We are often engaged in assisting some practices to create greater success for an office that has been in a fixed position for a period of time. Success, generally defined, is meeting one’s goals within the existing office. One important aspect of running a successful office is dependent upon an attentive and well-trained staff.We are often engaged in assisting some practices to create greater success for an office that has been in a fixed position for a period of time. Success, generally defined, is meeting one’s goals within the existing office. One important aspect of running a successful office is dependent upon an attentive and well-trained staff.
INVESTIGATING OPPORTUNITIES ANALYSISAs we investigate for our opportunities analysis, it is often apparent that one of the chief impediments to growth is an undertrained, ineffective support staff frequently with little experience outside of the subject office. The rationale for these findings is that an underperforming practice cannot afford to hire superior, top level staff as they would attract higher salary cost. This evaluation is often based on the financial advice that ideally human resources (HR) staff costs to run around 25 per cent of the gross production.A low producing practice, however, in carrying this forward, will attract only marginally competent individuals who will be able to play a negligible role in increasing customer service and operating effectiveness as well as patient referrals, all of which lead to higher gross production and collections with fewer last minute cancellations and “no shows”. This highlights the truism that other than practioners’ professional acumen, nothing has as much of an impact on patients’ satisfaction as attentive, well-prepared staff interactions.
DETERMINING THE VALUE OF A WELL-TRAINED STAFFThe cost of enhancing staff performance becomes a circular argument, i.e., “I cannot afford to embellish my team at a higher cost because it will leave too little for my family’s needs”. What is missing from that proposition is the lack of understanding of the difference between price and value. This concept is crucial to decision making regarding all phases of the dental practice. For example, what is the more costly approach? Would purchasing an inexpensive barbecue for $200.00 that might last for one season or spending $375.00 for a quality name brand with all the attendant superior features allowing it to function well into the future with the potential of service for four to five years be a wiser investment? Even taking into account the present value of money, we think it is obvious that it is more economical to acquire the initially more costly high quality item than the seemingly bargain one. This kind of decision-making is somewhat analogous to hiring decisions within the dental office. We start with a careful diagnosis of the practices HR needs to move forward. Following an appropriate evaluation protocol, we move from the needs diagnosis to assessing the existing skill set of the present staff for their ability to fulfill the job requirements. For many reasons, the preferred route is to maintain existing staff and provide appropriate training for them. If our treatment plan shows that implementing a treatment coordinator role would be beneficial in order to move ahead, we advise filling the role from in-house. Should no one currently in administration have a dual clinical/administrative background be available to be trained in this role, we would have to go outside to find the individual who has or can acquire these skills and employ them to multitask with other management roles.
CONSIDERING THE NEEDS OF SMALLER PRACTICES Many smaller practices cannot sustain a full time staff member dedicated solely to office manager and/or treatment coordinator role. As a result, we must find and create a highly skilled reception/recare coordinator/office manager/treatment coordinator who can fulfill all of these roles for a cost of probably $23 to $40 an hour range. Many offices are currently spending $22 to $33 per hour on marginally successful support staff who have been in the practice for a long time. Although they enjoyed increasing raises in salary, the increases were the result of longevity rather than heightened performance. A 33 per cent increase in salary commitment, therefore, could yield financial results that cover the payroll impact as well as significantly increase practice efficiency and financial gross collections.
Engaging A Cost-Effective Well-Prepared Support StaffFollow these steps to engage a cost-effective, well-prepared support staff:
Making staff changes requires a leap of faith to get out of a comfort zone and take on more salary costs. Adding quality to your staff, however, is an investment as opposed to just an increased financial obligation. We often paraphrase the words of an ancient sage to the idiomatic expression “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”. You will probably shortcut the ability to move forward by not providing the highest possible quality support staff to assist in growing the financial and professional success of the practice.