Jeff BlumbergShould you share office production and collection numbers with ALL of your staff? What are the benefits? And are there any drawbacks to this position? Doesn’t it make your staff only care about the numbers – or worse, ask for more money?

And finally, how much of the “numbers” should you share with them?

It’s not uncommon for me to hear questions like this from new MGE clients. I can’t say that there is an “average” position I see dentists taking on the subject. I see plenty of doctors when they first come to MGE who do and many who don’t.

And, yes we do encourage that the doctor shares office statistics with the entire team.

Why?

Beyond the simple reasons, it can actually have an extremely positive impact on the team and overall office profitability.

With all of this in mind, I thought it worth posting about. Especially with the potential benefits that can be had.

Why Talk Numbers

First off, let’s look at the “numbers” (i.e. production and collections totals) for what they are. They are simply indicators of the degree of work occurring in a business.

Taken over a period of time, they point to whether the business is expanding, contracting or staying the same (which is actually, by the way, contracting). It’s representative of the combined efforts of the entire team. And if they’re growing, it shows the team that they are “winning.”

By definition a team dictates coordinated action – i.e. Teammate A does this and hands it to Teammate B; if Teammate A has no idea what’s going on with Teammate B, they can run into trouble.

For example, let’s say the Financial Secretary is looking to hit a certain goal and needs another $4,000 to meet it, and they aren’t sure where to find this $4,000. The Scheduling Coordinator – not knowing this – schedules a patient for treatment whose down payment is over $4,000 for the beginning of next month. Obviously I could go on with this point, but you get the idea.

It’s even worse if the Financial Secretary has no idea what the collections goal for the office is — which also happens.

Setting Goals…And Making Them

TargetsThe doctor may have an idea of what he or she needs to collect in a given month and doesn’t share this with the office. Or worse, doesn’t set any kind of a goal to share. Or does set a goal but doesn’t share “the numbers” indicating whether the office is meeting, short of or exceeding this goal.

All in all, while a person may plunge into whatever work they may be doing on their individual job without being informed, they have no idea as to

a) Whether the office is making any headway towards its goals or

b) How what they are doing individually is affecting these goals.

So, to make this simple: people should have at least monthly statistical (really weekly but that’s a story for another day) goals for their specific jobs.

(Related: Consistent Practice Performance – Eliminating “Down” Months)

Assigning Individual Goals to Each Employee

This is important no matter what their position is. If they’re in charge of scheduling, this might be overall office production. If they are in charge of collections, it’s collections. If they are handling scheduling for your Hygiene Department (in a larger office with multiple hygienists this might be one person) you’d measure hygiene production. For a PR person it might be new patients.

And everyone (the entire staff) should know what everyone else is producing and how they measure up!

This begins to give a clue as to why close to nine training days are spent on the subject of Statistical Management on the MGE Power Program. It’s an important subject.

Where It Can Go Wrong

Now, let’s say you do share (or end up sharing) the numbers with your staff. Maybe you do it at a daily morning meeting or a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly staff meeting. Where is it most prone to go wrong?

The biggest pitfall I’ve seen is when the staff sort of “flips” and shifts their focus to the stat or the “number.” As opposed to what’s behind the numbers or what the numbers represent (which is helping people get healthy).

It’s easy to see how this could happen. You set a collections goal and your Financial Coordinator is coming up short. Everyone shifts into high gear to “meet” this goal and focuses on the exact thing you DON’T want a dental (or health care office) staff focusing on: Money.

They begin to have uncomfortable conversations with patients. Mrs. Jones is asked by the receptionist, assistant and hygienist when she plans on having those crowns done. She mentions this to you as it has never happened like this before. Things get a little weird.

Now, on the other of side of this, you don’t want your staff to be short of their goal and just declare defeat.

It’s a happy medium. But the most important part of it is the FOCUS.

Case Acceptance SmallerIn this example above, you had a goal, but the focus shifted from the patient and what they needed to the “Dollars,” which is not where you want it to be.

(Related: Why Your Staff Don’t Listen to You)

Conversely, WHY does Mrs. Jones need that work done? And WHO should be speaking to Mrs. Jones about it? And are you making it a point to ensure that it is discussed by the right person with Mrs. Jones? And even more, are your staff being kept abreast of the fantastic results your office is getting…with all of your patients – like Mrs. Jones?

That collections figure is a number. But what that number represents is completed dental treatment that patients needed and benefitted from. Are you sharing the benefits with your staff? Are they seeing on a regular basis how happy people are with your office? Are they all getting to read the thank you cards and emails? Are you (or any staff member that hears them) sharing the positive comments you’re receiving from patients? That patient who cried with joy when you delivered their veneers and gave you a big hug; does all your staff know about this?

Keeping the Focus on Helping Patients

You’ll find – I know we do here at MGE – that the “wins” clients (or patients in your case) get from our program are more valuable than the money we receive to work here. They prove that what we’re doing is more than a “job” — we’re actually helping people. Doing something good. And this is what actually, deep down motivates (and excites) the majority of people on this planet.

Well, you’re helping people – ALL THE TIME. But how well do your staff know this? How about the Schedule Coordinator who just got a rash of annoyed comments from the last five patients they’ve called? Don’t you think it would help them to have certainty of how beneficial your office is to patients? Or provide them with confidence to soldier on through the rough patches on their job?

Knowing that your office is producing a positive impact also makes it clear to your team that they are doing so much more than earning a paycheck. They are – and I say this with all seriousness – making a difference.

And finally, it also places their attention where it should be – on getting patients in and through their needed treatment. Which is why your office is there. The fact that you get paid for it and this shows up in your collections statistic is a simple matter of economics and necessity. In the end the more people you help, the more money your office will make.

So, avoid the focus on the “stat.” instead focus on what makes this “stat” and what this “stat” represents.

Numbers You Shouldn’t Share with Staff

Finally, there are some numbers I WOULDN’T share with staff. Things like overhead and profitability. You might give them a general overhead number for bonus purposes – but make sure this number INCLUDES profit and some extra to create a cushion. In other words, you’d have to exceed that number before bonuses become a possibility.

The why’s behind this are covered at our Financial Management and Profitability Seminar on the MGE Power Program. But in a nutshell, let me give you an example of WHY you might want to handle things this way:

Your basic overhead is let’s say $40,000 a month. Your office collects $80,000 that month. After some variable expenses that eat up let’s say $5,000, this leaves you with a profit of $35,000 that month. So, you decide to have a staff meeting. You explain what the overhead is and ask the staff what you should do with this $35,000 excess. Do you think they would say:

  1. Save it. Possibly take a little more profit for yourself. Maybe pay off some debt or
  2. Give them a big fat bonus or
  3. Buy various “cool” pieces of equipment (a CEREC, laser, new computers, hygiene instruments, handpieces, etc.) or promotional type items (i.e. branded dental floss, retainer cases, toothbrushes.)

Go ahead. Think this over.

In my experience, 99.99% of the time, the staff will pick a combination of options “2” and “3” above. “1” will never come up.

You might think it’s a staff deficiency.

Truthfully, this would happen even if you had the best, most motivated and borderline angelic dental staff that ever walked the earth.

Now, WHY this would happen we cover at the seminar above. But just know that this is the case. Suffice it to say that you’re the one managing your finances and as such have an intimate understanding of what’s happening. They do not.

(Relate: Ask Sabri: Scheduling, Bonus Plans and Training New Staff)

And this is not to say you wouldn’t provide bonuses. Of course you should – I’m all for it. But, if your bonus is overhead based – i.e. a percentage of collections over a specific overhead amount, then the “overhead” had better include things like some money to save and adequate profitability for you.

As an example, if your overhead is $40,000, then “overhead” for purposes – i.e. the number you’d share – would be $55,000 or something like that. Then a certain percentage over $55,000 (i.e. 10-14% of this overage) would be split for bonus. Fine.

Summary

So, I’m a big fan of sharing the numbers – with the limitations listed above. I view it that my team and I are in whatever we’re doing together and, as such, they have to know what’s going on. But most important, keep the team focused on the offices positive results – of which I am sure there are many. Hope this helps!

2 Responses to “Sharing “the Numbers” with Your Staff”

    • Jeffrey M. Blumberg

      Hi Dr. Naqvi, Great to hear from you, and thank vvmuch for the feedback and the share! See you again soon. Best, Jeff

      Reply

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