Most dentists I speak with realized at a certain point in their career (usually within 2 or 3 years of owning a practice) that they are more of a business owner than they are a dentist.
So you essentially wear two “hats”: a clinician hat and an executive hat. And the “executive hat” is where most of the problems and stresses tend to come from.
The biggest problems in your practice are usually not from the dentistry—it’s from everything it takes to attract, acquire and retain patients, and manage the whole operation. Dentistry is only one part of the job. You have staff you need to pay, a lease or mortgage, equipment, supplies, thousands of patients to manage…many more moving parts than the dentistry itself.
But I know it can be hard to find the time and energy to give the owner role the attention it requires while you’re seeing patients back-to-back all day.
So in this blog post, I have six tips to help you be a better executive and business owner.
And if you’re serious about becoming a great business owner and gaining control over every aspect of your practice—including hiring, training, scheduling, case acceptance, collections, finance, organization, marketing, etc—this is what we teach on the MGE Power Program. I highly suggest taking a look to see if it’s right for you.
1. Own the fact that you are an owner
This may seem like an obvious tip—you already know that you are a business owner—and yet, many dentists still shy away from fully embracing that role. Perhaps they still wish they could just do the dentistry without having to worry about the business side. Perhaps it feels “un-doctorly” to think like a business owner. Or perhaps they just don’t have confidence as an executive.
And this attitude shows up in insidious ways: issues aren’t handled as quickly as they should be, the staff don’t have clear direction, and the office remains disorganized and inefficient. Ultimately, patient care suffers just as much as your practice’s bottom line.
So my first piece of advice is: own the fact that you are an owner! Embrace your executive role.
You are also a producer that does dentistry, but first and foremost, you are the owner and CEO of the business.
2. Control what you can control
Another important attitude as a business owner is to not make excuses and focus on things you can’t control.
I’ll often hear things like, “Oh, we had a bad month and a lot of cancellations. People just didn’t want to come in because of the holidays.” Or “I just can’t find any good staff. Nobody wants to work anymore.”
That isn’t helpful and doesn’t fix the problem.
You can’t change the holidays, but you can put in a little more effort as a group to reach out to your patient base and get more new patients in, so you can find patients that do want to come in and take advantage of “use it or lose it” with insurance. Many of our clients have some of their best months toward the end of the year, because they plan ahead and focus on the things they can do.
If your staff aren’t doing the things you want them to do, it’s time to look at your hiring and training processes, as well as team coordination and how you delegate duties.
And if you have a down month, don’t just shrug and hope the next month is better. Production doesn’t just occur because of the magical workings of fate. Something went wrong somewhere in your business processes between new patient acquisition, scheduling, recall, confirmations, case acceptance, collections, etc. Look at each aspect of your business model to see what needs to be fixed. And it’s a lot easier to do when you apply my next tip…
3. Track the key statistics for your practice—and use this information on a day-to-day basis
At the very least, you should be looking at your production, collections, and new patients regularly. You don’t want to wait until the end of the month to find out your collections are way short. It’s too late to do anything about it then.
And then there are several other important statistics you should be tracking that will measure the performance of your practice and help you see where you are going wrong.
Our Practical Director, Chris Menkhaus, outlined the most important statistics in his blog post, 12 “Key Performance Indicators” for a Dental Practice.
If you’re tracking these statistics and your production is down, you can find out why.
Was the amount of treatment accepted too low compared to the amount of treatment presented? It’s time to talk to the Financial Coordinator or Treatment Coordinator to find out what happened.
Did you receive a high number of new patient inquiry calls, but not many of them scheduled? Now you know you need to work with the receptionist on how they are answering the phone and scheduling patients.
Is the number of recall appointments staying flat over time? That means you’re losing patients! As you acquire new patients, this should increase your total recall appointments, so if it’s not, you need to do some patient reactivation.
4. Hold daily Morning Production Meetings and weekly Staff Meetings
Part of your job as an executive is to coordinate with your team. The best way to do this is to hold a short Morning Production Meeting (or “Morning Huddle”) on a daily basis. This meeting should be under 15 minutes and only needs to be done with key staff members to coordinate the schedule and production for the day.
You may already be doing morning huddles with the back office staff, but this meeting shouldn’t just be for coordinating clinical details. There are a few other key points to coordinate the schedule, production, and case acceptance so that you make your daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
Our Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Blumberg, outlines the proper structure for this meeting in his blog post Making Your Morning Huddle Productive!
And then you’ll want to get the whole team together once a week to make the staff aware of policy, planning and goals, address any issues that may have cropped up, and generally make the whole team aware of what’s happening in the practice. You may also use this opportunity for team training or education. It doesn’t have to be a long meeting, but it is essential to ensure everybody is on the same page.
5. Set aside time each week for your executive duties
I recommend taking a couple of hours each week to sit down and dedicate that time to your executive hat. This can include things like:
- Writing policies for your practice
- The schedule
- Coordinating with your OM
- Looking over statistics
By doing this, you always stay on top of things and you’ll find that you’re running your practice instead of your practice running you.
My recommendation would be to put it on the schedule and set that time in stone. Don’t just address these things randomly between patients throughout the day. You want distraction-free time where you can focus on sorting everything at one time. You’ll get it done faster this way and won’t miss anything.
6. Train your staff
Hiring staff is meant to make your business owner job easier. You’re basically delegating jobs that you simply don’t have time to do yourself. It can be a great way to allow you to do more of the dentistry and executive responsibilities that you want to do.
But…if your staff aren’t well-trained, it can make your life even more difficult.
Staff don’t automatically know what you expect them to do, even if they have lots of prior experience. Things that may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to a new employee.
I’ve even seen such silly things as the receptionist not knowing the doctor wanted more new patients. When a prospective new patient called in, they’d just answer their questions and hang up, with no effort made to schedule them for an appointment. Once the doctor trained them on how to answer the phone and schedule patients properly, their new patient numbers went up immediately.
Training your staff is very important to make sure everyone is on the same page and that everyone knows how you want your practice to run—because not all practices are run the same way. They all have different policies, concepts, mentalities, etc.
DDS Success was created for this exact reason—to train all of your staff through online videos to ensure they’re on the same page and work together as a team. You can request a free demo here to see how it can benefit your office.
These are all ways you can start wearing your executive hat more in a purposeful way. On the MGE Power Program, we teach you how to become a true executive of your practice. You learn things such as:
- How to communicate effectively with all types of patients during case presentations
- Business ethics
- How to build a workable structure that is capable of rapid, stable growth
- Formulas for business success (what steps you should take when an area is expanding or contracting)
- Leadership and executive training
- Financial planning and profitability
- And much more.
If you want to be fully in control of your practice and learn exactly what you should be doing as an executive, I highly recommend looking into the MGE Power Program. You can call us at (800) 640-1140 or you can get a free practice analysis here.
I hope these tips help! Until next time!
Mary Bergeron provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. Neither MGE nor Ms. Bergeron may be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.
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