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Everything Dental Blog April 2018

You Are Responsible for The Drama

We all complain. It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner, manager or an employee, there is always something that we just don’t like to do or don’t understand why we must do it. It’s ironic that most of us are resistant to change but we all have a list of things we’d like to change. In the end, we like change that positively impacts us but we resist change because it’s unsettling and creates uncertainty.  

Most of us can impact our own lives positively if we step up, speak up and execute better. Excuses and explanations are not actions, they are barriers to progress. We’ve all been resistors and change agents in our own lives at one time or another. We mustn’t settle on surviving instead of thriving in this chaotic business environment.

All businesses must control spending and work on their operational efficiency. Your Henry Schein sales consultant can provide you with a Purchasing Analytic Report. The report converts raw data into an analysis of your supply spend and identifies opportunities to reduce your acquisition costs. In most cases they can help you reduce your Henry Schein supply spend depending on your product mix, formulary or purchase frequency. In addition, your Henry Schein field rep can connect you with coding, practice management and marketing professionals to grow your practice, it’s relevance and revenue.  

Below are a handful of challenges that create drama in the dental office!

Reoccurring cash flow problems – This is a manageable challenge that must be eliminated. Hire a financial professional to help you develop a budget and provide financial planning. This is a complex matter that requires planning, discipline and reflection. Planning for personal and professional financial success will eliminate cash flow concerns and will allow you to accumulate wealth. By managing your finances, you will handle the adversity that comes in life and business.  

Professional certification and licensing management – All clinical employees must have their licensing requirements managed. This information must be accurate, up to date and in good standing. Group practice compliance and licensing is even more onerous and ominous because of the number of clinical employees and the exposure issues they present.   

No rainy-day fund (emergency fund) – In most cases the experts recommend that small businesses should have funds available to cover, a minimum of three months of operation.

Disharmony in the office (lack of teamwork) – This affects patient reviews, the social atmosphere at work and the offices operational efficiency. Training and group activities in conjunction with good leadership, leads to high performance and team harmony! The owner and management team need to lead by example – it pays dividends.  

The team isn’t closing any large cases –  Highly effective clinicians and hygienists didn’t start out that way. They were taught by mentors or invested a great deal of their time attending practice management as well as clinical CE. The right mentor and a tapestry of dental experience turbo chargers one’s clinical prowess but effective clinicians understand operations. Highly skilled and efficient healthcare givers educate their patients, present comprehensive treatment plans and earn the patient’s trust. Patients say yes to treatment when they trust you and believe the doctor or hygienist. They are skittish when the healthcare giver is not believable or deliberate.

Poor communication skills and no scripting –  Training your team on phone skills, presentation skills, and interpersonal communication (empathy and scripting) improves treatment acceptance and the patients’ experience. After twenty-five years of consulting dental offices, I know that the offices who train on these skills outperform those who don’t.

Employees come late, miss the morning huddle and fail to follow office policy – This is easily remedied if the office has a comprehensive employee handbook and if the office conducts quarterly employee reviews that directly affect compensation and bonuses. The handbook introduces new employees to your corporate culture and gives them an idea about how they’ll fit in your organization. It also fosters a sense of pride and belonging. People like to know what their responsibilities are and a handbook eliminates uncertainty and brings clarity to management’s expectations. *Empower team members to lead or participate in the morning huddle and staff meetings. If the Dr. and management don’t follow the rules expect noncompliance and dissention amongst the ranks.

Crazy, over booked schedules – Most appointment coordinators have never attended a scheduling course and do not know the nuances that make a good schedule great. They fail to use blocks because they have never been trained. All offices should be able to appoint a new patient or an emergency patient that same day or within 24 hours of the inquiry. The doctors’ and hygienists’ schedules should be built for optimum production but we mustn’t disrupt them with unexpected surprises.

Hygiene checks during endo appointments and back to back RCT in the schedule – This should never happen. Here is another scheduling and administrative issue that can be corrected with training. Interruptions during highly challenging work is an irritant and can affect the clinician’s patience and focus.  

Not building your day with realistic/obtainable production goals – Offices that operate without daily goals suffer from feast to famine syndrome. When a practice kills it one day and underperforms the next day everyone suffers. We all work hard and some days it doesn’t feel like it’s worth the time and effort. When a clinical provider has holes in their schedule or a schedule that yields little revenue, it causes unnecessary drama and usually leads to staff turnover. This explains why so many young dental associates and specialists require a daily guarantee.

No cash procedures in the schedule – This is common amongst practices that wait for these procedures to be requested instead of marketing them. These offices say things like, “Our patients aren’t interested in clear aligners” or “whitening cases come in spurts”. If you consistently present and talk about electives, you will sell more of them.  

Incongruent Standard of Care – With the growth of Group Dentistry and the availability of real time analytics, we can crunch the numbers and know who is producing and who is not. We can identify differences in standard of care that may exist amongst clinicians within the organization. I recommend a clinical standard of care for every organization developed by the chief clinical officer or by committee. Lack of a formal Standard of Care doctrine is an exposure issue and an operations issue for every organization that has two or more doctors or hygienists in the practice. Remember, your Standard of Care is your standard. I encourage all practices, especially group practice, to make treatment planning and standard of care part of their training and education.

Inundated with emergency appointments? This is usually the result of covering for another doctor or because you fail to provide comprehensive dentistry. Many clinicians are scared to let the patient know that they require a great deal of dental work for fear that they may say no or leave the practice. Failure to diagnose and restore the dentistry that you see, will haunt you with unprecedented emergency activity.

Soft new patient numbers – This is usually a multifaceted problem. It can be the result of poor marketing, unprofessional phone skills, bad online reviews (your reputation), poor location, no parking, a weak digital footprint or can be an insurance participation matter.

You are owed lots of money (Two plus months of production in your account receivables) This is a result of being too agreeable, too nice and not having a financial policy. Dentists need to take a play from their medical counterparts’ playbook. They tend to get paid at time of service and have strict insurance verification procedures before providing costly treatment. There are times when being unreasonable isn’t a shoddy quality.

The three top reasons for drama in any business

  1. Poor communication – Leadership must provide a vision and mission for the employees/company. Regular communication from the boss or a supervisor keeps the team motivated, efficient and well informed.
  2. Unqualified or unmotivated Employees – Trained, engaged employees perform better and provide better customer care. When your team delivers quality work and value, your business grows!
  3. Not creating realistic expectations for employees and the consumer. Exceeding expectations wins friends and patients alike!

Every business has its challenges. Dentists are the chairman of the board and the clinician. They are the chief operations office and the VP of finance. Unfortunately, wet handed dentists spend eighty percent of their time in the operatory and cannot effectively manage those other critical elements of the business. If a wet handed dentist wants his operation to operate like the big boys, they must attract and employ talented people. Good people, good systems, ongoing training and great customer service leads to a successful dental business.

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