When most of us think of the word “outsourcing” we see automobiles being built in Mexico, or crown and bridge work done in China or the Philippines. What I am seeing in Dentistry is a small, slow transition to “outsourcing” certain jobs in the dental office. Things like someone to pay your bills, collect your overdue accounts, or factor or manage your accounts receivables. On the surface it seems like a good idea: Just turn over the tedious task to an expert that specializes in doing only that thing. Could it be possible that we are missing something here and by outsourcing, we are creating a culture of mediocrity in our staffing and systems?
Let’s cover the “why” you want to outsource. Speaking with dentists, I hear things like “we just can’t find good staff”, or “I don’t have the time to train them to do everything”, or “we don’t have the time to create consequences for the staff that won’t be around that long anyway”. It is as if each of these outsourced tasks were just too difficult to train and/or follow up on by the doctor, so one day some slick “I’ll get it done for you Doc”, kind of a guy hits you at a weak point and poof, the problem is solved, or so you thought. I wish it were that easy, but by outsourcing these tasks you have walked down a very slippery path.
If you don’t take the time to hire slowly, train well, follow and measure their progress, correct mistakes, and grow their ability, you are destined to a revolving door of mediocre staff and less than average results when it comes to production and profit. Yes, it takes time, but offices with poor staff and high turnover are the epitome of the “Donor” practice. The very reason that you outsourced the task was only putting a band aid on the real problem. You were just treating the symptom while breeding an undertrained staff to continue to make more and more mistakes.
Here are few things you can count on when you outsource certain important tasks.
1. Creating an atmosphere of incomplete systems. Systems have a beginning and an end with a predictable result. By allowing your staff to continue to do what they already were doing to create the desire in you to fix it, you inadvertently removed all accountability. How will they learn if they continue to make the same omissions or mistakes and never have to clean up the problems they made?
2. You shift the responsibility to someone you don’t know and can’t control. In the process you move further and further away from actually understanding the how, why, when, and where of doing the tasks correctly.
3. No consequences will always mean a lack of follow through, lack of commitment, and an avoidance of accountability.
4. Inattention to results always ends in you making less money.
5. Outsourcing prevents you from creating a direct link form set up (systems), results (no mistakes and more money or profit), and no consequences (therefore no improvement in their actions).
6. Cost goes up in staffing because the cost of outsourcing a job that you are already paying your staff for increases compensation costs.
7. There is always a loss of “culture” or the “why” of what we should be doing.
Too often an apparently simple solution can create an altogether unanticipated result that can take years to correct. Do it right and continue to embrace the change in your practice and systems to get the best result possible. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS