As we draw near the end of 2020, we can all look back and see just what we have navigated during a year that will go down in the history books as perhaps one of the most tumultuous in U.S. history.
Dental practices went through a lot, and as we build toward the hope of a new year and the promise it can bring, we're launching a series with practice management consultants in which we ask them for their top advice on a variety of topics. We know that these words of wisdom will serve as a source of inspiration for what you and your team can do to make your business even stronger heading into 2021.
We're starting the series by providing the thoughts of five consultants who are members of DIY Digital Dental Consulting on a wide variety of practice management topics.
Accountability, by Dr. Jeanette Kern
Do you ever see that your employees are all busy, but some of the things you want to get done aren't getting done?
Nobody seems to notice when there's a problem (holes in the schedule, patients leaving without accepting treatment or scheduling, operatory drawers not stocked, etc.) until it's too late. Whenever you come across a difficult situation, you have a choice: You can let it get the best of you or you can do something about it.
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines accountability as "the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions." Accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our own actions. Notice the word "account" is in accountability. This implies numbers and numerical tracking, but it is also synonymous with integrity.
Decide on the level of professionalism you want from your team -- and that you'll do what it takes to get it. Accountability starts with the doctor. Don't let go of conversations that need to be said, technology that needs to be utilized by a team member who consistently doesn't pull his or her weight, or team members who won't change their verbiage, get with the program, or speak up when they know the solution. Don't let things go that you shouldn't and do let things go that you should. Your current results are entirely tied to your practice structure. Your leadership, delegation, and communication skills are required.
Hire wisely, train, cross-train, and have systems in place. Use job descriptions, written protocols, and regular feedback sessions. Set attainable written goals together with the team member and use positive reinforcement. By tracking statistics on desired goals, the employee has concrete numbers to strive toward. When employees are involved in setting the baseline goals, there is buy-in. If the team member isn't performing, then train him or her up.
How can you make accountability a core part of your culture and a core value of your team? Here are five ways:
- Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first.
- Work on your feedback skills.
- Recognize that procrastinating on giving feedback only makes things worse.
- Make accountability a habit.
- Keep track of your commitments and hold each other accountable.
Case acceptance, by Candice Martin
Let's start 2021 off right by increasing patient case acceptance. Here are five tips to do just that:
- Change your mindset: You're not selling, you're serving. I often feel that when we are diagnosing or presenting a large treatment plan, we already have it in our minds that patients won't spend their money on their teeth or that they can't afford it. We're actually doing the patient a disservice when we have these presumptions and judgments. So instead of expecting them not to proceed with treatment, expect that they will.
- Build trust: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," as the saying goes. Building a rapport with your patients not only as their doctor but also on a human-to-human level will go a long way.
- Educate: If a patient is unclear why treatment is necessary, he or she will most likely decline. Along with verbal and written explanations, videos on different procedures are available. Also, please remember to take photos. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Make it a habit to take before-and-after intraoral photos for all procedures.
- Have solutions: The top three reasons why patients don't schedule treatment are time, money, and fear. If your practice can offer solutions to address each of these concerns, there is no reason why the patient won't proceed with treatment.
- Follow up: Have a system in place to follow up with your patients. We all get busy, so sometimes a reminder is all they need.
Hiring a new employee, by Jan Keller
How much time to do you spend hiring a new employee? Is your philosophy just to "get someone in here fast," or do you follow a specific set of protocols and guidelines? If you're like most dentists, the urge to act fast is hard to resist, but it often results in an unsuccessful hire -- and then the process begins all over again.
It doesn't have to be that way, and it's why I developed my Forensic Hiring program. It's a simple, four-step process that guides you through the maze of hiring, and it routinely results in finding the right person for the job, the first time.
The first step in the process is the foundation of the program's success. Define and share your core values and practice culture and look for candidates who share and embody those values:
- Have a clearly defined, written job description that helps prospective employees understand what core competencies you are looking for to help them be successful in their jobs.
- Create a unique ad that supports these qualities. Don't make the mistake of writing a generic ad because you will get generic candidates.
- Make it a habit to give your business card to people you meet or know who show exceptional potential, possibly in another industry.
In the age of COVID-19, hiring the right person for the right position with the right skill set (as well as someone who understands and shares your core practice values) is more important than ever.
The role of the dentist/business owner, by Theresa Narantic
Staying idle is essentially moving backward in today's business world. The dental industry, specifically, has changed more in the past five years than it had in the previous 50! There are more technological advances, human resources involvement, continuing education options, insurance involvement, and on and on. No more can a dentist deliver oral healthcare first and hope he or she can be competitive in the business world.
Today, and for all of our days going forward, a dentist must first be a business owner who delivers oral healthcare, compared with previous decades where you were a dentist who happened to own a business.
The dental industry continues to navigate obstacles: Insurance companies are a constant struggle, finding great team members who see your vision and want to participate fully is a challenge, ancillary products and services that we offer keep magnifying, specialties inside the general practice grow, and dental service organizations (DSOs) in the marketplace offer a significant threat to private practice.
The winds of change are hitting the port at the same time the waves are crashing in from the starboard. Find safety in throwing an anchor for stability. Find tools that allow you to be good at dentistry and great at business. Being a great business owner is your only life jacket in our ever-changing environment.
Mitigate risk/keep your patients healthy, by Theresa Sheppard, RDA
Doctors, do you consider yourself "just a dentist" or an "oral physician"? There is no other physician who treats conditions and diseases of the oral cavity like a dentist does. Therefore, we must shift our focus and treat with whole health in mind.
We know that periodontal pathogens contribute to many serious and even life-threatening diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.
During a practice assessment, one area of concern I find is in the hygiene department. Many times, a prophy is billed, yet the documentation clearly indicates a periodontal condition, citing several factors.
We bill a prophy because patients refuse to treat their disease or they "only want what's covered." We have to educate our patients that they have a disease process, and a "cleaning" does not address that disease. Allowing the patient to dictate treatment can be risky and puts you in a position of "supervised neglect." It is a tough decision, but sometimes we have to release a consistently noncompliant patient from the practice.
Keeping this in mind will not only mitigate risk but also keep your patients healthier.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.