Medicine for Your Business

The business world often goes hand in hand with stress. Pressures to attract new customers, meet quotas, or increase productivity can make working feel like an unpleasant chore. If you have begun to dread going into the office due to an oppressive atmosphere, chances are strong that you are not alone in your feelings. Turning things around for you and your team may be easier than you think. Consider adding fun back to your business with a daily dose of laughter.

While the addition of humor to the workplace does not move deadlines or reduce the expectations for performance, it can help create a more enjoyable environment for everyone there. When the office feels fun and engaging, the work feels lighter and more accessible. Scientific studies have shown that laughter relieves tension, boosts the immune system, and relaxes the muscles. Additionally, laughing can increase memory, energy, and creativity and elevate the mood. Every office can benefit from these effects.

There are many ways to inject some humor into your workdays. Try sharing a joke with your team to start the huddle and invite them to bring their own. Post a board in a shared space and challenge everyone to bring a funny image or comic strip to hang. Have a silly shirt day once a week or once a month. Take silly photos or videos of you and your team to share on social media.

Embracing a little more humor with your colleagues and team takes only a small investment of time and can yield large increases in mood, productivity, and worker morale. For more ideas on making your work more engaging, contact our office.

Dental Practice Human Resources: FAQs

Whether 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.

From Dreams to Reality: Effective Goal-Setting

Dental Consultant

 

St. Charles Dental ConsulantNo matter how impressive your vision for your practice may be, dreams require hard work, strategic planning, and a willingness to adapt to make them real. Highly successful practice 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 practice. 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 patients 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 practice. 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 practice success you have dreamed of achieving.

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

The Costs of a Toxic Employee

Dental Consultant

Chicago DSOHiring 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.

Be a Leader, Not a Manager

DSO in Chicago

DSO ChicagoPractice 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.

4 Simple Ways to Make Stress Work for You

DSO in Chicago


Chicago DSOStress is an inescapable part of life.
Whether you’ve just opened your practice or have begun planning for retirement, you have experienced some amount of stress along the way. Doctors, scientists, and media outlets have spent many years warning about the dangers of stress. Too much stress too often can cause negative effects on our physical and mental health. However, before giving in to chronic tension and depression, consider a few ways you can make stress work for you.

  1. Focus on the positive side of stress. In small, sporadic doses, stress can increase brain function for gains in creativity and problem solving ability. It can boost your immune response and provide the motivation you need to engage your issue. Over time, small amounts of stress will even enhance your resiliency for managing future difficulties.
  2. Change your self-talk. Instead of stumbling and dwelling on the negatives of your current predicament, start incorporating the idea of “yet.” The phrase “I can’t…” has an entirely different tone than “I can’t…yet.” Once you have reset your self-talk to allow for the possibility of change, you will find yourself ready to brainstorm creative strategies for moving forward.
  3. Tackle problems one at a time. Select one specific aspect of your life that is causing you too much stress. Focus on the root cause of your stress and decide on a plan of action. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to delegate tasks to a member of your team. New habits take time and training, but can create real change to improve your life. Continue working your plan, refining as needed, until the overstress is no longer a factor. Choose another challenge and start again.
  4. Embrace levity every day. Celebrate birthdays, small victories, and changes in the weather. Add laughter to your workday. These will cut tension in the office and refresh you and your team. Your patients, your team, and you will enjoy the more cheerful and relaxed atmosphere this creates.

By embracing the motivating influence of stress without allowing it to drive you down into anxiety, you can generate positivity, creativity, and effective change. However, if you have chronic stress that is substantially affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. To best help others, you must first care for yourself.

Beyond Marketing: Turning Interest into Appointments

DSO Chicago

Marketing plays a vital role in attracting new business. Cleverly designed mailers and strong online SEO strategies can put your practice name in front of hundreds of potential patients. Glowing reviews and testimonials tell website visitors that you provide quality care and have a friendly team. However, when it comes to driving new business, marketing – even great marketing – is only part of the story. No matter how effective your campaign, one of the biggest factors in gaining new patients is scheduling.

Many dentists find it difficult to think about their practice as a business. It is likely that you chose dentistry due to a passion for service and healing, not bookkeeping or sales. Yet nearly any successful retailer will say that the only way to gain business is to give customers what they want, when they want it.

What do your prospective patients want? Convenience, first and foremost.

Consider this: patients have lives of their own. Many work outside the home, many have children. Most working people have limited time off, and may have to schedule their time carefully to leave room for the chance of illness or emergency. Many jobs dole out time off slowly over the course of weeks. Others restrict employees from missing any work at all during certain times of year.

Does your office offer any same-day scheduling? Do you have next-day scheduling? Shift workers may not know what hours and days they will be working more than a few days in advance. In addition, patients who are experiencing pain are unlikely to wait longer than 24-48 hours for an appointment before trying somewhere else.

Do you have office hours covering mornings, evenings, and Saturdays? Patients do not always have the luxury of choosing their shifts or days off. Parents may be reluctant to have their child miss school for an appointment. If you do not have openings during the times that are needed, potential patients will find an office with more flexible hours.

No matter how impressive your practice appears, patients will look elsewhere for an appointment if you are unable to work with their scheduling needs.

Making the changes to provide better scheduling flexibility will take time and may require an investment in your practice. You may want to consider adding an associate or hygienist to help cover additional time. Talk to your dental CPA about what options will best suit your practice needs, as well as the needs of your community.

Why You Need to Market Your Dental Practice

Chicago DSO

By the end of 2015, a reported 73% of Americans were using the internet on a daily basis. This level of digital interaction has changed the business landscape that we face today. Of all internet users, more than 70% use online searches to find information about health. This includes finding and selecting a doctor or dentist. Your online presence, or lack thereof, can have a profound impact on the success and growth of your practice. Consider how these three aspects of online marketing are currently working for – or against – your practice.

First, 21st century business success requires the use of 21st century tools. Your practice needs to have a modern website, with accurate information and a responsive, mobile-friendly design. To today’s consumer, your website is a reflection of your business. Potential patients have a wealth of options to consider, especially in competitive markets. If your website is slow to load, looks outdated, or is not mobile-friendly, most visitors will move on to another practice with greater online appeal.

Second, you should have an active presence with social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. Social media has replaced simple word of mouth for how people share information. By maintaining one or more active social media pages, you engage your community by sharing photos, videos, special offers, personal stories, community events, and more. You may even get patients and staff to share your posts, leading to greater visibility and interest.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. According to a recent survey, 92% of people read online reviews. 80% believe that the reviews they read are as accurate as personal recommendations. If you are not monitoring your online reviews, you are allowing others to control your online reputation. Reviews can also lead to valuable constructive criticism that can help you improve your business and your team.

Ask your patients to post reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. Unless asked, many people will only consider posting when they are unhappy with the service they received. However, patients who are pleased with your practice are usually happy to share their feelings when asked. Consider using some of the more glowing testimonials on your website.

The work involved in successful online marketing can be daunting. However, the cost of hiring a professional online marketing consultant can be more than offset by growth in new patients and case acceptance.

For more ideas to help your practice grow, contact our office.

Why Do We Resist Change?

DSO in Chicago, IL

Change is scary. Change forces us out of our comfort zones and into the unknown, often into situations outside our control. We are afraid of change because we are afraid that this new challenge might make us look foolish, feel less capable, or even fail.

Change is also necessary. It is impossible to grow your practice, increase your service offerings, or stay competitive without change. Dentistry is a dynamic field, with new technologies and creative techniques being explored continuously. It is critical to be open to exploring these changes and to implementing the ones that will best improve your practice.

Unfortunately, one of the realities you may face is that your most loyal and long-term team members may be the ones who are most resistant to accepting these changes in your practice.

Over time, people tend to develop routines to perform their tasks. On one hand, this can be beneficial, as it can ensure consistency in job performance and can simplify the training of new employees. Often, these team members take pride in mastering the routine of their position and equate this with mastery of their role in the practice.

On the other hand, routines can lead to complacency, which can be devastating for your practice. Complacency can cause team members to “go through the motions,” putting less thought and effort into their routine, and may make their work become sloppy over time. A complacent employee is unwilling to change their routine to embrace the new ideas, methods, or technologies that you need to better serve your patients and grow your business. A complacent employee can even harm team morale and slow the adoption of the changes you seek to implement.

How do you protect your office from complacency and promote change as a part of your practice?

First, create an atmosphere of change. Start small, but design a series of changes to be implemented over the next few weeks or months in your practice. Make the idea of change something that is a normal and accepted part of your routine. This will make bigger changes easier to implement when the time comes.

Second, talk to your team. Make sure every team member understands the changes you want to implement, your reasons for making the changes, and your expectations of their compliance. Be open to answering questions, but do not allow “that’s not how we’ve always done things” to be a reason to slow or avoid changes.

Finally, make your team and yourself accountable for the changes. Track that your changes are in place and that every team member is on board. Meet with your team and discuss the outcomes of the change and how everyone feels about the change. Celebrate victories and strategize improvements. When your team is able to own the change and its outcome, it will be easier to implement the next and to suggest new ideas for future change.

Contact us for more information.

Things to Consider Before Buying New Dental Equipment

Chicago DSO

No matter how well-equipped your office is initially, time, wear, and changes in technology will at some point require you to purchase additional or replacement equipment. There are a few points you may wish to keep in mind before making your final decision on a major equipment purchase for your practice.

First, take your time. Like with any other major purchase, rushing into a decision can be costly. Instead, spend several weeks in preparation for this choice. Meet with your Dental CPA about any tax implications and ask if there is an optimal time to make such a purchase. Consider carefully the following factors to be sure you are choosing the right piece of equipment for your needs:

  • What is the main purpose of this equipment?
  • What features do you want/need it to have?
  • Are you and your team going to need extensive training to use it?
  • How often is this equipment going to be used?
  • Will it fit the space available?
  • Will you have to make changes to the space to use this equipment (ie, wiring, utility connections, etc)?
  • Is the manufacturer reliable?
  • Does the manufacturer provide good service for their equipment?
  • How long should this equipment last?
  • What is the expected benefit of this upgrade?
  • When do you plan to have it installed and in use?
  • If this equipment is to allow new services, is there a demand for those services in your practice/community?
  • Will your pricing for your services offset the investment cost and still be competitive in your market?
  • If the equipment you are buying is used, have you obtained an independent opinion on its condition?
  • How does the cost compare to other models? Other manufacturers?
  • Can you purchase directly from the manufacturer to save on cost?
  • Have you compared pricing from a variety of sources online?

While not all of these may apply to your equipment purchase in every circumstance, it should be clear that major dental office equipment should never be bought on impulse or without thorough consideration and research. Recommendations from other dentists or your dental CPA can also be helpful in narrowing your search.

Your dental equipment plays a vital role in the quality of care you are able to provide to your patients. When it is time to add or replace a piece of that equipment, make sure you take plenty of time to research, refine, and select the right piece for your practice. This will help you be certain that your investment will bring value to your practice for years to come.

Contact our office for more information.