Plugging Your Leaks

Building profitable hygiene departments is an art.

And its success is dependent upon the entire dental team’s understanding of the how and the why.  

But what exactly does it mean to have a profitable hygiene department?  When I ask this question I am surprised by the varying answers.  If you answered “My hygiene department is profitable when my hygienists produce greater than 3X their salary” you’re only partially correct.  

In fact you’re only partially correct… if your  focus is on the small stuff.  And if you are completely unaware of the substantial leaks in your practices financial bucket.  

It’s easy to pack a hygiene schedule full of laser, and sealants, and fluoride varnishes, and whitening promotions to “keep ’em coming back”…the latter of which hardly promotes value.  And day after day of this type of thinking will usually do two things: Burn out your hygienists and most importantly, limit your potential overall office production.

It takes a real forward thinker and change agent to look at the hygiene department as the hub of the practice’s success and implement that thinking.  With the investment in training and processes to make this go, well let me tell you friends…the financial clouds part.  In a very big way.  An there are some delicious side effects to this model.  Your hygiene department will feel as if their career has improved ten-fold, your financial stressors will fall away and your patients will be receiving the highest level of care offered.

But what about those leaks?

We help mentor incredibly successful dental business’s around the globe.  We have helped change the way dentists utilize and view their hygiene departments and these dentists and their patients are experiencing unprecedented success as a result.  But there is so much more!!

Take for example the hygienist who in 6 months discussed nearly $400,000 in restorative and cosmetic dentistry and whose patients have accepted more than $175,000  of that treatment.  She called me exasperated!  She said, “Cyndee I am so frustrated with my front desk person.  I have patients who are excited and  ready to go with treatment and when I look on the schedule I see they didn’t schedule!  I asked “Suzie” why they didn’t schedule and she said she was on a call and told the patient she would call them back!  Today, I heard her say to my patient, “I’ll send that in for a pre-auth and get back to you when I receive it” and the patient didn’t  even ask for that!”  

Colleagues…those are some pretty big leaks!  How much dentistry is walking out of your doors?  When you and your hygiene team is working to help your patients receive the dentistry they need and deserve, you cannot have the flood gates open at the front desk.   It takes the skills and commitment of the entire team for the process to come full circle.  

I saw an interesting ad yesterday. It was for a Dental Office Manager. “Must have two years of dental experience and be willing to work five days” Hmmm…might this be part of a larger problem? We give someone a title, plug them into a seat and expect them to help us build our business and our team? How do we expect them to help plug the leaks when they don’t even realize what a leak looks like?

But who is at fault here?  One of the things we try to instill in the teams we work with is this:  “Rarely are problems, people problems.  They are most often process problems”  or better said, lack of processes.  

So what about those leaks?

There is only so much your hygienists can do for your practice when there are limits put upon the department. Do you have dental professionals or chat and polish hygienists in your office? Have they been trained and calibrated to your philosophy and mission? Is the hygiene schedule reflective of an office that provides comprehensive care in the hygiene chair? Or does it indicate an office that crams as many services as possible into the time slot in hopes of breaking even? And do you come into the office and ask yourself, “Who Bombed the Hygiene Schedule”?

And you too doctors…have a look at your unscheduled treatment reports. Is your front office team skilled in case acceptance and financial arrangements? Or are they insurance-driven thinkers who create their own pushback? Are they skilled in offering incredible solutions which allow the patient to receive the treatment they need and deserve? Your unscheduled treatment report is the great indicator of what is walking out your doors. It let’s you know whether or not the pieces of the puzzle are in place for the entire team.

What are the processes you have in place to support case acceptance. When a hygiene department partners with their dentist to facilitate patients scheduling the treatment they need and deserve…wowza! This is when office production skyrockets! And it’s limitless! Why limit your success? Offer the training your team needs and the training you deserve for the huge investment you’ve made into your business. I promise…you won’t regret it!

If you would like some simple solutions to close some of your practice’s leaks, watch for space in our next “Who Bombed the Hygiene Schedule” webinar. September schedule coming soon…

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