By Sally McKenzie, contributing writer

April 19, 2017 -- You're ready for a change. Your practice is nowhere near where you want it to be, and most days you find yourself dealing with broken appointments, staff conflict, patient complaints, and a host of other issues that take you away from what you do best: treating patients. Yes, you know you can do better, but, if you're like most dentists, you have no idea how.

If you're struggling, it's likely because you have outdated, inefficient systems. That, combined with a lack of clear goals, can really hold a practice back. But not to worry. I can help you finally meet your full potential and grow your bottom line. Let's start with these six tips.

1. Create a clear vision for your practice

If you haven't already, now is the time to establish goals for your practice, your team members, and yourself. Think about where you want to be a year from now, and write down what you need to achieve to make it happen. Determine what actions you're going to take and then develop a plan.

2. Help your team members succeed

Embrace your role as practice CEO and provide your team members with the tools and direction they need to excel. First, develop detailed job descriptions so all team members knows exactly what's expected of them, which systems they're accountable for, and how their performance will be measured.

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

You'll notice a huge difference in their performance. They'll take ownership of their systems and really begin to flourish. Everyone will know who's responsible for what, reducing conflict and tension among team members.

And of course you can't forget about training. Many dentists opt to skip this because of the expense and convince themselves team members can learn on the job. This just leads to confusion and frustration, ultimately hurting team morale and your production numbers.

When team members are trained properly, they're more confident in their skills and are much more effective. The bottom line is that any time and money you invest in team training is well worth it, and you'll see the payout in improved productivity and a happier staff.

3. Educate patients about the value of dentistry

This will not only help you connect with patients -- making them more likely to stay loyal to your practice and to accept treatment -- it will also help reduce the number or broken appointments you deal with each day. Patients who understand the benefits of the services you provide will place more value on their appointment time, which means they'll actually show up.

Remember broken appointments cost practices thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. Hiring a scheduling coordinator, confirming appointments two days in advance, and providing patient education are all ways you can reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows in your practice.

4. Follow up with every patient

“Think about where you want to be a year from now, and write down what you need to achieve to make it happen.”

Most patients don't accept treatment right away. They typically want to go home and talk about their options with a significant other or family member before they make a decision.

To keep the conversation at the top of their mind, I suggest following up with patients two days after the initial presentation. Have your treatment coordinator make these calls with the goal of getting patients on the schedule. Provide the necessary scripts and training, and make sure your coordinator knows to use the call as an opportunity to educate, answer any questions about treatment, and address any perceived barriers to care.

5. Revamp recall

The recall system is often overlooked, but it can be a practice's biggest moneymaker. I suggest you re-energize this vital system by tasking a team member with making a certain number of patient calls per day, scheduling a specific number of appointments, ensuring a specific number of patients complete treatment, and scheduling to ensure hygienists produce three times their daily wages. When you do, you'll start scheduling more treatment, patient retention numbers will improve and overhead costs will fall.

6. Focus on customer service

Patients have certain expectations when they walk into a dental practice. They want to feel as if the doctor and the team care and aren't just trying to sell them expensive dentistry.

Train your team members to promptly greet every patient with a smile and do what they can to make patients comfortable, whether that means offering them water as they wait or helping them fill out paperwork. This will go a long way in building trust and loyalty, which in turn boosts production numbers and your bottom line.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

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.

Copyright © 2017

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