Have you ever made a change to an area of your practice and thought it would be a great solution…only to find out it made things worse?
Or maybe you’ve tried to implement new ideas, but they don’t stick and everyone just reverts back to doing things the same way they’ve always been done?
Every new employee, every consultant, every lecturer at a dental convention has lots of ideas about how things can be done better in your office. But if you’ve been in business for a while, you may be a little jaded at this point and hesitant to “rock the boat.”
So I wanted to give you a few helpful tips to:
- Determine if there really is a need for a change or new system in some aspect of your office, and
- Implement new changes intelligently, so that they “stick,” and you don’t create a situation with an unsuccessful change where you can’t “put the toothpaste back in the tube” afterward.
And before I start, I wanted to mention that we cover much more about organization and management on the MGE Power Program. Everything from organizational systems and structures to techniques to be a better leader and executive to how to find and hire excellent staff members and more. Learn more about the Power Program here.
And with that said, let’s get started!
1. Document all the “moving parts” in an area before you make a change.
Before you make any changes to an area or a process of your practice, the first thing you should do is document how the entire process of that specific thing is being done NOW – don’t leave anything out!
(Related: Dental Customer Service: How to Make Positive Changes in Your Practice)
This step is vital because the worst thing you can do is change something that was actually beneficial, thus making matters worse.
And as you document the process, this is also when you will find the little “cracks” in your office that are causing problems.
This step could look something like this (we’ll be using the hiring process as an example):
Say you’ve been noticing that a lot of people are being interviewed, but many do not accept an offer to work for your office. You want to fix this, so you begin to observe and document the process, which looked like this:
- Receive application from Indeed at main office email address.
- Three days go by and an email is sent to the applicant to schedule an interview.
- After four back-and-forth emails (two days), the applicant is scheduled for an interview.
- The interviewer looks over the applicant’s resume and application the morning of the interview.
- The applicant arrives and the interviewer meets with the applicant right away.
- Interviewer interviews applicant for about 30 minutes and then gives tour of the office.
- Interviewer tells applicant we will give them a decision in a few days.
- An offer was given to the applicant 10 days later.
- Applicant notifies us they were hired by another office.
This is just an example and the whole idea is to simply observe what is happening and document it. You should observe something like this multiple times to see what’s happening consistently.
In this example, we can see that there are a few things that could possibly be changed. For instance, the amount of time it takes to respond to the applicant’s initial application as well as the amount of time it took to give an offer was too long. Good employees are serious about finding a job and will be quick to say yes to a job that’s the right fit.
But again, we’d need to document this process several times to see if this really does need to be changed or if it was a one-off occurrence.
2. Making changes
Once you’ve observed and documented the process or area of your practice and have come to the conclusion there are changes to be made, this is how I’d suggest you go about it.
Let’s use the same example as above and say that it was found that the interviewer was continuously taking 10 days to send an offer to applicants, and most of the time the applicant said they accepted an offer elsewhere. This is something that should be changed so that the office can hire high-quality staff and not waste both the interviewer and the applicant’s time.
(Related: Improving Teamwork and Communication Between Your Front and Back Offices)
So, you decide to make a new policy that mentions something like this, “When it is decided that the applicant is a good fit and approved to be hired at ABC Dental, an offer should be given via email and phone call within 24 hours.”
You’d then talk with the person who normally does the interview, and let them know of your observation and the change that is being made. Go over the new process with them and make sure they understand why the change is being made and that they’re on the same page.
3. Keep a list of changes so you know what happened if things start to go wrong
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone implement a new change without letting anyone else know about it, and maybe even forget about it themselves later on. And then things start to go wrong, and they don’t know why.
For example, you start seeing more cancellations and no-shows and wonder why, so you start charging cancellation fees to try to reduce the number of cancellations. But if you had been keeping a “changes log,” you would have seen that last month Suzy stopped doing confirmations and turned that duty over to Mary, who decided that she could just do confirmations by email instead of calling like Suzy used to do. In this scenario, you didn’t need to start charging a cancellation fee, you just need to go back to the old confirmation procedure and train Mary properly on it. (And, of course, this becomes a policy which goes in the job manual so that anybody doing the job in the future will be trained correctly.)
(Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Hygiene Cancellations and No-Shows)
4. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Here’s a common scenario: your prior Scheduling Coordinator did a good job and the schedule ran well, but they left or moved to a different position within the office. Now the new employee filling the position has their own bright ideas about how they want to do things and start making changes.
These new ideas may sound great, but you don’t want to start messing with the recipe yet.
It’s great to have initiative and want to make improvements—but not in the first week on the job. Odds are, if the schedule was running well, then there was a good reason behind the way the prior Scheduling Coordinator did things.
At the very least, the new employee should spend some time learning the ropes and doing things the way they’ve been done before they start making changes.
And when they do start making changes, they should inform the Office Manager or Owner, and note them down in a “changes log” as I mentioned above.
I hope these tips help! Again, check out the MGE Power Program if you want to see big and positive changes in your practice – 1,200 other dentists have done it to the tune of 232% growth, why not you?
Until next time!
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