In dental practice management…it takes a “total team” to run a “practice”. This article will reveal the 10 key management tools for running a successful dental practice. There is a domino effect that takes place in running a practice. I have outlined these key management tools in this article.
1. Design systems and protocols for a good foundation of production and collections. Strategically plan the success of the practice by designing effective systems for Production, Net Collections, Adjustments, Accounts Receivables Ratio, open time and treatment acceptance. One of the most important statistics to track is the Accounts Receivables Ratio. A healthy ratio is less than 1.0.
2. Hire and train for positive attitude and acquire great teams with a dedication towards customer service and effective communication. If a practice wants team members with great attitudes, write the ad to attract the person with the best attitudes. Then, inspect what is expected of the team by checking in with them often. A simple “thank you for the hard work”, “great job” and positive recognition for a job well done will go a long way in reducing turnover and can add longevity to a team.
3. Hold a “morning huddle” every day to check in on the pulse of the practice and address day to day concerns before they become major issues. Many times the morning huddle or morning meeting becomes a chart review. It is important to address all areas of the practice to avoid unpleasant surprises during the day.
a) Discuss previous day with what went right and what were the challenges, to identify celebrations and areas to improve.
b) Report on next available production block to ensure consistent scheduling.
c) Identify any overdue hygiene patients, family members overdue for hygiene, patients with diagnosed dentistry needing to be scheduled, and where to schedule emergency patients.
d) Determine which patients to identify for marketing possible practice referrals.
e) Measure status of numbers compared with goals and how close practice is to meeting the goal.
f) Offer a leadership statement which helps to start the day on a positive note.
4. Strategize each week by holding team meetings. Set a theme for each week of:
Week 1: Cross training – Set aside this team meeting to cross train departments
Week 2: Analyzing monthly numbers – Reveal the previous month’s statistics, percentage of goal and trends identified
Week 3: Continuing Education – Take advantage of continuing education opportunities. You could review a recent conference attended, invite a specialist to the practice to review their specialty, invite a product or services organization to review new and updated products and services, in-office training on dental software in the practice.
Week 4: Role play – Practice communication for patient questions – this is very helpful in improving communication with patients.
Week 5: Sometimes there will be a 5th week in the month. During these weeks, hold an “attitude adjustment” lunch. The rules for this meeting…don’t talk work.
Hold the team meetings at a set time each week for 1 hour. Develop written action plans. Bring these action plans to every team meeting. The action plan would have four columns:
Column 1: Item to be addressed
Column 2: Name of facilitator taking on the project…a project coordinator
Column 3: Target completion date
Column 4: Celebration/Completion date
I recommend setting the production goals this day as if it were a full day which means raising the hourly goal slightly to accommodate for the one hour less seeing patients. This way, the productivity is not reduced.
5. Choreograph schedule for optimal productivity. Choreograph the schedule in blocks of time based on the preferences of the producers in the practice. Key communication skills are also needed to predict optimal success. This means not asking “yes” or “no” questions. In addition, always offering “two options”. Asking “yes” or “no” questions puts the practice at risk for the patient not accepting optimal dentistry. Also, offering the patient two options makes the patient feel in control, however; the “practice” is actually in control because they offer the two appointments that work best in the schedule.
a) Do say: We are calling to let you know you are on our schedule. Don’t say: Remind or Confirm.
b) If the patient needs to cancel, never offer them the very next appointment. Instead, schedule them in 4-6 weeks. Then, offer to place them on the “priority list” if a “change in schedule” happens sooner.
c) Have a 2-3 strikes and out “failed appointment” guideline. If the patient fails 2 or 3 appointments in a row, release them formally from the practice.
6. Get the money off the books and into the bank quickly. Collection strategies are a crucial element of a successful practice. Detailed strategies and systems must be in place.
a) First, be sure all financial arrangements are in place and patients fully understand their responsibility.
b) Second, have a written protocol in place for following up on overdue accounts. Send statement cycles weekly to offer consistent collections through the mail.
c) Third, set aside private time to consistently follow up on accounts that need phone calls and special overdue balance communication.
d) Fourth, take action on all accounts deemed uncollectable.
7. Utilize excellent customer service…patient’s impression of you begins on the phone. Patients make decisions about the quality of their care by how they feel treated when they walk through the doors of a dental practice. Of all the top management tools in a practice, this is one of the most important tools.
8. Sharpen your clinical and practice management skills often by attending and participating in select continuing education. The practice that invests in learning together is a team that grows in the right direction. Attending continuing education together reinforces consistency. The team that stops learning…stops growing. Continuing education doesn’t mean having to leave the practice to learn.
9. Inspect what you expect. Create an infectious environment to keep learning and growing. Involving the team in this process creates a sense of ownership and offers a practice ultimate success.
10. Have more professional fun and find your “internal giggle”. Look for opportunities to make a positive impact in your practice by treating your patients and team with respect, care and empathy. Find your “internal giggle” and keep the focus about positive results.
About the Author
Lois Banta is CEO, and Founder of Banta Consulting, Inc. established in 2000. Ms. Banta is also the owner and CEO of The Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in all aspects of dental practice management. Lois has over 47 years of dental experience. To contact Lois for a personal consultation or to invite Lois to speak to your organization: Office-816-847-2055, Address: 33010 NE Pink Hill Rd ~ Grain Valley, MO 64029, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bantaconsulting.com