A set of specific dental practice goals is more than just a pie-in-the-sky wish list. Goals are critical to maintaining growth and financial security. And they're easy to set, just not so easy to fulfill. It starts with a plan that is clearly communicated and ties staff goals directly to overall practice goals. The result can be increased revenue, along with improved employee morale.
And while bringing in new patients is all well and good, it’s much easier and less expensive to get an existing patient to increase treatment than to find a new patient.
The New Year is upon us. How many have set goals for milestones they’d like to accomplish during 2018? Most people, I would imagine.
But perhaps more important is will you actually achieve those goals? And if not, why not?
Dave Monahan is the CEO of Kleer, a cloud-based platform that enables dentists to offer affordable, comprehensive dental care plans to their patients. He acknowledges that dental practices, like any business, need goals.
“Without goals, people basically drift,” Monahan says. “What I see … is that many practices will set broad goals without specifically indicating what they’re going to do to change the performance of the group.”
And a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Monahan says there are essentially two types or categories of goals that dental practices need to consider, and the two work hand-in-hand. Practice goals, and staff goals that support the practice goals.
As an example, Monahan illustrates that increasing practice revenue might be a larger overall goal, and a related staff goal might be to increase hygiene production. In other words, increasing utilization of the hygiene department to help drive the overall goal of increasing practice revenue. And staff appreciate that.
“Employees like goals,” Monahan says. “They like knowing that what they’re doing is going to improve the business.”
Having a specific goal and knowing how that goal impacts a practice’s bottom line also improves employee morale, Monahan explains.
“People want to improve,” he says. “Employees want to improve the performance of the practice, and they feel good when they’re doing that.”
In addition, Monahan says he hears from hygienists that they often work at multiple practices in order to achieve a full schedule. What they’d rather do is commit to one practice. Setting a goal to make the hygiene department more productive creates a situation where hygienists can commit to the practice. And in doing so, morale increases.
GOALS NEED PLANS
Monahan says he often hears dentists say they want to bring in new patients or improve the productivity of their hygiene department, but they don't implement anything new to achieve those goals. Or they develop Google ads, but those don’t move the needle toward the overall goal.
That, Monahan says, is when it’s time to try something different, such as a dental membership plan. He believes that fee-for-service patients will frequent the practice about 50 percent more often if they’ve bought into a membership plan because, in effect, they’ve bought into the practice.
“They’re paying a subscription, so they’ll come in to get their cleanings, and then they’re more likely to accept additional treatments,” Monahan explains. “Plus, you have your hygiene department busier and more productive as well.”
UNDERSTAND THE DATA
A key to achieving goals is understanding the data housed inside your practice management software. What’s sad, Monahan says, is that very few dentists understand their practice data. They may know the practice has approximately 1,200 patients, but when asked how many come in twice a year for cleanings, the response is a blank stare.
“What I’ve seen in the data is that U.S. patients come back once a year on average,” Monahan says. “But if you could move that up to 1.8, you’re going to increase your revenue by around 50 or 60 percent.”
Too often, Monahan points out, dentists believe that an increase in revenue will only come from finding new patients. And while bringing in new patients is all well and good, it’s much easier and less expensive to get an existing patient to increase treatment than to find a new patient.
“You can set and track goals easily inside practice management software,” he says. “And it’s all right there in front of you with your existing patients.”
Monahan says it doesn’t take a lot of manpower to set, measure and achieve goals. With a dental membership plan from Kleer, for example, all of the user interface is provided to allow for easy and seamless managing of the data. And anyone in the practice can easily log in and assess the data.
As for achieving overall practice goals, practice management software can accomplish that. All that’s necessary is assigning someone to be on point for tracking and managing the data.
“And then that person is responsible for reporting the data back to the group,” Monahan says. “It’s really pretty basic, but it’s something practices often miss.”