Dental Practice Human Resources: FAQs

Bay Area Dental CPAWhether you manage human resource decisions and concerns yourself or simply oversee your practice manager, as the business owner, you are responsible for ensuring your policies are legal, appropriate, and applied fairly. You may find it useful to take a moment to review a few commonly asked questions regarding aspects of human resources for dental practice owners.

What questions do I need to avoid during interviews?

There are a few basic, even common questions we would not think twice about asking during conversation that are not appropriate for an interview setting. Some of these include:

  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • What is the origin of your (unusual) name?

While all these questions can be meant to break the ice, they can also lead to the sharing of information about protected class status, such as disability, family status, ethnic or religious heritage, and others. Even if the answers would have no bearing on your decision, these questions can leave you open to a complaint or suit if the position is not offered.

What should I do if an employee refuses to sign their disciplinary action form?

Bring a witness into the room, note the refusal to sign, and have the witness sign confirmation that the disciplinary action form was provided. Additionally, remind the employee that refusal to sign does not nullify the disciplinary action and further infractions can still lead to more serious consequences.

We use software to track the hours our employees work. The program has a function to automatically deduct meal times so the employee does not need to manually clock in and out. Should we use that function?

Before you decide to implement an automatic system of this type, consider the time saved by not manually entering hours. Then compare that to the time lost by entering corrections if a team member misses lunch, returns early, or runs late. If your office rarely deviates from schedule, this may be beneficial. However, if you find that you are making corrections more than once or twice a week, it may be costing more time than it saves.

If you have other questions regarding staffing concerns, contact our office for a practice management consultation.

Why You Should Join (or Start) a Dental Study Club

Dental CPA

Science is a field where the only true constant is change. Dentistry is no different. With advances in techniques and new technologies every year, it can be challenging to stay current, especially without breaking your budget.

Study clubs can be an ideal solution to this inevitable problem. There are many reasons why you should be gaining the benefits of membership in a dental study club. Here are some of the most valuable advantages you stand to gain:

Continuing Education

By pooling the resources of a group of dental professionals, you can attend continuing education lectures and clinical hands-on training in your local area, without all the time and expense of travel. This added source of training and education can be invaluable for staying current with new techniques and new technological advances. If you have a desire to focus your practice on one or more specific areas of dentistry, such as implants or sleep apnea treatment, a targeted study group can help you find and attend the courses you need to develop the skills and qualifications to reach your goal.

Peer Support

With a dental study club, you are interacting with other dentists and specialists in your area. Group discussions have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to share experiences, techniques, challenges, and new ideas with like-minded individuals for the benefit of everyone involved. This informal venue can allow you to explore new ways of approaching a problem or a treatment and allows you to benefit from what another has already tried.

Networking

While it is not the primary reason to join a study club, you should not overlook the importance of networking. Making other dental contacts in your area can be highly beneficial. Specialists, in particular, depend on referrals from other dentists. It can be much easier to refer a patient or gain a referral when you have developed a relationship with other professionals and know how they treat their patients, what technologies they use, and other such information.

Whether you join a local study club or decide to create one of your own, the benefits of membership far outweigh the costs. For more information, contact a local study club or view this article from Inside Dentistry: https://www.dentalaegis.com/id/2011/11/dental-study-clubs.

4 Simple Ways to Reduce No-Shows

Whether your patient is scheduled for a cosmetic consultation, restoration placement, or routine hygiene and screening visit, you want to be certain they will come. When your patient cancels with little or no notice, they delay important treatment and wreak havoc with your schedule. Even one missed appointment per day can lead to thousands in lost revenue in a single year.

Reports indicate that about one in ten patients cancels or skips scheduled dental visits. Consider these 4 easily implemented strategies for reducing your practice no-show rate:

  1. During a patient’s visit, clearly communicate the state of their oral health. Explain what treatment they need, why they need it, and when it needs to happen. Emphasize the benefits of receiving the treatment in a timely manner. Patients who understand the value of their treatment are more likely to remember and return as scheduled.
  1. Ask your patient to choose how their appointments are confirmed. Offer to use text, email, mail, or phone calls, if possible, so they are more likely to receive their reminder. Consider offering your patient the ability to authorize you to contact a spouse, parent, or partner who most often handles scheduling or reminding them of commitments.
  1. Whatever their method of choice, follow through with appointment reminders at least 24-48 hours prior to their scheduled window. If you speak to someone directly during a reminder, choose words that prompt the patient to agree to call if they cannot keep the appointment. Cancellations are less frequent when the patient feels they have made a commitment.
  1. Set aside time at least once a month for your team to reach out to patients who are not yet scheduled for their next visit. Use the preferred contact method on file and offer same day or next day appointments, if possible. This has the benefit of both bringing back inactive patients and filling openings left by cancellations or reschedules.

Communication is key in reducing no-shows and reactivating patients. Before implementing new strategies for scheduling, hold a team meeting and discuss your new policies in detail. Be certain that every member on your team is ready and willing to explain the value of treatment, follow up with patients, and support the changes to your systems.

For more ideas that can help your business thrive, contact our office for a consultation.

The Bright Side of Patient Complaints

No matter how fantastic you and your team are, you will occasionally have a customer complain about something. When this happens, you and your team may feel discouraged, frustrated, or even annoyed, depending on the specific complaint and how it was shared. It can be easy to brush the complaint aside and tell yourself that the client was just having a bad day. However, changing the way you think about customer complaints can be highly beneficial to your business.

Client complaints may involve anything from office décor or other customers to the time, cost, or outcome of a business transaction. Even concerns that feel trivial or unfair to you should be handled with respect and appreciation. Like any consumer, your client wants to feel like you care about their experience and their feelings. A complaint is an opportunity for you to win back a customer’s trust.

If you thank your customer for bringing their concerns to you, commit to taking action to correct the situation, and follow through on your commitment, you will earn loyalty from that client. This loyalty can translate into additional business from the client, and even referrals to friends, family, and social media connections. Over time, handing one complaint as an opportunity to improve can lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in revenue.

However, if customers leave your office feeling that their concerns are unimportant to you, they will likely look elsewhere for business in the future. Unhappy clients do not stay with your business. They do not refer others to you. They may even tell others about their unpleasant experience with your office, which can cost you potential customers and revenue.

Every customer complaint you receive is a gift. Your team or business may have a weakness that you were unaware was an issue. If one client voices a complaint, it is likely that others have noticed the problem as well. Consider asking customers for feedback after a visit. Let them know proactively that you appreciate their input and are ready and willing to provide the best experience possible. When your customers feel valued, they will be more loyal to you, your team, and your company.

For more tips on providing a better customer experience, contact our office.

The Costs of a Toxic Employee

Hiring is time-consuming, stressful, and sometimes costly. In some cases, this causes business owners to avoid firing an employee long after it has become clear that the person is damaging the overall work environment. Finding the right person for your office can be challenging. However, continuing to retain a toxic employee can be far more costly for you and your business.

What is a “toxic employee?”

A toxic employee is easily recognized for exhibiting several, if not all, of the following behaviors:

  • Bad attitude: This includes eye-rolling, muttering, snide comments, complaints, confrontational tone, and passive-aggressive speech or actions.
  • Lack of engagement: This can include work-avoidance, lack of enthusiasm, unwillingness to accept responsibilities, and being inattentive in meetings and huddles.
  • Dishonesty: Whether this involves refusal to accept accountability, blaming others for mistakes, or outright lies and thefts, dishonesty is harmful to your business and your team.
  • Poor work performance: While a new team member may experience a learning curve at first, the toxic employee never rises above the bare minimum of what has been explicitly listed as expected. In many cases, they may not even be fully or properly completing work. They are uninterested in feedback or training and unwilling to work to improve.

Do you recognize anyone in your office from these descriptions? If so, it’s time to pull the plug.

When you continue to keep a toxic employee on your staff, you may avoid the headaches of the hiring process in the short term. However, you are creating a host of other problems for yourself that will cost you a great deal more time, money, and energy to solve in the long term.

One toxic employee in your office can cause:

  • Loss of new customers: If a toxic employee is interacting with potential customers, they are creating a negative image of your business, which can lose hundreds or thousands of dollars in revenue.
  • Loss of existing customers: If your clients are treated poorly even once, they may choose to take their business elsewhere – and they may tell others.
  • Loss of your best team members: Your best people want to work in a positive environment where they feel supported and appreciated. By tolerating the complaints or shoddy work of one toxic person, you risk losing team players to a company that maintains a better atmosphere.

Don’t compromise your business or your best team members by refusing to fire toxic employees. For more strategies to improve your business, contact our office.

Revitalize Revenues Through Increased Investment

Dental CPA

| Every business experiences trends of increasing and decreasing revenues. When new business slows and income begins to dip, many business owners react by cutting back on the item in their budget they think is most expendable: marketing.

The unfortunate reality is that this is almost definitely the wrong step to take. When you cut your marketing budget, you reduce your revenues as well.

Today’s business cannot survive through only word of mouth referrals. Your company needs to attract new clientele on an ongoing basis, not just in the weeks following a postcard blast or mass email. In addition, you need to engage and maintain the loyalty of your existing customers.

Consistent, effective marketing helps you achieve both ends.

One recent study examined the marketing budgets of several publicly-traded companies. The researchers found that businesses that were spending an average of 16.5% of revenue grew up to 15% annually, and those that spent an average of 22% grew 16% – 30% annually.

When your marketing budget increases, your revenue follows suit.

There are several factors that can influence how much your business should be spending on marketing.

  • Are you a new startup company? You may need to invest more until you have established a client base.
  • Is business established and you want to maintain growth? Compare your current rates of new customers to those lost annually to determine how your current budget is doing.
  • Is business stagnant or decreasing? Consider investing an additional 5% or 10% above your current marketing budget, at least until the trend reverses.
  • How competitive is your local market? Higher competition requires greater investment to grow business.

For more advice regarding your marketing budget and business growth, contact our office.

Making the Right Impression

Financial Consultant

| When clients visit your office, they observe. Your clients are going to make decisions and judgements based on what they see. If you don’t already, you need to think in the same manner your clients do. If you were a new client to your office, would you schedule a second appointment? Here are a few elements to consider.

Your Office’s Appearance

Look at your office. Is it clean and hygienic? Is it cluttered, dusty, or musty? Your clients will pick up on elements such as these. Make your office spotless. You risk your professional credibility if your office appears to be dirty. Clients are visiting you for professional treatment, so the environment must be clean. Décor matters too. Consider repainting your walls to be a soothing light blue or green. What artwork do you have hanging on your walls? Project a modern atmosphere to create confidence in your methods.

Your Team’s Appearance

Both you and your team should always be presentable. Is a team member coming to work wearing wrinkled clothing or covered with pet hair? Are phone calls left unanswered? An observant client will notice and it could cost you repeat business. You are in the business of retaining and serving your clients, so your team needs to smile often and set a confident, professional tone.

Keeping your office clean is a key element to client retention. Create an environment that makes your clients feel comfortable. Visitors will interpret your office and the appearance of your team as a reflection of your professional capabilities. It is imperative in today’s age of social media and online reviews that you present a positive impression of your business. A misstep on your part may be read by other prospective clients online.

Make the right impression with your clients if you hope to gain repeat business.

To get started with a professional consultation, please contact us.

Effective Goal-Setting: Making Dreams Into Reality

Dental CPA

| No matter how impressive your vision for your business may be, dreams require hard work, strategic planning, and a willingness to adapt to make them real. Highly successful business owners learn to set goals realistically and effectively. Master the skills of effective goal-setting, strategic planning, and assessment to find greater success in your business.

Set Incremental Goals

Start small when setting goals. Establish daily and weekly goals. It can be easy to let ambition take over while you dream of long-term goals. However, you cannot reach your long-term goals without smaller victories along the way. Setting smaller, incremental goals provides the opportunity for you to be in constant control of your business. You will know if you miss a weekly goal, and you can then adjust your strategy to make sure it never happens again. If you are only setting quarterly or yearly goals it can come as a surprise when you miss them, or your team might be left struggling to meet them at the last minute.

Make Goals Visible

You and your team need a visual reminder of what your goals are and when you plan to achieve them. Put them up on a bulletin board in the office, include them on your calendar. Write your goals in a place you look daily as a constant reminder. We all have those back-of-the-mind thoughts or ideas that might be good if implemented, but they are frequently forgotten. Make your goals visible to you and your entire team.

Goals Need to be Measured

How will you know if you achieved your goal if you cannot measure it? Goals should have a measurable standard. Perhaps your goal is to see 10 new clients by the end of each month or to increase the number of referrals by 50% before the end of the quarter. Pick specific numbers and concepts that can be defined in a concrete way. Abstract goals are harder to reach because they are too difficult to define. When goals are measurable, you will know exactly what you need to achieve your desired result.

Rethink the way you are setting your goals for your business. Your ambitious plans will be successful only if you have a road map to reach them. This is where effective goal setting comes in. Get into the habit of writing down your goals and measuring them. Effective goal-setting strategies take careful planning. Master these skills and you will be on your way to the business success you have dreamed of achieving.

For more tips on managing your business, please contact us.

Be A Leader, Not A Manager

Dental Financial Consultant

| Practice leaders set the standard and pace of your work. Managers hover and maintain status quo. Which definition sounds like you? Changing the way your practice is structured or operates can be a vast undertaking. Use these tips to get started on a path for developing an innovative practice that you lead, not manage.

Leaders Innovate

Leaders develop ideas that further practices. Managers use the framework that is already in place. Don’t hover over your hygienists or office staff. Let their work speak for itself and step in where necessary. Demonstrate to your team the qualities you want through your own actions.

Do What You Do Best

The majority of your time should be spent with patients, that is the best use of your abilities. This means you must delegate tasks to other team members. Leaders delegate tasks. Let your office staff handle the clerical side of the practice. Utilize a hands-off strategy where appropriate to free your time for patients.

Track Team Tasks

Rather than micromanaging your team, have them write or email their daily tasks to you. This will allow you to track the team’s progress and use of time. It will also save you from constantly asking, “What did you do today?” Hold your team accountable for their tasks. Request that your team define their tasks in quantitative terms. Spot-check as you feel necessary.

Know When to Hire and Train

When your practice feels swamped, hire and train. Leaders can recognize if their team is unable to handle the current workload. Pushing your team beyond their limits is not going to produce the results you are striving to achieve. Your team will work best when they have the necessary time and resources to do their tasks.

Leaders don’t have the time to micromanage. Leaders know when to back off and let the practice run on its own. This doesn’t mean you should let your entire operation always run on auto-pilot, but focus on letting each team member contribute their abilities in the best capacity. The only way to break through the status-quo is to allow for new ideas and strategies to take hold. This cannot be achieved if you are spending your time hovering over your team. Transform the way you manage your practice and your practice will transform itself.

Contact us today for more information.