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Xtreme Practice Makeover - The Journey Begins...

April 1, 2005
The journey to increased practice success is officially under way for Dr. Kristy Vetter and her team.

WRITTEN BY: Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBAThe journey to increased practice success is officially under way for Dr. Kristy Vetter and her team. They flew to Baltimore in February and began Phase I of their management consulting program provided by Levin Group as part of Woman Dentist Journal’s Xtreme Practice Makeover contest.

The time spent at the Levin Advanced Training Institute is critical for building a more cohesive team, preparing for the changes ahead, and creating a better practice. During Phase I, the team spent an exciting, intense, and action-packed two-and-a-half days learning how to implement the Levin Group Method™ into their practice by focusing on these subjects:

• Vision and goals

• Scheduling and scripting

• Building an ideal schedule

• Budgeting and tracking

Dr. Vetter believes the first phase is critical to set the right tone for the entire year: “Change is very scary and difficult. You need to set your goals and vision, and keep reminding yourself where you are going,” said the Laguna Niguel, Calif., dentist.

Teamwork and vision

Much of the practice success depends on the skills and commitment of the team. Dr. Vetter has a strong team, poised to take the practice to the next level. Collectively, team members have nearly 100 years of dental experience. “Team-building is one of the most important benefits practices receive by leaving their offices and coming to Levin Group,” said consultant Pam Healy.

One of the first exercises the team worked on was creating a practice vision. All five team members - assistant Nancy Keys, hygienist Kirsti Livingston, office manager LoAnn Ray, hygienist Irene Willis, and Dr. Vetter - brainstormed, revised, tweaked, revised again, and kept working on their new vision statement.

“We all participated in what it says and believe in it as a group,” said Dr. Vetter. She read the completed vision statement during the last day’s breakout session:

As an office we strive to provide the finest clinical skills, communication, and education available, using state-of-the-art technology. Increased profitability and job satisfaction are daily goals. Through photo documentation we are presenting ultimate esthetic options and increasing case acceptance.

The challenges ahead

During the last day’s breakout session at the Levin Advanced Training Institute, the team came up with three key practice objectives for the coming year and proposed potential solutions:

Gain new patients

The goal is to generate up to 40 percent of their production from new patients.

Possible solutions: Revamp current marketing efforts which include a coupon mailer, Welcome Wagon promotions, and a patient referral smile card. “The biggest source for referrals is usually internal,” said consultant Pam Healy. Dr. Vetter agreed, saying a majority of new patients are generated by the smile card - where the referring and new patient both receive a discount.

The team also has begun using the Xtreme Practice Makeover Contest to market the practice. “We have the January issue of Woman Dentist Journal in the reception area and a framed issue of the cover on our check-in desk,” said Dr. Vetter. “Patients are asking about it, reading the article, and getting excited. We’ve received many compliments about our services.” New patients increased during March compared to the previous month.

Increase case acceptance

Larger cases and esthetic services generate a higher level of profitability, but they require increased verbal skills, scripting, and training.

Possible solutions: Increase patient awareness about all services provided by the practice through a practice brochure or fact sheet. Track case presentation and analyze acceptance percentage. Review scripting at morning meetings.

Dr. Vetter created a before-and-after smile book for each operatory that demonstrates the positive effects that need-based and cosmetic dentistry can have on a patient’s smile. “I have 10 cases in the book. The first one is a woman for whom we did a whole smile enhancement, including seven veneers and three crowns. Not all are that involved, but I think the book has turned out well,” said the dentist.

Update décor and technology

The practice décor hasn’t been upgraded since Dallas ruled the airwaves. Much of the practice’s technology is at least 10 years old. The computer system recently crashed and put the practice behind in record-keeping. An X-ray machine also is broken and needs to be replaced.

Possible solutions: Add new furniture and fixtures. Replace vertical blinds with something more inviting. Paint and make small improvements room-by-room until the practice is completely done. On the technology front, work with other contest sponsors to find the right solutions to meet the unique needs of the practice.

Some of the new technology and equipment solutions are being met. Dr. Vetter has recently implemented Orascoptic loupes and light, an Elipar light, and the DUX tub system. In her own words, “I love the loupes and light.” From the team, her assistants are thrilled with the tub system because of the organization and readiness they create for each chairside procedure. And they like the freedom and portability the Elipar light gives them between rooms.

Homework for the team

Consultant Pam Healy had a going-away present for each team member - homework. The task was documentation - a key ingredient of the Levin Group Method. For practices to reach their potential, they must document every policy, procedure, and system.

Based on the subjects covered in Phase I classes, Pam handed out assignments to individual team members and to the team as a whole for scheduling, fees, late patients, no-shows, emergencies, scripting, tracking, morning meetings, and staff meetings. Each team member has three to five assignments staggered throughout the next three months.

Dr. Vetter said the “homework” process has been helpful in keeping the team moving forward. “We sat down with our consultant and went over our to-do list - both documentation and implementation. We have been using the dates we set to prioritize our tasks.

“For other things we have added to our list,” she continued, “we have tried to set deadlines for them as well. When I ask staff members to do something and they say ‘yes,’ I follow up and ask, ‘When do you think it can be done by?’” She credits her consulting experience with this deadline-focused approach. “This is something Levin Group taught me, and it works wonderfully.”

Bringing it all back home

“You just can’t snap your fingers and make changes,” Dr. Vetter said. “You would like to, but you can’t. You have to stay focused.”

Her team is making headway on the assignments they received.

“My team is enthusiastic and positive. They were a little nervous about the homework. They have asked a lot of questions about it, but they are getting it done.”

Dr. Vetter admits im-proving the practice can be difficult at times. “I have used my goals from Levin Group to remind me that I have the time, the talent, and the team to make the right changes and make the practice vision a reality,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Watch for further updates about the Xtreme Practice Makeover in future issues of Woman Dentist Journal.

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Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA
Dr. Levin is founder and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., a leading dental-management consulting firm that specializes in implementing documented business systems into dental practices. You may contact Dr. Levin at (888) 973-0000 or