July Coach’s Corner | Case Acceptance Question

I received an email from a Coach’s Corner viewer asking me about case acceptance. Specifically for some new ideas or approaches that he could use in his practice.

When I think about the subject of case acceptance I immediately think of a process. There are so many factors that are involved with a patient deciding to get their dental work done and every member of your team contributes to case acceptance. Let me use an example from a new patient perspective. The new patient experience starts with their first contact with your office –typically via a phone call. Each interaction with a patient should utilize great customer service skills within a stress-free environment. By reviewing each interaction, you are focusing on making the new patient’s visit the best it can be. This is essential when starting your new patient relationship – each step can make or break your patient to saying yes or no to treatment. That is why I think of a process.

Think of any new relationship or friendship you have been a part of. Trust is not given automatically; it is earned over time. The same thing can be said for your new patient. If their experience has not been a smooth and professional one before they sit in your chair, that could create a hurdle you will need to overcome when meeting them the first time.

Once your new patient is in your operatory, this is your moment as the clinical professional to wow them. I have worked with a lot of introverted dentists and your communication style does not need to be complex. Some tend to overthink it. I always like for dentists to welcome your patients like you would welcome someone in your home. Be relaxed, warm, and inviting.

I like for my clients to ask the patient what their goals are, what do they need. By asking this question, it helps with building trust since you are giving them the freedom to tell you what they are looking for as well as starting your relationship on a positive note. Of course, you are the clinical expert but their response to that question helps you craft your answer taking into consideration what clinical needs they may have.

Here is an example – if someone wants whiter teeth but they present to you with perio issues the standard thing is to tell the patient you will address their perio issues and give guidance on better home care. Chances are that is what you might typically say first. Instead, first address their wants by saying you agree with them that their smile could benefit from some bleaching products, and you appreciate them sharing their goals with you. In order to do that, their oral health is a top priority followed by their goal of whiter teeth. When patients tell you their personal thoughts, they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable to you and your judgement. By addressing that first and saying that is something you can do alleviates what is on their mind, not yours. They are waiting to see if you agree with them and if you will respect what they want. This discussion doesn’t need to be either/or- it is an “and” conversation.

Another way of saying it is to be sure to connect the dots in such a way that your patient is heard and understood. By changing your perspective from telling your patients what they need to asking them what they want is a game changer in your practice. This is the way they are communicating to you. Of course, as the clinical professional, you know in what order the list needs to be completed. Give guidance from a positive standpoint with your patients and I am sure your case acceptance will increase.

If you have a question you would like to be answered in an upcoming Coach’s Corner, please let me know. Chances are if you have a question, others will as well. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please get in touch with me at lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com.

Medicine for Your Business | Dental Business Coach

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The business world often goes hand in hand with stress. Pressures to attract new customers, meet quotas, or increase productivity can make working feel like an unpleasant chore. If you have begun to dread going into the office due to an oppressive atmosphere, chances are strong that you are not alone in your feelings. Turning things around for you and your team may be easier than you think. Consider adding fun back to your business with a daily dose of laughter.

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 While the addition of humor to the workplace does not move deadlines or reduce the expectations for performance, it can help create a more enjoyable environment for everyone there. When the office feels fun and engaging, the work feels lighter and more accessible. Scientific studies have shown that laughter relieves tension, boosts the immune system, and relaxes the muscles. Additionally, laughing can increase memory, energy, and creativity and elevate the mood. Every office can benefit from these effects.

There are many ways to inject some humor into your workdays. Try sharing a joke with your team to start the huddle and invite them to bring their own. Post a board in a shared space and challenge everyone to bring a funny image or comic strip to hang. Have a silly shirt day once a week or once a month. Take silly photos or videos of you and your team to share on social media.

Embracing a little more humor with your colleagues and team takes only a small investment of time and can yield large increases in mood, productivity, and worker morale. For more ideas on making your work more engaging, contact our office.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Are You Minimizing Your Work? | Dental Business Consultant

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Words have a powerful effect on perception. Are you selling yourself short when it comes to describing your practice or your services? Patients visit you because they trust you to be open, honest, and experienced in communicating the condition of their oral health in a way they will understand. To accomplish this effectively, you need to be mindful of your word choice. 

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“Check Up” or “Comprehensive Examination”

A “check up” sounds menial and unimportant. You might say you take your car in for a “check up” or “tune up.” Oral health care is diminished when it is referred in this way. Use the more professional sounding “comprehensive examination.” This emphasizes the fact that you and your team are doing a lot more than just checking the mouth and teeth. You are looking for signs of decay and oral cancer, providing a thorough cleaning, and offering recommendations for additional treatments. That’s a lot more than a “check up.”

“Just a…”

Don’t use this phrase when leading into a diagnosis. “Just a cavity,” or “just a little inflammation,” minimizes the importance for action. Your patient might heed this as permission to wait on further treatment. The public is often not aware of the importance of their oral health and how oral diseases can spread, worsen, and lead to other painful and costly problems. Be clear with patients when making a diagnosis, but never make it sound unimportant or that it can wait.

“Bleaching” is Not Synonymous with “Whitening”

When describing whitening treatments to patients, it may sound like a natural choice to use the word “bleaching.” Avoid using this term. To some patients, this may imply bleach is used in the whitening process. It also sounds far more painful than “whitening.” Using the term “Bleaching” sounds dangerous, or that it involves the use of harsh chemicals. “Whitening” is an ideal term to use as it also serves as a description for what patients can expect after treatment – a whiter smile.

Word choice matters. Patients are relying on you for information about their health. Be clear, be concise, and be honest with your patients. The public’s perception of dental professionals is not always positive. Clear communication is one way to bridge the gap between your team and your patients. Show your value to your patients by choosing strong words to describe your services, and avoid minimizing the importance of your work.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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June Coach’s Corner | Your Huddle = Team Time

I am often asked what items should be included in a morning huddle. In addition to your practice metrics and where you are according to your goals, I want to focus on something that will help your team build more comradery. 

We all work so closely together as a team and let’s face it; life can be difficult. I started doing this with my clients before covid, and I think this addition to your huddle is now even more important. Each team member needs to be able to share how they are doing personally within the team. If someone had a bad morning or life is heavy for them right now, how do you share that information within the team? I have found that something as quick as a number on a scale makes a huge difference and brings the team closer together. At the end of each huddle, ask your team to go around and give a number. I like 1-5 since that range is more concise versus 1-10. On this scale, 1 is deeply troubled or upset and 5 is everything is great. When you give your team the freedom to share their number each morning, that helps with communication within the team and allows some sharing that helps bond the team together. The practices that do this show empathy to one another and helps create a culture of sharing and support within your team. During the week, we spend more time with our coworkers than our families. By allowing your team to share their number, this actively demonstrates that the Doctor or Office Manager genuinely cares about the team. 

If a team member says they are a 1 or 2, the team needs to ask how they can support him or her. It also allows the entire team to actively make sure their team member is alright during and after the huddle meeting.  Let me give an example. If you know that Mr. Jones can be a difficult patient, maybe you switch things around so this team member does not come in contact with Mr. Jones during his appointment. When we are stressed and our number is a 1 or 2, sometimes we do not communicate as well as if our number were a 3 or higher. By the team proactively understanding all of this, the day will run smoother for your team member that is not feeling their best and it also focus’s the entire team to look out for one another. So many misunderstandings occur, and communication issues arise when we are stressed and not having a 4-5 kind of day. This also makes sure your patients are getting the best from your team each appointment. You are actively setting your team and your practice up for success. 

There is also another benefit for doing this during your daily huddle. Allowing your team the opportunity to be vulnerable will also help build a culture where your practice is incredibly special and unique. By creating the right culture, you help ensure your team members staying long term at your practice. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please get in touch with me at lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com.

Combat Burnout to Increase Production | Dental Business Coach

Have you ever felt tired, stressed, and overwhelmed to the point where it impacts your production numbers? Burnout can happen to all dentists and their teams. Yes, this includes you. Before burnout starts to significantly impact your practice, you need to know how to recognize it and how to manage it.

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Identify Signs of Burnout

If you start to feel unfocused, tired, or bored, you may be experiencing burnout. Does your team lack the enthusiasm they once possessed? When you start to notice these clues and behaviors, take action immediately. You and your team have invested countless hours in building a fulfilling career in dentistry. Don’t allow a temporary period of burnout to cause you to question your work. Instead, it’s time to reinvigorate your attitude.

Identify the Problem Areas

When production numbers begin to slip, look at where your numbers are starting to drag. When a department’s numbers begin to sink, your team members can start to feel low, impacting the office’s overall morale. Identifying the problem area allows you and your team to find and implement a solution before dissatisfaction spreads.

Identify New Areas to Explore

If you are experiencing burnout, the time may be right to learn a new skill. Sign up for a CE course or workshop on a subject that is new or intriguing. By expanding your skills, you can increase the number of services you provide, which can turn sagging appointment numbers around. Could your team benefit from additional courses? You may want to try selecting a course the entire team can participate in together. Not only will you all be learning new applicable skills, but you will be improving your relationships with each other which will lead to improved morale.

Burnout will happen to even the best dental team. When you start to notice the signs of burnout, don’t wait for things to improve on their own. Be proactive and identify the areas you or the team could improve. Whether it is improving the number of hygiene appointments, or taking a new CE course, take action immediately to combat signs of burnout.

For more information, contact our Dental Office Coach.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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3 Ways to Buy Time: Boost Your Practice’s Productivity with Time-Saving Measures | Consultant Near Me

Time is your most precious resource. On certain days, managing your time is not just difficult, it is downright impossible. Ask yourself about the strategies you are currently using to organize your day. What other tools could you be leveraging to save your practice’s most precious commodity? Here are 3 methods you can implement to maximize your time.

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1. Re-evaluate Your Management Tactics

You can buy time without spending a dime. Employ a new way of keeping track of practice productivity. You can have your team record their tasks for the day in a quick email. Each staff member can quantitatively list their duties, allowing for simple reference later. This cuts down on micromanaging your staff by way of asking, “What did you do today?” Managerial work is difficult to implement after a full day of back-to-back appointments. 

You can cut back on daily meetings because you will have a clear picture of what each team member is contributing. Having a list of completed tasks at the end of the day allows for everyone at your practice to be keenly aware of who is to be held accountable for each task.

2. Utilize Apps to Maximize Efficiency

“Lost time is never found again.” Ben Franklin knew this more than 200 years ago, so how can you apply this knowledge to running your practice? There are numerous tools available for your phone that can be a valuable resource for keeping track of your practice. You can benefit from the use of efficiency apps. In today’s world, there is no need to manage all aspects of your business manually.

Take advantage of scheduling apps and software. You can schedule emails to remind patients to book their next visit to your office without having to send it in real time. This can be an indispensable tool for patient retention, by keeping you in consistent contact with your patients. Apps such as these will help you save time, and keep track of your practice’s performance. 

3. Consider Express Check-In

It is not always your team that is responsible for lost time slipping through your fingers. One late patient can set the whole day off-schedule. Make it easy for your patients to register. Provide compliant forms online for patients to fill out before coming into the office. Saving time at the front desk will help your entire practice run on schedule. Never allow for your practice to earn a reputation of running behind schedule, instead work with your patients to create a smoother, faster registration. Your patients will not want to fill out redundant forms. Rework any documents or forms where possible to prevent your patients from filling out information such as their name and address multiple times.

Successful business leaders are experts at time management. Put methods in place that allow for concrete, quantitative results to measure productivity. Utilize technology to make your life easier and allow your patients to work with you to save time. Don’t get caught watching the sand fall through the timer, take action and rethink your time management strategies; contact our Dental Business Consultant today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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May Coach’s Corner 2021 | Impact and Significance

Most of my followers of Coach’s Corner are general dentists, specialists, office managers, and team members in practices across the country. This month’s post is meant to encourage all of you. I know the last 14 months have been filled with ups and downs that we could have never imagined, and I want to share a couple stories that have occurred with my clients so that you can appreciate the impact you are making in your patient’s lives. 

One of my clients is now practicing dentistry in a different way than she anticipated. She is now the sole provider of all clinical production in her practice. This was not her choice, but her hygienist left the industry due to Covid-19 and she has been looking to replace her since that time. As you all know, it is difficult to find the right team member to join her team. As you can imagine, we have worked to change her schedule so production suffers as little as possible, and she does not get burnout. I am sharing this since several of her patients have remarked how much they love just seeing her and she is able to accomplish more in each appointment.  She shared with me a few weeks ago that she found a potential issue during her exam and the patient’s doctor confirmed the diagnosis of cancer. It was caught so early that her patient is telling everyone her dentist saved her life. It would be difficult to find a better example of the impact and the significance my client has in the life of her patients.  

Let me share another encouraging story told to me from a financial coordinator who works for one of my clients. She has been talking with a patient that had a long treatment plan that always seemed to put off his needed dental work. I know you can all relate to this one 😊.  We had been working on several different ways to communicate so patients like this one would consent and get his treatment done. After several previous attempts, this particular patient said yes, scheduled, and showed up for his appointment. All of his diagnosed work is complete and paid for. {She waited until all of this was done before she called me to share the good news}.  News like this is cause for celebration for not only this treatment coordinator, but also the entire practice.  Let me fill you in on the rest of the story. This dental practice has been looking to fill two administrative positions for the past 6 months. Celebrating this particular event means even more when you understand the stress that has plagued this office for months. Not only that, the impact she had on his life is evident not only when he smiles, but also every time he eats. 

I am sure all of you can share your personal stories about the significance you have had in your patients’ lives.  My main focus is to let you know there is light ahead in the tunnel. Please be encouraged that if you are navigating these waters like the above two practices, you are not alone. I think the statement, “you are not alone” means so much now. Sometimes we feel like we are on an island and no one understands what we are going through. Our industry has seen so many changes these past 14 months, and some practices are not back to normal yet – and that is ok. Take the wins when you can and celebrate those since they are well earned. 

If you need assistance or someone to talk about your strategy for handling all of the stresses of running a dental practice right now, please get in touch with me. You are not alone.

Are You Prepared for the Future of Dentistry? | Dental Consultant Near Me

Are You Prepared for the Future of Dentistry?

What will the dental profession look like in 10 years? Are you and your team prepared to face the future with a successful action plan? 

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As a dentist, you are used to thinking about the big picture. This is true when you are caring for your patients, as they turn to you for your expertise to establish a lifetime of optimal oral health. But do you employ the same forward-thinking strategies to ensure the long-term health of your business?

Dentistry is changing. New technology is constantly being developed leading to entirely new procedures, which in turn creates a new market of patients who could benefit from your services. Furthermore, the business landscape of the profession is evolving. What used to be a field dominated by independently owned practices has become increasingly more corporate-based. Ask yourself where your practice fits into the landscape of differing business models in dentistry.

If one thing is for certain in dentistry, it is that the future will continue to bring change. Did you ever think you would be ordering supplies from your smartphone or connecting with potential new patients on Facebook? The future will likely bring innovations bridging the education and communication gap between dentist and patient.

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Like today, the key to success will lie in your ability to build trusting, loyal relationships. It is essential that your marketing messages hone in on the unique qualities that make your practice and your team stand out from the crowd. A rebranding strategy can help freshen your practice’s appeal to your community and attract your ideal new patient.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The future will bring changes to the dental profession, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise nor should it be a cause for concern. Face the future with optimism and an action plan, contact our Dental Consultant, today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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3 Ways to Improve Efficiency | Dental Coach Near Me

3 Ways to Improve Efficiency

Do you feel like your business could be functioning better? Are projects and meetings taking longer than necessary to get done?  Do days seem to drag on without any solutions in sight? 

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The best way to fix this problem is to focus on improving efficiency. There are many things a practice can do to become more efficient in all aspects. Here are three changes you can implement in your practice.  

  1. Encourage face-to-face conversations

Most of the time employees might think sending an email or Google chat would be more efficient than getting up and walking to their coworker’s desk. However, speaking to someone face-to-face allows you to come up with solutions faster. A question can be answered faster with a 2-minute conversation rather than sending dozens of emails back and forth to each other.

  1. Decrease Disruptions

It can take a few minutes to start up a task again after someone interrupts you.  To limit distractions it is important to block out a few hours of work everyday so employees can focus on their tasks. To do this, schedule meetings all in one day instead of scattered throughout the week.  To stop the clutter of email notifications, use tools and apps to stay interruption free.

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  1. Use project management software to collaborate 

Many businesses use email to keep up to date with projects. This can cause a disconnect and emails can be lost or unread. Management software tools help every one involved keep track of progress and it is a better way to communicate all in one place. 

There are simple solutions your practice can adopt to run more smoothly.  Face-to-face meetings can easily speed up the problem solving process. To limit interruptions that may cause your work to slow down, block off work time on your schedule. Finally, project management software can keep everyone up to speed on the progress of any project. 

Need more tips? Contact our dental consultant team for a consultation today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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How to Strategically Meet Your Cash Flow Goals for Q2

If you did not meet your goals for the first quarter of 2021, do not beat yourself up too much or your team. Instead, let’s review some items so you can correct them and look forward to the second quarter of 2021. The area I want to make sure a practice is strategically addressing each month is their cash flow since this may be the most immediate need.  

For various reasons, some reports do not get the attention that they should on a weekly or at least a monthly basis. I want to make sure you focus on certain reports so you can continue into April with a strategy. One of those reports that can fall to the side is your outstanding insurance report. This report shows which claims you are waiting for payment. I have seen clients take the easy way out and resend outstanding claims instead of researching and finding out what is keeping each claim from getting paid. Needless to say, this is not the way to manage this report. Most claims are getting paid within 14 days if the claim was sent correctly.  If you do not see anything on your electronic transaction report, there is a reason why you have not received payment within 14 days of sending the claim. Time must be set aside to follow up with these claims. 

Once you have followed up on all of your outstanding insurance claims, you will then need to focus your time on the patient accounts that owe you money. This report, patient aging, should be reviewed weekly or at least twice a month to make sure you are sending out statements in a timely manner. As soon as you get into a regular flow of properly working these two reports, the job in front of you is not so large and intimidating. In addition to actively reviewing these two reports, there is something else you can do to help your cash flow in your practice. 

Another area that can help your cash flow is collecting what the patient owes at the time of service – or before when they schedule their appointment.  By working this into your daily routine, it should increase your cash flow each day.  I have had some clients swear to me that their patients will not do this. I believe we need to teach them this is how business is done at your office. Plenty of businesses require payment before services are rendered and dentistry is no different. I often give examples of going to your physician for your visit or a pharmacy to pick up medications. Payment is made at the time of service. Since covid, there have been some changes with using a digital flow instead of paper transactions. Most offices have the ability on their website to accept payments or send a payment link via text to the cell phone of your patient. There are many options now available to help you with getting payments from your patients.  If you have any questions about this or how to change by using more digital processes in your office, please reach out to me to schedule a complimentary strategy call. You can contact me at www.victorydentalmanagemnt.com.