To start off, this article assumes that you actually HAVE and SET production goals in your office on a monthly basis. If you don’t, I can’t stress the importance of doing this enough. Beyond it being sort of a “Management 101” concept, it’s also an important aspect of your leadership role in the office.
As the owner of a dental practice, you wear many “hats,” (dentist, executive, etc.) From your “owner hat,” you have two very important tasks that must be done regularly.
- Setting goals for your office, and
- Creating a culture in which the entire team is aligned with the overriding concept/mission of getting patients healthy. All of your staff should be motivated by helping patients achieve the highest level of oral health possible; along with complete awareness of how their specific role in the office contributes to making that a reality. This is a vastly different mindset from “punching the clock,” “having a job,” “I’m just here to clean teeth and get to the next appointment” or “I just schedule appointments,” etc.
The doctor sets the goals and creates the culture. But just setting goals and saying “Let’s all work hard and do this!” isn’t enough. If you expect these goals to be met, there’s a little more coordination required.
Figure out what it will take daily, weekly, and monthly to make these goals.
If you have a goal of producing, for example, $100,000 in a month, that breaks down into roughly $25,000 a week. If you work five days a week, that’s $5,000 a day. So you need to figure out how you can produce $5,000 a day, and plan your weeks accordingly.
And that’s not all. There’s some more planning to be done.
Imagine you owned a bakery, and you planned to bake 100 apple pies today. That means you’d need X amount of flour, X amount of apples, X amount of sugar, and X number of employees to bake them.
Well, in a dental office, there are certain ingredients that go into production. To meet your production goal, you’ll need to see X amount of patients, which means X number of doctor appointments from the Scheduling Coordinator, X amount of hygiene appointments, X number of treatment plans presented/accepted, X amount of phone calls or appointment reminders, X amount of new patients, etc.
When you start breaking down the details involved in making your goals, you can set specific individual goals for staff to attain. Then you’ll know that the receptionist needs to make X number of recall phone calls, the scheduler needs to schedule X amount of production for the day, the hygienist needs to see X number of patients, the treatment coordinator needs to needs to get X amount of treatment accepted and paid for.
In regards to scheduling, it’s important to keep in mind that the schedule should have a balance of production and case presentation opportunities. You can learn more about this in my blog post from a few months ago. When you set these goals and when the Office Manager follows up with the Scheduling Coordinator on them, make sure that one side isn’t being loaded up too heavily (all production and no case presentation opportunities or vice versa).
Now the ball moves into the Office Manager’s side of the court.
Once these goals have been set, the doctor needs to make sure the Office Manager understands them, and then it becomes the Office Manager’s job to assign these to the applicable staff and follow up to ensure it happens. The Office Manager can run this while the doctor is with patients.
As a side note, if you have been using your Office Manager as a receptionist or “the doctor’s helper” for random tasks in your office, this is a costly mis-utilization. The correct utilization of your Office Manager is as the executive who runs the practice while the doctor is with patients, including seeing that goals are met, jobs are being done correctly, orders complied with, and policy followed. Having this executive in place is vital because the doctor can’t run the office while working on patients; someone needs to be in charge of things.
Now, you should already be having morning production meetings every day. (If you don’t know the proper format for these meeting, see this blog post on the subject by Jeff Blumberg.) Some of these goals may be brought up and coordinated in the morning meeting, but then the Office Manager will need to speak with each staff member individually to go over exactly what they are supposed to be doing that day and that week. This would include assigning goals to be met, giving any specific instructions relating to patients’ treatment, case presentation, or scheduling, and answering any questions or concerns the staff member has. And, if the doctor is trying to implement anything else (such as a policy or system change), then this would be covered here as well.
Note: If you have a very large office with dozens of staff, the Office Manager would meet with junior managers to assign goals, and then they in turn would go the individual staff in their department and assign these goals and tasks to them.
It is important to ensure that the staff knows exactly what they need to do to achieve the goals that are set for them, and that if they in turn need any coordination from the OM or other staff, it is provided. Remember, this isn’t a vague “let’s just work harder to make these goals” scenario; the Office Manager needs to be specific—“We need this many appointments in hygiene,” “We need these many calls made to the list of patients overdue for recall,” “I need you to mention Mr. Johnson’s outstanding treatment plan to him when he’s here for his hygiene visit,” etc.
Once this has been done, the Office Manager should check up with the staff periodically throughout the day and week to see how they’re doing on their targets and see if they need any help with anything. (Again, in a very large office, the Office Manager would check in with the junior managers, who would in turn check in with the staff in their department.)
That’s how you add a little more strategy into making your goals. Of course, there’s a lot more to be learned about planning, teambuilding, and getting your staff to perform on their jobs, and that’s covered on the MGE Power Program. If you have any questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this helps you make your goals this month!