Imagine your frustration as you try to fill a glass and this all of the water that you can coax from your old faucet. You know that there is ample water in the pipes to rapidly fill the glass but getting the water through the faucet into the empty glass is slow frustrating process.
I recently talked with a dentist who was experiencing the same frustration as he tried to find space in the hygiene schedule for his new patients. For the past several years he had been scheduling four days of hygiene. The hygienist booked their appointments six months in advance so when it comes time to welcome a new patient into the practice there was no space in the hygiene schedule to accommodate them. Consequently, the production for the practice was stagnant, hygiene production was flat and the practice had experienced no growth. An analysis of the practice revealed that more than 80% of the “active” patients had no future appointment scheduled. The hygiene capacity had become the drippy faucet of the practice or put another way, the limiting factor of the practice. There is a huge pool of patients who aren’t actively seeking treatment because there just isn’t room and the overall production of the practice isn’t growing. By adding more hygiene capacity, the patient flow in the practice can be increased. The potential production of the 80% of his patients can be converted into dental production.
What is the “slow faucet” in your office. It could be the need for an additional assistant so that operatories can be used more effeciently; inefficient scheduling, a doctor who insists on doing tasks that could be assigned to an assistant; lack of training for the staff; or a receptionist with less than friendly phone skills. As an outside observer (a dental consultant,) I was able to help my client identify the “faucet effect” in his office and unlock the potential dental production. If you want to identify the “faucet effects” in your office and improve the flow of potential dental services into dental production, contact me, DentistCEO, for a free consultation.
While I am not an avid or competitive biker, I do enjoy riding. I typically enjoy rides of around ten miles. Riding in the Northwest, a ride that long will almost always include some sort of hill. Hills are always taken as some sort of challenge, either increasing the speed of getting to the top or trying to avoid shifting to the lower gears. The problem that I have is that sometimes when I am avoiding the shift, I make it part way up and get to the point when I don’t have enough speed to shift. So then I am reduced to getting off the bike and walking up the hill. But when I anticipate the need to shift, I am successful and make it to the top.
On my frequent rides I have often thought how successful dental practices are able to anticipate the shift and in doing so are adapt at making the necessary changes in advance and don’t find their practices stalled short of making it to the top of the hills. The necessity to shift can come in many forms such as, staff changes, economic conditions, retirement plans, the advent of new technology, or changing demographics. Whatever the “hills” are in your practice anticipating the shift and making it timely can alleviate stress both emotional and monetary, and position you for success.
Recently some of my classmates from elementary school have been sharing their old classroom pictures. The first picture is of a classroom of happy third graders. Notice their happy smiling faces. Mrs. Morrison was the teacher and she made coming to school each morning an adventure. As I recall there was a lot of enthusiasm in the classroom for learning. One look at Mrs. Morrison’s face and you can see why I learned so much the year I was in her class.
Now take a look at some of the same kids, just one year later. I was struck with the change in countenace in just a year. Gone are the happy faces and the look of enthusiasm. I don’t think that the level of learning would have been the same. The picture could have been titled, “Hard Times at Jefferson Elementary. A look at the stern face of the teacher pretty much tells the story.
As you look at the pictures, visualize which picture would more closely resemble your staff picture. An observation that I frequently heard during my years of private practice was that my mood effected the entire office. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew that I was largely responsible for setting the office mood. And as my gut feelings about how the levels of learning in the two classroom pictured above differed, researchers have found that happiness has an effect on productivity in the work place. In an article published by Forbes , Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener, confirms my assumptions.
“Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it’s good for organizations and individuals, too.”
In her research, Pryce-Jones and her team found that “the happiest employees are 180% more energized than their less content colleagues, 155% happier with their jobs, 150% happier with life, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50% more productive too.”
She also found that the least happy workers reported spending 40% of their week doing what they’re there to do, compared with happy workers, who reported spending 80% of their week on work-related tasks. In other words, the happiest workers put in four days of real work compared to two days of real work of the less happy workers. Additionally she found that happiest employees take 66% less sick leave than their less happy counterparts.
So as you can see it is the best interest of you and your bottom line to create a happy mood in your practice. If you are not seeing enough smiles in your office, call DentistCEO for a free consultation. You and your staff will be glad you did.
I have always been a firm believer of the value of a bonus system to motivate the staff and improve the health of a dental practice. During my thirty years in private practice I had several systems. As a consultant I have been surprised at the number of clients who have not had a bonus system. As I am a strong advocate for bonus systems, it is generally one of the first recommendations that I make to clients. There are several requirements for a bonus system to positively impact the staff. Generally the bonus is given if specific goals are met. The goals need to be pertinent to the success of the practice. They also need to be achievable but require some extra sweat. If the goal is set too high the staff will feel little motivation to work to achieve the goal, so it needs to reasonable. They should be easily tracked so that the staff can easily gage their progress. Bonuses should be directed tied to the goal without a lot of extra requirement to receive the bonus. I have found that a bonus system not only motivates the staff but can energize the practice. Typically I would have two components to the bonus system. I would offer a yearly bonus along with a monthly bonus.
The yearly bonus would be tied to a yearly production goal. The goal was set at the beginning of the year and the bonus varied. I would consider several factors in setting the yearly goal such as the previous year’s production, fee increases and desired growth. Sometimes the staff would receive a cash bonus; other times the bonus would be in the form of an office trip or a combination of the two. While I did take the staff to Hawaii a couple of times, I found that shorter trips could be just as rewarding. Even though taking a trip to Hawaii gets the staff’s attention, it also creates more difficulty for the staff as they have to arrange for extended child care and the temptation arise to have spouses tag along. Since part of the purpose of the trip is to build the dental team, a shorter trip without the distractions of spouses actually works very well. Each December as we approached the goal, the staff would carefully monitor our daily production and put the heat on the doctors to make sure the goal was achieved.
The monthly bonus would be based on three important practice monitors, new patients, retention and production. Health care professionals track blood pressure, pulse and temperature to monitor the health of the patients. New patient flow, retention and production are a cursory indication of the health of a practice. Consequently I advocate goals be set in each of these areas. Generally, I use a three month rolling average to set the goal in each area. Some of my clients tie the production goal to their daily production goal or the ratio of staff costs to the overhead of the practice. In any case, I recommend that there is a bench mark collection percentage that must be met in order to give the production goal. It is hard to pay a bonus if collections are healthy. I believe that a healthy bonus system is an important part of the total compensation package for the staff. I found that a good bonus system not only motivated the staff in a positive way, it was a great way to increase my bottom line.
When it comes to success in the dental field, each unique department requires the attention of a skilled leader such as you. As a dentist and dental consultant in the Portland area, I’ve seen first-hand how a well-oiled hygiene department can be the backbone of success for a practice.
When reaching to meet its potential, a hygiene department can accomplish so much more than just pump out SRPs and prophy appointments. Hygienists can take the time and effort to effectively educate their patients, whose rapt attention is ensured thanks to a good-ole Gracie curette. Such kind and meaningful education can help your patient base perceive the value of their dental health, increasing treatment plan acceptance and lowering the number of broken appointments.
For your hygiene department to flourish, an effective recall strategy is crucial. Recall is delicate, too heavy-handed and your practice can alienate patients, too gentle and they may forget about you. When executed properly, your office recall is truly beneficial to both patients and to your practice.
If your hygiene department hasn’t shown growth in years, or if your rate of patient attrition seems too high, consider building up your hygiene department to build your practice for success! Contact DentistCEO, your dental consultant for Portland area dentists today.