11.30.18 Issue #873 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Should You Adjust Your Fees In 2019?
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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As another year nears its end, now is a great time to start thinking about changes you’d like to see in your office. What improvements can you make to better serve your patients and grow your practice in the coming year? As you’re evaluating your practice, I suggest you take a hard look at your fees to determine if they’re where they should be, or if you need to make some adjustments.

Once you do your research, you may find you’re actually undercharging patients, which means it’s time to raise the price of dentistry. Now I know what you’re thinking. Sally, raising my fees is a good way to send my patients running to the practice down the street. Not necessarily. The truth is, patients actually expect you to up your fees every now and then. How else can you invest in products that improve patient care and make them more comfortable during their appointments?

Many practices should raise fees in 2019. Here are the top signs you’re undercharging:

You can’t remember the last time you actually raised your fees. This is common with dentists who come to McKenzie Management for help. They tell me it’s been years since they increased their fees, and often can’t remember when exactly they raised their prices or by how much. If this describes you, there’s a pretty good chance you’re undercharging – and it’s costing your practice big.

Let me break it down for you. If you’re undercharging patients by as little as 7-8%, you’re losing thousands of dollars every year. Undercharging by 40-50%? Your practice is taking a serious financial pounding.

Don’t let the fear of losing patients or guilt about raising prices keep you from charging what your services are worth. To avoid undercharging, I suggest you establish a solid fee for each service, and then adjust it twice a year. The first fee increase should be 2%, followed by 3% for an annual yearly increase of 5%. This might not seem like a lot, but even if you’re only raising fees $4 or $5 per procedure, you’ll still notice a significant difference in your bottom line.

You don’t know what other dentists in your area charge. I’ve seen this happen over and over. Clinicians set their fees without knowing the price of dentistry at other offices in their community. I suggest you take the time to find out what other nearby dentists are charging to see how your fees compare. If they’re much lower (or higher), consider making adjustments.

It’s also a good idea to contact the local Chamber of Commerce to gather information about your area’s demographics and income level. This is vital information you’ll need to know when setting or adjusting fees. Search dental fees online to get more information and consider reaching out to your local dental society as well.

Remember that while your fees need to be in-line with the community you serve, they also should reflect the level of services you provide. High-tech practices that offer a variety of patient conveniences and a spa-like feel often charge a little more, for example.

Your fees are the lowest (or the highest) in your area. After you do your research, you might find your practice is the least expensive in your community. That means you’ll attract more patients, right? Maybe, but likely not the types of patients who will help grow your practice. Having the lowest fees in the community makes your office the perfect target for patients who are just looking for a deal. These dental shoppers have no interest in becoming loyal patients who accept treatment and refer, and may just be those dreaded one-time patients you never hear from again.

Now, what should you do if you find your fees are actually the highest? Make sure the level of service you provide warrants the cost. Do you offer exceptional customer service, or services patients can’t find anywhere else? If the answer is no, you might want to consider lowering your fees so they’re more in-line with your area.

You’re not meeting your financial goals. If you’re constantly putting off making practice updates or investing in new technology because you simply can’t afford it, raising your fees is one of the best ways to increase revenue so you can make those purchases.

It’s also important to set personal and professional goals, and to understand how much money you’ll need to bring in to meet those goals. Once you do, you can establish fees that will help you get there.

Most dentists don’t want to talk about raising their fees. They’re convinced patients will leave for another practice as soon as their bills start to go up, but that isn’t the case at all. Patients understand you may need to raise fees from time to time to provide the level of care they expect and deserve. Do some research, then set a solid fee schedule that’s fair to both you and your patients. It will do wonders for your practice and your bottom line.

Next week: Successfully raise your fees in 2019 with these tips

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
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Onboarding New Team Members Successfully
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

You have just hired a new team member and are relieved to have found someone who you feel will be a perfect addition to your practice team. You want this person to succeed in their position – and you assume the rest of the team feels the same way and will help get the new employee off to a good start.

You’ve tied up what you feel are the most important findings in the hiring process and have presented to the new hire a letter of intent to hire that states basic job information, wages, work schedule, benefits, a successful background check (not optional), and a statement of essential job duties expected in the position (job description). You think you are done with what is most important, however, a good “at-will” disclaimer is also critical. Otherwise you could inadvertently guarantee a length of employment and ruin your at-will status. You don’t want to imply that the position has a long-term guarantee to it.

In some situations, despite everything you have secured during the hiring process, you won’t actually know if someone’s a good fit until the person begins doing the job. After all, what if your new hire fudged on their knowledge of insurance estimating or is as slow as a turtle keyboarding in new patient information? You’ll want to keep the flexibility to terminate quickly.

You can do this with a policy in your employee handbook that specifies the first 90 days as a “getting acquainted period.” During this time, both parties can make sure the job is a good fit, and the employee could be let go at any time if things are not working out. It is always advisable to utilize the experience of an expert in composing employee manuals that are state law specific. The wrong verbiage can get you into trouble.

Get the team involved. Each member of the dental team is vitally important to the success of the practice. The dentist(s) or management must communicate this appreciation.

Show appreciation and acknowledgement to your team prior to the addition of a new person. Some team members may feel the new person is somehow “better” or may even be replacing them, which can cause hostility towards the new hire. Your team will be working with this new person as much or sometimes more than you the dentist will. Their insight and support is vital to the success of this process.

Having each team member weigh in on your decision to hire and give you their own concerns or approval is better than making it your decision only, then later hearing “you really know how to pick them!” in a condescending tone.

Before your new hire starts, make sure existing staff members are prepared and will have time for their roles in onboarding and training. The right advance preparations can go a long way toward making sure the new hire’s first few days are productive and not upsetting to the practice routine.

Make sure someone is available as support and to answer questions. The newest member of your team shouldn’t feel like his or her first few days are spent trying to stay out of everyone’s way.

Consider the following:

1. Make an onboarding schedule with team members’ names and the times they will be available to coach or train the new hire.

2. Have management read and go over each page of the policy manual to explain and ensure there aren’t any misunderstandings in what is written. The same with the written job description. Have the new hire initial each required job duty to indicate they know how to do the task correctly.

3. Have one team member assigned as the mentor for this new person. The mentor will be responsible for making sure the new hire is trained and coached correctly and has been onboarded successfully into the practice. The mentor is the “go to” person for the new hire on any issue relevant to the practice.

By establishing a standard onboarding system, you will alleviate any potential problems before they develop and ensure the new hire is comfortable and confident in their new position.

Need help with hiring and onboarding? Call and schedule our Office Manager Training Program which gives you a thorough training in all the business systems, including a step-by-step hiring and onboarding process that you can immediately understand and use in your practice.

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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