Every practice has the potential to reach the next level. Many dentists are doing fairly well, but could take their practices to the next level by focusing on a few key factors. With the demands of patient care, it can be difficult to find the time to manage the practice, lead the team, and make necessary changes. The following tips can help you release your practice potential:
- Upgrade Your Scheduling System: Practices should adopt an accelerated scheduling model to improve productivity and staff efficiency. Switching from 15-minute to 10-minute units can create additional time in the schedule, allowing the practice to treat patients more efficiently and provide better customer service. Remember that your scheduling system controls both production and stress. A more efficient schedule creates better patient flow and reduces practice stress.
- Enhance Case Presentation Skills: Scripting is a critical communications tool that can enhance the verbal skills of the entire team. During morning and monthly meetings, team members can review and rehearse case presentation scripts that focus on patient benefits. The goal is not to memorize scripts word-for-word, but to provide patients the right information in the team member’s own words. Scripting should also emphasize comprehensive treatment—an approach that gives patients more options to achieve optimal oral health.
- Maximize the Hygiene Department: The hygienist spends more time with patients than any other team member, including the dentist. A well-trained hygienist can educate patients about a wide variety of practice services, provide in-depth information about cosmetic services, and motivate patients to consider more comprehensive treatment.
- Provide Flexible Financial Options: Practices can dramatically increase case acceptance by ensuring that a wide scope of financial options are available to patients. Make paying for cosmetic and need-based dentistry easy by offering these options:
- 5% discount for full payment
- Half up front and half before treatment is completed
- Credit card payments
- Third-party financing
The more financial options you give your patients, the greater the opportunity to increase case acceptance, especially for implants and cosmetic dentistry. The right financial options, combined with other case presentation strategies, can make an attractive smile and an enhanced appearance a reality for more patients.
Update Your Budget: Every practice needs to track revenues, expense patterns, and resulting profitability. A budgeting process allows the dentist to determine financial goals and then develop systems that support those goals. Be aware that budget control includes not only cost-control measures, but also specific production and collection goals. Be consistent when monitoring practice performance.
- Expand Services: Adding new services can help practices achieve growth now and in the future. The key is to select services that are profitable, manageable, easy to implement, and, most importantly, desirable to your existing patient base. Expanding the service mix provides the practice a greater opportunity to present comprehensive dentistry, increase production and boost profitability. Practices should offer a variety of need-based and elective services, including:
- Crowns and Bridges
- Periodontal Maintenance
- Preventive Services
The right service mix is key to providing appropriate choices for your patients as well as helping the practice to succeed. Promoting comprehensive dentistry can lead to increased production, less stress, and greater profitability.
- Implement Documented Systems: Total Quality Management demands the dental practice evaluate all practice operations and determine the best way to perform each function. Systems are critical in a dental practice because practices rely on limited resources. Maximum profitability can only be achieved when these systems are consistently effective and efficient.
- Hold Regular Morning Meetings: Organized morning staff meetings are critical for a productive office. This brief meeting is designed to prepare the staff for the day and ensure the best quality care for patients. Productivity is achieved in three ways. First, performance is benchmarked against goals for all key categories (production, collections, case presentation, accounts receivable and accounts payable). Second, the schedule is reviewed to determine if any issues exist, including emergencies. Third, opportunities are identified for case presentation.
- Provide Written Job Descriptions: Team members must have clearly defined job descriptions outlining specific responsibilities. It is important to incorporate accountability into the systems. Taking into account how hectic a dental practice schedule may be, the goal is to ensure that team members: know their responsibilities, are well trained to perform their duties efficiently, and gain professional satisfaction from their work.
- Improve Customer Service: Patients must feel special from the moment they walk into the office, whether it is the first time or the fiftieth. Exceeding patient expectations requires what I call “WOW” customer service. This occurs when every interaction has been exceptional, causing patients to be amazed at the level of customer service, making them say “WOW” as they leave the office.
Enthusiasm is a critical component of excellent customer service. It is not enough for staff members to thank patients for selecting the practice. The dental team must do it the right way—sincerely and enthusiastically. Simply going through the motions reflects poorly on the practice. After all, patients are the reason the practice exists.
Improving customer service requires a systemized approach that is repeated for every patient, every hour, every day. An effective way to ensure quality customer service is to provide patients with a survey form that allows them to rate aspects of your practice. We recommend sending a thank you to all new patients after their first visit to the practice. It also is a good idea to send a survey to capture the patient’s experiences.
You have the power to improve your practice and your life. These 10 tips can help you release your practice potential. Levin Group sees clients make remarkable progress in a year or less. These tips can help you maximize your practice performance.