Visit our web-site at
  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  12.05.03 Issue #93

Perfect Gift to Avoid Holiday “Chill”

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   The season of giving often becomes the moment of truth for many doctors. It is frequently the only time of year when they take time to acknowledge the contributions of their team members. Because there is little more than a head nod for a job well done from January through November, doctors feel the pressure mounting to do something really spectacular once December 1st arrives. In a desperate attempt to atone for a year’s worth of staff neglect in a single swoop, many doctors will go overboard in their zeal to impress the staff – a

party, expensive gifts and/or bonuses, and so on.

Then like a big ol’ lump of coal in your fruitcake the team barely acknowledges the elaborate bash at the nice restaurant, the time out of the office for an extra long lunch, or those fancy diamond necklaces. Bah Humbug!

In reality, the best gift you can give your team doesn’t involve a single penny. Appreciation and gratitude have no monetary cost, but given with sincerity are priceless to the employee. Instead of trying to top whatever you did last year and resenting the unappreciative team members in the process, sit down and write a personal note to each of your employees. Think about their contribution to the success of the practice and share that with them. The note can be simple and straight forward but must be completely sincere. During the staff holiday gathering read each note aloud to the team and hand it to the staff member with a sincere “Thank you.”

If you are giving holiday gifts, establish a budget. The gifts don’t need to be expensive but they should reflect that employee’s individual likes or interests. Gifts purchased en masse – be they crates of oranges or diamond necklaces - are often viewed as meaningless tokens of obligation rather than genuine expressions of appreciation.

After the New Year bring in the team and tell them that you would like to involve the entire staff in developing a holiday party that everyone (including yourself) can enjoy next year. Provide a budget, designate a committee, and seek input from all. Then make a list of what you will do to show appreciation to your staff throughout the coming year. Consider the following:

  • Give a rose for each year of employment on the employee’s anniversary.
  • Write a note recognizing them for a work-related accomplishment and attach it to their paycheck.
  • Send a handwritten letter to the employee’s home regarding their accomplishments and value to the practice.
  • Treat the team to the movies and snacks.
  • Create an “above and beyond the call of duty” award.
  • Pay dues to auxiliary professional organizations for the employee.
  • Schedule planning meetings off site at the zoo or a museum and allow time for the team to enjoy the excursion.
  • Bring in a balloon bouquet to recognize your star employee.
  • Provide rewards based on employee interests, tickets to the theatre for the Broadway fan, enrollment in a Pilates class for your fitness buff.
  • Give extra paid vacation time between Christmas and New Years.
  • Send the employee for a “day of beauty” at the full-service salon.
  • Make it a point to recognize at least one employee every day for something they did that you considered exceptional and share that accomplishment with the entire team during the daily huddle.
  • Encourage all staff to catch each other going above and beyond. Share those “acts of excellence” with the doctor and the team.

Next year, you can sit back and enjoy the holiday season and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve given the most valued gift to your employees – appreciation and thanks – throughout the entire year.

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 14
More Patient WOW

Last week [see article], I discussed our commitments to our patients and how we manage our referral relationships with our technology platform. This week, I am going to conclude this section by examining the last of our patient commitments.

When within our control, a patient will be seated within 5 minutes of their appointment time and should expect to leave within 5 minutes from the anticipated end of their reserved appointment time.

It drives me absolutely crazy when I go into an office, see a pristine technology platform with all the bells and whistles – and patients are lined up at the front desk like middle aged rockers waiting for Rolling Stone’s tickets. Not respecting your patient’s time is a surefire way to get them not to respect your time. Here are a few things you can do this week to tighten up your patient flow.

Incomplete check in procedures
This is the KING of all time wasters. You MUST verify current insurance coverage, family responsibility, current med history, current HIPPA release, and make sure you have a complete record on file for every patient BEFORE they go back for treatment. The easiest way to do this is to create a cheat sheet to follow until you get the routine down. Nothing will bring the check out process to a faster HALT than incomplete or inaccurate information at check out time

Hygienists, assistants, dentists
You know the patient is on the way. If your computer system has an “arrived”, “ready”, or “seated” message on it – you should use it! Review charts, x-rays, and photos BEFORE patients arrive in your chair. Look at it from their perspective as well, wouldn’t it be nice if you ALREADY reviewed their “stuff” before they put the bib on? If all of your clinical data is on your computer system, you will find it a lot easier to communicate the need for treatment if the supporting charts, x-rays, and photographs have already been reviewed and are sitting right there for you to show the patient. Think of it like digital decision support.

Post today’s procedure from the back
If your whole team has been trained and your business administrator doesn’t mind catching the mistakes, consider posting today’s treatment from the back. Once you get the hang of it, you will most likely begin to appreciate the correlation and data flow from treatment plan to appointment to the completed procedure process. For now, just focus on posting today’s completed procedures.

Use the “next visit” feature
For you folks destined for greatness, most dental software has a “next visit” or “follow up visit” feature. This tells the front desk what to schedule for the next appointment without them having to look, guess, ask, or heaven forbid – look at a paper chart.

Appoint at the front
I know I’m going to get some slack for this one but I am a firm believer in scheduling at the front desk. Nobody schedules like a scheduling coordinator. Your scheduling coordinator knows the patient’s scheduling preferences, their work hours, their family, their family scheduling needs, etc. The scheduling coordinator has the time to deal with the patient who can’t make up their mind on a good day for an appointment. The dentist, hygienist, and assistants should be busy with patient care. Besides, if we aren’t scheduling to meet a production goal, who are you going to blame if everyone is scheduling? The dentist?

Next week I am going to take a fairly common visit to a dental office and list the data entry steps. It is my hope that you might use these as templates as you expand the use of your technology platform.

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

Continuing with last week’s article focused to the staff, this week I want to comment on people having faith in your efforts and your own belief that you do make a difference.

A review of several key points of reference:

  1. Business owners have certain inalienable rights.
  2. Business owners can tell people the truth and tell people what they want.
  3. Business owners will hire staff within their own model of inadequacy and negativity.
  4. Business owners contribute their own brand of pain and disappointment by handpicking their staff.
  5. Business owners create the chronic office culture of chaos, emotional abuse, and financial catastrophe.

To those staffers who do not want to be part of the negativity or participate in the drama of office politics but would rather find the harmony and tranquility of the moral and ethical high road of the daily work routine, I offer you the following observations:

When you show up for work everyday, do you feel that you are moving toward an activity that is important to you, to the people with whom you share the daily experience, or do you show up to perform your job and earn your money. For some this is a ludicrous question, because it all comes down to money; in reality, this is not true. For others, work is about more than money.

The reality is that every day that you show up for work, you become part of someone else's day, and thus you have the influence and the capacity to influence the outcome of someone’s daily experience. It is from the perspective that you have power over someone else's experience which leads you to a decision. Will you use your power to enhance the life experience of others or will you use that power to dampen or diminish the fruits of the day's effort?

It is the presence of this power, as you interact with others, which introduces the concept of faith. Everyone shows up to work with a certain outcome in mind as to how the day will go. Any experience which detracts from that outcome diminishes their confidence in their outlook and contributes to a sense of disorganization and fear. The concept of faith goes a long way toward calming the fears in an uncertain world, and therefore it makes sense that when employees act in their own regard to enhance the daily experience of the other members, they are in effect validating the faith that the day will go as predicted and in this effort the team will feel good at the end of the day.

I want to emphasize that the concept of faith is the principal of dealing with the feeling of uncertainty through a behavior that is certain. If you show up to work sporadically, moody, angry, etc with any frequency greater than “rarely”, then you are contributing or diminishing the faith that your team members can have in you that the day will end as they planned. They will doubt that you are playing on the same side and working for the same outcome.

Most of us prefer to believe that people have faith in our ability and trust us to perform appropriately. It is this awareness of another person's faith, or their acknowledgement that we hold the key to diminishing the uncertainty of their day, that generates an awareness of personal power and the faith that you will use it correctly.

With this reasoning, ask yourself do my team members have faith in me based on my actions, my decisions, my moods, and my ability to feel good. It is certain that it feels good when others have faith in us, and it is certain that it feels bad when our colleagues do not look to us with a sense of predictability and comfort.

I do not think there is a greater feeling than being a member of the team and feeling that you all worked to achieve a successful outcome. Everyone takes responsibility and everyone gets the credit. There are no individual stars; there is just a collective happiness over a job well done. This is a very collective feeling and it is easy for an individual, who has individual needs of recognition and acknowledgement, to get lost in the joy of team spirit.

Professional sports have learned this lesson; teams perform greater than a collection of individuals. If you talk to a professional athlete today, they would rather have the money and be a member of a winning team than be this individual who makes more money than everybody else and is all alone, isolated, and gets a special room when they are on the road. Being a team member feels better. This is natural instinct. When we are part of a team, we are safer in the world. It feels better to be a member of a family and to win using our own special individual talents.

The question of whether we make a difference and whether we make a contribution to the team is actually best left to your observation of how people react when you show up to work. If you make a difference in the office, then it makes sense that when you show up for work, everyone recognizes that you are here to make your contribution. The feeling that should follow is that they are happy to see you. If people do not express their joy over your presence then that is feedback that your presence does not make a difference and does not necessarily contribute to the overall feeling of success that goes with team play and effort.

It is easy enough to delude yourself that degrees, certification, and time on the job means that you make a difference, but this is not true. There is nothing to say that a person who has been doing your job or has a certificate for only one year could not do the job as well as someone with 10 years experience. The reason why is because a job more than a sequence of skills. Most team members are employed to carry out procedures. The ability to carry out procedures is itself a gift that once learned becomes dependable and accountable, but there is more. Your ability to be dependable and accountable is your feedback to other people that you are part of the team. When you make a difference in the team, then the team members will acknowledge your presence. It is not only about your skills but about your predictability.

It is my belief that in a typical private practice setting, acknowledgement of your arrival, wishing you well when you leave at the end of the day, having people seek your counsel in the middle of the day, and team members seeking your company for lunch or break are some of the best examples of feedback that you make a difference in the office and in their lives. The best way to be important is to initiate the above-mentioned behaviors.

Next week, I will continue with this political self-assessment

Regards, Coach

Want your issues answered? Ask the

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

Not The
Same Old
Fruit Cake ...

How To Reward
Your Dental Team

by Sally McKenzie, CMC

Learn when and how to reward your staff. Understand why saying "thanks" can mean more than dangling a financial carrot. This book is full of checklists and questionnaires to help you determine what rewards are best suited for each of your team members.

You will understand when to use non-financial versus financial rewards, when to use group versus individual rewards, plus how important it is to set performance goals so you know when to give a reward. You will learn the difference between rewarding employees for outstanding performance versus paying them a bonus for simply doing their job.

Price $37

THE CLOCK IS TICKING and time is running out on 2003. You’ve seen your practice’s preliminary year-end numbers and are kicking yourself because you knew you should have done something, anything MONTHS AGO.

What’s worse, your accountant is telling you the TAX MAN will be at your door expecting a sizeable chunk of YOUR INCOME unless you take action before the bell tolls Midnight on December 31.

RELAX! Within just a few days McKenzie Management will turn your PANIC to PROFIT. But don’t put this off another second! December is filling up quickly with practices just like yours that have waited until the bitter end to TAKE ACTION.

McKenzie Management, Inc.
737 Pearl Street
Suite 201
La Jolla, CA 92037

Sally's Mail Bag

Dear Sally
We want to establish a bonus system based on collections and factoring in overhead for the new year. Can you give me an idea of a good bonus structure?
Doc’s Wife

Hi Doc’s Wife,
There is no formula that is completely fair to you or employees but if you are going to have one, my suggestion would be to know for the past 12 months what your overhead costs have been and you expect those costs to be 55% of x ( collections). So, if your average overhead for the past 12 months averaged $35,750/month, that expense is 55% of $65,000. It might behoove you to add a 10% surcharge on top of the $65,000/collections for unexpected emergencies. Payroll (gross) should be no more than 21% of the collections which is $13,650/month. If collections go above the $65,000, say $70,000 you would allocate 21% of the $5000 overage or $1050 as bonus. Now...the question becomes, do you divide it equally? Do they equally put out the same effort? Usually not. I would also recommend that you NOT give them 100% of the $1050 but give them (example) 75% of the $1050 and $262 goes into a "savings" account for those months when collections dip below $65,000 and you still have to meet payroll. That's when the whole "bonus" thing becomes unfair. The employees get rewarded if collections rise but nothing is taken away if the collections take a dip. It's win/win for them and potential win/lose for you. Hope this is helpful.
Best regards,

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)  
 Dec. 5
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 10
 1 - 4pm
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

McKenzie Management Newsletter Information:
To unsubscribe: To discontinue receiving the Sally McKenzie eNewsletter,
click on the link at the very bottom of this page for instant removal,
or simply click Reply to this email with the word "Remove" as the only word in the subject line.
To report technical problems with this newsletter or to request technical help,
please send a descriptive email to:
To request services, products or general inquires about McKenzie Management activities
please send a descriptive email to:
If you would like to have any of your dental practice concerns answered personally by Sally McKenzie,
please send a descriptive email to her at:
Copyrights 1980-Present McKenzie Management - All Rights Reserved.