Front-desk checklist

July 1, 2000
We lead very busy lives. To ensure everything that needs to be done gets done, we have checklists for everything. For example:

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

We lead very busy lives. To ensure everything that needs to be done gets done, we have checklists for everything. For example:

- Travel checklists

- Stock Portfolio checklists

- Retirement Plan checklists

We approach our lives in a systematized and orderly fashion. To ensure the long-term profitablility of your practice, you must develop and implement a front-desk checklist.

Front-desk checklists

The front-desk area of a general practice is crucial to the profitability of any dental practice. The front desk coordinator is the first person that comes in contact with the patient. This person should possess excellent verbal skills, as well as the ability to adhere to well-defined systems. Guidance of the day-to-day activities in a practice, modifications and scheduling, updates and information, all begin at the front desk. Even when scheduling can be done in the treatment rooms due to placement of computer terminals throughout the office, a great deal of call-in scheduling still occurs with the front-desk staff.

The key to front desk success is having the highest possible level of organization. One way to approach this is to break up front-desk activities into the following categories:

- Daily activities

- Weekly activities

- Monthly activities

- Annual activities

Your office should create a series of checklists for each of the above activities. Certain tasks need to be handled on a daily basis, as well as weekly, monthly, and annually. Every day, the daily activities should be reviewed, and each Monday, the weekly activities reviewed. On the first day of the month, the monthly activities should be reviewed, and on the last day of each month, the annual activities reviewed.

For example, collecting overdue accounts should not be done haphazardly. Instead, it should be a daily activity. This is based on the Levin Group principle that an overdue account should be contacted when it is exactly one day overdue. Since each new day usually brings a new group of overdue accounts to a practice (anywhere from one to many), the overdue accounts list must be updated daily.

The daily activity of collecting overdue accounts should be one of the checklisted items that occur on your daily checklist. To further increase the level of organization, there should be two check-off boxes next to the activity - one for starting the activity and one for completing it. It would look something like this:

Collect Overdue Accounts Start Complete

As you can see, this ctivity is now clearly created on your checklist. Unfortunately, many practices will start an activity, but fail to complete it due to interruptions and other distractions in the day-to-day operations of the practice.

Start each day by reviewing the daily checklist in order to understand what must be accomplished. Review other daily checklists on the above-mentioned days to understand what issues are pending. At the end of the day, review the daily checklist to evaluate which tasks were ignored, which were started, and which were completed.This will give you a personal productivity overview for how well the front-desk staff was able to complete all of the necessary activities on the daily checklist.

Finally, only put items on the checklist that are necessary. It should be your expectation that all activities on the checklist will be completed since they are necessary. Otherwise, a systems overhaul should take place.

Summary

By using checklists, you have created one of the most organized approaches to any type of management in business. All you have to remember after that is to review your lists.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management for general dentists and specialists. Contact The Levin Group at (410) 654-1234.

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