The entire evolution of a successful dental practice will revolve around the people you hire. As a leader, and owner, you should be deeply concerned about the result of your hiring and the longevity of your staff. If we look at just the numbers of staff we need, you might consider these guidelines:
Up to $20K 0 Just the doctor if it wouldn’t create a legal problem.
$10-$30K 1 assistant/front desk combo person
$30-$45K 2 1 assistant + 1 front desk
$45-$60K 3 1 assistant, 1 front desk, 1 hygienist
$60-$85K 4 2 asst., 1 front desk, 1 hygienist
$85-$100K 5 2 asst., 2 front desk, 1 hygienist
$100-150K 6 2 asst., 2 front desk, 2 hygienists
$150K-$$$$ 7 2 asst., 3 front desk, 2 hygienists
A bird’s eye view of hiring is that we want to move toward having about $20,000-$25,000 of production per employee. This will automatically prevent over staffing and having too high an overhead percentage for employees. Your goal would be to average about a 25% overhead for all staff and any other expenses for them: Pay, taxes, uniforms, sick days, holidays, bonuses, CE, insurance, everything.
Let’s take a moment and review the important maxims of staffing.
- Reactive Recruiting: This is hiring by desperation. You find yourself short-handed due to staff turnover, or termination, and the circle begins again. You hire the first warm body that shows up, and then you fail to train them, and yet you’re surprised once again when it doesn’t work out. You would think that after doing this a couple of times you’d figure it out, but I find more recidivistic failed hires than any other single problem in dentistry.
- Proactive Recruiting: This is the opposite of number one and you see this when you are always looking to improve your team. Sure you want franchise players, but these don’t come around too often. Your job as the leader is to assemble a group of people, train them well, and allow them to grow and perform their jobs better each day. Do this and you will find the longevity of your staff increases while the group of people you have assembled becomes a well-oiled team.
- On-boarding: This is not a term we usually hear in dentistry. In other businesses you will find that on-boarding is essential to a successful hire. On-boarding is the protocol and systems used to hire, train, and integrate the new employee into the team without the usual drama and missed opportunities we see in most dental hires. This takes time and focused intention about the results we want from a new hire. By beginning with the end in mind you have the greatest chance of success.
- Hiring for personality and self-motivation: The second most common mistake I see in hiring is picking the candidate with the best resume and best qualifications for the job without considering their people skills and internal motivation. I can train anyone to suck spit or learn any practice management software because we have great systems. I can’t and never will be able to teach anyone how to have great people skills and to be motivated. Direct referrals are mostly affected by the attitude and people skills of the staff. I like the Vince Lombardi quote about motivation: When asked how he motivates his players, he said, “My job is not motivating my players. My job is to keep 11 motivated players on the field at all times.” The take away is that we need to hire slowly but fire quickly. As a leader we need to quickly eliminate marginal staff. Failure to do this says you just don’t care to the good team members already with you and de-motivates the entire office by crushing the culture you were trying to build.
Share your vision for the office and follow these suggestions and you will find that you can truly partner with your staff and begin rapidly accelerating towards the practice you always knew you would have. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS