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Archive for category: Management

What You Can Learn From Steve Jobs

What You Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a creative genius… and an amazingly successful businessman. An eccentric, enigmatic figure, he built one of the most valuable companies in the world by thinking differently than others.

One of Steve Jobs’ basic principles was that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. He could figure out what people wanted before they knew it themselves. That’s how he invented the Macintosh, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, etc. He was successful time and time again because he didn’t sit back waiting for market demand. He created demand.

As a dentist, you can learn a great deal from Steve Jobs. Following his example, you can put together an incredible patient experience. Like it or not, patients have negative feelings about going to the dentist. They’re afraid it will be uncomfortable, maybe even painful. And it can be expensive, too, especially for people who lack good dental insurance coverage. There are many things people would rather spend their time and money on besides dentistry. So where does that leave practices?

Adding the WOW Factor

At the American Dental Association Annual Meeting, I spoke about customer service. My thesis was that patients want to be delighted. You need to WOW each patient by creating an amazing experience. How? By thinking through every moment of a patient’s visit to your office, every aspect of the experience… and making everything delightful. You overcome those built-in negative feelings with a totally positive experience that’s planned, scripted and delivered enthusiastically by you and your team. That’s how to WOW.

As you can see, we capitalize WOW at Levin Group. We do that to show how powerful it is. Our consulting clients outperform their competition because we teach them to use the power of WOW every day, rising above mediocrity with an exceptional patient experience.

I can’t fit our entire customer service training program into this article, but I can tell you that our WOW-powered New Patient Experience consists of literally hundreds of simple, learnable steps any practice can master. With the right guidance, you can impress patients with everything you say and do. They’ll actually look forward to visiting your practice, knowing that they’ll be treated so well they’ll truly value the relationship with you and your team.

Do what Steve Jobs would do. WOW patients by creating an experience that will surprise and delight them. As he demonstrated again and again, it’s smart business.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “Stage III Customer Service” by clicking here.

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Stop Kidding Yourself

Stop Kidding Yourself

At my seminars and other speaking engagements around the country, I talk with hundreds of dentists every year.  Knowing that I’m not only a fellow dentist but also the CEO of the top live training and consulting firm in dentistry, most of these doctors have questions for me. The most frequently asked is, “Dr. Levin, where do I find great staff?”

Sometimes, I feel like saying, “Are you kidding? You don’t find them… you create them!”

Dentists have a fantasy that, if only they could learn the secret to successful hiring, they could find people who would be perfect employees on the first day. But it doesn’t work that way. Like all other businesses, practices need to find people with great potential and then develop them.

The formula is simple:

  1. Implement excellent, documented, step-by-step systems. Without the right systems, no practice can get anywhere close to its true potential, no matter how good the team is. Production will actually decline, and doctors will end up working many more years than they planned.
  2. Hire people for personality and potential. Don’t settle for one interview with promising candidates. Get to know them through several meetings… looking for a great attitude, strong work ethic, desire to learn and excel, etc. Pay new team members well. Provide comprehensive training. Give them performance targets. They’ll take personal responsibility for achieving excellent results for your practice.
  3. Learn to be an excellent leader. At Levin Group, we include leadership training with every management consulting program because it’s absolutely essential. While systems and smart hiring will carry the practice a long way toward success, leadership will take it over the goal line. Leading a team may be hard, but learning how to do it is easy.

Many dentists say they love their team, and some even think of them as family. But if you don’t want it to be a dysfunctional family, you have to follow the three steps I just outlined. Otherwise, you’re just kidding yourself.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, watch “Team Training – Another Thing to Consider” by clicking here.

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Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

People are complex and motivated by different things. One team member might be motivated by money while another may thrive on the prestige of working in a healthcare environment. Others may be intent on keeping a job simply because they need a paycheck to pay their bills. Regardless of the reason, it is the office manager’s responsibility to discover each staff members motivation and use it to build morale.

The Levin Group Data Center indicates that 96% of dental office managers have no management background. As a dentist, I understand that we often promote people we trust or who’ve been with us for a long time. Most staff members can be trained to be efficient office managers, but management is complex… and establishing a high level of morale stands out as one of the most challenging areas. Many office managers kill office morale… and dentists don’t realize that it’s happening.

On a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the best, how would you rate your office manager?

In a recent survey, the Levin Group Data Center determined that, on average, doctors rank their office managers at 8, while most staff members rank their office managers at about 4. The important takeaway from this isn’t which rating is more accurate… it’s the fact that there’s such a huge discrepancy. It’s also worth noting that, as soon as an office manager learns to use motivational psychology to increase morale, the ranking by staff members goes up. This is clear evidence that proper training for your office manager will result in higher team morale.

Staff members want to like their office manager.

Even though the office manager has authority over staff members, they want to like her personally… and be liked in return. This means they’ll try to please her and constantly observe her for signs of where they stand. This makes it relatively easy for the office manager to boost morale… in theory.

In fact, lacking management training, an office manager may not appreciate the fact that she’s being watched closely, every minute of every day. Just being herself… saying what she really thinks, acting in a way that causes anxiety, showing favoritism… can lead to problems.

One of an office manager’s most important responsibilities is building morale, but she can inadvertently end up killing it. To keep this from limiting the success of your practice, provide the expert training she needs to keep your team happy and productive.


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, download Dr. Levin’s whitepaper “What’s Holding You Back?” Use code SUCCESS during checkout to receive your free download. Click here.

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3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

Over the years, Levin Group has been fortunate enough to work with a number of extremely successful dentists and specialists. That might be surprising to some, who think that consulting is only for practices struggling with poor performance and low production.

Like superstar athletes, high-achieving dentists want to continue to get better. They’re not satisfied with where they are, because they know that with the right amount of effort, learning and training they can improve their practices and achieve even more.

Here are three things all millionaire dentists do…

1. They Do Their Job––Not Other People’s

Time is valuable, and they don’t want to waste doctor time on performing administrative activities. That’s a poor use of a very limited resource. They believe they should be spending nearly all of their day providing patient care.

No doctor should be scheduling patients, handling billing issues or performing hygiene. That’s why you have a team. The best use of your time is caring for patients.

Of course, there are important non-clinical activities that the doctor must be involved in, such as meeting with referring doctors and reviewing the practice’s financial performance. But these aren’t everyday events and should take up only a small amount of a doctor’s time.

2. They Let the Systems Run the Practice

For this to happen, you must have good systems, and your team must be trained on the systems. Without these two things, your practice will be in a state of chaos.

Top dentists have figured this out. They put in high-performance systems, make sure their staff is fully trained, and then they get out of the way. They spend their days moving from operatory to operatory, treating patients and being productive.

Unfortunately, too many dentists are losing uncounted hours every year, dealing with substandard systems… searching for workarounds to bottlenecks… and stressing about what’s going to go wrong next. That’s a difficult way to make a living at dentistry.

3. They Take Time Off

I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve met who said they haven’t had a vacation in years… which is absolutely crazy to me. Dentistry is supposed to be an enjoyable career, not a prison sentence.

How can you renew when you’re in the practice every day? How can you see the big picture if you’re always immersed in the day-to-day? Without time off, dentistry turns into drudgery. What kind of care can you give to patients if you dread going into the office?

Successful dentists understand that being the best at what they do requires time away from dentistry and the office. As a practice owner, you’re under a lot of stress, but often you don’t realize how much stress you’re experiencing, because you’re used to it. Many stressors are under the surface, applying constant pressure… but you don’t know that they’re there until you take a break from the practice.

Every dentist needs at least one vacation a year. You deserve it, and so does your family. You don’t even have to go far. Do a series of day trips. Most of us live close to parks and museums that we rarely visit. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There’s a lot you can do within a few hours’ driving distance.

Conclusion

If you want a better practice and a better life, do the three things all millionaire dentists do.

They’re not specific to someone who runs a boutique cosmetic practice in Beverly Hills or owns a lucrative small group practice with 11 offices. In fact, the sooner you start acting like a millionaire dentist, the sooner you can become one.


Additional Resource

 To grow your practice, attend one of Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminars in 2017. Click here to see his schedule.

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Huge Profit & You: Learn Dentistry’s Most Profitable Treatments and How to Do More of Them

Huge Profit & You: Learn Dentistry’s Most Profitable Treatments and How to Do More of Them

“Roger, I want to make more money.”

I hear that all the time from practice owners at my seminars. Then they usually follow up with something like: “Don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of my patients, but I went to dental school for four years, I own a practice, and I’m bustin’ my hump every day, yet I’m making less than my neighbor who sells hot dogs outside the Home Depot.”

OK, that last part might be a slight exaggeration.

But there are a lot of dentists out there who are unhappy with their income.

Many of them then proceed to ask me what to do. I look them square in the eye and tell them that the answer is staring them right in the face all day, every day…

The most profitable services in your practice are the ones you already offer.

While adding certain services, such as whitening or implants, can definitely increase production, the FASTEST way to do more profitable dentistry is to hyper-focus on fully maximizing the value of the treatment that shows up in your chair every day.

If you haven’t already taken steps to gain another 10–15% profit margin on the procedures you’re good at and perform frequently, what are you waiting for?

Every practice has specific services that are more profitable than others. For example, in general dentistry, it is typically crown and bridge. While it can be debated which procedures are the most lucrative in dentistry, there are other factors that impact practice production and profitability, including:

  1. The Schedule. Too many schedules choke off production because they’re inefficient, inaccurate or just plain outdated. They’re based on old habits rather than sound business principles. Just because the team is comfortable with the pace of the current schedule doesn’t mean it’s the most effective schedule for your practice. Time and again we have shown clients how to manage multiple chairs (and often multiple assistants) smoothly, which easily increases production, lowers overhead and decreases stress. Many dentists and teams hold onto the status quo, believing changing the schedule will lead to rushing and higher stress, which isn’t true.
  2. Speed. In an era when insurance reimbursements are declining, time really is money. The faster the procedure, the more profitable it is. We have clients who range from 30 minutes per crown prep to others who take two hours. While these may be the extremes, simply shaving 10 minutes from most appointments is a significant time savings.
  3. The Cost of Services. Lowering overhead increases profit, which is directly proportional to take-home income. One of the best examples for cost savings is laboratory services. Some offices work with labs that are far more expensive than necessary to provide excellent care. If crown and bridge is one of the most productive services in dentistry, then working with an excellent dental lab at a reasonable cost can make a significant difference. As the number of crowns, bridges and veneers increase, the savings (and profit) can add up quickly. There are excellent national dental laboratories, such as National Dentex, that provide every possible service at a reasonable cost.

Conclusion

If your practice isn’t as profitable as you you’d like, the solution for fixing that is easier than you think. The question isn’t “what procedure is the most profitable?” but rather “how much more profitable can I make the procedures I perform?” The answer is always – a lot!


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Roger P. Levin’s popular book, 100 Ways to Increase Your Practice Profitability. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

 

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Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Many dentists are micro-managers. It’s true. Perhaps you could blame it in part on dental school. As clinicians, we are taught to make sure everything is right or the treatment could potentially fail. That “it all depends on me” attitude often carries over to running a practice and leading a team.

Another culprit is the lack of systems. Without documented systems, there’s an element of uncertainty that permeates the practice culture. As business owners, we feel it’s our duty to check, double-check, and hover over employees to make sure things are getting done the right way.

At the end of the day, the cause really doesn’t matter as much as recognizing the behavior and finding a way to change it… because, ultimately, micro-managing is costing you big time––probably tens of thousands of dollars in lost production every year. On top of that, it wastes a great deal of doctor time, discourages employee growth and undermines the staff’s confidence to act independently.

So here’s the question––are you a micro-manager? Take our quiz to find out.

  1. Do you go up to the front desk area to give instructions, check up on tasks or monitor employee activity at least once an hour? Yes or No
  2. Does the team run all minor decisions by you before acting? Yes or No
  3. Do you get frustrated when team members don’t do things “your way?” Yes or No
  4. Do you believe that you are the best one in the practice to handle any administrative task? Yes or No
  5. Do you perform non-clinical tasks that could be delegated to team members? Yes or No
  6. Do team members have authority to solve patient problems and issues (versus checking with doctor)? Yes or No
  7. Have you ever corrected a staff member for performing an administrative task differently than you would have, even though the result was the same? Yes or No

Rate Yourself

Based on your total number of “yes” answers…

1 – Recovering Micromanager

2–3 – Passive-Aggressive Micromanager

4–5 – Heavy Micromanager

6–7 – Extreme Micromanager

They say great leaders are born, not made. Fortunately, they’re WRONG! You can easily learn how to eliminate the stress you feel trying to keep track of every single detail in your practice. More importantly, proper delegation gives your team the chance to shine in their jobs. And it will have a huge positive impact on your bottom line and free you up to do more dentistry in less time. A perfect combination.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Level IV Leadership,” by clicking here.

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3 Scheduling Mysteries Solved

3 Scheduling Mysteries Solved

There are three mysteries in scheduling that you must clear up immediately, because they can cost practices millions of dollars over the course of a career. The three scheduling mysteries are:

Mystery 1 – No-Shows and Last-Minute Cancellations

These are literally killing you by eviscerating your daily production goals and totals. You want your no-shows and last-minute cancellations—and make no mistake, a last-minute cancellation is as damaging as a no-show—under 1%.

Why do patients so often leave you with an opening that’s impossible to fill? You haven’t taught them to value their appointment.  Here’s a three-step process, based on phone scripts, that will solve this problem. When a patient no-shows, or cancels at the last minute:

  1. Have your scheduling coordinator create demand for the appointment by making the patient wait for a few weeks.
  2. If that doesn’t work, then threaten to charge the patient for the missed appointment (rather than actually charging, waive the fee as a favor, for which the patient will thank you every time).
  3. Put habitual no-show patients on a short list “to fill last-minute openings”… but don’t actually call them. They are money losers as regular patients. By default, whenever they do have a problem, they’ll be your future emergencies and add to production at that point.

Mystery 2 – Dealing With The Late Patient

Even the best patients will be late from time to time. There’s no way around it. Usually, if you don’t see them when they show up, you’ll lose money on the case. It’s far better to squeeze in the offenders as best you can and to stress with patients going forward that they run on time.

For habitually late patients, try this: schedule them 20 minutes earlier than the actual opening. When they show up late, as usual, they’ll actually be on time.

Mystery 3 – Losing 10 Minutes Per Hour

Levin Group has now analyzed thousands of scheduling systems with scientific time studies and found that the vast majority of offices can easily improve performance by 10 minutes per hour. You can achieve this by analyzing the amount of time needed per procedure, delegating responsibilities so the doctor can spend more time chairside, and breaking old, inefficient habits.

The results will be nothing short of incredible. It’s like gaining two extra months of potential doctor production time per year… which, over the course of 24 years, adds 48 months. This is the equivalent of generating an additional two years’ worth of production without working one more minute!


Additional Resource

Download a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book, Power Cell Scheduling. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Frost Warning

Frost Warning

The other morning, I discovered frost on my windshield when I went out to drive to the office. I thought the wipers would scrape it off, but no such luck. Maybe, if I turned the defroster on full blast and kept the wipers going, I could…

Fortunately, I stopped myself. Rather than risking a minute or two of not seeing clearly where I was going, I decided to get back out of the car and use the scraper. Soon, I had not only proper visibility but also this insight:

We often have trouble seeing what’s ahead in our careers and our lives. We may know what destination we want to reach but lack the information about how to get there. Rather than rushing off anyway, blindly hoping for the best, we should get out the scraper… removing anything locking our view… learning everything we can about what it will take to reach our goal… drawing up a map… hiring an expert guide to get us there.

If you’re serious about making your practice a great success, take warning—by spending a little time preparing for the journey, you’ll actually get there sooner.

Additional Resource

To keep up with Dr. Levin and Levin Group, follow us on Facebook.

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The Power of Checklists

The Power of Checklists

Several years ago, a book by surgeon Atul Gawande shocked—and changed—the medical world. He said that a surgeon who performs thousands of operations without using a checklist will eventually kill someone.

Why? Because, even though all surgeons know they must scrub their hands before operating, they will someday forget this simple, vital step… and a lethal infection can result. By promoting the use of a checklist, Gawande helped to dramatically reduce the number of deaths caused by operating-room infections.

His work resonates with me because I’ve long promoted checklists for a similar reason… though for a very different purpose. Levin Group helps dental practices reach their full business potential by introducing highly efficient, step-by-step management systems. These systems work incredibly well, but over time team members will begin to skip or alter steps. It’s only human… but it causes inefficiencies and stress.

Checklists prevent this “drift” and enable staff to keep all systems running smoothly, day after day. They may not save lives like Gawande’s checklist, but they do improve the lives of dentists… which is what Levin Group is all about.

Additional Resource

Take advantage of another kind of checklist… Levin Group’s Practice Production Matrix, which measures your production potential by evaluating your systems in the 9 Areas of Expertise. Download your free Matrix here.

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Thinking About Owning Multiple Practices?

Thinking About Owning Multiple Practices?

In our work with hundreds of dentists and specialists, Levin Group has noted a trend. Many of them are now upgrading the efficiency, productivity and profitability of their practice in preparation for launching a small group practice… consisting of five or more offices.

There are many doctors earning excellent incomes from small groups, and many others who are losing money. Obviously, there are pros and cons to this growth strategy. If you’re thinking about expanding your dental business, you need to understand what you’ll be getting into.

Doing well with one or two offices does not translate directly into operating five, six or 10 locations. Managing a business of this scale poses a whole new set of leadership, managerial, financial, marketing, legal, regulatory, human resources and other challenges. To succeed, you need to develop highly efficient systems and best models in your current situation, ready to roll out in a small group practice.

If your vision is to own multiple practices someday, prepare yourself well for meeting the challenges. And don’t try to go it alone. Line up outside experts to help guide the process and avoid pitfalls or significant mistakes.

Additional Resources

Free Whitepaper – For more advice about implementing this growth strategy, download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Building a Sustainable Multi-Doctor Practice.” Click here.

ADA Seminar – Attend the ADA’s BIG Idea: Small Group Practicea special day-long conference on Oct. 19, preceding the annual meeting in Denver. Dr. Levin will be one of the speakers at this event. For details, click here.

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