Archive for Dental Practice Management
Two Different Doctor’s Offices
Boy, if this doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does!
Two patients limp into two different medical clinics with the same complaint.
Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement.
The FIRST patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.
The SECOND patient sees his family doctor after waiting 3 weeks for an appointment, then waits 8 weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn’t reviewed for another week. And finally has his surgery scheduled for 6 months from then.
Why the different treatment for the two patients?
The FIRST is a Golden Retriever.
The SECOND is a Senior Citizen.
What differentiates your dental practice from the next?
Last time, I gave you five methods of introducing Open-Book Management into your practice. What is Open-Book Management?
It’s a system of educating your employees on the basics of business income and expenses, like how to read a financial statement, and then applying that knowledge to your practice. That means as the leader of the practice, you must understand these numbers so you can educate your team. It means teaching your employees to think like business owners and giving them a personal financial stake in the profitability of your practice. The results? A more motivated staff, better profitability, happier patients, and less stress.
Take the time to read the rest of these tips and implement these ideas, and you WILL see results.
1. LEARN MORE ABOUT OPEN BOOK MANAGEMENT
2. INSTRUCT AND COACH YOUR EMPLOYEES
Give them the WHY as well as the HOW, then follow up with feedback. Be sure they understand all of the why’s: why the practice is in its current position; why they need to know how the business runs; why you are sharing this information. Then show them how this new Open-Book Management will work for and benefit them. Make sure you provide regular, ongoing coaching and feedback – real-time learning.
3. SHARE YOUR NUMBERS
Every industry (including dentistry) has benchmarks against which companies measure their performance; production, collections, remakes, and patient complaints are among the key statistics we track in dentistry. What gets measured, gets done. When employees begin tracking these critical benchmarks, they begin to see opportunities for improvement. They start to provide solutions and feel ownership over the results.
Your stress is lowered, because you are no longer required to have all the answers.
Share financial information with employees. Teach them how to read the numbers…they send a powerful message.
4. TEACH BUSINESS BASICS
Inc. Magazine suggests that Americans know very little about business. Many believe the word “business” equals success and money. They have little or no idea about routine business expenses, what percentage of profit is healthy, or the distinction between profit and income. Develop a program in-house that teaches business basics, like how to read a financial statement, or even how to balance a checkbook.
Start with employees’ personal finances and apply their new understanding to your business.
Compare personal income statements and balance sheets with those of the business to get them to start speaking the language of business and deepen their understanding of business basics.
5. SHOW EMPLOYEES HOW TO THINK LIKE OWNERS
Profit and loss are strong motivators. Make sure every employee shares directly in the business success and in the risk of failure. When employees trust and understand management, profit and loss will motivate employees to get clear on what they are working for each year. When they have the opportunity to be rewarded like an owner, the will think like owners.
Open-Book Management, according to Mark Miller of Chick-fil-A’s, is a system to create a business of business people. By teaching the business of business, providing tools to measure performance and supporting employee growth, Open Book Management has the potential to reduce employee discontent, improve decisions and increase profits. Business can be fun if everyone understands the game!
You’ve planned and are looking forward to having a remarkably productive first month of the year to set the stage for an amazing 2015 and…
- Monday morning your Chairside Assistant calls in sick 20 minutes before your first patient who is scheduled with you for a three-hour appointment!
- You have your most productive and interesting day of the month going smoothly until 10:45 a.m. when your air compressor craps out! The repairman can’t get to you until tomorrow.
- You have Mrs. Smith sitting in the chair at 8:00 am to seat six anterior veneers, and two minutes into your welcoming conversation with her, you’re informed that the veneers are not here!
- You’ve seated the denture yesterday and Mr. Brown was delighted with the fit, feel and appearance. You patted yourself on the back because it was a challenging case. It’s now 4:50 p.m. and your Appointment Coordinator advises you that Mr. Brown is coming in right now because his wife hates the color of his teeth and the dentures makes him look hideous!
If you have never experienced any or all or some permutation of these, you obviously have just graduated from dental school and have not had the opportunity to experience “life”.
It happens to all of us…that Whack-a-Mole process where by we think we have taken care of that ornery mole and then he pops his head up again in some other place. Just when we think we have everything under control, he pops his head up again! Uggggh!
Click here to read more about Whack-a-Mole Dentistry.
Dental CEO’s, who are you noticing? For many years, bosses thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to encourage employees. Research over past decades, however, confirms something else.
The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.
Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done or for meeting a performance goal are not a luxury.
It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice. Praise packs power! Numerous studies have shown that a sincere thank you or a word of praise often means more than a pay raise or a gift. The power comes from the fact that you took the time to NOTICE and to ACKNOWLEDGE a team member’s actions. It makes them feel special; and everyone, whether they voice it or not, wants to feel special.
Dr. Gerald Graham, a specialist in employee motivation, found that personalized, instant recognition from the team leader made the highest impact on positive and sustained employee performance. Team members respond the best when the leader/doctor:
• Personally congratulates individuals who do a good job.
• Writes personal notes about specific performance.
• Publicly recognizes individuals or the team for good performance.
• Holds morale-building events to celebrate successes.
And this type of recognition costs nothing!
Coaching ACTION ITEM: “metaphorically” or really, why not plan to create “Bobble Head” experiences for your team as you design your 2015 recognition program? Watch your customer/patient service experiences skyrocket! How you treat your team members dictates how your customers are treated.
The best and most essential way to create a positive, interactive dental workplace is by creating two critically important documents. The first is a value-centered set of guiding principles and the second is a clear vision statement.
To some this task may seem foolish, a waste of time, and just more ridiculous business jargon. To others this challenge may seem daunting. And to other dentists, they have discovered that to have a truly remarkable, life-balanced, and solution-oriented practice, the undertaking has been essential.
The first of the two documents, Core Values, is the most critical. It is the responsibility of the doctor to establish a set of values that all team members will respect and adhere to on a daily basis. This is not an exercise where the team gathers in a quiet, dark room, sit on the floor, hold hands, hum while we light incense and then collectively share our deepest and innermost thoughts on what our morals for the practice need to be. This is the sole responsibility of the doctor…the CEO of the firm to author this slate of guiding principles.
So what are these Core Values, how do I identify them, and how do they impact my team and my office?
Core Values are the doctor’s equivalent to The Ten Commandments. They are the Guiding Principles around which the doctor will make ALL business (and personal) decisions. It is what he or she will view as “right” and “true.” These values are non-negotiable. They originate from the heart and soul of the doctor. They are the foundation and the backbone of the practice.
Any time there is a question about what to do in typical and unusual circumstances, when there are upsets about staffing issues, how to best to communicate with patients, how to behave individually and collectively, what choice is the most appropriate for the practice, everything……..the Core Values serves as the “Ultimate” guide. It is the “source of center” for behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes for everyone (including the doctor) in the office.
Identifying Core Values can be simple or challenging, depending on how you choose to attack this mission.
What most people have discovered is that their value system is “there”, they’re “inside them”, and however, they just have never taken the time or the effort to “get them out.”
When I ask my clients to identify their values they readily admit they know what they are in general terms yet they have never put them in writing. To help them and you, below are some simple ideas to improve your ability to identify your Core Values.
Find a quiet place and begin to write out what you value. Recognize that…..
- A core value is something I have chosen freely and with consideration for the consequences of my choice.
- A core value is something I prize greatly and has a positive influence on my life.
- A core value is something I want to publicly affirm.
- A core value is something I am willing to act on.
- A core value is something I would repeat……if given the circumstances, I would respond in the same way.
People expect to achieve certain ideals from their jobs, employers, and careers. These workplace values have a direct impact on your satisfaction with your job, with your career, and even with your life.
Since you are the business owner, your values affect how you run your business. What are your core values?
Procrastination is the line that divides the 4% from the 96% of the health care professionals that reach Economic Freedom by the age of 65.
Economic Freedom is the day you have a safe and reliable portfolio that produces your desired standard of living for the rest of your life. This is the day you go to work because you want to, not because you have to.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m going to get to that next week,” but next week comes and goes. The reality for many of us is that we are inclined to “put-off” those activities that we believe will require a lot of our energy, take a lot of our time or cost us money.
Many times we will postpone an activity because we imagine it might be uncomfortable. What I have discovered is that we avoid moving forward in many cases due to fear. Fear and misperception is an anchor to success. Even when we know the consequences of avoiding this behavior may not be in our best interest, many of us still hesitate.
We have discovered throughout our lives that there are consequences for our every behavior and action. Some consequences are incidental while others have the ability to impact our lives forever. I have learned that when we confront our fears, commit to an objective and then manage the perceived discomfort, we then have the capacity to prescribe the consequences.
Procrastination is a decision. It’s a decision to do nothing. It’s immobilizing. To allow our future to unfold with no direction often comes with painful consequences. In both my personal and professional life I learned that when I took the attitude of “I’ll get to that next week, next month or when I can make the time”, the consequences were generally costly. I have seen many examples in dental offices. The doctor who had every intention to implement the most current OSHA regulations but never quite got around to it. The office was inspected and the fines were consequential. The dentist who had intended to develop a regular policy of employee performance reviews but failed to get around to it. The repercussion resulted in undirected, unmotivated and unproductive employees. “My monthly collections have been fluctuating around 91%”, proclaimed one of our clients. “One of these days I’m going to have to set up a firm financial program for the office”. Her consequences were expensive. . . poor cash flow, inability to grow the practice and an under-compensated doctor.
I see dentists and other health care professionals who practice this same “some day I’ll get to it” philosophy when it applies to their economics. They fail to develop a context or a game plan around their money. They neglect to factor in the painless and insidious affects of inflation on their purchasing dollars. The consequences effect them the rest of their lives. They discover, in many cases when it’s too late, that they cannot live their retirement years out of choice. For many they will live their lives out of desperation.
It is because of this lack of planning that only 3% of the American population and 4% of the dental community is able to retire at the same level they had become accustomed to prior to retirement. They must continue to work because they must not because they want to.
We know that when couples and individuals develop a framework and a discipline around their economics and then commit to a game plan that’s coordinated with an investment strategy that the consequences are Economic Freedom. It’s a lifelong ability to live our lives out of choice, exactly the way we want, free of the constraints of money. That’s what creates economic peace of mind and the results are enduring. Positive consequences are the results when we eliminate the “some day I’ll” baggage and educate ourselves to the unfamiliar. When we begin to manage our anxiety is when we become free to make choices. Procrastination is not a harbor of comfort, it’s our nemesis.
When we elevate economic freedom to a must priority, it comes with no conditions. The results are predictable. Positive outcomes. Peace of mind to live our lives and operate our practices exactly the way we want them, free of the constraints of money. We can procrastinate or we can plan. We can “get to it someday” or we can begin today. It’s your call. Plan your plan.
You CAN predict your business future with a greater sense of certainty!
You now have a tool where you can craft a simplified business plan and then, unlike a typical critiquing session in which you have to determine what might go wrong, using the premortem exercise operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so you get to ask what did go wrong.
Now you can generate plausible reasons for the failure of your business plan and increase your future success by as much as 30%. You’ll identify your risks at the onset.
CAUTION: This takes effort, time and work! Success IS connected with ACTION. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, yet they don’t quit. So, what action will you take to assure your success?
Here are the essential steps to completing your premortem:
- Write a simple business plan. Engage a coach or business planner to help you with this process. No, it does not need to be an MBA project.
- Share this plan with your team and your advisors (CPA, Coach, attorney, banker, etc.).
- “Mentalize” your plan. Close your eyes and visualize your plan happening. Think about and feel what success looks like.
- Close your eyes, be at peace and fast-forward three years. Regardless of all your hard work and efforts, your plan FAILED!
- Write down every reason you can think of for the failure of your plan.
- Share in a meeting with your team and/or your advisors and give them the opportunity to have them help you identify possible solutions (steps, processes or alternatives) that could be implemented in advance to prevent this failure. In other words, what would be a plan “B” or even “C”? Remember, “no one is as smart as all of us” ~ a Coach Ronism.
I am eager to hear from any of my readers who might be intrigued by this business plan/premortem concept.
If you think using those “pre-scripted,” post-treatment survey questions offered up by the digital texting and appointment reminder services will serve as your self-appraisal, I fear you are misguided.
Patient feedback is vital to running your practice.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get…a Coach Ron-ism. When you ask your patients for what they want or how you’re doing, you will be amazed what you will learn. Use simple surveys that give your patients the opportunity to provide you and your team feedback. Consider doing office surveys at least twice a year. What you can expect to receive is information that will help you grow your practice…as well as your income.
Keep in mind that measuring patient satisfaction isn’t as easy as slapping a few questions on a card. The process needs to be carefully mapped out – from the way you ask questions to the way you respond to results.
Consider the following guidelines:
- Determine the objective of your survey. What do you want to learn? What do you want to improve, grow, change, and expand? What decisions do you want to make with this valuable information?
- Ask the right questions. Choose questions carefully or your survey won’t give you the information you really need. Be very specific about what you want to learn about your practice. Do you want to know how well your patients are being greeted? Do you want to know how your patients feel about how well their teeth were cleaned? Do you want to know if your injections are painless?
- Keep your surveys short and sweet and easy to read and understand. People are busy (or so they think) and when surveying patients, we need to be sensitive to their time constraints. Think like the customer and make them simple and brief.
I have additional guidelines, should you choose to request them.
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” ~ Jimmy Johnson
What three “extras” will you provide in your workweek that will set you apart from the others?
What numbers are you tracking in your business and professional life? What is important for you to be tracking?
Here are some thoughts to get you started:
- Health: See the list I mentioned last week such as BMI, triglycerides, cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. What others are important to YOU? How regularly are you exercising? How much water are you drinking daily? How many hours of sleep do you get daily? How many HUGS (yes, hugs) are you giving and receiving daily?
- Business: Production, collections, number of referral requests, failed appointments, cost to the business of failed and short-noticed cancelled appointments, collection percentage, managed care adjustments, hourly productivity, P&L line item costs such as marketing, rent, lab fees, office and dental supplies, and any and ALL investments made in employees…not just their wages.
- Financial: How much is enough? Are you being supported by a Certified Financial Planner to help you create your economic future of choice? How well have you calculated your year of retirement? How much do you save or need to save every year? Where do you want your kids or grandkids to go to school, college, and post-college? Are you on track to save for these expenses? How often do you intend to replace your autos? What are the returns you need on your portfolio to hit your targets? Have you established your investment policy guidelines that will help you identify your risk tolerance? Again, how much is enough and how will you know if you are there?
The numbers don’t lie. What are yours?
Remember, there is a reason we have scoreboards at sporting events. There is a reason we have speedometers in our cars. There is a reason we count our money. What does your scoreboard tell you? At what “speed of life” are you moving?
As I mentioned last week, I recently celebrated being alive for 25 fabulous years having survived a life-threatening heart attack. My heart attack and all I experienced afterwards gave me a very different view on life and how it relates to business. In 2010, with encouragement from my wife, Trish, I wrote a book to share my story so that others may benefit from my mistakes. The result was my book, Killing The Practice Before It Kills You…How Throwing Out My Business Model Saved My Life.
If you feel the challenges at your business has you feeling like the gerbil on the wheel, reading this book just may help save your life! Available in Kindle edition or hardcopy, while quantities last.