Overhauling your business systems
Dental practices can experience continued growth regardless of their current performance level. In most cases, growth requires the development and implementation of effective business systems.
These step-by-step operating procedures ensure that the practice consistently meets its goals while providing exceptional patient care and customer service. In many instances, dentists are not aware that there are further opportunities for growth while enjoying their work more than ever before.
A general practice client with an annual production of £425,000 enrolled in the Levin Group management consulting programme. This solo practice was 22 years old, had a staff of nine and a four-day working week. The dentist was relatively happy in practice yet his chief complaint was an overwhelming level of stress. The dentist’s key objective was to reduce the daily stress without jeopardising profitability levels.
The preliminary assessment indicated that the practice had significantly outgrown its basic operational systems (scheduling, case presentation, patient financial management, hygiene production, budgeting and customer service). Levin Group discovered that the practice was operating with systems more suitable for a £250,000 practice and was clearly stretched to meet its production level.
Analysis revealed that the practice had considerable growth potential if it could streamline its operations through better systems. The issues that the doctor had with stress would also be addressed by improved systems.
Levin Group has found that the majority of practice stress is not due to patient care issues, but rather to inefficiencies and bottlenecks in business systems. As
practices mature, they simply outgrow their systems. New systems, effective scripts and comprehensive staff training are required to reduce stress and achieve continual
Levin Group designed the following approach to reduce stress in the practice while allowing it to take advantage of growth opportunities:
1. Scheduling goals were put into place and communicated to the entire team.
2. The new annual production goal was set at £500,000.
3. A new scheduling template was designed to allow the practice to reach its production goals consistently with a 5% margin of variation. In many cases, practices set goals but do not redesign the schedule to achieve that goal. The new schedule was structured to eliminate huge daily variations and make sure all days were somewhat similar in structure. This enables a steady and predictable pace of production resulting in reduced fatigue and stress.
4. The schedule permitted only certain services at specified times to ensure maximum efficiency. It was designed to allow for an excellent service mix and higher treatment acceptance to keep the schedule full. More complicated and higher production services were performed in the morning with a goal of completing 65% to 70% of daily production in the morning.
5. The dental hygienists were trained to identify potential treatment to both improve patient care and increase production in the hygiene and restorative departments. Services added to the hygiene protocol included full mouth series every three years, adult fluoride treatments and periodontal initial therapy. In addition, the hygiene department added ancillary services such as dental sealants and whitening services. The hygienists were also trained to identify and discuss treatment needs with patients. This led to an immediate rise in a wide scope of services such as cosmetic dentistry and dental implants.
6. The dentist and team went through extensive case presentation and communication skills training. Scripts were put into place covering all routine patient conversations and case presentations. In addition, a step-by-step process for presenting treatment to patients was designed and implemented.
7. The financial coordinator was trained on the four financial options recommended by Levin Group. These include 5% cash discount upfront, credit cards, half payments before the case begins and the balance before the final appointment, and third-party patient financing. The practice enrolled in a patient financing program allowing them to extend comfortable payment options to all patients. In the first 12 months, this practice provided approximately £30,000 worth of dentistry using outside patient financing.
8. Customer service satisfaction surveys were given to patients, and results were used to enhance quality. In addition, scripts encouraging patient referrals were introduced.
In 12 months, this practice grew approximately £110,000 while significantly relieving stress. According to the dentist: ‘I seem to be working easier than ever before while producing the highest gross revenue that I have ever produced. At this pace, I could practice forever.’
Success hinged on this practice not simply tweaking its systems, but thoroughly redesigning them. The best performing practices have effective systems in place and a very satisfied, enthusiastic patient base. By implementing systems, your business can be one of those top-performing practices.