Shopping Spree Spikes Production

The link between Pride Institute management techniques and their direct effect on production, collections, and practice success.

By Dr. James R. Pride
Amy Tuttle-Morgan

PART 2 OF 6

The link between Pride Institute management techniques and their direct effect on production, collections, and practice success.

This group of articles chronicles the true story of a dentist we're calling Dr. Bob Johnson in his year-long program of management improvement. The previous article described the steps we took to boost Dr. Johnson's production from $1,950 to $2,156 per day during the first quarter of his management program. His monthly production, which was $40,501 in the year preceding management training, rose to a practice record of $47,065 in the third month of the program. This month's article will explain what we did to spike production that month.

Preblocking the schedule, as we explained last month, was the central reason for Dr. Johnson's quick boost in production during the first quarter (Q1) of the practice's management program. To meet the doctor's production goal in Q1 of $2,200 per day, staff members were instructed to reserve two time slots, or "preblocks," for "significant" procedures (of a crown fee or higher) for two days and three such procedures for the other two days of the four-day workweek. The team fared reasonably well during the first two months in filling the preblocked appointment slots, but in the third month they did exceptionally well! In order to excite the team with the pleasure of change, rather than the pain of it - and to solidify their new skill of preblocking so that they would become more successful at it - we instituted the "shopping spree game" in the third month. Here's how it worked.

Every day in which the staff filled the production preblocks on the dentist's schedule, Dr. Johnson placed a $50 IOU in a jar. At the end of the month, if the preblocks were filled for every day of the schedule, Dr. Johnson promised to double the amount in the jar. Then the money would be divided equally among the staff members and Dr. Johnson. They would go to a shopping mall as a group and disperse for an hour to spend their cash - with the provision that it must be spent on themselves and, further, on something they would not normally buy for themselves. After the spree, they would all meet for dinner and show their wares. If any money were left over, they would have to return it to Dr. Johnson. (Needless to say, there were no returns!) The team was phenomenally successful at filling the preblocks and earning the doubled bonus. This required laudable teamwork, finding ways to fill vacant preblocks at the staff's newly instituted morning huddles, communicating to patients the importance of their appointments, and developing other strategies.

"The shopping spree was a huge success," says Dr. Johnson. "Everyone enjoyed it. That got things off to a jump-start. We each went shopping with $275. Afterwards, we met in a nice restaurant. It was interesting to see what people spent their money on; it helped us get to know each other better. I bought a tool kit. The staff got a kick out of that." (Incidentally, team members are instructed to distribute business cards from the practice to the salespeople who assist them; the shopping spree actually becomes a promotional event, rather than just a bonus. The money distributed to the employees is, therefore, nontaxable.)

Pride Concept: Use the shopping spree to solidify the staff's learning of a basic skill - in this case, preblocking. This highly effective game makes the process of change a fun experience. When this game is run properly, the skill will continue beyond the time frame of the spree. We do not want the dentist to run the game every month. "I made it clear that the shopping spree wasn't going to continue past the month. It was a one-time event, but we'd have other things from time to time. It was a tool to help them understand their responsibility in the goal-keeping process," explains Dr. Johnson.

The shopping-spree game is a leadership issue. The doctor must present it with enthusiasm and no misgivings. It must be offered not as a gift from the doctor, but as something the staff earns. The shopping spree is the recognition they receive for attaining their goals. Leaders fail when they expect this bonus to have a long-lasting effect. A reward of $275 is wonderful, but its effect does not last a lifetime. Continual monitoring of production goals and feedback to the staff need to become part of the practice routine.

In the fourth month of the management program, the month after the spree ended, the total office production reached $57,074 (working only 16 days), which was $10,000 higher than the previous "spree" month! This represented a new record high for the practice and was 41 percent higher than the average monthly production for the year prior to management improvement. The first four months' results made Dr. Johnson and his team proud! They proved to themselves that they could meet the higher goals.

Pride Concept

Use the shopping spree to solidify the staff's learning of a basic skill.

The shopping-spree game is a leadership issue. The doctor must present it with enthusiasm and no misgivings. It must be offered not as a gift from the doctor, but as something the staff earns. The shopping spree is the recognition they receive for attaining their goals. Leaders fail when they expect this bonus to have a long-lasting effect. A reward of $275 is wonderful, but its effect does not last a lifetime. Continual monitoring of production goals and feedback to the staff need to become part of the practice routine.

Next time, we'll examine the challenges of the second quarter as the team strives to boost doctor production closer toward the year-end goal of $2,800 per day. This is the amount needed to support staff and doctor pay raises, retirement contributions, and other expenses projected in Dr. Johnson's annual plan. In the second quarter, prior to visiting the office for a consultation and training session, the Pride consultant asked the staff to list the obstacles they encountered in reaching the daily production goal. Imagine Dr. Johnson's dismay when he found his name at the top of the list! More on this next month.

For more information on improving your practice using the methods described in this article, call Pride Institute at (800) 925-2600.

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