We spend a lot of time talking about goal setting and striving for a higher level of profitability in these articles. With this as a given, I want to look at doctors who have a certain “production level” as a bucket list item. Everyone tends to have various things they pursue. They may base their success in practice on hitting these bogies above all else. I tend to see doctors chasing a million-dollar (or greater) practice. There is certainly an endless level of production goals, but for our purpose let’s look at the doctor that has set his or her eyes on a lofty production goal above all other success measurements.
How could “myth” be associated with “high production”? Say it isn’t so. Isn’t everyone trying to produce more? Yes, yes, but, but here is always a dark side with unintended results. Chasing production produces tunnel vision, which makes it likely you will not end up where you thought you would be.
When we limit our focus to one singular goal, that goal tends to limit our other key performance indicators. Everything else tends to take a second place to knocking down, in this case, getting production up to that magic goal you have decided would make your life and practice arrive at the next level of excellence. That focus on one thing is often times at the price of keeping excellent staff, a work/life balance, and a deeper understanding of what a great practice really is. A significant increase in productivity will certainly require that you make multiple changes in various areas of your practice, but, if done incorrectly, can destroy many other equally important KPI’s.
In taking on increasing production, you decide to ramp up your engagement and horsepower to increase your hourly production. You begin to micro-manage your staff to get them pumped up. You have staff meetings to reinforce the importance of everyone doing more. You even terminate one of the staff, because she is probably the reason your office is lagging behind. Producing more becomes your single focus. You fit in same day dentistry even if you have to keep already scheduled patients waiting. You start doing dentistry without allowing the front desk to do financial arrangements prior to beginning the treatment. You cancel low production patients to fit in the really important ones with larger cases. You leave no stone unturned. You have even bought (or the bank has loaned you more capital to buy) that whiz bang new 3D Cone Beam or ortho set up so that you can expand your treatment offerings. You even signed up with some marketing company that, with their 18-month paid in advance fee, promises to get you all of the implant patients you could ever want. You even decided to invest in a 24-month commitment to have the largest management company in the US to come into your office once and require you to fly your entire staff to special meetings for training on things you already heard about but never got around to instituting. You are even thinking about taking a Sleep Apnea course that some doctor touted as having changed their life on the cover of Dental Economics. You have got dozens of things in motion so there is no way this will crash like the last time you had this urgency to get back into running your office. You probably have already made of list of things to buy and do with your newfound production numbers and guaranteed wealth. Maybe it’s time for a life style change. You certainly deserve it.
You know as well as I do that this story usually ends up in disappointment. It doesn’t matter what you produce unless it also improves your “net”. Oh yea, you forgot that even high producing offices go under. I would rather you have an average practice with a 50% overhead than a multi-million dollar one with a 90% overhead. I would rather you consider a balanced approach to productivity that ensures eliminating the overhead creep that has held you back for so long. Production doesn’t increase consistently without long-term staff that you have chosen to partner with. New patients are not worth the money spent on marketing unless you can keep them and they continue to refer everyone they know. Bragging about what you produce is hollow unless your patients rave about you on social media and review sites. A direct referral rate from existing happy patients of 50%-80% is the KPI that ensures your productivity is fueled by the right strategies, culture, and protocols.
While increased production is something that great practices expect, that rise in one aspect of your practice has to be accompanied by all aspects of your practice moving together for a better result. Better results are consistent, reproducible, scalable and teachable. As you look towards increasing your production, don’t forget that everything contributes to the bottom line, not just collecting more money. That’s how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS