A raise, in these hard times? Are you kidding?

Feb. 12, 2010
How do you ask for a raise in these economic times — and get it? Cathy Jameson gives you some suggestions.

By Cathy Jameson

Click here to read "Times are tough -- no raises this year" by Linda Miles from the January 2010 issue of DAD.

Whether or not the economy is at a peak or in a valley, your dental practice can thrive. Jameson clients averaged 32% increases in productivity and collections over the past 18 months, without working additional days. Hygiene productivity has increased an average of 60%. If our clients can do this, so can you. Desire and effort is required! Excellent employees also want some financial reward for their desire and effort. Your doctors are generous by nature. They want to pay well and provide equitable compensation for work well done. However, if there has not been an increase in profit margin and the doctor gives a raise or an increase in benefits, these increases in employee compensation come out of the doctor’s pocketbook.

So, how do you ask for a raise — and get it? Here are my suggestions.

1. Be prepared. Make a case for how you’ll pay for your own raise.

Determine how much of a raise you would like to receive. Determine how you can help increase the productivity of the practice by a minimum of three times that increase. For example, if you want to make $300 more per month or $3,600 more per year, the practice would need to produce three times that increase — or $10,800 more per year and $900 more per month. (This is just an example; you figure this based on your own desires.) This formula allows for the practice to pay for the increase, pay all matching payroll tax, plus any increase that may be related to benefits, such as an increase in a 401(k) match, while allowing for a margin of profit following the increase in employee compensation.

Have a written plan of things you can do to provide this increase. Become an even greater asset to the practice by doing the little things that make a big difference in the productivity of the practice. There is so much effort you can put forth that will take your practice to the next level. Be creative. You will enjoy the challenge and be proud of your effort, all while making the doctor proud as well.

2. Check your attitude.

Do not act like you deserve a raise and should get it because you have been there longer, or have put in extra days, or have been loyal to the practice. Do not present yourself as, “I am entitled to this — so here is what I want. Give it to me.” This will get you nothing but anger and resentment.

Do not threaten. “I need this increase or I will leave. I can get more money down the street.” This attitude will win no friends and earn no respect. Resentment results from this kind of self-centered approach to this delicate conversation. In fact, it could lead to the doctor say, “Great; go for it!”

Present your request in terms of how this will benefit the business or the practice. Be straightforward with your doctor from the start. He or she will appreciate your honesty. “Doctor, may I schedule an appointment with you for about 30 minutes in the next week or two? I would like to speak with you about an increase in salary for the upcoming year, but I would like to propose some ways that I can help to increase the production of the practice by $100,000 per year (or whatever your plan involves). I know these are difficult economic times and I do not want to ask for or receive a raise without making sure that I earn it by increasing the profit margin of the practice so that we both make more. May I have 30 minutes of your time to present my proposal?”

3. Be sensitive to the doctor and timing.

The doctor may be nervous about your request. If the money isn’t in the bank, he or she simply cannot pay. So the doctor may ask you to put the plan into action and measure the results for a given period of time — three months, or whatever. If so, this is great. At least you have been heard and you have a chance to earn that raise. If the practice begins to see increases, the doctor may be ready for the raise. If you make such an agreement, put your follow-up conversation on the calendar and make sure that the follow-up meeting takes place.

If the doctor says he or she would love to give you a raise but simply cannot at this time, ask for feedback about your plan and if you could put it into place anyway. If agreed, ask if you could get together for a revisit of this discussion. If agreed, ask what would be a good time and for permission to schedule a follow-up. If the doctor feels that this is too much pressure, express your understanding and then put the plan into action (if agreed). Once you have documented improvements, schedule a time to review the data. Perhaps then he or she will bring up the raise.

Be grateful. Say thank you. Rejoice in the opportunity to have a job when millions of people are out of work. Express appreciation for your nice work environment, your safety, your excellent hours, and the professional environment in which you function. Sincere gratitude expressed from the heart goes much further than an ungrateful, egotistical attitude.

Remember that the extra mile is never crowded. Be the one who walks the extra mile. Do things for others, with kindness. You will reap great rewards. “It is better to give than to receive.” The rewards that come from giving are immeasurable.

Author bio
Cathy Jameson is founder and CEO of Jameson Management, an international comprehensive coaching firm. As a speaker, she offers fun, entertaining, and educational programs packed with decades of proven practice-management systems. Cathy and her team of 20-plus coaches have lectured and consulted with dental professionals in 26 countries. Cathy’s firm has changed thousands of lives through not only speaking and coaching but books, CDs, DVDs, and other products. Contact Cathy by e-mail at [email protected] or visit www.jamesonmanagement.com.