In 2008, my husband Steve and I bought what we expected would be the practice of my dreams. Steve helped me get started by taking the office administrator position and stayed on. Despite the oncoming recession, our revenues surpassed the previous owner’s. What stopped us from having the practice of our dreams was the staff. They had disagreements and upsets and we didn’t know what to do about them.
The Treatment Coordinator thought we were greedy because we wanted patients to pay their bills. Her attitude was our collections were high enough. She felt her job was to help people and since she thought paying bills was a hardship, she told patients they could pay whenever they wanted to. Another staff member went to a local dental meeting and announced that she was looking for a new job. Some of the attendees were referring doctors.
I thought the staff problems were my fault; I felt guilty and questioned what I was doing. I wouldn’t fire anyone because my biggest fear was losing staff. I felt that if an employee left, we would lose all the knowledge that person had about the practice. Steve and I guessed at different solutions, instead. We would be overly compliant or give raises to staff who didn’t deserve them. Stuck, we felt like hostages.
In 2010, Steve went online to search for help which led us to Sterling; we became clients. Through our training and consulting, Sterling helped us understand people. They gave us tools to motivate the staff and effectively interact with patients and referring doctors. We implemented statistical management which enabled us to track each employee’s productivity objectively. The bad staff, worried about their poor performance being detected, left. We learned how to identify good staff who will be productive and negative staff who should not be employed. We made detailed job descriptions for each position in the practice. If someone leaves, we still have the knowledge of that position and can pass it to another. I no longer worry about losing staff.
Since starting with Sterling, our production has increased by 25% and collections by 32%. More importantly, we are back in control of our practice. We have good staff who work with us as a team. Best of all, the stress of running the practice is gone. They helped us enjoy our work and our lives again.
Martha Sanger, DDS