We need to look at two things today. How should we approach change with any staff member in our office, and how can we increase our hygiene department production, profit, and satisfaction in just a few days? Today is the perfect time to improve your leadership and increase your bottom line.
Change is uncomfortable for all of us, but especially for your staff due to the fact that in our past we have been less than stellar in pulling it off. Always remember, the staff only tends to listen to one thing: WIIFM (What’s in it for me). Regardless of the plan or the change we want, we have to take the time to spell out the benefit for each staff member it affects. Most of them simply want to know “why” they should do this. So, just remember before asking anything from anybody, you need to spell out the benefit. In fact it should be benefit, benefit, and then the request.
So let’s take a look at moving our worn out, marginal hygiene departments into the Super General Dental Practice realm. Straight up, we need our hygiene department producing at least three times what they are paid, producing one-third of the total office production, and having at least two new patients per day per hygienist with twice the number of hygiene hours as doctor hours, and a recall percentage of over 70%. These are all reasonable benchmarks. The reason for going to a commission based pay system is that it will give your hygienist(s) the possibility of having unlimited earning potential, while helping us control our overhead by only paying for the actual production done by them. A hygienist actually can control what they produce and earn by being more efficient and effective. If you think about it, most dental practices are paying hourly with the ripple effect of encouraging breaks, sick days, vacations, and one patient per hour, and a poor recall percentage that results in an underperforming hygiene department. Why fall into the trap of creating a position within a system that rewards mediocrity without pushing them to the earning potential and excellence they always really hoped they would have? From the hygienist’s perspective, we are faced with overcoming their desire to focus on the “security” of knowing exactly what they will take home their next pay period. For most of us, the fear of change is far greater than the potential reward. In this case you need to be very transparent and clear as to what and why you need this for your office. I would approach your hygienist(s) with the idea that you have decided to pay her more (benefit), turn over more control of her area to her (benefit), and show her she can partner with you to increase her production (benefit), recall, and job satisfaction (benefit). We usually will give the existing hygienist a 3-6 month period where we are willing to pay her the current pay schedule or a straight commission, whichever is greater. Ultimately, at the end of this transition period, the hygienist(s) will be on straight commission. They have a period of several months to become comfortable with the results of controlling their schedule and developing their work ethic to a whole different level of commitment and execution. Your job is to help them see the potential and upside while minimizing the perceived negatives. Go for it! If you need help, just give me a call.
Michael Abernathy, DDS