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Dental Consultant Staff Correction Protocol

Dental Consultant Staff Correction Protocol

At any given time one or more of your staff are likely doing something that you would not be too happy about if discovered.

It's the nature of the beast. That's why it is so important to have written policy and a formal protocol for correcting or reprimanding employees.

You want to document bad behavior or policy violations for all employees. Doing so will hopefully get the employee corrected as well as provide documentation to help fight unemployment claims if you decide to dismiss them.

When staff do not follow policy there is a tendency to either ignore it or get mad and tell them "my way or the highway". Neither is a "best practice". The real problem is most practice owners do not know how to properly correct employees and so end up losing what could be good employees or keeping staff who should really be dismissed.

When correcting staff the key is to find out if there is some aspect of the policy or protocol they do not agree with or do not understand. They may even have a valid point. You can learn a lot by listening.

So do not assume they are bad or wrong. Roll up your sleeves to find out what they do not understand or what they disagree with and then sort that out.

All that being said, if you have an employee that you need to correct on the same policy more than three times or in general does not follow policy, then you have an employee who cannot or will not follow policy and they should be dismissed.

The following is my recommended protocol:

Talk to the employee (Step 1)

Get their side of the story. For some offenses it could be one strike and you're out (see below) on the other hand always weigh an employee's value versus non optimum behavior. In general discipline should be done on a gradient.

Warning (Step 2)

The first time a relatively minor infraction occurs clarify the rule(s) involved. Explain what is expected in such circumstances. Generally, this type of reminder is sufficient and for most situations further action is not necessary.

Reprimand (Step 3)

For problems requiring additional action after a warning prepare a written reprimand which reviews the facts of the situation, cites specific improvement that are to be demonstrated by the employee within a clearly defined period of time and state the disciplinary action that will result if the improvement does not occur within the time designated. This written reprimand is to be signed by both the practice owner (or office manager) and the employee after they have discussed the contents. Place in the employee's personnel file.

Penalties (Step 4)

After a reprimand, depending on the severity of the offense, if there is insufficient improvement within the stated time, disciplinary action such as suspension without pay, demotion or dismissal may result. 

Note: Always make sure any such steps are legal for your state.

Exceptions:

It is important to note that the severity of the offense may warrant not following the usual sequence of warning-reprimand-penalty so the disciplinary action taken may begin at any level.

A reprimand, for example, could be given for a flagrant first offense and immediate dismissal could result without prior warning or suspension in the case of major acts of misconduct or serious dereliction of duty.

Quality Control Form

Make sure to have a “Quality Control” form to fill out. If you don’t have such a form me up by email. I’ll get one emailed to you right away.


 

Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at 

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What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?

Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.

Marketing & New Patients

Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background. 

Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists

Dental Office Systems

Key systems dental consultants implement:

  1. New Patient Phone Call
  2. Insurance Processing
  3. New Patient Experience and Patient Education
  4. Financial Arrangements
  5. Scheduling
  6. Confirmation
  7. Unscheduled Treatment Followup
  8. Reactivation
  9. Huddle
  10. Stat Monitoring
  11. Daily and Weekly Checklists
  12. General Policy Manual

Your Staff

You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.

Staff Accountability 

What gets monitored gets done.

The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?

The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals

It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.  

Leadership

What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance.  Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline: 

  1. Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
  2. Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
  3. Set a good example.
  4. Always be learning.
  5. Take care of yourself.
  6. Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.

Cost

$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice. 

Questions You Should Ask

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
  3. If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
  4. Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
  5. The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.

If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.