Bulletin, January 2008

Exclusively to Clients and Friends
of Advanced Practice Management

’Tis the Season:

Now that the Holidays have passed it’s time to take care of business. Some key items:

  1. Set goals for the coming year. Goal setting works. The more specific you are in laying out what you want the more likely you are to achieve it. We’ve enclosed our Goal Setting Outline. Please send us a copy of it when you’re done. It’s our job to help you and your staff get what you want out of your work lives.
  2. Fees and Budgeting: We hope you participated in our Fall 2007 Fee, Wage and Technology survey. Even if you didn’t, as clients, we are happy to share the results with you. Just call. We also post the updated fee survey on our website at AdvancedPracticeManagement.com.
  3. Just underneath that survey you’ll also find Davich, Wilson and Morrow’s Overhead survey which is the most detailed of its kind for its area. Great help for setting budgets.
    • Performance Reviews: Many of you have your staff performance reviews at the beginning of the year. I have enclosed a copy of our simple Performance Review form. Both you and the employees should fill one out and compare. To help make these productive, we suggest the following:
    • Good staff performers need more than a dollar…they want recognition and praise so be sure you give it to them.
    • Err on the side of being generous with your staff, but when you give them a raise get something for it! Come up with a short list of concrete items that each staff person can do to help improve your days and bottom line. Then say to them, “I need your help with…”
    • If a staff member is not performing well then don’t give them a raise! Instead, outline their good points (if they don’t have any good attributes then release them) and be very specific in what you want them to improve. Meet with them again in a month. If they’ve made real progress then you may award a raise
    • Staff are your biggest expense and also your biggest asset. Check to see how staff salaries are stacking up as a percentage of collections at least once per year. If staff wages are going up faster than collections then something has to be done before raises are granted.
    • The Total Compensation Statement:
    • Sometimes employees might not fully understand how much you contribute on their behalf. The Total Compensation Statement (enclosed) can be worthwhile but don’t hit them over the head with it. Just use it to let them know how much you value them.

The outcome you want is a happy focused productive staff. If you do things right you might actually make a profit by giving raises!

Want More New Patients? Dental Health Month is Coming!:

This is a great time of year to invite patient referrals. You and your team have to be “on a mission” to pull it off.
Some of our offices do February Dental Health Month mailings which can be a very cost effective way to bring in an extra month or two worth of new patients. If you’d like the article I wrote on this and/or the sample flyer just call or grab it off our website on the “Dental News” page.

It’s Hard to Collect 85% and Make a Decent Profit:

PPO write offs can be real killers to the bottom line. Yes, I see some practices flourish and do quite well with lots of PPO participation but they have to be able to outrun the discounts which can run 30% or more off normal fees). In these situations Total Office Collections might be around 85% or less. Since dental office overhead typically runs 60+%, that doesn’t leave a lot for the bottom line.
Are you ready to peel off the PPOs? Please read the article I wrote on this for Dental Economics. It’s a good primer.

There are substantial risks and rewards in this. We’re here to help you evaluate your situation and help you through the transition if that is your decision.

Often Doctors remain on these plans unnecessarily because the discounts don’t require you to write a check so they can seem like they are not an expense. However, they are very expensive!

Plan Your Time Off Now!

The degree to which you and your staff’s vacations and time off and continuing ed coincide the better for your bottom line. It doesn’t make sense for you to pay staff to do make work when you are on vacation then have the staff take time off when you are working so you’re not at full power. Furthermore, planning your and your staff’s vacation in advance also allows for lining up temporary help when needed. If your hygienist takes a vacation and you are not, you still want to keep running at full power and you’ll want to maintain hygiene patient flow.
Just having two or three weeks of inadequate coverage during hygienists’ time off can take thousands of dollars off the bottom line per year.

The Dental Dow Jones:

Comparing the statistics of the sample mature practices from this year (through November) to 2006 we find practice production is up 5.1% and collections are up 4.3%.
In 2007 there was slightly less Doctor Downtime (7.4% of hours worked versus 7.9% the previous year). New patients were up just 1% compared to last year but hey, at least they were up not down. Patient flow as measured by total exams was up 2%.




Take a look at the enclosed graphs. They show that 2007 got off to a strong start compared to 2006 but at the end of the year, things faded a bit and matched up very closely with the previous year.



Hopefully, 2008 will start out strong too and stay strong all year!

Make hay while the sun shines! My message to you is to be very aware of the seasonal fluctuations in practice. Catch the waves when you can and don’t fret too much during seasonal doldrums.

Happy New Year!