We felt like there was room for improvement primarily in how the office was run, the management aspects of everyday operation. We were hoping to just improve things in general, be more efficient, make a little more and see more patients. I did the Sterling Executive Booster Program with my wife.
We have set up an organizing board. Figuring it out helped, actually putting it on paper and doing it has been useful. We have an office manager, with a financial assistant who works for her. The office manager handles the communication aspects of things, and the financial assistant handles collections. I have two chairside assistants and two hygienists: one is not quite full time, the other is full time. There is also a hygienist assistant who works with them, takes x-rays and does scheduling and all that.
And then there’s me.
We are more departmentalized than we were and we’ve added staff. That was one of the things our consultant advised us to do. We were actually doing just about all the business we could do with the staff we had.
So we added the financial assistant.
My wife is a hygienist, and she is in the office all the time. She took a day off from seeing patients one day a week and one of the other hygienists picked up that day. She does administrative work for me on that day and falls under me in that position on our organizing board. That has helped us from bringing stuff home at night—just having a day a week in the office where she takes care of management details.
We are keeping a wealth of statistics that we weren’t keeping and we are using those to measure things. There were a lot of things that just plain weren’t being measured and I couldn’t answer some questions about the practice. So we’ve improved in that aspect and people are accountable for things now. The executive course work let me know that it was okay for me to expect things from people and to tell people how I wanted things. Getting confidence to do that from the course work was very helpful.
A lack of “facing up to things” on my part was major. Just the ability that I now have to confront people better has made a big difference. I gained the ability to confront somebody, teach someone to do something. I realized that if they are not doing it well or they are not doing it like I want, there is a reason: usually they don’t know how I want it. So communication is better now. That is the essence of what I’ve gained.
In the Executive Basics Course I learned that I wasn’t supposed to be necessarily everybody’s friend. I can be nice, but I learned that the business and the operation of the business were more important than the particular feelings of an individual at the moment.
Primarily I learned from the course work that it was okay to tell people what to do. I learned something about training them, too.
The staff are aware of what their exact duties are. Production has increased. We have been consistently better. We had some immediate all-time highs: when we first came back, we had our best production month ever. It was a surprise with all the things we were trying to implement! We have consistently been 15% higher this year than last year.
The staff are more efficient. In the process of all this we lost an assistant who’d been with us for a number of years. We were looking for but couldn’t find a trained replacement. We’ve had to train a chairside assistant from zero. It’s been phenomenal! I was really, really pleased that I had these Sterling courses before I tried training this assistant. I’ve done a much better job of training her. I think I’m going to have somebody I’m really pleased with.
I am a better executive now. Not the best; there’s room for improvement, of course. Basically, I believe it’s better communication; being able to tell somebody immediately after there is a mess-up in the treatment area what it was, what I expect and what we can do better. I just did not do that before.
Everyone is keeping their own statistics now. In the hygiene department, there wasn’t any real breakout before of what was hygiene and what was restorative dentistry, in terms of collection. But the hygienists and the hygiene assistant came very much in tune to what they were really doing in terms of numbers. They were pretty much out of the loop before. Also, my two assistants see what our side does; and the weeks that we haven’t done what we should be doing, we look at why. The weeks that work well, we look at how we can continue with that. That’s good. Our collection rate has always been pretty good. Over the last ten years we’ve averaged 97% or 98%. We’re around 98% for this year. So we haven’t had a problem there.
I use the formulas from the Formulas for Business Success Course. I appreciate the value of the formulas.
My consultant has been very helpful. She has good knowledge of dental practice. There are no situations that come up that she doesn’t seem to know where to turn. She is very experienced. She was the one who advised us to add the financial assistant to the front desk. We started taking the Sterling program, thinking that I wasn’t getting enough out of the people that were there. One of the things that she told us was that they were too fragmented, and they needed to not try to do so many jobs and wear so many hats. That we were actually at a plateau and that we weren’t going to do any more until we added more staff. She had statistics to back it up: “This is what you can do with this many personnel.” Adding someone was not something I would have ever thought to do until I listened to her. We are in the process now of looking for another dentist; an employed dentist in the practice, not a partner.
We worked several things out with our consultant while we were in Glendale, 25 or 30 things we wanted to accomplish in order. We are getting them done.
The front desk especially is not so overworked now. There was one individual there carrying a tremendous load. Now she can attend to details. My assistants were trying to do front desk stuff, and now they don’t have those responsibilities and so we can do more dentistry. Everybody just had too many things going on. I didn’t realize it, I thought I was just maximizing their time, but instead, I think I had them very confused!
The stress level in the office is much better now. We worked up to a level where we were pretty stressed, and now we’re working at a higher level but we’ve acclimated to that and the stress level is down.
The Hubbard management technology makes good sense. I haven’t had all the course work, at all. But as I was doing courses like the Executive Basics Course, it was sometimes surprising to see a new approach to things. I liked it, it was good to have someone tell me that I don’t have to be everybody’s best friend! We’re good to our staff, we’ve got good, loyal employees who’ve been with us a while and I think the world of them. But I worried about their feelings a little bit too much and I think they wanted to know what I was expecting. I was afraid to tell them for fear of hurting their feelings!
I would definitely recommend Sterling to another doctor. If I knew that somebody wanted to improve their business or their practice (not just dentistry), I would suggest Sterling.
Things are definitely better than they were and we have directions and goals now.
Lewis G. Moss, DDS