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Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Systems, systems, systems! Either you got good ones or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble!

Here’s the problem: most dentists think they have good systems when, in fact, they don’t. Sure, at one time, the systems were effective and efficient, but that was years ago. Management and marketing systems have a shelf life of about three years when they’re operating at peak efficiency.

After that, things slow down. As the practice continues to evolve, the old systems can’t keep up and they begin breaking down more and more frequently.

Doctors and team members will get out “the duct tape” to keep the systems running, but bottlenecks continue to multiply, forcing the staff to improvise work-a-rounds and other fixes that, of course, create additional problems. Before long, those once sleek, simple, super-efficient systems have transmogrified into a Rube Goldbergian nightmare. It takes more and more effort to get less and less done. Not a good situation for you, your team or your patients.

Yet dentists insist on holding onto outdated, production-killing, morale-destroying systems. Why? Here are the top four excuses dentists make for keeping bad systems:

1. It’s going to take too much time to replace the systems

You can’t expect to snap your fingers and have new systems like that. A better way to look at it is that new systems are an investment in your practice… in your sanity… and your financial well-being.

If your outdated systems aren’t working well now, what will they be like a year from now? How high will he stress be in your practice? How long will your team agree to keep working under such conditions… before they start looking for opportunities elsewhere?

2. It won’t be worth it

Can you remember what was it like when your current systems were new? How the days seemed to fly by with few problems? Patients weren’t backed up in the reception area. Stress was low or nearly nonexistent. And you weren’t putting in extra time in the office and at home, thinking about the practice 24/7.

You can’t go back to those easier, stress-free days with your current systems. But if you could get a better practice and a better life with new systems, would it be worth it?

3. We fixed systems before and nothing happened

Fixing systems isn’t replacing them. And that’s what you’ve got to do when systems become outdated. Your practice is continually evolving, and new systems can absorb only so many changes before they start to flounder. Think of all the changes that have occurred in your practice in the past three years regarding technology, supplies, personnel, protocols, equipment, etc.

I bet it’s a pretty substantial list, yet you’re operating with basically the same systems before any of those changes happened. It’s like running new software on an old computer. It either won’t work or it runs so slowly that you finally throw your hands up in frustration.

4. My team doesn’t want to change

It happens. Teams get comfortable with the status quo. But if your practice isn’t performing to your satisfaction, then it’s up to you to change it.

After all, you want to get the most out of your career. You don’t want to settle for lower income and lower profitability… just because your team is happy with the way things are.

Sure, you want your team’s input on how to improve the practice, but keeping everything the same shouldn’t be an option.

Conclusion

Your practice is a Ferrari. You can’t expect it to operate at peak performance if there’s a lawnmower engine under the hood. That’s what happens with old systems––they prevent you from reaching your practice’s full potential. Who wants to be puttering down the road when you could be flying full speed ahead into a much brighter future?


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Where Are You Going? And How Will You Get There?

Where Are You Going? And How Will You Get There?

If you could just focus on the dentistry, life would be great, wouldn’t it?

But you have a business to run, specifically a healthcare business, which has its own special rules and considerations. And it’s not easy being both a dentist and a practice owner. You went to school for dentistry and have taken tons of clinical CE courses, so that part of the job is generally a piece of cake. It’s the business side where things get a little hairy. All things considered, you’ve done a pretty good job, but you don’t have an MBA. In fact, you’re mostly winging it. Sure, you talk to your colleagues, read blogs and articles, and try your best to keep up, but it just keeps getting more complex. And, face it, you don’t have time to play catch-up.

Yet, you know something’s got to change. You’re looking at your numbers for referrals, overhead, case acceptance and production, and while they’re not terrible, you know they could and should be a whole lot better.

You don’t want to end up like one of those first-round draft picks who had an amazing college career but flamed out once they joined pros.

So, what’s your next move?

1. Keep On Doing What You’ve Been Doing

It’s safe and easy but you’ve been on this road awhile and you know where it leads––the same just-OK results. But you can feel a storm coming on the horizon. You may not be exactly sure what it will be or when it will happen, but you know it’s only a matter of time before it hits… it might be a team member (or two) leaving… a DSO moving down the street… a couple of patients raging on social media about wait times… or maybe all of the above. You know if you don’t make a change sometime soon that things could get a lot worse in a hurry!

2. Make Some DIY Repairs and Hope for the Best

You’ve tried some do-it-yourself solutions in the past with little luck. You’ve come back from the latest practice management seminar or watched a couple of webinars all ready to revamp your systems. You hurry up and make a couple of changes, but as the weeks go by, you lose that initial motivation. Quicker than you can say “amalgam,” you’re back to the same basic systems you had before with a new tweak or two. You know you need to make positive changes especially changes that have staying power

3. Get Help

That’s never been your style, yet many dentists have success working with consultants. In fact, more than a third of practice owners (34%) used a practice management consultant in 2016, according to the latest Dental Economics – Levin Group Annual Survey.

Think of it this way… do people who work with a personal trainer improve their conditioning, strength and cardio? The answer is yes, if they stick with it. The trainer guides, encourages, teaches and holds the client accountable. That’s what we do for dentists and specialists. We make you better as a businessperson, leader and practice owner. We show you how to increase your practice’s performance by implementing high-powered systems that enable you to move closer to your full potential.

Is it easy? Of course not. It takes work to make significant positive changes, but we’re with you every step of the way.

Conclusion

Every dentist comes to a fork in the road. Which direction gives you the best chance of getting better and getting the most out of your skills and education? You can continue down the familiar path getting the same ol’ results… or you could choose a different path. It’s up to you.


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3 Strategies for Hiring the Right People

3 Strategies for Hiring the Right People

You can’t always get what you want, goes the classic Rolling Stones song. This is especially true when trying to hire quality employees. Many dentists make the mistake of only looking for a dental superstar to join their practices, while disregarding many other worthy applicants.

Think of pro sports… there are only so many superstars––whether it’s Serena Williams or Tom Brady––out there. And sometimes these high performers have their own issues, such as not “playing well” with other team members.

If you can find a superstar who’s a good fit for your practice, great. If you can’t, here are three qualities that you should look for in prospective employees:

1. Potential to Be Great

Everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe this candidate doesn’t have much experience, but has demonstrated through her education, non-dental employment and volunteer activities that she has the right stuff to be a key contributor to your practice’s success.

Early in their careers, even superstars weren’t truly superstars. If you can get someone who can become––with the right training and mentorship––a great employee, then you may end up having superstar in your practice for a long time.

2. Want to Grow, Learn, and Get Better

In your search, you will probably run across candidates who are switching careers or attempting to re-enter the work force after a hiatus as a stay-at-home parent. Many of these people possess the capabilities to become quality team members, especially on the administrative side of the practice. Look at their experience… do you see a commitment to learning, taking on new responsibilities and adding new skills?

Realize that there are far more people with non-dental work experience out there. Many of them can make excellent additions to your staff, if they have a track record that shows a demonstrated ability for achievement and growth.

3. Enthusiastic and Energetic

Personality matters. You need positive people in your practice. Expert clinical care goes hand in hand with excellent customer service. There may be times that a person with little experience but a lot of enthusiasm may be the best choice. Of course, you want to conduct at least two interviews to make sure that this person would be a good fit for the practice.

Conclusion

Will you be able to hire superstar team members every time? Probably not.

What you can do is look for people who have the potential to be superstars, who want to grow, and who are energized and enthusiastic. When people are willing to learn and improve, great things can happen.


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3 Habits of Happy Dentists

3 Habits of Happy Dentists

Dentistry is a good gig, right? Better than most careers. US News & World Report regularly ranks dentistry as one of the best jobs in the country. Yet, I’ve met many dentists who are stressed out. In fact, 29% reported high or extremely high stress, according to the latest Dental Economics – Levin Group Practice Survey.

In recent years, the business of dentistry has become more complex, which has made owning and operating a successful practice more challenging. But, after all is said and done, dentistry is still an amazing profession.

Here are three habits that can help you enjoy what you do even more:

1. Communication

Share information with your team. If they know what the goals are, they can work toward achieving the objectives. If they don’t know, there’s not much they can do.

Hold morning meetings to preview the day’s coming attractions. These huddles give everyone a heads-up about what to expect for the next eight hours. Also, hold regular monthly meetings to work on larger issues, such as fixing customer service breakdowns, role-playing scripts, implementing new systems, etc.

2. Delegation

One reason some dentists are unhappy is because they’re trying to do too much. You shouldn’t be answering phones, dealing with billing issues, or scheduling patients. Those activities should all be performed by your team. In fact, you should delegate nearly all administrative activities to your staff, so you can focus on patient care.

Delegation not only benefits you but also your team. It shows that you trust them to do their jobs, make decisions and handle things without being directly supervised or told what to do. Of course, you will need to provide effective training, so your employees are fully capable of performing their duties.

3. Appreciation

Let your team know what kind of job they’re doing. Thank them when things are going well. Recognize their efforts when they go above and beyond. You want your staff to view their employment at your practice as more than just another job. You want them to see it as a calling where they have the opportunity to learn, grow and excel. Acknowledging quality performance is one way to ensure good employees stay with your practice for as long as possible.

Conclusion

There’s a lot in dentistry (and life) you can’t control. But two things you can control are your attitude and your actions. Use these three habits to increase your personal and professional satisfaction.


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Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

It was 50 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. What can the Beatles’ classic album released five decades ago teach us about practice management? You’re probably thinking not much. After all, there are no songs about dentists on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But as with every Beatles album, there’s a lot of great music and plenty of good advice. And some of it applies to dentistry. Let’s take a look…

With a Little Help from My Friends

It can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be. Even with the growth of DSOs, the majority of dentists still operate solo practices. That means you wear a lot of hats… you’re the main producer, the team leader, the CEO, the CFO and the CMO. Some days, it can seem overwhelming.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Study clubs represents one of the greatest resources for practice owners. You can learn a lot from your colleagues, many of whom have experienced similar issues and challenges. You’ll get pertinent advice, learn about new clinical procedures and develop a support network that can get you through the tough times.

Good Morning, Good Morning

Morning meetings matter. Never underestimate the power of this brief gathering. Sharing information about the day’s schedule, patients, treatments, and emergences keeps everybody on the same page. Start your day the right way with a morning meeting!

Getting Better

That should be the goal of every practice. How can we improve? What’s not working and what could be working better? What are the solutions? What are the costs? What can we accomplish with the budget and manpower we have? As the practice leader, you don’t want to settle for the status quo. Because when you stop improving, you eventually start declining.

Fixing a Hole

A full schedule drives practice growth. Gaps in the schedule are missed opportunities. To combat last-minute cancellations, keep a list of patients who are looking to move up their appointments. Contact them as soon as you have an opening. Also, use social media to get the word out. If patients have a break in their schedule, they often come in to catch up on their dental care.

When I’m Sixty Four

Are you saving enough for retirement? When was the last time you looked at your retirement plan? Are you currently working with a dental-knowledgeable advisor? Even if you’re a younger dentist and believe retirement is decades away, you need to start planning for it now.

A Day in the Life

Like any job, dentistry can become a grind… if you let it. As the practice owner, you have the power to create a fun, productive work environment. Don’t just put in your time. Create the practice you want. Sure, it takes time and effort. But the sooner you start working on it, the sooner it will happen.

Conclusion

It’s been called everything from the greatest album ever made to the most overrated record in the history of popular music. Wherever your opinion falls on that spectrum, there are still some surprising lessons Sgt. Pepper can teach us 50 years after its release.


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3 Surefire Ways to Lose Good Employees

3 Surefire Ways to Lose Good Employees

Your team plays a critical role in the success of your practice. They help you get you through the tough days and prevent the tough days from turning into something much worse. Yet, many dentists have trouble keeping quality team members.

Sure, people will move or change careers. But many good employees leave because they were driven away by a boss’ bad behavior. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, about half of workers left their job because of their supervisor.

It’s getting harder to find good team members. Once you develop someone, you don’t want to lose them due to bad habits or bad leadership.

Here are 3 ways to NOT to retain a good staff member:

1. Play Favorites

People don’t want to work in a practice where they’re treated like a second-class citizen just because they’re not Brenda or Bobby or whoever is the doctor’s best buddy. When one employee gets special privileges, it creates unnecessary tension and resentment.

Solution: Strive to treat everyone fairly and equally.

2. Don’t Recognize Good Effort

Many dentists don’t compliment their team because they believe that “doing a good job is what I pay them for.” If you rarely praise your team, it might be time to rethink that behavior. Everybody needs encouragement, acknowledgement and positive feedback. When staff members are never praised, they tend to become complacent and go through the motions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying applaud poor work or underachievement. But the vast majority of dental team members do a good job. Letting your staff know that is a good thing. People want to be compensated well, but they also want to work in an environment where they’re appreciated.

Solution: Make appreciation a daily activity.

3. Fail to Keep Your Promises

Practice leaders can quickly demoralize their team by making promises they don’t keep. Your word should be your bond. If you’re viewed as untrustworthy, your team will doubt nearly everything you say.

Solution: If you make a promise to your team, do everything in your power to keep it.

Conclusion

If you have good staff members, you want to retain them. You don’t want to be the kind of boss that drives people away. Avoid these three costly errors and continue to strengthen your team by giving them the training they need.


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4 Lies That Hold Dentists Back

4 Lies That Hold Dentists Back

Dear Struggling Dentist,

Here’s some advice––stop being your own worst enemy!

Yes, I know, the dental economy isn’t the greatest and competition is heating up as DSOs continue to grow. And I realize that patients are less loyal than they used to be and even the loyal ones don’t come in for their twice-yearly hygiene appointments. On top of all that, the insurance companies keep chopping reimbursements and so on and so on.

Yes, these things are all true and they make it much more challenging to run a successful practice.

But I’ve met too many dentists who are struggling and yet continue to believe in dangerous, performance-depleting myths. Let me be clear, these internalized myths are far more dangerous than all the external threats combined.

Here are four of the most pernicious lies dentists tell themselves:

1. “Something Will Rescue Me”

Nobody’s coming. This isn’t a superhero movie where Batman shows up at your office, grabs a canister of “New Patient Attractor” from his trusty bat belt, douses your reception area with this magical elixir, and then suddenly your practice is overrun with new patients. Ain’t gonna happen. No way, no how!

You’ve got to be your own superhero. That means putting together a plan, brainstorming strategies and implementing them, tracking performance, making adjustments, and getting expert help when needed. No cape or Batmobile required.

2. “It’s Just a Phase”

I’ve heard this over and over from dentists whose production has been down three or four years. That’s not a phase, it’s a permanent condition! Well, that is, unless you decide to do something about it.

I get it. You want to be positive. You want to believe the practice will turn around. But belief alone isn’t enough. For things to improve, you have to marry belief to action.

It’s like losing weight. You may want to drop 20 pounds, but if you don’t change your diet or your exercise habits, you won’t shed any weight.

3. “But It Worked Before”

That doesn’t mean it will work now or ever again. And if it’s not working now, that’s your sign to change what you’re doing. The “it” can be a marketing strategy, campaign or ad. Just because something was successful in the past, there’s no guarantee it will succeed in the present.

 4. “The Economy Will Pick Up”

It’s already picked up. So if you’re expecting some turbocharged, super-heated, macro-economic miracle to lift the dental economy out of the doldrums, you’re bound to be disappointed.

But all is not lost. The business of dentistry is evolving and will continue to evolve. So, forget the economy and concentrate on something you can control, like the activities within your practice. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do right now to make sure your practice is successful, such as:

  • Scheduling 98% of hygiene patients
  • Reactivating inactive patients
  • Collecting 98% of fees
  • Persuading at least half of your patients to make a referral every year
  • Delegating all administrative tasks to your team, so you can focus on patient care

None of these activities has anything to do with the overall economy. These are things you and your team can make happen on your own. So, what are you waiting for? Pick one and get started!

Conclusion

What we believe can either help us or hurt us. Too often dentists cling to false beliefs that limit their performance and their potential. Take a hard look at what’s holding you back. If it’s one of these lies, toss it aside and move on.


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Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Dr. Cynthia Banderet wanted to break through to the next level. She owned and operated a successful general practice in Belleville, Illinois, for more than 10 years, but she knew she could be doing better. After much deliberation, she chose Levin Group as her management and marketing consultant.

Six months into her consulting engagement, Dr. Banderet saw a dramatic difference in her practice’s performance. “Our gross production has increased by 20% over six months,” she said. “We have fewer cancellations, a higher percent of our patient base is scheduled and case acceptance has increased. I’m thankful to be in Levin Group’s care.”

At the end of her 12-month management and marketing programs, Dr. Banderet and her team achieved outstanding results, including in these key categories:

  • Production – up 34%
  • Production Per Hour – up 38%
  • Collections – up 19%

Summing up her experience, she said, “I love working with Levin Group. Everyone is very professional, friendly and caring, always going over the top! They gave us the tools and guidance to create an office environment for success.”


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Get Ready for the Second Half of the Year

Get Ready for the Second Half of the Year

This is a dangerous time for many practices. As we enter the second half of the year, there can be a tendency to relax a little, especially if your practice is ahead of last year’s pace. You want to keep any momentum you’ve built up going for the entire year. If your practice’s off to a slow start, now’s the time to make positive changes that will pay dividends later on.

Here are three strategies for ramping up growth in the next six months:

1. Make Referrals Rewarding for Patients, Too

Patients may know someone who needs a dentist, but making a referral isn’t on the top of their to-do list. But if you can make the referral process a little more fun for them, you’ll be surprised at the results. How do you do that? By incentivizing the process.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to set up a refer-a-friend program…

  • Any patient who makes a successful referral will be entered into a drawing to win a prize. Make it something worthwhile like a gift card for dinner at a nice restaurant.
  • If patients make more than one referral, then their name goes into “the hat” that many times, increasing their chances of winning.
  • Each month give away a different prize.
  • Place signs in high-traffic areas touting the program. Train your team to promote it during interactions with patients.
  • Take photos of all the winners and place those pictures in the reception area. Also, use social media to create awareness about the program.

2. Don’t Let Money Walk Out the Door

Practices are only collecting 91% of their production, according to the latest survey by the Levin Group Data Center. If you’re below 95%, making a few adjustments can lead to a big improvement in your bottom line. Train your team to ask for payment at the time of service, including co-payments. If this is the policy, verify that it’s being followed. If members of your front desk team are uncomfortable asking for payment, give them the training they need to perform at a higher level. In addition, the financial coordinator should contact all patients who owe the practice money. Levin Group recommends a 3–3–3 system of 3 phone calls, 3 emails and 3 letters over 9 weeks. Using this system, our clients have recouped significant amounts of revenue they once thought uncollectible.

3. Give Your Patients One More Thing to Smile About

People at any age want to look their best. Most practices aren’t doing enough to create awareness about their cosmetic services. Have you ever had regular patients come in with a brand-new cosmetically enhanced smile… that they got from another dentist? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard similar stories from many other dentists. If you’re not actively letting patients know about what cosmetic treatments you offer, you’re basically telling them to go elsewhere.

Conclusion

Owning a practice is like running a marathon, not a sprint. There are plenty of mile markers along the way, but you don’t cross the finish line until the end of the year. Use these three strategies to build on your success and to grow your practice even more in the next six months.


Additional Resource

Need more patients? Learn more about our marketing consulting program by clicking here.

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Put the Fun Back in Your Practice

Put the Fun Back in Your Practice

Running a dental practice is more complex than ever before. As a practice owner, you have a lot on your plate––caring for patients, leading the team, managing the practice, updating your clinical skills and knowledge, working with other doctors, etc.

The business side of dentistry has grown more competitive and more complex. As a result, 27% of dentists are experiencing high or extremely stress, according to the latest Dental Economics / Levin Group Annual Survey.

There should be an element of fun to what you do. After all, this is your chosen profession. Here are 4 things to add more fun to your practice:

1. Celebrate summer

Host a backyard BBQ or picnic for your team. Camaraderie is extremely important, especially when you work in a small business. It’s good to get together with co-workers and put the job aside for a few hours.

2. Let’s do lunch

Grab a quick bite with a team member once a week. We can spend years working with people and know very little about them. Over the summer, try to have lunch with everybody on your team. View it as an opportunity for you to learn a little more about your staff and for them to do the same.

3. Shut it down early

Close early one Friday a month. Your team works hard all year long. Summer can be especially hectic at times. Closing early one Friday a month gives everyone on the team a chance to start the weekend early. Shaving a few hours off the day puts everybody in a good mood.

4. Take a vacation

I’ve met too many dentists who haven’t taken a vacation in years. This is absolutely crazy to me. You need time away from your practice, so you can renew and re-energize. When you don’t take a vacation for years, every day becomes a grind. To enjoy what you do, you have to step away from it occasionally.

Conclusion

These are just four suggestions off the top of my head. I’m sure you and your team can brainstorm a dozen more easily. As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of success is making your vocation a vacation.” Adding a little more fun to your practice is a good way to start.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book, Get a Life and Keep It, by clicking here. Look for the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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