I was visiting an office last week and wanted a unique strategy to give them some momentum and direction for their practice to grow. I had done this once before with so-so results but I just knew this office would really shine. This strategy can be a game changer. Experiencing the Power Day can reset your deserve meter and fundamentally change the way you look at the practice of Dentistry. It is not an easy assignment. But few things that really matter are easy. What I have done is re-write a previous article and update it a bit so that you can see the whole potential of this strategy. It follows your commitment to invest money in marketing, answer the question of whether you are marketable, and our recent reflection on marketing in general.
I have an assignment for everyone reading this. Sit down and get ready to rock your world. I have a challenge for you. I want you to pick a day in the future some 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. You and your staff need to see what a day looks like in a Super General Dental Practice: What it takes to create or engineer that day from the standpoint of systems, benchmarks, staffing, and doctor(s).
- Enlist the help of every staff member. We need everyone on board. If you find someone who is not engaged in getting ready 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 their life miserable (yet surprisingly quite a few doctors do exactly this). The team needs to come up with the goal for the day. We need you to set a specific goal for: hygiene production, DDS production, collections, at least two new patients per hygienist working that day, 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, 100% conversion of incoming calls to appointments made, etc. In other words, actually do all of the things that should be done every day. I would recommend a production number for hygiene to be $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.
- 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 dentistry. 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 to come in on 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 go in that day. It is impossible to achieve significant production during any day just seeing recall patients. We want a blank 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.
- Staging the day. A great “today” only happens when your yesterday “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 their 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 nothing will do but a string of perfect days. It creates 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” and crossing the “t”. 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 see super results on a consistent basis.
- Create the schedule. Great days don’t just happen. They are created. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is left to chance. What do you need to engineer a schedule worthy of a “power day”? Both the doctor’s schedule and the hygienist’s schedule need 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 was $1000 and your goal for the day for the doctor was $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 your doctor is slow (takes him more than an hour from start to finish for a crown), you would need more substantial cases. You just can’t reach a significant goal in dentistry with just fillings. A substantial case would be, in this example, work valued at about what a crown would produce. It could be a full mouth of fillings, denture, partial, orthodontic case, implants, sedation cases, full mouth extractions, etc. It doesn’t have to be a crown, but the value of the appointment will be about the value of 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 (3-6). 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. For the hygienist(s) the same principle applies. 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. Also, hygiene has substantial cases too. They won’t be the value of a crown but they would be things like full mouth scaling and root planning, 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 were $10,000/Power day, then they would 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 to 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 for your schedule. I want you to identify a few patients who, upon short notice, could come in and fill in any cancellations on your power day. We did this for 33 years for every day, and you need to do it here.
- Preparing the patients for your Power Day. Nothing is left to chance, not even the patients. All new patients will be sent a health history/dental 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 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 patients actually appear 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 or prior to bringing them back. Keep in mind that patients who owe you money are more likely to cancel or no-show at the day of the appointment and/or sue you when you try to collect. We can’t afford for this to happen, especially on 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 to get a direct 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.
- The “day of” plan. Everything will be ready for a great day. No excuses, no one sick, nothing will stand in the 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. Have a decent breakfast. 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 to insure 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. I would even plan on having lunch brought in. I don’t want you working through lunch but things happen and I want this day to succeed 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 patient is taken care of for their follow up treatment in the future. No one leaves without an appointment. Don’t make the mistake of taking short cuts on the day of the Power Day. Every patient should spend quality time with the staff and doctor. Every patient should be asked to refer someone to the practice. 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.
- 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 to discuss what you could have done better. Everyone helped, everyone worked and everyone should be patted on the back. I would even spring for drinks and appetizers at the nicest watering hole in your area. If you actually make the goal in full, you might think about a little money for each staff person or something special for them. I actually had an auto detail group come to the practice and wash and wax every member’s car following a Free Day that we did. This is above all a team building exercise that will mean a better future for all of you. Lessons are learned and the Power Day is validated. It will be a success. Just make it so.
Bonus thought: Let’s say we had a $5,000-dollar day. The average dentist works 200 days a year or about 16 days a month. What if you took 100% of the proceeds of the day or $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 or 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 at a 5% return would grow to $2,077,295 in twenty years. If you got 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 while doing what you already know how to do and with very, very little risk.
That’s your Power Day. That’s a normal day in a Super General Dental Practice. That is what we did every day for over three decades. Your one day in the future can easily turn into a day a 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 good time. That is how you Summit: Dental Practice Management done right.
Michael Abernathy DDS
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