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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  11.14.03 Issue #90

If Only They Would ‘Get It’

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   If only Sue would monitor the schedule. If only Mary would at least ask patients to pay. If only Jane would reinforce my treatment recommendations. Oh if only this, if only that. Things would be practically perfect in your world if only people would behave the way you want them to. Disgruntled, you just shake your head, roll your eyes, and quietly boil over as Sue, Mary, and Jane toil along oblivious to your silent fury.

As I’ve said before, in many cases, it’s not that Sue, Mary or Jane are incompetent, often they

are simply flying blind. I cannot count the number of times a doctor has thrown their arms up in total exasperation over an employee who just isn’t measuring up. “They are not doing this. They should be doing that. They don’t get it!” Then I ask the $64,000 question, “Have you told them what you expect and exactly what they are supposed to be doing?”

Time and again, the doctor tries to explain his or her way out of this uncomfortable situation. The eyes are darting, the hands are wringing. The feet are shifting. And there begins the desperate attempt to answer my simple yet agonizing question… “Well, she worked in a dental practice before. I thought she knew these things.” Or, “I’m pretty sure we talked about that stuff in the job interview.” Or, “Don’t you think that should be common sense?” Or, my personal favorite, “I’ve told them what I don’t want.” Well, yeah, but have you actually told them what you do want? If there is a 2 p.m. hole in the schedule does Sue know definitively that it is her responsibility to fill that hole and to schedule to meet daily production goals?

Employees rely on the doctor for fundamental direction as much as the doctor relies on the staff to keep the practice operating smoothly. Too often the most basic and elementary tool for employee/practice success is never utilized: The job description. It’s the nuts and bolts of every position on the team, and if it’s not in place chances are pretty good that most of the mechanics of the practice have more than a few loose screws.

Next week spelling out the duties, so they will get it and you can do the dentistry.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

Building On The Theory

How An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
“Digital Chaos”

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

Technology Tool Box

Clinical Computing - Part 11
More Patient WOW

Last week [see article], I discussed three more of our commitments to our patients when you implement computer systems into the treatment rooms. This week, I am going to continue examining three more patient commitments in greater detail.

A patient of ours will ALWAYS receive reinforcement from the ENTIRE TEAM (yes, business team too) because all of the information they need to be reinforcing is in front of everyone.

We hear it all the time from our clients. “My team doesn’t seem to be on the same page.” Fully utilizing your existing computer system is a wonderful opportunity to centralize the information necessary to “bring” everyone to the same page. As your team grows accustomed to “their” data input responsibilities, they will undoubtedly grow more familiar with data entered by other team members. Having every team member aware of everything that’s going on with a particular patient is a very powerful advantage when leveraged properly. In short, the more every team member learns about a patient, the better service they and the rest of the team can provide in a very professional and efficient manner. There is a side benefit as well. We all have patients who seem to enjoy playing the “he said, she said” game. Those games are over if you utilize your software properly.

95% of our patients will be able to learn of their diagnosis and planned treatment during one visit. They won’t have to come back to have the treatment presented.

I understand there are complex treatment plans that require consultation and study prior to patient presentation. But, 95% of your treatment plans can and should be done with respect for the patient’s time in mind. With that said, fully and properly implemented treatment room computers will allow you and your team to instantly organize and present treatment. As you know, we have been statistically tracking dental practices nationwide for 23 years. In many offices (not all), there is a direct correlation between treatment acceptance and how many patient visits it takes to get a complete diagnosis and treatment plan. If you have ever heard “I have to come back?”, or, “But I just wanted my teeth cleaned”, or, have a higher than acceptable cancellation rate – your patients may be telling you that they want the information at the initial visit. Using your computer system fully and properly will help you deliver the service your patient base is demanding.

A patient of ours will ALWAYS know that financing is available when we (the clinical team) present treatment.

No, this doesn’t mean just handing a patient a CareCredit brochure on their way out. If you currently employ third party patient financing, there is a very good statistical chance that you do not USE it properly (sound familiar?). With Dentrix, once the patient information is entered, you can just “click” one button to receive almost instantaneous electronic confirmed financing approval! Clearly, these two companies have eliminated the “it takes too much time” excuse. If you do not currently employ third party patient financing, we strongly recommend you do so. We also strongly recommend you get the whole team trained in its use.

Imagine you are automobile shopping. You don’t really “need” or “have to have” a new car but you have been eyeing this new year model from afar. Finally, you go as far as taking a test drive (you should now be thinking about the digital before and after images at treatment presentation). You can see yourself in this car at a traffic light and everyone is looking at you in your new car (new smile). You are concerned about the money but you WANT this new car and the feeling that goes with owning it. The service you have received thus far from the company representative has been informative, caring, and professional. The company representative tells you the price of the car is $45,699 and (oh, by the way) here is a brochure about some company that can do financing for you.

How do you feel right now? How does that differ from how you felt just before you were told you can’t afford what you WANT? Did your view of the dealership and the representative change in an instant? Are you ever going back to that dealership?

This analogy is admittedly over exaggerated to prove a point. If treatment acceptance is an area of your practice that needs improvement, proper presentation and full utilization of patient financing is one of the (many) opportunities you have at your disposal.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

See Mark's Technology Workshop titled Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues on Dec. 10th in La Jolla. For more information email or call 1-877-900-5775

Getting The Cold Shoulder


Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To Day Issues

Dear Coach,

My office consists of 3 general dentists, 2 hygienists, oral surgeon, periodontist and an orthodontist.

I am having enormous difficulty with scheduling assistants and doctors with regards to coverage, over coverage, and under coverage.

One assistant wants to take vacation time different or at the same time as another assistant or doctor and I want to take time off different from them.

We will have 2 doctors working with one assistant today, because 2 assistants decided to take off at the same time. And tomorrow, we will have 1 doctor working with 3 assistants, because I took off but feel bad
telling the assistants they have to take the day off.

This is a constant issue, especially during Christmas and summer holidays. We tried doing the first come, first serve way, but people were putting their time in over a year ahead of schedule.

Most of my assistants want off during the holidays because their kids are off from school. I only have very young children so I rarely want to go away during the holiday time due to the fact that I can take off any time
and it's much easier and less expensive to go away other times of the year.

Much appreciated,
Dr. Timkin

Coach Replies:

Let me tell you what is reasonable:

  1. It is reasonable that 2 assistants who worked together so often might want to take time off together
  2. It is reasonable to want to take extended time off on Christmas and during the summer
  3. It is reasonable to do first come first-served
  4. It is reasonable to schedule time off in excess of a year ahead, if the office will remain open
  5. It is reasonable to want time off when the kids are off from school.

It is unreasonable

  1. It is unreasonable that you have a difficulty establishing a policy that eliminates chaos
  2. It is unreasonable for doctors to take too much time off and limit the productivity of the business
  3. It is unreasonable to even permit a doctor to work without sufficient support
  4. It is unreasonable to even permit a doctor to work with excess support personnel
  5. It is unreasonable to not be able to tell people what their work schedule will be
  6. It is unreasonable to run your business from the perspective of your family obligations

The bottom-line here is that you are the problem…the senior partner is always the problem in business matters like this. Businesses are run according to the dictates of the owner of the businesses. The owner of the business must take into consideration the people that support his efforts and the need for the business to continue unabated by day-to-day scheduling upsets. There is a need for a definitive policy and the elimination of uncertainty at all cost.

There are certain types of policies that are not political but are rather cultural. A good working environment includes people enjoying working within a culture that appreciates their dignity as well as their natural obligations as member of a family and society. All of these big words are just a fancy way of saying that you need a policy that makes sense and is considerate of the personal and social obligations.

This is actually a very simple question to answer; however, working with many dentists and doctors as I do, I know that implementation of these reasonable behaviors is not always very easy. Your lack of policy and fear of establishing a reasonable policy reflects on your inability to respect the dignity of your employees.

You are expected to establish policy and the adults on your staff are free to concur with your policy or find another employer. Establishing a policy that is fair is not as difficult as you believe, however, your procrastination and reticence to impose your leadership is quite evident to all.

Regardless, while the staff will set the policy, if you let them, in the end, an unstructured policy will only lead to a chaotic environment with mini-catastrophes, and personal dramas which no one will enjoy.

Here are some general guidelines:

  1. You must have a definitive policy on scheduling holidays, paid time off, unpaid time off, and a limit to unpaid time off.
  2. Seniority gets their choice.
  3. First-come first-served levels the playing field.
  4. When commitments change, the assistant must arrange to have their time covered by another assistant
  5. One person in the office should be responsible for organizing and posting the schedule.
  6. Outside of national holidays and paid vacation time, do not organize days off around the convenience of the staff. It is the presence or absence of the doctors that determine a person's ability to take time off.
  7. Consider assigning assistants to specific doctors, and then consider rotating these assignments monthly or quarterly
  8. If you are having this much trouble with scheduling, I would offer you that there are probably many other areas within your practice where you are weak and probably could benefit from a visit from a practice management consultant.

More than any other explanation, I can give you, the mere existence of this problem is a demonstration of poor leadership skills. The leadership skill I am referring to is the ability to see the clarity that goes with establishing limits within your business. This is the heart of the problem.

This type of clarity is a personal attribute, in other words, you either have the ability to see this dynamic or you are totally confused by its presence and lack of resolution. It is this lack of clarity or appreciation for the social dynamics of a modern business which permits these problems to begin and to become part of the ongoing chaotic culture.

You would do well to find it in your heart to get needed information in the form of setting up systems, methods, and policies such that your life becomes more efficient and less complex.

The Coach

Want your issues answered? Ask the

Don’t miss The Coach’s workshops on Dec 6th, Office Politics ... The Enemy Within. For more information email or call 1-877-900-5775

If You're Not Satisfied with Your Practice's Performance …
Why Not?


9 out of 10 practices have staff turnover every 15 months.
76% of dental practices have hygiene departments producing less than 33% of practice production.
85% of dental practices grow less than 10% a year.
72% of practices' employee costs are more than 25% of revenues.

Only 28 Performing Days Left to
Reach Your
Year End Goal
What are you waiting for?
Take a Closer Look Here

How to Prevent Under Performing Staff

As a Added BONUS
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Can You See
for the TREES?

McKenzie Management has been helping Dentists see a CLEAR PATH to their desired future for over 23 years.

“Plain and simple...
we listen, we understand
and we’ll get you there.”

- Sally McKenzie
President & CEO



Sally's Mail Bag

Dear Sally,
I work in the position of financial coordinator in this practice. While statements are sent out monthly and I’ve been using the delinquent messages that are supplied by the software company, I think I need to change them. Do you have any messages that you know work?

Dear Crystal,
First things first and that is reevaluate your plan of action of asking for money as the patients are dismissed. That is your top priority. Your second priority is to make telephone calls to these patients. Verbal communication is always better than written communication. However, allow me to answer your original question. I used to do accounts receivable contract work for dentists before I started McKenzie Management so…I know these messages work. Here are some for you to try in order of lateness. Oh, one more thought…don’t forget “due dates” on every statement.

  1. Please keep in mind that it is the policy of this office that accounts are due payable at the time of treatment. If you have any questions regarding the amount due, please contact our financial manager, otherwise payment will be expected by July 13th. Thank you for giving this your immediate attention.
  2. Your account is now past due. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, please call our financial manager immediately. Otherwise to avoid any detrimental action against your credit history, we must receive payment no later than July 13th. Thank you for giving this your immediate attention.
  3. Due to the manner in which you have handled this account, you have left us not other alternative but to refer this account to our attorney, if payment is not received by July 13th.

Dr. Allan Monack,
Hygiene Clinical Consultant for
McKenzie Management,
develop a profitable
Hygiene Department

To find out more about the
Hygiene Clinical
Enrichment Program
[go here]
or contact us at:
or call:

  Office Managers
  Financial Coordinators
  Scheduling Coordinators
  Treatment Coordinators
  Hygiene Coordinators
For a FREE Educational Video
The Center for Dental Career Development
Advanced Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street, Suite 201
La Jolla, CA 92037

Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?

This issue is sponsored
in part by:
The Center for Dental Career Development
San Diego Workshop Series
Fall/Winter Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Nov. 19
 9:30 - 4:00
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 5
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 6
 9:00 - 4:00
Office Politics ... The Enemy Within    
 Dec. 10
 9 - 12pm
Taking Your Hygiene Department to the Next Level Allan Monack, DDS FAGD
Hygiene Clinical Director
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 10
 1 - 4
Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 17
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
To Register 877-900-5775 or

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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