In a healthy economy, practices can get by with inefficient systems because patient volume remains steady or keeps increasing. With full schedules, practices are content with their systems, even though they may be outdated. With the Great Recession and a weak recovery, everything changed.
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Fewer patients are presenting for treatment. Production declines are the new normal for many practices. Many production losses can be tied directly to inefficient systems that serve to exacerbate the negative effects of a poor economy.
Today, outstanding step-by-step systems are the cornerstone to building a successful practice. To create effective systems, dentists must develop a results-driven approach that includes three critical steps:
- Create realistic, measurable targets. Many performance incentives can stimulate practice growth, such as achieving a case acceptance rate of 90% for both need-based and elective treatment. Specific targets not only motivate the dentist and team to strive for growth, but also ensure that performance can be measured. When actual results are tracked against targeted objectives, the practice can make periodic corrections in order to reach target objectives.
- Design new systems to meet the targets. Many practices have dysfunctional operating systems. Habits, haphazard solutions, and assorted bottlenecks quickly compromise their effectiveness. These systems cannot simply be altered — they must be replaced entirely. New systems must be created with simplicity as a primary goal, avoiding unnecessary or confusing protocols and wasteful steps. Successfully implemented, these systems enable the practice to operate more efficiently and increase production rapidly.
- Use effective scripting to implement systems successfully. Systems are the backbone of the practice. They are used throughout the day as dentists and teams work with patients, whether in the reception area, on the phone, or chairside. If staff members do not understand the systems or use them correctly, even the best systems will ultimately fail. Good scripts are translations of the documented instructions into conversational guides for successfully taking patients through the system’s steps. However, they are not meant to be memorized and repeated verbatim. They serve to shape interactions effectively and prompt staff members on how to move patients along toward the desired results.
The Great Recession and a slow recovery have changed the rules of dentistry. The strategies for growing a practice even a few years ago are no longer working. When properly implemented, step-by-step systems will dramatically increase production.
To learn how to run a more profitable, efficient and satisfying practice, visit the Levin Group Resource Center at www.levingroup.com/gp— a free online resource with tips, videos, and other valuable information. You can also connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (Levin_Group) to learn strategies and share ideas.