Blind Spots: After practice purchase, now what? Part 2

2014 04 22 15 07 02 651 Keller Jan 200

In this three-part series, practice management consultant Jan Keller explores what dentists who have recently purchased a practice can do to avoid common pitfalls and facilitate lasting success. In part one, she offered a four-point checklist of what needs to happen first. In part two, she discusses next steps and team communication.

Practice management consultant Jan Keller.Practice management consultant Jan Keller.

For the doctor who is inheriting an existing team, open and honest dialogue is imperative. Your first priority is to meet with team members individually and encourage them to speak freely and openly about their opinion of the practice as it operated under the previous owner and about what they would like to see happen in the future. This is your opportunity to get to know them better and find out more about them.

For instance, you could ask questions such as the following:

  • Do you need help with anything and, if so, what?
  • What tasks are most comfortable for you and why?
  • What tasks are least comfortable and why?
  • What is the most frustrating aspect of your job and why? Can you give me examples?
  • What are the biggest distractions you encounter?
  • What aspect of dentistry would you like to learn more about?
  • What can I do to help?
  • What do you need to help you grow your role in my practice?
  • What can your team mates do to better assist you in your role?
  • How do you feel about my vision for this practice?

Allow them time to think about their answers, without rushing them. Think of this process as similar to presenting treatment and payment options. Silence does not necessarily mean "no," it just means they are collecting their thoughts. Be courteous and give them time to consider the question and respond.

Next steps

After these discussions have taken place, consider these next steps:

  • Lay the groundwork for handling gossip and communication issues.
  • Ensure you have a policy manual that has been audited and is current and up to date with state and federal laws.
  • Review job descriptions, and make any modifications to adapt them to your expectations.
  • Review the current performance evaluation used. If none exists, create one and implement it.
  • Establish a schedule for regular team meetings and stick to it! Leave each meeting with an action plan in place -- who will do what and by when?
  • Have measures for accountability purposes to know if your hygiene team is profitable.
  • Generate reports that will help you understand how the team is working. This is vital when considering bonuses and raises. It's hard to know what and how to reward if you don't know what you are measuring.
  • Explain when and why bonuses and raises will be considered.
  • Discuss the number of patient contacts made and appointments scheduled each month to reactivate reluctant, overdue patients.
  • Discuss how you will handle cancellations and no-shows, such as the following questions:
    “Remember, your team is as anxious for your new practice to be a success as you are.”
    1. How many of each on a daily basis?
    2. How many are filled?
    3. Who is taking and making the calls?
    4. How are they fitting the last-minute or rescheduled patient into the schedule?
  • Make a plan for tracking how much treatment was recommended in the previous month versus how much is scheduled.

Remember, your team is as anxious for your new practice to be a success as you are. It's your job to give them the tools, rules, and leadership they need to make this happen.

In the third part of this series, Jan will discuss patient communication.

Jan Keller has more than 25 years of experience in dentistry as an office manager and a software trainer. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. Contact her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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