Friday, December 28, 2018

Don't Wait Until it Hurts

DeVon Banks, D-TECH CEO, was invited to be a guest columnist for Hiltz and Associates December newsletter. Check out her article below on the importance of putting things in to place to keep your practices A/R and accounts where they need to be.

Original article can be found HERE

“Don’t Wait Until It Hurts”

Don’t wait until it hurts” is the catchphrase many dentists use as they deliver patient education, both chairside, and in marketing pieces. 

How much of this advice do you follow in the way you deal with your business practices?

The most common calls I get are from dentists who are distraught over not being able to meet payroll, facing a loan repayment, and help in dealing with the betrayal of employee embezzlement. 

Many of these challenges could have been avoided if a few checks and balances were in place to ensure proper monitoring of the practice’s accounts receivables along the way. 

I’ve had to be the bearer of the bad news to many dentists about huge amounts of money is uncollected and unaccounted for - as much as $50,000 to $2.5 million. Oftentimes, the practice owner was completely unaware.

There are many tools available in most practice management systems to help you look for red flags, and assist with monitoring monies in and out of the practice. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Password Protection
One of the components of maintaining HIPAA compliance and protecting your patient data is password protection. It also serves as a way of ensuring accountability within your team. No passwords should ever be shared - especially those with administrator rights.

Audit Trail Reports
An audit trail report tracks the entries, changes, and deletions of transactions and information in your practice management system. This is a great place to look for discrepancies and suspicious activity. It is usually tracked by login credentials and has date and time stamps.

Refund Reports
All refunds to patients and insurance companies should have the approval of the practice owner.

Patient and Insurance Aging Reports
While most dentists focus on what they are collecting, they should also pay attention to what is not being collected. Depending on practice volume, your aging reports, for both patient and insurance, should maintain specific limits to make sure you don’t miss timely filing deadlines, or exceed state statute of limitations for collection.

Adjustment Reports
This is usually where the highest concentration of errors, omissions and over-application occurs. Adjustments should be kept to a minimum and reviewed regularly by the practice owner. Remember: If you don’t track it, you can’t measure it. And if you’re not measuring it, you’ll never be able to make improvements. Don’t wait until it hurts!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Why You Should Stop Giving Christmas Bonuses!

What type of Reward system do you have set up for your employees?  Do they have goals they are working towards? Do you give bonuses?
Check out the following article from our partners at BlueIQ for an interesting perspective!

Original article by | May 18by | May 18, 2016 | , 2016 |

Some of us don’t know how to share very well. But if we’re unwilling to share the wealth with our team (which their blood, sweat, and tears helped produce), they’ll lose their enthusiasm and drive. So, we can’t view it as an increase in overhead; it’s an investment. A reward system is premium fuel for our production machine. Hence, why it’s time to say goodbye to irrelevant bonuses (psst . . . like Christmas bonuses) and hello to a reward system tied to performance!

My specialty is practice management and development in dentistry, but the benefits of a reward system are in no way confined to dental entrepreneurs. In some aspects, a business is a business regardless of industry. A reward system is just one of those aspects. Thus, if you’re a business owner who wants to move the production needle, then you’re in the right place to learn how.

A Good Reward System Will Pay For Itself!

In order for a bonus system to be effective, it has to be tied to performance, not the calendar. Moreover, it needs to be supported by a culture that sparks intrinsic motivation, because extrinsic motivation only goes so far.

So, say goodbye to Christmas bonuses!

We can’t bonus our employees because the calendar said it’s time and think that’s going to drive performance. The bonus is attributed to time, not production. Instead, we need our team to understand that the more they produce, the more valuable they are to the company. Whether or not we reward a team member should be directly connected to performance. When goals are achieved or benchmarks hit within given timeframes, that’s when we reward our team. The key is to set goals above current operational costs.

Here’s an example:

One of your team members upsells five products a day on average. You wouldn’t reward them for that; (“Here’s your bonus for doing your job.”) No, you’d work with the employee to set a goal above current production and reward the employee when that goal is met or exceeded. For instance, the goal could be set to upsell 45 products a week (that’s an increased average of 9 products a day). When the goal is met, the employee is rewarded. In this case, 1) the reward is directly linked to performance, and 2) you’re giving them a small percentage of the increased profit, allowing the system to pay for itself. (“Here’s your bonus for driving production!”).

Not to worry, you’re not a Scrooge for removing traditional Christmas bonuses from the menu. You’re simply showing your appreciation throughout the entire year, instead. Nevertheless, before your team leads a mutiny, inform them that they can still earn a bonus in December. It just won’t be for Christmas, it’ll be for driving production!

Extra Effort = Extra Pay or Rewards

Keep in mind that incentive programs don’t take the place of merit raises. Incentives are extra pay or rewards for giving extra effort. Merit raises are pay increases provided after an employee performance review has been conducted discussing the employee’s work performance during a certain time period.

What and Who Should You Bonus?

If some of the team is rewarded, while others are not, it’ll be counter-productive with division of team cohesiveness. Alternatively, each member of your team (excluding the executive team) should be rewarded for their performance. Managers are rewarded for meeting or exceeding KPI objectives. On the other hand, team members are rewarded for the performance of their important, upstream metrics. When we drive the performance of upstream metrics, we drive our company’s vitals—the KPIs keeping our baby kicking.

The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

Reward systems help our employees feel happy and valued through acknowledgment and appreciation. However, not all incentive programs are effective. Some create unhealthy competition among staff members, some create jealousy, others fail to drive performance. The problem with those systems is that they aren’t designed to inspire your team and drive production intrinsically.

When your culture supports your reward system, you end up with a team excited to move the production needle and intrinsically-driven to progress the company vision. They understand that it’s a team effort to achieve the common goal. Meeting or exceeding expectations actually brings a feeling of happiness, because that means they’re fulfilling their piece of the vision. Building a data-driven culture to support your reward system is essential to fostering intrinsic motivation.

A Good Reward System Pays for Itself!

My reward system below might seem like a big bonus to provide each team member. Though, let me assure you, the bonus to my business was always bigger! With my reward system, the target was graduated and so was the bonus. At first, I only rewarded the average dollars-per-day produced and collected, but eventually, I began providing smaller individual rewards for upstream metrics that affected KPIs like % Collected and Total Production:

Goal $4,500 Bonus $200

Goal $5,500 Bonus $300

Goal $6,500 Bonus $500

Goal $7,500 Bonus $1,000

Improvement Requires Measurement

Since, my dental practice was extremely productive, I thought my Late-Cancel No-Shows percentage (LC/NS %) must be pretty good. Yet, when I started measuring it for my reward system, I found that wasn’t the case at all. My LC/NS% was 11%!!!!! I was stunned! Now, I’m a firm believer that “what is measured, grows.” Monitoring something breeds action and accountability. Once I started measuring my LC/NS% and rewarding performance, I was able to decrease my percentage by 2% a year.

Premium Fuel For Your Production Machine

Overtime, through my experience of owning a business and eventually, implementing a reward system, I found that a business is like a car. The employees are the engine and a good reward system is top-notch, premium fuel. Yeah, your business can run on regular unleaded (work ethic), but everything seems to perform better and function more efficiently if you take better care of the engine.

If you want to get the most out of your car, you’ve got to get the most out of your engine, right? It’s time to implement a reward system tied to performance and say goodbye to extraneous bonuses!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dentist Question: What marketing activities would help my dental office?

Marketing can be a difficult thing to figure out. Making the right choices can make a significant impact on your business. Check out this article by our friends and partners at Dental Stores for some great tips! 

We see this question all the time. What can I do to help my dental office market its great service? What marketing plan can I use? Truth is, there is no magic bullet- simply taking the time and effort to build a good marketing base of activities can help tremendously down the road. 
The goal here is to cover all the bases on your patients path to your office. Do they search on Google? Do they hangout on Facebook or Instagram? Do they love pinning on Pinterest or snapping on SnapChat? You have to be where they are looking for you and stay top of mind throughout their journey to your office.

Google My Business

The first stop when patients are looking for a dentist is usually Google. So the first thing to do is to check your business info card on Google Search. Does it have a link to a third party site (e.g. SinglePlatform)? If this is not intentional, then you really want to own this space and point all links to your website or appropriate location. Have whoever is managing your Google My Business account login and change the info. Do you have unanswered questions? If so, answer them. Do you have recent posts and solid reviews? It doesn’t take many reviews, just some recent, good reviews is usually sufficient. You might also want to enable messaging if it’s not already enabled – basically it allows people to text (aka SMS) you/your office. You can start by providing the mobile number of yourself or a team member who is sure to reply. If it gets to be too much, just get a service, like TextRequest, that sends it right to your team and can be managed by anyone.

Building a Solid Base

Something that often gets overlooked when offices try to gain new patients, is that they may not be doing enough to create a good base and keep the existing patients they have. A leaky bucket can never be filled. Having a good base affords you the opportunity to experiment with more advanced marketing initiatives. For example, if you have a lot of inactive patients, you can try getting them back into the schedule by reaching out to them (or you can use a call service like CallForce to do this for you) – those type of activities can bring back patients at a very low expense (the cost of a phone call!) and the yield can be phenomenal. Patients get the care they need and you get to help them.

Increasing Patient Engagement

Maintaining engagement with current active patients is usually a good idea, because if you’re not top of mind these days, then you risk losing their interest, making your task to fill the bucket even more difficult.
First, if you don’t have an in-house savings plan, then in many cases, it’s a smart move to create one. There’s a number of companies that can help you do this (e.g. DentalStores is one of them, but you can refer to our Ultimate Guide to DSP solutions for more options). You’re essentially allowing patients to subscribe to your services, which is important because of the incredible value it offers them. Patients are sure to respond when you offer them a great value.
Second, patient engagement is huge right now because everyone is online 24/7, super busy and inundated with offers and distractions all the time. Making it worse, it seems everyone is telling patients what products to use at home so they can avoid going to the dentist. You should really try your best to be part of this conversation, and a service like DentalStores will help tremendously here. If you’re not engaging patients on Facebook or via email or another service like DentalStores, ultimately you risk losing them to distraction, which makes the leaky bucket expensive to fill.
Facebook can be difficult for small businesses, but with a small ad budget, you can re-engage people who’ve visited your site, read your emails, or run ads to your current Facebook page fans. This is called re-targeting. Let’s face it: everyone needs a reminder these days! Again, this gives you a base, so you can build out your marketing funnel from there – try new ads, etc. For the DIY type and those interested in learning more, there is a course from that will help you get started. Alternatively, you can have an advertising agency do this for you.
Third, and finally, what would an explanation be without Google Ads to help new patients find your awesome practice? You can do this right from Google My Business – just click on Create an Ad in the left nav and it will walk you through the steps to create a Google Ad Express account (plus they sometimes give you $50 to spend!). The Express version of Google Ads makes it super easy (almost too easy) – they even suggest ad text for you to use. It’s a start and sometimes Google can have higher ROI than Facebook, or vice versa, so between them both, you cover all your bases. If you were going to do more than just some simple Express ads, it’s highly recommended you hire an agency, because it can get really complex really fast. When you do this, you can also retarget with Google meaning even more people in your funnel. Imagine the possibilities!

Summary of Action Items

  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date
  • Reach out to inactive patients to re-engage them and help them schedule an appointment
  • Use services like DentalStores to build a store and/or offer a Dental Savings Plan to offer value to new and existing patients
  • Use Facebook and Google to re-engage current patients and help new patients find you
Note: We’d like to offer a special thank you to D-Tech for their valuable feedback on this article! If you need office systems support, you need D-Tech.