Efficiency creates more free time and money

Oct. 1, 2011
With a strong intention to be efficient in your business and clinical systems, you can create more free time and more money in your pocket.

Bill Blatchford, DDS

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: leadership, team meetings, productivity, efficiency, Dr. Bill Blatchford.

With a strong intention to be efficient in your business and clinical systems, you can create more free time and more money in your pocket. These are certainly two precious commodities when you are in business for yourself.

Dentists who produce more do not necessarily spend more time at the office. We are accustomed to thinking more time at the workbench will create more money. You would be operating in the time-and-effort mentality when, in fact, dentistry is in the results-producing economy. It is more efficient to concentrate your efforts during your patient contact days. That will make the difference — not the amount of time you spend at the office.

Strong systems of leadership, technology use, communication, and task evaluation all help to create an accountable team geared toward efficiency. If you pay your staff by the hour, being more efficient is not to their benefit. The easiest method they see of increasing their pay is to keep you working extra long hours. If it is legal in your state, look at a guaranteed pay per pay period and invite your team members to take part in the game of efficiency. If they could help you produce the same in a fewer number of hours and still be paid the same, why would they not want to participate? That is efficiency.

If you are participating with your team in the “Hey, Doc, got a minute?” syndrome, your leadership needs some attention. Pulling you away from your clinical concentration to micromanage a concern that should be handled by team decision is inefficient. Be a leader who visualizes and communicates the bigger picture of values, standards, and the road ahead. Inspire your team to handle the details. That is efficiency.

Establishing an equitable bonus system motivates team members to be more efficient. Team costs need to be at 20% to give a bonus, so if you have five people producing under $1 million, that is inefficient. Three motivated and talented team members can handle the job. Leadership needs to happen here.

Scheduling well can have you working one less day a week. Holding blocks of time in the morning for larger cases (multiple units) with no one in chair No. 2 will have you reaching an office goal of $5,500 or more. Scheduling well takes a daily plan, communicating with your team, and strength of conviction. A morning, full-team huddle looking at blocks four days out is efficient. Be strong; don’t fold when a patient blinks.

Sales skills create efficiency. Begin asking effective questions on the phone. This will help you discover where to spend your energies. Having your team engage in sales conversations even before the doctor is involved is efficient. Weekly and monthly team training on sales questions, reading sales and marketing books together, and taking action will result in full blocks in your morning schedule with attainable daily goals.

Focusing on tasks that make a difference is an efficient use of time. Are your employees doing jobs in your office that could be done more efficiently or eliminated altogether? Are you chasing papers by not being paperless? Are you using technology effectively? Blatchford personnel will coach assistants and hygienists to enter treatment (with final approval by the doctor), schedule, produce a check-out slip and insurance form, and collect the money. This is efficient and eliminates patients walking down the hall changing their minds as they approach the receptionist’s desk. Now, with tasks readjusted, your receptionist can promptly answer questions, have more focused phone conversations resulting in treatment, and work more effectively with new patients.

Checklists in a dental office create efficiency. Do you have a checklist for opening and closing the office? Without a checklist, I know of offices that have lost sensors, handpieces, and lab work. Does your assistant read a checklist in front of the patient for each procedure? Our trained personnel eliminate the “oops,” which is frightening for a nervous patient to experience.

A weekly team meeting during an hour of productive time is efficient. An agenda, prepared by team members, is key to solutions. Inspect practice numbers actively. Spend at least 15 minutes practicing sales conversations. Without effective meetings, your practice will be run over with rumors, interfering with your keen patient focus.

Clinically, we need to diagnose and schedule treatment that exceeds overhead per hour. Do you ask for “fries with your burger?” How much of your work is single units? Your net triples when you do two units in one appointment.

What would you give to have an extra day a week of free time and more money in your pocket? The choice is yours.

Dr. Bill Blatchford is America’s premier dental business coach. A solid net return is a cornerstone of his coaching success. Blatchford In A Box is a recent product and Blatchford’s Bu$iness of Hygiene arrived on May 1. He has published two best-selling books and can be reached at (888) 977-4600, www.blatchford.com, or www.blatchfordinabox.com.

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