We just started our new year and I have an assignment for everyone reading this. Sit down and get ready to rock your world. I have a 30-day challenge for you. I want you to pick a day in the future about 30 to 45 days away. This day is just a blank slate with unlimited potential until you book it. What we are going to do is create the perfect day. By doing this we can introduce you to several important concepts that every multi-million dollar practice uses. The first is Team Staging. You and your staff need to see what a day looks like in a Super General Dental Practice and what it takes to create or engineer that day from the standpoint of systems, benchmarks, staffing, and doctor.
1. Enlist the help of every team member. We need everyone on board. If you find someone who is not engaged in preparing for and planning the day, free up their future. You don’t have the luxury of paying for staff that are not engaged and motivated to perform. No one wants to pay a staff member to make your life miserable. The team needs to come up with the goal for the day. We need you to set a goal for: Hygiene production, DDS production, collections, being on time, number of appointments and type, hours, day of the week, marketing, number of cancellations and no-shows, 100% follow-up appointments, goal on number of emergency patients processed and treated to add additional productivity, and 100% conversion of incoming calls to appointments made. I recommend the production number for hygiene to be $1500-$2500 for the day per hygienist. Dentist’s production should be 20-30% greater than your average for the last few months. Collections should be a minimum of 65% at time of service and the rest paid in advance.
2. The first step is to pick the day. The day of the week needs to be a day that consumers would want to come in. Generally, Fridays and Saturdays are the most sought after days for dental appointments. While most doctors work Monday-Thursday, most consumers will want early or late appointments on days that would least affect their earning potential. Make sure that few or no patients are currently scheduled during that day. That includes hygiene. We need room for new patients in hygiene. In fact we need 30% of the day on hygiene open in the future to make room for the Soft Tissue Scaling and new patients that will be scheduled that day. It is impossible to make significant production during any day just seeing recall patients. We want a clean slate in order to construct the perfect day. Everyone will work that day. Mark the day on the calendar and tell all the staff about what you are going to do. It will be the best day ever from the perspective of low stress, high production, new patients, profitability, scheduling, etc.
3. Staging the Day. A great “today” only happens when your yesterdays “staged” all parameters in order to create success. Part of the reason for having this “Power Day” is so that staff can be immersed in what it feels like and looks like. Most people are visual learners. Nothing can take the place of experiencing the day. Your practice will never be the same. You will never settle for just getting by. No one will ever want to go back to mediocrity. You can literally change everyone’s entire perspective about what success is. Success is staging every minute of every day to get the results you know you deserve. Once you stretch yourself and your staff, no one should be happy with anything less than a string of perfect days. It is an addiction to success. When we talk about staging, what we mean is that it takes several weeks of intentional steps to get the right patients, with the right financing, and the right needs to fill out that day. It takes dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s”. It is the little things that create a ripple effect for your day to come together. It’s tough the first time, but this is what great practices do every day in order to insure super results.
4. Create the schedule. Great days don’t just happen. They are created. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is left to chance. So what do you need to engineer a schedule worthy of a “Power Day”? Both the doctor’s schedule and the hygienist’s schedule needs to have at least 60% of the day in substantial cases. A substantial case for a doctor would be treatment at or above the fee of a crown. For example: If your crown fee is $1000 and your goal for the day for the doctor is $6,000, you would need 60% of that day or $3,600 (.60 X $6,000 = $3,600) in substantial cases. That would mean 3.6 cases minimally to actually meet your goal. If the doctor is slow (takes more than an hour from start to finish for a crown), more substantial cases will be required. You simply can’t make a significant daily goal in dentistry with just fillings. So a substantial case would be, in this example, an appointment valued at about what the fee for a crown is. It could be multiple fillings, a denture, a partial, an Invisalign case, implants, sedation cases, full mouth extractions, etc. Not just a crown. So you need to begin looking at the day and deciding where these cases will go. Patients will gravitate to peak demand times first. In other words, they will want to come in early (7-9) or late (4-6). With this in mind we need to concentrate on filling the difficult appointments first. Try to get patients who already know and love you to come in between 10-3. In this way the most difficult times of the day will be filled first, leaving the peak demand times to be filled later. They will be easier to fill and more attractive to new patients. The same principle applies for hygiene. Peak demand times and substantial cases are the things to remember. Fill the 10-3 times first and then later work on the peak demand times. The ideal way to schedule is to make sure you don’t do it too far into the future. I would be putting the last patient on the schedule the day or two before the big event. If not, you stand the chance of a lot of no-shows. Hygiene also has substantial cases. They won’t be the value of a crown but they would be things like full mouth scaling and root planing, new patient exams and cleaning, impressions for night guards and sleep apnea, four quads of sealants, or anything else greater than a normal recall appointment. Hygiene schedules cannot meet a significant goal just doing recalls. Make sure that each hygienist has at least 2 new patients during this power day, and at least one scaling patient, and more if possible. In a productive practice, and especially in this power day, we need to make sure that the hygiene department is responsible for at least 33% of the total office production. If the day’s goal is $10,000, then hygiene should produce $3,333 of the $10K. One secret of super productive practices is that they always schedule 10-15% above goal every day. In other words, if the goal is $10,000/day, then they will schedule an extra $1,000-$1,500 for the day or about $11,000-$11,500 total for the day. In a normal practice we expect a 10-15% cancellation rate. In a good practice we expect to lower that below 10%. You must bring that percentage down for this Power Day. Remember, we are trying to create the day you always wanted. One last thing about the schedule: You need to get in the habit of having a “fall back” plan. I want you to identify a few patients who, on short notice, could come in and fill any cancellations on your Power Day. We did this every day for 33 years, and you need to do it here.
5. Preparing the patients for your Power Day. Nothing is left to chance, not even the patients. All new patients will be mailed a records package a week before their appointment to fill out so that you can stay on time every time during the Power Day. If you can do it electronically, that’s even better. If the patient has insurance, you will check their qualifications and insurance benefit limits so that you can speak with authority when the patient actually appears in the office. All patients of record that will be coming in will have their records checked to be sure there are not outstanding balances so that this can be taken care of prior to the appointment. Keep in mind that patients who owe you money are more likely to cancel or no-show on the day of the appointment. We can’t afford for this to happen and expect you to pull off your Power Day. Every patient will be reached in person to confirm his or her appointment. Messages left on a machine or with a family member do not count. You either speak with the patient or get a confirmation, or you book over them to insure a successful schedule. Nothing is as important as having a bulletproof schedule to pull off the Power Day.
6. The “day of” plan. Everything will be ready for a great day. No excuses, no one sick, nothing will stand in your way of making this “your” day to shine. Everyone gets 8 hours of sleep the night before. We need you rested and ready to go. Everyone shows up 30 minutes before the day begins in order to have a huddle that insures that any holes are filled with productive appointments in order that we make our goal. You identify problems, strategize on how to overcome them, and implement a plan for the day. We will schedule lunch between 1 and 2 (not 12-1) because patients want to come in during their lunch breaks. NOTE: If you are a multi-doctor practice, you will alternate lunch times for the staff to insure that there is no break in production or a time at which someone is not working all day. I might even plan on having lunch brought in. I don’t want you working through lunch if this is a solo practice, but things happen and I want this day to be successful regardless of what life throws into your path. Keep in mind that even though you are focusing on today, you need to make sure that every opportunity and every patient is taken care of for follow-up treatment. No one leaves without an appointment. Don’t make the mistake of taking short cuts on the Power Day. Every patient should experience quality time with the staff and doctor. Every patient should be asked to refer to the office. We will call all the patients we worked on at the end of the day. Everything you know you should have been doing your entire career will be done on your Power Day.
7. Celebrate. Take the time at the end of the day to celebrate the victories even if you fall short. Complement the staff on what went well and take the time and discuss what you could have done better. Everyone helped, everyone worked hard, and everyone should be patted on the back. (I would even spring for drinks and appetizers at the bar down the street.) If you actually make the goal in full (keep a running total all day long and make everyone aware of where you stand each hour) you might think about a little money for each staff person or something special for each one. (I actually had a detail group come in and wax and wash everyone’s car following a Free Day that we did.) Above all, this is a team building exercise that will mean a better future for everyone. Lessons are learned and the Power Day is validated. It will be a success. Just make it so.
A Bonus Thought: Let’s say we had a $5,000 day. The average dentist works about 200 days a year or about 16-17 days a month. What if you took 100% of the proceeds of the Power Day ($5,000) and put it in a tax deferred account for retirement? What if you decided to extend your Power Day to once a month, in this case $5,000 X 12 = $60,000 for the year? What if you did that for the next 20 years? Your savings strategies with a 5% return would grow to $2,077,295 in twenty years. If you earned 10% it would grow to $3,865,125 in 20 years. Forget about hitting a home run in real estate or the stock market. This could guarantee your future simply by doing what you already know how to do.
That’s your Power Day. It’s a normal day in a Super General Dental Practice. That is what we did every day for over three decades. Your single day next month can easily turn into a day every month and before you know it, your Power Day will be an average day for the rest of your career. You have nothing to lose. Pick out the day and start the process. Good luck and have a great time.
This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS