If you’re doing things right, your business should be growing. While expansion and growth can be desirable, it can also carry along with it a slew of new challenges (or headaches).
For a dentist (or other health care practitioner), a growing practice eventually translates into more staff and providers (associate doctors or possibly partners). Many things can “derail” during expansion (or attempted expansion). Reasons behind these instances of course vary.
One reason above all others (in my opinion) tends to cause the most chaos. This issue can also cause the most damage to your business along with being the most difficult challenge from which to recover.
This issue? Quality Control. Many of your patients are there because of you and maybe the core staff with which you built the office. As you expand, you add people. The trick is, so to speak, to improve customer service (i.e. handling things faster and more conveniently for your patients) as you grow.
Quality of the Dental Work
Clinical quality; nothing will kill a practice dead more permanently than bad work. While this may seem stupid to even mention, I do for two reasons:
1. I’ve seen cases where a doctor employed an associate (or associates) that they wouldn’t allow to work on them personally. When I hear this, I shudder. Actually, I get pretty ticked off. Allowing this to continue almost makes the person doing it deserve failure.
2. Yes, we have all seen bad dental work. Yet, you’d be surprised how many doctors hire associates and don’t check their work. They assume that because this associate has a license, they are A-OK. This is not always the case. Always, always, always make sure your associate’s clinical is up to snuff. If they take it personally – tough. These are your patients, they deserve to be treated as competently as if you were doing it yourself. This goes for hygiene too. There are plenty of imaginative ways to do this without making your associate or hygienist look bad. But ultimately, don’t relax the quality control.
Quality of Patient Relations
By this, I mean how your staff, hygienists and associates deal with patients. While clinical quality is most important, this is also a priority. If you and the entire staff think your associate is mean and hard to get along with – don’t be surprised if your patients feel the same way. I’ve been doing this almost twenty years and have heard plenty of “stories.” One I’ve heard quite a bit has to do with firing an associate or hygienist that the doctor (and staff) just couldn’t deal with anymore due to performance and attitude issues. Usually what follows is a steady stream of patients telling the doctor how they really didn’t like the doctor or hygienist and are glad they are gone.
Of course the usual reaction is “why didn’t my patients say something sooner?” Beyond this, look at two factors:
1.These doctors knew they had an issue with these associates usually for quite some time. Finally the stress became so great that it demanded action. How much damage do you think was done before the doctor finally acted?
2.The patients complaining now are the ones who are still showing up. What about the ones who won’t come back?
In any event, organizational situations are not dissimilar to dental problems. They don’t just get better on their own with “time.” They get worse. The longer you wait, the more chance that organizational situation grows from a small cavity to a root canal!
Personally, I’d rather handle something myself than give it off to someone else and have them upset a client. But within that problem lies the secret of organization, i.e. how to do this and maintain that same (or better) level of service. If you want to learn how to build your business, while improving customer service and maintaining quality, I’d recommend the MGE Power Program, starting with the MGE New Patient Workshop.