A Problem Focusing

Episode 081

In episode 081 of Business of Dentistry I revisit the topic of maintaining focus. We discuss getting things done while simultaneously keeping our eye on a single idea within our practice.

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Recently I had a meeting with a young man who just finished his undergraduate degree in Media Studies. I brought him in to discuss some marketing ideas and side projects he could work on for my practice.

Our meeting lasted for almost 2 hours, and as we talked we went down the proverbial rabbit hole. After he had left I reflected on what we had talked about and made some notes so he and I could move forward. I realized that we talked about a lot of ideas, but we didn’t focus on one thing. I noticed I have a problem with that: focusing on one thing.

I have difficulty in focusing on what I need to do in the moment. I’ve been working on it in my practice and I’ve gotten better at it. but I bring it up on episode 81 because I’m wondering if anyone else has that issue or if it’s just me.

I find that we get more accomplished if we focus on one thing and go after it til it’s done. For example, my focus one day might be on completing my office notes in my electronic medical record before I leave the office. some days I’m great at fulfilling this and some days I am not so great at this task. I believe it boils down to a lack of discipline along with a lack of focus on the task.

I struggle with focus and discipline quite frequently to be honest. And I realized I did this during my conversation with this young man. During our meeting I didn’t even allow him to respond to one idea before moving on to the next. That’s problematic!

If you have that same issue consider this episode as a reminder to focus on the one thing until it’s completed. To be effective, you have to go through and decide what is the most important thing in your day or in your meeting – and then get that one thing taken care of and addressed before moving on to something else.

Sometimes that one thing you are focused on isn’t the fun thing, but you have to buckle down and do certain things to keep you on track. Otherwise you leave a lot of things undone, there are days when I look around at the end of the day and feel like I got nothing accomplished.

And the reason I feel that way on those days is because I didn’t focus on the one thing that I needed to do. I’ve really struggled with this lately because we’ve had a lot of things going on here. I mentioned this in my last episode: I found out certain things weren’t being done that I was told were being done (and these were things I was paying to have done).

When that happened I decided to revisit other people I’ve been in business with so I could verify we are getting what we are paying for from them. Things like that can really negatively impact our businesses so I wanted to trust and verify all of our existing business partnerships.

That’s something not everyone understands – that we have to wear many hats and do many things as private practice owners. I’s easy for us in our situations to lose focus because we shift our focus a lot. So my pep talk on today’s show is don’t lose focus! Pick what you need to do and knock it out.

And I’m talking about this to call myself out. This is not meant to be me preaching to you, it’s about reminding myself to be conscious of what I’m doing and focus on one thing at a time. I hope this is something you are good at or are working on improving, too. I appreciate you being here to listen! After you’re done I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode of Business of Dentistry.

Tweetable: “Pick what you need to do and knock it out.”

Episode Resources

Episode 80 – IT issue episode
Episode 01 – 3 Hats of a Private Practice Dentist
The One Thing, by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
Voices of Dentistry Summit 2018

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Writeoffs, Overhead and Holidays

Episode 055

Happy Holidays! This week we review some numbers related to insurance write offs and average overhead. I also discuss a new online resource that I think you will enjoy. Thanks for listening to episode 55 of the Business of Dentistry.

More About This Show

The day I recorded this episode was a rarity: the office was closed on a Friday. I came in to record this show, but also to look at this year’s numbers. I like to look at what we’ve done, where we are at and where we are going for the next year.

On this episode I will give you percentages, but I’m not going to go into specifics. Instead, I’ll share information from a report I pulled. I wanted to see what percentage of production we are actually collecting because it comes from multiple insurance companies and programs like PPOs, fees for service, Medicare and state Medicaid. I wanted to run a report to give me a good composite view of the practice.

When I looked at total production versus collections and write-offs, I saw that we are collecting about 73% of everything we charge out. We charge full fees, even if it’s an insurance company that we have contractual write-offs with. We are really good with our collections, it’s the write-offs and adjustments where we fall off.

Ideally of course we would collect 100% of what we charge, but I’m simply sharing to show you how I gauge the health of the practice. And I’m also sharing to encourage you to look at your write-offs versus your charges and see where you are at, and where you want to be next year.

As a practice, we are also looking at specific insurance plans in the new year, to see what is working and what is not. There are certain insurers we get killed by, especially when performing wisdom teeth extractions. So we’re looking at what patterns we’re seeing and will look at which plans we want to continue working with, or will stop.

Another number I’ve been looking at is the year to date average overhead for my practice. I’ll qualify this by saying my overhead is generally lower than general practitioners because I’m an oral surgeon.

But we track this and the key to this is tracking and understanding what your overhead is and your profit margin. Before I pay myself my average is 47.4%, about a point less than last year. We’ve improved by one point over the past year, which is something I am happy with! We’ve improved our overhead percentages this year, and we are doing okay on our adjustments.

Finally I wrap up today’s episode with a resource I want to tell you about: the Dental Hacks Nation. it’s a Facebook group with about 900 members, many of whom are regular contributors. It’s a great group with a lot of input, feedback, humor and positivity. I think it’s a great platform to check out.

Listen in to today’s episode to hear more about the group, and then let me know if you join. I’d also love to hear from you about your end of the year numbers, and what you are aiming for in 2017. Happy holidays and happy new year from the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Many people have the same pain points and successes you do.”

Episode Resources

Dental Hacks Nation on Facebook
Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Managing Misconduct

Episode 038

This week we continue our conversation about managing staff misconduct by discussing a progressive approach to discipline.  You will note this was a shorter episode since I had a cold, as you will hear in my voice.  Thanks for listening and have a great weekend!

More About This Show

On today’s show we’re going a bit deeper into staffing issues. Specifically conduct problems – what happens when staff members break rules, ignore regulations, and violate procedures? How do you handle situations when they won’t do what they need to do?

Personally I hate this type of thing and I’ve been inconsistent with my handling and approach to it in the past. But my office manager, Paul, has helped me to become more regimented and on point with my response to these issues. He brings a wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience to the team and to this topic, as a result we’ve worked out a better system.

When a staff member has problems, we implement our disciplinary response. The first step is to analyze what was done wrong, dig into the facts and make sure we know what is accurate. If another staff member reported misconduct, we make sure it isn’t hearsay.

It’s also important to make sure all staff know the rules, so we look into whether or not the staff member was adequately informed about the rules and chose to break them anyway. Earlier in my career I wasn’t always strict about having rules and regulations in place, nor informing my staff of the practice’s policies and expectations.

I’ve learned you have to have rules and regulations in order for people to follow them. You can’t expect people to follow the rules if you don’t have them! And you must be consistent with the rules.

Also you have to communicate what the rules are and how you want them followed, then you must reinforce them.

I’d recommend getting a policy manual to help enforce the rules, even minor infractions.  You have to enforce the small things or the bigger ones will certainly show up too.

In my practice we have in place what we call a progressive discipline model. Every infraction is responded to in increasing intensity and severity, step by step. Typically we start with
verbal counseling. We have a conversation with them (and I strongly believe in praise in public and punish in private, so these are kept private).

The next step is written counseling, a written memo is issued if the same rule is again broken after the verbal counseling step. The first memo doesn’t go on file but if the infraction happens again then the third step is a written memo that goes in their file.

If misconduct occurs again then it has an impact on their annual evaluation, and impacts pay raises and bonuses. After that, the person is suspended without pay. I’ve never gotten that far because the few people on my staff who have reached this point quit before it goes any farther.

Now that you know my response to misconduct, I’m curious to hear what you do in your office. How do you discipline in your practice? Do you have a plan in place already? If so, how do you back it up? If not get one – after you listen to today’s episode of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Make sure you’ve got the rules in place!

Episode Resources

Episode 37 of Business of Dentistry
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Special Edition: Buyer Beware When Hiring Consultants

Episode 036

Special Edition: This episode discusses, in my opinion, disturbing information on one of the consulting groups I had mentioned in a previous episode. It kept me up last night and I did not want to wait until Friday to discuss it.  Give it a listen and let me know what you think of today’s Business of Dentistry show.

Cavet Emptor

More About This Show

If you’ve listened to previous episodes of this show you know I am here to be transparent and to share with you what works and what doesn’t work in my experience, and in my practice. If you tuned in for episode 33 of Business of Dentistry then you also know I have been speaking with a consultant.

For those of you who missed that episode or don’t remember the details, here’s a refresher: Recently I was asked to do a survey by a company, and even before returning their phone calls I did my due diligence on them. The company seemed legitimate so I did survey. They offered me a free session with one of their consultants as a token of appreciation.

So I got on phone with consultant, and he seemed very knowledgeable. He told me he analyzes practices to see if he can provide solutions to their problems, and there’s no obligation.

He also suggested we have multiple phone calls, again no obligation and no charge. I agreed and we had several conversations about my practice, what wasn’t working, etc.

We got to the end of the phone calls and the analysis a few weeks later, and to wrap things up we did an overall summary of what is wrong with my practice. He agreed with my summation and also added one suggestion.

Then he asked what I wanted to do next, and I knew this was a sales pitch. I also knew it was coming, that was fine with me. I didn’t mind because their insights into my practice’s problems were spot on. They were so good that I was considering working with them even prior to the sales page, although their fees were between $25k and $35k.

Before I signed on the dotted line I did a little more due diligence. What I found almost kept me up at night! Because I am not trying to promote something I don’t believe in, I wanted to share with you what I found. I believe in being transparent with you, no matter what.

As I dug into the history of this company more, I found some disturbing history. Simply by Googling “bad experiences with dental consultants” I found a wealth of information. Special thanks to the gentleman behind The Wealthy Dentist, I believe he saved me a lot of heartache, hassle and cash!

It seems this particular company that I had been speaking with was using consultations as a strategy to promote Scientology! Check out the links in the Resources section below for more details, but many people had gone through the same survey/free consultation experience I had only to wind up being pitched to join Scientology.

Personally, I keep my practice and religion separate. My problem with the approach these consultants used was their bait and switch tactics, I don’t like the premise and the method they are using to promote their beliefs.

The information I found was so disturbing that I had to share with you. When you listen to today’s episode you’ll hear some of the information I found on a forum, some of which spells out exactly what happened to me! The reason I did today’s edition of Business of Dentistry is so you know what you are getting yourself into if you choose to work with them.

Tweetable: My purpose is to encourage you and help you protect yourself!

Episode Resources

The Wealthy Dentist
Hollander Consultants and Scientology
How Dentists Are Recruited
Business of Dentistry on Facebook
Connect with me on Twitter
Leave us a rating or review on iTunes!