Embrace change and improve production

April 1, 2011
I am writing these notes following the Chicago Midwinter Meeting. The meeting was crowded, particularly on Friday and Saturday.

I am writing these notes following the Chicago Midwinter Meeting. The meeting was crowded, particularly on Friday and Saturday. The program was excellent, with many courses and workshops on new techniques. A number of new products were launched on the exhibit floor, and once I have had a chance to evaluate them, you probably will read about some in my "Pearls" column.

During the middle of February, I traveled to McKinney, Tex., a suburb of Dallas. McKinney is an old Texas town, settled in 1840, that has experienced an economic resurgence in the last few decades. I went there to meet with Dr. Marvin Berlin and to see his new 25-chair office that opened in October of 2010. I flew to Dallas and rented a car for the 45-minute drive to McKinney Dentist. When I drove up, I was amazed by the size and stunning architecture of the dental building. Quite honestly, I have seen large practices before and they are usually not this stunning. I was expecting to see an overflowing reception area and a chaotic group of staff running here and there.

But when I entered the office, I found a very quiet reception area with maybe four or five patients waiting. I was greeted at once by two delightful team members at the front desk. A short time later, I was given a tour of the office. It was very quiet, and traffic moved through the hallways very easily. Treatment rooms are located off of a u-shaped hallway that starts on one side of the reception room and finishes on the other. Another hallway splits down the middle of the "u," and another splits the "u" from side to side to facilitate movement of people and to access the three sterilization areas in the core.

I recently read a new book by one of my favorite authors, Tom Peters, that discussed 36 things to do in a recessionary period. Three of the 36 were "attention to details," "sweat the details," and "ATTENTION TO DETAILS!" The McKinney Dentist office thrives on its attention to the details of the many systems that have been put into place by the four dentist-partners. You will learn more about this office in coming issues of DE.

I have been convinced for many years that systems are the key to a highly productive and enjoyable practice with little or no stress. I find dentists are reluctant to listen to others and even more afraid to change the routines they have established. Recently, I was in Vancouver teaching my "Pearls for Dental Auxiliaries" seminar. An assistant told a story about her dentist who had recently graduated from dental school. The dentist was packing cord around a newly prepped tooth, but was placing the large cord into the sulcus first and then the small cord on top. The assistant suggested that she had been taught to place the small cord first. The dentist told her that was wrong and continued to do it this way with poor results. The assistant is unhappy because she feels that the dentist is not providing the best care for patients. I told her she should find a new dental home. The rest of the class agreed.

I teach dental assistants and hygienists to be an asset to the dental practices and to question everything that they do. I want them to think out of the box and ask a lot of "what if" questions relating to how procedures are done. Quite frequently, that person sitting across the chair from you is smarter than you think. I have implemented a number of ideas from auxiliaries that have made the office run smoother and made chairside procedures faster, better, and easier. This reduces stress in the office, and everyone goes home happy.

Over many years of practice, I have found, without fail, that every time I have made a change, my production and collections have improved, sometimes by as much as 20% to 30%! This has happened when I stopped seeing patients on Saturday, went from five days a week to four, opened a new office, went to a 13-day month, referred out services that I did not like to do, began doing adult cosmetic orthodontics (Dr. Ryan Swain's "Six Month Smiles"), introduced veneers into my practice, gave my hygienist six veneers free (she remained in the practice 11 years and referred many veneer cases to me), and began placing mini implants. Learn to embrace change!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor – e-mail: [email protected]
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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