Practice-Management Tag Archive

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21 Ways to Make Your Dental Practice More Profitable

Chances are, if you’ve been in the game for a while you are probably doing pretty decent revenue. But we all know that the top line revenue means nothing (well, except to those that like to brag about being a million, 2 million, or 3 million dollar practice).

What matters is what you take home.

Day after day, week after week, little expenses make their way into  your practice. At first $500 here, $1,500 there doesn’t seem like much (not when you are billing north of a ‘mill’). But little by little, it begins to eat away at your bottom line.

How do you stop this and increase the profitability of your practice? Read on….

21 Ways to a More Profitable Dental Practice

 

Related post: 101 Ways to Grow Your Dental Practice

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Performing vs. Engaged Employees

engaged-employee

Performance management has become an over-used buzz word in the corporate world. Most companies understand the value of setting clear performance goals for employees, evaluating the employees’ performance against those goals and providing the employees with feedback on what they have done well and where they might need improvement. We value highly performing employees. But do we value highly engaged employees? What is the difference?

Performing employees give to get. Their focus is on the getting. They value what they get from the company. They get a good salary. They get to work in the town where they have social ties. They get good working conditions. They get good working hours. They value all that they get. They understand that to get all those things, they must give to the company. So, they do. They give to the company their best efforts towards the company’s goal. They do a good job so that they can get all those things they like. They are more likely to be lured by another employer from whom they can get more, than one to whom they can give more. Their focus is on the getting. Giving is the means by which they get. They give to get.

In contrast, engaged employees get to give. Their focus is on the giving. The engaged employee is proud that they help people; they save lives; they teach others; they invent new things; they work on challenging projects; they lead a team; they make a difference. Their pleasure is in the giving. Getting is incidental. Yes, they have to pay bills; so, they like that they get a decent pay to live. But they work because they like what they do. Giving is the reason. They are more likely to be lured by another employer where they can give more than one from whom they can get more. Their focus is on the giving. They get to give.

Would you rather have a performing employee or an engaged employee? No doubt, you probably would like an engaged and performing employee. Likewise, you will probably not tolerate for long a dis-engaged and non-performing employee. Those are the easy cases. How about the hard cases? Would you rather have a well-performing employee that is struggling to be engaged or a well-engaged employee that is struggling to perform? And, why is that? An engaged employee that is not performing is usually lacking some necessary skills. A performing employee that is not engaged is usually lacking necessary attitude. This brings to mind a favorite quip: If you have an employee that does not have the skill set needed to do the job, give them a year to learn the skill set; If you have an employee that does not have the attitude needed to do the job, give them the entire weekend.

Should we be evaluating our employees just on their performance, or also on their engagement? How do you evaluate people on their engagement? Does engagement change over time, just as performance does? How frequently should you give employees feedback on their engagement? These are all questions worthy of consideration. Ask yourself: Do you have performing employees or engaged employees?

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Internal Customer Service

internal customer service

The other day I was on a business trip with four other people. They all work for the same company and we were visiting one of their suppliers. As we were traveling down the highway we passed one of the company manufacturing sites. Anxious to show me one of their factories they made a decision to stop in since we had an hour to kill before our appointment.

We walked into the building passing through a series of security check points and found ourselves in a lobby. Betty the receptionist signed us in and instructed us to wait for Anne the site Human Resources person. After twenty minutes Betty informed us that Anne could not find anyone to give us a tour and had asked us if we could come back another time. My colleagues reasoned that we could stop back at three o’clock after our supplier visit. The receptionist relayed the message and Anne replied with an affirmative.

At three o’clock we returned again full of enthusiasm. We again navigated the security checkpoints and landed in the lobby as before. We were given a pair of sleeves, a set of gloves, foot booties, hair nets and a pair of safety glasses which were required of people on the floor.

After donning this regalia we settled into the lobby to wait for Anne. After four or five minutes Anne emerged through an employee only door. She was a heavy set woman in her late fifties with bleach blonde hair wearing a nylon pantsuit. One of my colleagues noted that she was not dressed for the tour.

Anne wasted no time. She quickly proceeded to berate my traveling companions stating that it is most irregular for people to show up at a division unannounced and that she could not accommodate our request for a tour. Anne was direct, harsh and obviously offended at being inconvenienced.

My hosts replied that we were not unannounced as we had been instructed earlier that morning to return at three for the tour. Anne would have none of it and abruptly dismissed us with a sneer and an eye roll as she stomped off through the employee only door.

My now dejected friends and I removed our safety equipment, retrieved our coats and other personal belongings and exited. As we walked to the car they made several statements about this incident. Two of them struck me as relevant to the Purchase Experience.

The first was “I bet if I was the CEO and I showed up unannounced I would have been given a first rate tour”.

This is a common reference experience reaction. People who are involved in a purchase always have some other reference point that they use as a comparison mechanism. It isn’t always realistic but humans believe that someone else always gets treated better than they do. People believe that others get VIP privileges and this feeling is amplified when they have a negative experience. It is also amplified when there is a process or protocol that is “stringently” observed but frequently violated such as waiting in a cue line to enter a club. We have all seen or heard stories of waiting in line only to have celebrities escorted to the front and allowed access. Customers love to be treated like VIPs and know when others are using the system or protocol to enable them to provide poor service.

The second comment was “I will never work at that division!” This was a much more telling statement.

When a negative experience is delivered the results are catastrophic. Instead of being converted to loyal advocate people are imprinted with a strong negative bias towards the entity. This negative “experiential imprint” is forever etched into long-term memory and is extremely difficult to erase or overcome.

Although this incident involved “internal customers” the points are still applicable as treatment of internal customers is typically projected to outside customers as well. It reveals the soul of the company and reflects deeper cultural issues (interestingly enough this division has the second highest difficulty rate in acquiring talent of the twenty two company locations). In this day and age of viral internet media, word of a negative experience like this travels like wildfire with disastrous results.

At the end of the day the lesson here is pretty straight forward. Always provide first rate customer service to EVERYONE!

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Is Your Practice a Love of Labor or a Labor of Love?

labor-of-love

The recent Labor Day holiday got me to thinking—We have become a nation of laborers.

We love to labor. We are busy, busy, busy, doing, doing, doing.

When we face a big challenge or a difficult situation, we labor. We cancel vacation, skip lunch, work through the weekend, and stay late to solve the problem, put out the fire, accomplish the result, fix it.

To succeed, we labor. We strive, do whatever it takes, put in the hours, persevere, expend blood, sweat, and tears—no pain no gain!

And our heads are filled with all the things we need to, have to, should, and must do.  We even do things to force ourselves to get motivated!

We believe that doing, forcing – laboring – brings results.  I wondered – what if we approached our work and life as a labor of love?  Here are stories of those who took the labor of love challenge.

  • A stay-at-home mom dreaded bathing her two year old. Forcing her child to take the bath, scolding her child for making a mess, and mopping up after made bath time a labor. When she made the bath a labor of love, she took the opportunity to enjoy being with her toddler. They splashed, giggled, and squealed with delight. Bath time became an anticipated event and cleanup became a joyful reminder of quality time with her daughter.
  • A runner realized she’d lost the enjoyment of running. She had to motivate herself to run and force herself to run great distances. She criticized her performance, continually pushing herself to do better. When she chose to run as a labor of love, she went back to her original routine—enjoying the sights and smells of nature as she ran through parks, enjoying the landscaping, and seeing kids play and adults chat as she ran through neighborhoods. Running became fun again, effortless. She looked forward to it and started running marathons.
  • The sales and production team at a firm that publishes several monthly magazines found it hard to meet their sales targets and production deadlines and they struggled financially. Their mantra: You get burned out in this business. You finish a magazine and move on to the next. Your work is never done.  They celebrated hard work and motivated themselves to work harder. When they changed their approach, instead of producing thousands of magazines, they made a difference in the lives of those who read the articles, attended the events listed in the calendar, and utilized the products and services that were advertised. Instead of selling ads, they helped their advertisers grow their businesses and fulfill their dreams. Instead of increasing sales by a certain percent, they were of highest service and in return received dollars, which they used to pay the team for their talents and contributions, who in turn spent their earnings on who and what they loved. They no longer NEEDED to make a sale or a deadline. They were inspired to make a difference and contribute the livelihood, education, well-being, and joy of others. Exhaustion turned into energy and creativity.  Struggle turned into flow and survival turned into thriving.

Deadlines, needing to or having to do something, and making a number are, in and of themselves, not inspiring. They are about doing. Not about being.

We get inspired by helping others so I could get inspired by working together to meet a deadline or to achieve a number – maybe once, twice, or three times.  Meeting deadlines month after month and year after year becomes a burden and uninspiring if the objective is just to meet a deadline or make a number.

I become inspired and achieve significant results when my goals are meaningful, when I truly know that I am being of service, contributing, making a difference, helping – when I do what I love and love what I do.

What’s your M.O.?

LOVE OF LABOR LABOR OF LOVE
Telling your patients that they should floss Asking what favorite tunes they could floss by
Doing a procedure for a patient Asking Mr. Jones whose day he gets to brighten with his smile?
Having to make a post-procedure call Helping Mrs. Smith to feel pampered, cared for, and appreciated?
Telling the patient what needs to be looked at Helping Mr. White identify a larger health issue, vitalize his life and enjoy more years with his grandchildren
 Putting braces on a teen Celebrating the hopes and dreams being fulfilled
Have to train a new staff member Wondering how I could help Susan feel welcome, confident, helpful, and inspired
Needing to measure numbers of patients, procedures, and dollars Acknowledging the difference we are making in the lives of our patients, our staff, and everyone who is impacted by every dollar we earn and every dollar we spend

I invite you to take the Labor of Love Challenge.

Notice when you are operating from a love of labor—when you are in a state of force, trying to motivate yourself or others, in the need to/have to/must mode.

Change it to a labor of love – Wonder what difference you are making, how you could help, how you could make it fun.

See what happens.


© 2013 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

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Secure-Mail Protects Dentist-Patient Confidentiality

dentist-patient-conf

Many of the work processes in dentistry are from the era of dentists meeting patients in the exam room, recording items on clipboards, and calling other dentists or doctors where necessary. Trust is and always has been a cornerstone of the dentist-patient interaction, but in the digital era, that trust goes along with a culture of data sharing.

High quality digital imaging available for consultation, patient records and doctor collaborations allows dentists to participate in the ecosystem of health data around American patients. As the oral-systemic health connection continues to be recognized, collaborative tools and demands will keep pace with technology and allow dentists to communicate patient data to interested parties.

But protecting the patient’s trust, and personal data, requires specific steps to protect and safeguard that data. Between HIPAA, HI-TECH and PIPEDA, regulations continue to develop and constrain what can be shared, and how. Many dentists do not realize that emailing referrals or images to laboratories can be illegal and break HIPAA compliance.

Software and technology have stepped into this gap. Secure email is offered by different providers to allow dentists to safely, securely share information without breaking the law or compromising patient trust. These out-of-the-box solutions offer immediate compliance and security, operating with existing clinical and practice management systems. Examples include BrightSquid’s Secure-Mail, and RecordLinc‘s referral services. Dental practices can modify behaviors and learn to operate in a HIPAA-compliant fashion, but for those short on time, a technology solution may be a faster and more realistic step.

Lessons Learned:

  • No conventional email solution is secure or compliant for transferring or accessing patient information.
  • Out-of-the-box secure communications systems can be added to existing software to meet HIPAA and patient privacy needs.
  • Collaboration and patient data sharing is likely to continue to rise.

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