Without realizing it there are many dentists right now who are shrinking the potential of their practice without even realizing it. If you think of the famous quote “Build it and they will come” it can mean many different things but in a dental office, it really sums up the solution to many different problems. If you don’t have the systems ready or the team members to properly perform the systems that you have in place then you are shrinking your office opportunities.
I know that dental staffing is a challenge, working with a smaller team will not only frustrate your current team members it will also hamper your production opportunities.
To illustrate this point, I want to provide you with some concrete examples:
- If hygiene appointments are being completed by the dentist instead of the hygienist,
it will cause a sharp decline in production. Yes, it means that the patients get seen and there is a diagnosing opportunity for the dentist, yet it also means that only $200 per hour will be billed instead of $400 per hour. If this happens repeatedly then you can see what this will do to the bottom line of your practice in the long run.
- Another scenario is having an assistant work both chairside and at the front desk as the only admin person. This will mean that new patient requests aren’t being answered quickly, the phones frequently go to answering machines and very often patients want an immediate response if they are calling the office. Emails or texts have a delayed response as well. It will also delay treatment coordination and hygiene coordination because there are only so many things that one person can take care of.
- For every three treatment rooms being used there should be one administrator for greeting, dismissing, taking payment, ensuring that next visits are either booked or properly allocated in the software, answering the phone, emailing, confirming, texting and a multitude of other duties. When you think about this vast list of duties for one person you will realize that it doesn’t leave time for treatment follow up to fill the dentists schedule or hygiene coordination to keep the hygiene chairs full. If you wait until you have enough patients to have two people at the front desk you will likely have missed many opportunities with potential new patients or existing patients.
- Having a clinical assistant working in the sterilization area if you have three or more treatment rooms working may seem like a luxury for your team, yet current IPAC and Covid precautions will mean that your rooms will be turned over quicker, your team will be less stressed and there are more opportunities for diagnosing if there is support in turning over the room.
- Many dentists feel that they can be both the owner and the Operations Manager of their practice. There is a practicality to this when a practice first opens in some respects but as a practice grows the owner very often has trouble letting go of some of these responsibilities. A dentist is most effective when they aren’t stressed worrying about completing payroll, paying invoices, and managing team members. Having an Operations Manager who you can trust, will help keep the team united, the dentists more focused on patient care and keep systems in place to strengthen the foundation of the office.
I am sure you have noticed a theme throughout this post. Having enough team members in the right place at the right time is needed to grow and sustain your practice. Unfortunately, not having enough people will limit your growth as well as shrink your current base if you decide you can do with fewer team members. To entice new team members, ensure that you have developed a good team culture, are paying fair wages and your team knows the expectations of them by having systems in place that can easily be followed. Going back to the initial quote, “build it and they will come” in dentistry means have your systems in place and enough team members to support the systems and the patients will be well taken care of and will be part of your practice.