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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  12.19.03 Issue #95

Make 2004 Your Best Year Yet

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   There is no time like the present to begin planning for the New Year. If you’ve found that production numbers for 2003 sent you reeling, maybe it’s time you took a close look at what you can do throughout the next 12 months to ensure that production in 2004 isn’t as stale as last year’s fruit cake.

First off, increasing production shouldn’t feel like last minute holiday shopping. It doesn’t involve increasing stress or working longer days. Rather the work week is manageable, the team has a

clear vision, and overall stress is reduced. Take a few practical steps to quickly improve the bottom-line and put the dental team on a high performance track they can stay on.

  1. Establish daily production goals and schedule to meet those goals.
  2. Prescribe a treatment plan for patients that includes everything that needs to be done - appointments necessary, the cost of treatment, an estimated length of treatment time, and any treatment options.
  3. Designate a treatment coordinator who is responsible for presenting treatment plans to patients and is expected to secure at least 85% case acceptance.
  4. Hold the scheduling coordinator accountable for daily monitoring and calling of unscheduled treatment.
  5. Implement an interceptive periodontal therapy program.
  6. Identify who needs a full series of X-rays rather than four bitewings.
  7. Focus on clinical efficiency to provide services in less time while maintaining quality.
  8. Train the dental team to effectively and routinely communicate to patients that the practice provides excellent dentistry.
  9. Market your services to existing patients.
  10. Provide superior customer service that will encourage patients to refer friends and family.
  11. Expect payment at the time services are rendered and ask for payment.
  12. Raise fees annually.
  13. Establish a partnership with a patient financing company.
  14. Implement a recall system that ensures full schedules and minimizes no shows and cancellations.
  15. Each month run the year-to-date Practice Analysis Report and compare it to the same period last year. Do that every, single month. Do not wait until the bell tolls midnight on December 31 to find out how your practice has done for the year.

Involve the team in creating a practice improvement plan that will serve as your compass throughout the year. Refer to the plan regularly. Track and celebrate your team’s progress in reaching the practice’s established goals for 2004.

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

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
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Building On The Theory

How An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
“Digital Chaos”

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

Technology Tool Box

Last week [see article], I expanded some operational steps of the front desk coordinator position into small, bite sized pieces. This week, I want to focus on one very important event that happens in your dental practice multiple times each day. Almost everyone answers the telephone, so this applies to everyone on the team.

The Phone Rings ...

What does your team do when the phone rings? More to the point, what steps do they follow on your computer system? The phone ringing is an opportunity to add production, improve your patient service level, improve collections, and greatly enhance the patient check in/check out process.

Here are some steps to follow every time the phone rings. Practice these steps. At first, it will seem like a lot but once you get it down, it will go very quickly.

Phone rings

  1. Immediately bring up the “find patient” window (even before you pick up the receiver).
  2. When the caller states their last name, type the first three letters and bring up the list of potential matches.
  3. Confirm with the caller “who they are” by mentioning their street address as additional identification. Bring up their patient record.
  4. The patient will likely start to tell you why they are calling.
  5. Visually review their patient balance, family balance, outstanding insurance balance, pending appointments, pending treatment, last exam, next exam due date, and any family members who are overdue for their re-care visit. I know this may sound like a lot, but your practice management system should have 90% of this information immediately available, either right on the patient record or one click away. Practice it for 10 patients and I’ll bet you can review all of this information before the patient stops talking. Now, you are ready to professionally handle this patient inquiry.
  6. The patient is most likely calling to schedule or reschedule an appointment. Do not offer an appointment to this patient until you have reviewed the above information. Take necessary action according to your practice’s scheduling and financial policy.
  7. If your team members enter pertinent contact notes into your patient records, always review those before moving forward. You don’t know who this patient spoke to last time and you do not know what was said/promised during the last phone call.
  8. If your practice accepts insurance, this is a great time to confirm the patient’s coverage. If they have changed insurance plans, or are no longer insured, you can disconnect their coverage from their account or remind them to show up10 minutes early for their appointment and to bring their insurance card with them.
  9. If this patient has family members who come to your practice, this is a great time to “add value and service to this phone call”. Inform the patient and offer to set up multiple appointments during this one phone call (assuming the family members require additional treatment or are overdue for their re-care appointment).
  10. Review any premed requirements with the patient.
  11. Review office appointment cancellation policy
  12. Confirm appointment(s) verbally. Enter appointment into schedule.
  13. Ask if they would like to receive an appointment confirmation email for their convenience. Send as requested.

When your phone rings, it is at least one opportunity. How well you use your computer system will determine how much of an opportunity each phone call represents. Try it! Commit yourselves to try it for one work week. By the time Friday comes around, I’ll bet you’ve added production to your schedule, provide better service to your patients, and streamline the patient flow in the office.

As always, if you have any questions or comments – send me an email.

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

Getting The Cold Shoulder


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

Concluding this series to the dental team, I want to comment this week on being efficient and being cooperative. 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.

It naturally feels good to see yourself as an efficient individual; however, I think it is more reasonable to admit that different people have different definitions of what being efficient really is. If you take a moment to really think about ‘what is efficiency’, most people would tell you that efficiency is about expending the least amount of energy in the least amount of time and getting the most production; however, I will offer you another definition. Being efficient is doing it the way your family did it. This is your point of reference for what is good and bad in the world, and this definition also surfaces in the workplace.

If it was enough to get out of bed and get to school, then you were efficient; however, if you had to get up, make your bed, straighten your room, have breakfast, and put the dishes in the sink before leaving for school then you were also efficient. Therefore, we all bring different definitions of the efficiency into the office everyday. I will offer you four elements of your daily work routine that you can monitor for efficiency. Today, you are in a position to move beyond your family definition on to a definition that is more business appropriate.

If you are efficient, then you do good work. The quality of your work is something that you take great pride in and you take great delight that your efforts are recognized by the people that work with you. If you cannot accept a complement about your work, then you are not efficient. In all likelihood, if you work very hard and cannot accept acknowledgement of this achievement, then you are more likely to be desperate for approval and work quickly. This is not the same as being efficient, because being efficient demands that you integrate your talents into the efforts of the team and accept as well as give complements.

If you are efficient then you are always prepared. You are almost never late, your work area is almost always set up and ready to move forward, and when emergencies arise, you handle them with an emotional stability that generates confidence in others and reflects an inner sense of peace and confidence. Being prepared for anything and everything is a form of efficiency.

If you are efficient then you naturally clean up after yourself and do not leave any telltale signs of your presence such that they would inconvenience anyone else in the office. Being neat and proper is a state of mind, but permitting the smooth transition between office space and office personnel requires the extra effort to not only set things up beforehand but to clean things up after the fact.

And finally, if you are efficient then you place a great value on the concept of time. Not only do you use your time effectively to get the job done and to do it correctly, but also you are respectful of other people's time. Whereas you would not think of keeping the client waiting, it also passes for efficiency that you would not keep your other teammates waiting. It is the ability to be respectful to the efficiency of others that significantly contributes to the overall momentum of the office harmony and production.

Being cooperative is perhaps the most difficult behavioral pattern that any of us will experience while working. Being cooperative is complex, because you must fill your job requirements while at the same time not interfering with another person's fulfillment of their job requirements. Any interference in this process is perceived as being uncooperative.

Once again, our definition of being cooperative came from our childhood. For some, being cooperative meant that you had to share all your toys with your siblings. While this definition was imposed upon you as being cooperative, today, you are very well aware of the resentment and anger that this imposition created. And it is for this reason that being cooperative does not feel very good to you.

However, there are others whose experience was that sharing their toys with brothers and sisters permitted them access to get the toys of their brothers and sisters and thus everyone's world was expanded and enhanced. When you go to work, it is impossible to anticipate another person's definition of what it takes to be cooperative; however, you are in an adult position to create a model that is communicated to others of what is required to be cooperative with you.

You must set your own example of what you want from others in order for them to receive your cooperation. In order to accomplish this, you must first understand where you are going and what you are trying to accomplish at every moment of the day. Then you must be able to see the perspective of the other person with whom you must engage in order to accomplish the moment’s goal.

Furthermore, when making an effort to understand the perspective of another person, you must be able to, not only identify what is important to them but also, accommodate a very essential reality. This reality is that sometimes you have to accommodate another person’s need to be important at that particular moment. It is the ability to accommodate and cooperate with the dynamic of the ebb and flow of power within the office that allows you to make demands that are respected and to fall into the background and let others take the lead when it is reasonable.

Another element of being cooperative is to freely do what you are asked to do without resentment and without judgment, while understanding that to move with the flow of the energy at that moment is in everyone's interest. It is the ability to spontaneously move in the appropriate direction of the energy in the office that allows you to be perceived as a cooperative person whose efforts and goals are aligned with the other team members.

Regardless of your position on the team, you will notice that it always feels good to do more than just the job description. Putting in the extra effort or going the extra mile, whether you are asked to or not, always feels good because the expenditure of this energy is directed towards a higher goal and purpose. Being perceived as cooperative is the same as being well integrated into the world of the other people with whom you work. This is a type of intimacy that is very real within all group dynamics.

Finally, I would like to offer that being cooperative is about recognizing that you are expected to give of yourself in the interest of the office and the profitability of the business. In return for giving of yourself, you are entitled to take from the business and from the office not only the monetary gains but also the emotional gains that are experienced as the results of the cooperation that all of the team members experience. At the end of the day, you can ask yourself “Did I give more than I took or did I take more than I gave?” People are recognized as team players cooperate by giving just a little bit more than they take. You can feel the results of this equation when you look in the mirror.

This concludes my presentation on the inner office politics and the moral high ground.

I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Regards, Coach

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McKenzie Management, Inc. has been named the WINNER in the DentalTown Magazine and 2003 Townie Choice Awards™ for Practice Management Consultants.

“It is an overwhelming honor to be singled out by literally thousands of dental practices across the country as the number one dental practice management firm,” said Sally McKenzie, President, McKenzie Management.

“We know that dentists take great care in selecting only the very best products and services, and to be among this elite group is truly a testament to the commitment the McKenzie Management team has demonstrated over the past 23 years to provide consistently superior consulting products and services,” added Ms. McKenzie.

The McKenzie Management Team looks forward to continuing to provide the very best consulting services so that dental practices in turn can become the very best dental teams.


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

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Sally's Mail Bag

Hi Sally,
I’ve just done a quick review of my figures so far year to date since I only have 8 DAYS LEFT to make year end goal and I’ve found that our collection ratio for the year has averaged 95% and our % over 90 days is averaging 33%. What do you think?
Dr. Dunsmore

Dear Dr. Dunsmore,
You’re obviously falling short of consistently meeting the 98% benchmark on collections and less than 12% on the over 90 days. My suggestions are to set these expectations for collections and communicate them to the employee who is accountable for collections, provide training for whoever is accountable on making delinquent account calls, presenting financial arrangements, billing procedures and then don’t wait till the end of the year to find out that you’ve fallen short on reaching those objectives. If you have old accounts or those that have been turned over to collection, then adjust them off so you are looking at those monies that can be realistically collected. Remember, you can always send your collection employee to me here in La Jolla at the Center for Dental Career Development and we’ll whip her into shape and send her back ready to collect for the new year.
Good luck,

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
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For a FREE Educational Video
The Center for Dental Career Development
Advanced Business Education for Dental Professionals
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This issue is sponsored
in part by:
The Center for Dental Career Development
San Diego Workshop Series
Fall/Winter Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Jan. 30
 9:00 - 4:00
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.  

The Center for Dental Career Development has been approved under the Academy of General Dentistry Program Approval for Continuing Education (PACE) program. Starting 10/19/03 through 10/18/07 members of the Academy of General Dentistry can receive AGD credits for all seminars and workshops sponsored by the Center for Dental Career Development.

Please visit to view a list of upcoming seminars and workshops.

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