Many dentists find it difficult to keep their business running up to the speed they want it to, yet fail to invest in an Office Manager to tackle the tedious task of dental business management for them. Dentists have the professional skills to provide intense restorative therapies, high production dental procedures, yet still find they need to handle dental collections, payroll, and handle office conflicts. Although they may fear that giving up control of these functions puts them out of control of their dental practice, it actually allows them to be an even better dentist. Finding a right hand man (or woman) to function as a dedicated office manager can be the best thing a dentist ever does.
A fear dentists may have of hiring an office manager is that someone may come in and take advantage of their role, and cashes in on the dentist’s mistakes. Production numbers are your protection, and hiring someone that will manage these effectively will actually allow for an increase in accounts receivable and give you more time to just be a dentist. How else can you see your patients if you’re busy trying to manage all of the business side of the practice as well? You will never have enough time for yourself or to enjoy your career if you are overwhelmed with work. Continuing in the same steps day after day, simply because they get you by, will not improve the situation.
If you’ve invested in a state of the art practice, you’ll want to maximize your dental equipment in order to bring in higher production. Having dental employees that constantly need managing due to their inability to deliver will only drag your dental practice down. Even with investing in dental practice management programs, the wrong drive or lazy employee will not cause your practice to do an about face. You’ll need a Dental Manager to provide leadership in order to motivate, manage, and guide your team while you’re busy providing the quality of care that they are selling to your patients. Poor employees try to place blame on things they cannot control, such as patients, co-workers, or the economy. Rarely do they change their actions. An Office Manager that oversees job performance can influence these employees, or better yet, replace them with ones that are even better.
Imagine a dentist that micromanages all areas of her practice very well. She oversees collections, makes sure her patients are confirmed, and even files insurance claims if she needs to. By nature, she feels very in control of her practice and does not believe she needs to hire an Office Manager. However, her finances are the lowest they have ever been since the practice opened. What is she doing wrong?
To begin with, her dental receptionist does not answer the phone in a timely manner. If she’s talking with someone else, even co-workers, she just lets the patient calling leave a message on the machine. She isn’t at her desk and puts no priority in trying to receive phone calls from prospective or existing patients. Although the dentist has set up guidelines about this, she is in the operatory and does not realize that the employee is not doing her job the way she’s supposed to. Other employees may have even told the dentist, but she just decides it’s not worth fighting over. This causes patients to go unscheduled, and for the receptionist to develop a poor relationship with her co-workers.
What about the financial coordinator that checks patients out after their treatment? Her private workspace is there to allow her to discuss matters confidentially with the patients, such as treatment plans and accepting cases, encouraging them to make the best choices about their oral health care. Instead, she uses the space to have personal visits about herself and everything else related to her, rather than focusing on the patient and their primary needs. To make matters even worse, she doesn’t give the patient their treatment plan. Instead, she tells them that she will put it in the mail, and hands the patient off to the receptionist to have their appointment scheduled. Once the patient sees the plan a few days later, they call and cancel the appointment because of how expensive it will be. All team members need to be on the same page, so that if employee changes are made, the protocol is always the same. The dentist may never know that money is walking right out the door unless there is someone to manage it while she is busy working. New employees may come from offices where they received no or poor training, and not have the background needed for instant success.
There needs to be someone in control of the office so that these problems don’t happen. If a dentist is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, practicing dentistry, they’ll need to clone themselves in order to manage the office on their own. With an Office Manager, these problems won’t exist any longer. From monitoring daily numbers, managing employee responsibilities, and conducting training or disciplinary actions, an Office Manager is the best friend the dentist didn’t even know they had. They will act as another set of eyes and ears, keeping the dentist’s best interests in mind.
A practice is only as strong as its weakest team member. It’s time to snap back into the real world and gain control over your practice. What are your employee’s poor work ethics doing to your production? How many patients are leaving and not coming back for their care? It’s time to take off the rose colored glasses and see what really needs to be changed.