4 steps to a successful 2012

Feb. 10, 2012
Sally McKenzie gives you four important steps you can take to ensure your practice achieves the level of success you desire this year. You’ll even get a bonus benefit — less stress.

By Sally McKenzie, CEO

Reprinted with permission from Sally McKenzie, McKenzie Management.

Actually, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your practice achieves the level of success that you desire in the coming year. I wrote about six others in what I consider to be the top 10 steps that practices can take in 2012 to enjoy greater prosperity and less stress. Below are the remaining four ...

4. Stop worrying about the competition.
Your problem is not the competition. Rather, your concern should be what you are doing to set your practice apart and deliver superior customer service. Train your team. Most business staff have no understanding of how to most effectively manage new patient phone calls, how to build rapport, how to make the prospective patient feel good about calling their office. Additionally, rather than worrying about the dentists down the street, go visit them. Walk into their offices and introduce yourself. Check out the interior, pay attention to how staff and the doctors make you feel when you step through the door. If you don't feel welcome there, I can virtually guarantee that their patients don't either. Study your competition, get to know them, and offer to take their emergencies when they are away.

3. Face the fire.
Problem employees will ruin a practice. They need to be dealt with directly using clearly established policies. Work with a professional to create a policies and procedures manual that is specific to your individual practice needs. The manual may cover as many or as few issues as the doctor chooses, but should include the following key practice policies:

Equal opportunity statement — This states that the employee's religion, age, sex, or race will not influence hiring, promotion, pay, or benefits in any way.Definition of the work schedule — This indicates that all employees are to be at their assigned work areas and ready to provide care for patients at a certain time.Salary/payment policies — This details when the employee can expect to be paid, how wage increases are handled, overtime, etc.Professional code of conduct — This section clarifies the practice's expectations regarding employee dress; punctuality; use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; as well as policies regarding personal phone calls, Internet usage, and personal visits.Performance review policy — This section explains exactly how and when employee performance is evaluated, including samples of performance evaluation forms. It may also spell out the practice's policy on progressive discipline and unsatisfactory performance, and it may list those infractions that could result in termination of employment.Time-off policies — This section explains policies on vacation, parental/maternity leave, illness, military, funeral, personal, jury duty, holidays, personal days, etc.

Preparation is critical. Waiting until employee behaviors are so problematic that they are damaging the practice or dealing with issues such as tardiness, family leave, unprofessional conduct, dress code, etc., inconsistently make the dentist and practice highly vulnerable to litigation.

2. Ensure that patients understand the true value of “routine” hygiene visits.
Enhance patient perception of the hygiene appointment by explaining the impact of oral health on systemic health, periodontal health, and oral cancer. This increases the patient’s perceived value of routine care. If a periodontal co-examination is performed and the hygienist talks about the results and educates the patient — even healthy patients — they will have far greater appreciation and understanding when you must recommend that they be seen in four months rather than six.

1. Market your practice.
Recognize that effective marketing requires hard work, diligence, and a fully funded budget. It's more than a few ads or an occasional patient mailer. Marketing is an ongoing system, and everyone on your staff is marketing your practice for better or worse in every patient interaction. Effective marketing involves a series of fundamental steps and ongoing commitment. Most importantly, if you want long-term measurable marketing results, hire a professional dental marketing company.

Certainly, running a dental office presents a host of challenges, and ongoing success requires focus and attention to multiple details. While frustrations and setbacks may occur, with guidance and solid, well-constructed business systems, dental practices can achieve unprecedented success. If you believe your practice has greater potential than it is delivering, make 2012 the year that you achieve it.

Author bio
Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service consulting/coaching dental management company, providing proven management solutions since 1980. She can be reached at (877) 777.6151 or [email protected].