can develop a plan to grow the practice and finally start reaching your full potential.

Create a Financial Policy
If you don’t already have one, now is the time to sit down and create a financial policy. Having a policy in place will help ensure you get paid on time, and will leave no doubt about when payment is expected from patients.

Not sure what should be part of this policy? Here are my suggestions:

Electronic Billing
Not only is this a convenient way for patients to pay their bills and check their statement balance, it also saves your team members time. They’re able to focus on other tasks, therefore improving practice efficiencies.

Third-Party Financing
Dentistry can be expensive, and many patients don’t get the care they need because they’re worried about what it will mean for their pocketbook. That’s where third-party financing from companies like CareCredit comes in. Instead of writing one large check, patients can make small monthly payments. This makes the cost much more manageable. You get paid on time and patients become more comfortable accepting expensive treatment plans – and that of course helps practice productivity and your bottom line.

Offer Incentives
When patients pay for a large case upfront, reward them for it with a small fee adjustment. I suggest you keep it at 5%. Refer to this as a “bookkeeping adjustment” rather than a discount.

Collect Payment at the End of the Appointment
Patients should know they’re expected to pay for all services rendered before they leave the practice if the amount due is less than $200. I suggest you require all insured patients to pay the amount they’re responsible for before they leave the practice as well.

After you put the policy together, give it to every new patient you see and remind existing patients of the policy before they schedule treatment. It’s also a good idea to put the policy on the practice website.

I know you likely didn’t become a dentist because you wanted to own a business, but it’s still part of the deal. You’re the CEO of your practice, and tracking financials is essential to running a successful business. If you need more guidance, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help.

Next week: Collections holding you back? Make these changes to grow practice profits.

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
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Prioritizing Patient Satisfaction
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates

Everyone wants good practice reviews on Yelp, Google and other sites. It is something we ask our patients to do when they are happy with the outcome of their dental treatment. We need to see it and hear it to feel we are on track to be the best dental practice around.

What about the unhappy patient? How do you address them?” I asked the Office Manager of a practice I was working with. Her response: “Luckily we don’t get many and because we have more good reviews than bad, we just ignore them.”

While we know that every business gets the occasional crank and often these people represent a small fraction of our patient base, should we consider if there is any truth in their dismay?

Most dental staff are aware of which patients have shown disappointment with anything that happened in their appointment that day, whether through eye contact, body language or verbal encounter. Some people may not react physically or verbally, but instead will put up a scathing review online later at home. Being sensitive to the patient and attempting to “walk in their shoes” for a moment will help you diffuse a retaliatory action in the future.

Ensuring that all patients are listened to and each complaint or negative encounter is addressed is the best way to make an unhappy patient happy again. It isn’t just the online reviews you should be concerned about. “Word-of-mouth” complaints made to friends, family, co-workers and the community in general will hurt your practice growth.  Ignoring one unresolved conflict can cost you dearly in patient referrals, and can also cost you if the patient is angry enough to pursue a more investigative, professional complaint process.

State Dental Licensing Boards in each state have a complaint process for patients.  The complaints reviewed are for dental care and the licensees providing the care, not billing and fee complaints. There is an online form they can file.

State Dental Societies have established a dispute resolution system called peer review to help resolve the occasional disagreement about dental treatment. Peer review provides an impartial and easily accessible means for resolving misunderstandings regarding the appropriateness or quality of care, and in certain instances, about the fees charged for dental treatment. A peer review committee will attempt to mediate the problem.

Insurance Companies: If the patient is in-network with an insurance company and feels they have been over-charged for substandard care or unnecessary care, they can easily file a complaint.

What you don’t want is an escalation of a customer service issue that could have easily been resolved if the team had a plan to address all complaints.

According to Fred Joyal of Futuredontics, 1-800-DENTIST and author of Marketing is Everything:

“One of the top reasons customers do not return is the ‘indifference’ of just one staff member.”

Each patient in your practice encounters more than the dentist and assistant for their appointment. They may interact with the entire team at some point. One person can make the difference in this patient’s decision-making process. Each person must listen and show they care.

Recommendations:

1. Assess the personal and clinical needs of each patient on the schedule that day.  Make sure someone is available and sensitive to that patient’s special concerns.

2. Know what the insurance estimate is or what the costs will be, and that the patient understands so there aren’t any misunderstandings.

3. Welcome the patient with enthusiasm and ensure they won’t wait long. Keep them posted if anything changes in their wait time.

4. Escort them to the treatment room and see that they are comfortable in the chair. If it is cold, offer a blanket or neck support. Don’t leave the patient alone for more than five minutes.

5. Pay attention to what the patient is saying or showing in body language and offer your help at that time. Don’t brush it off and assume they are just having a bad day.

6. Make sure the patient understands the treatment they are receiving and any post-op care for home.

7. Call the patient later that day or night to check on their healing and show that you care.

Want to learn more about practice management issues affecting practice growth? Call McKenzie Management today for professional courses on Office Management and Front Office Training.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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