One of the most important processes in the dental practice is having a full and productive schedule. I want to emphasize the word “productive” because so often I walk into an office with the goal of helping optimize their Dentrix software, but where we need to start is designing a schedule to create a more productive, less stressful day. By doing this part first, we can create a cross-training program where the entire team can participate in the profitability of the practice. When you create a schedule that is built on the goals of the practice and the desires of the clinical producers, then anyone on the team can add a patient appointment into the schedule.
Let’s break down these two points . . . “goals of the practice” and “desires of the clinical producers.” The goals of the practice may come in several forms depending on the culture of the office and its financial needs. I recommend you look back on the practice’s vision statement and make sure your practice schedule is meeting the goals of your vision. Next, I recommend including your clinical team members in the conversation of designing the schedule.
Here are some questions to consider when designing your practice schedule . . .
- Do we have a goal of staying on time for our patients?
- Do we have a goal of making sure our team get off work on time for a better work/life balance?
- How long is it acceptable in my office for a patient to wait for an appointment?
- If I am a hygienist, what mix of procedures and appointment types do I want each day?
- Does our team eat lunch together or do we stagger our lunch breaks to always cover the phones?
- How do we cover vacations and family leave for our clinical producers?
- What time of day do our doctors want to perform certain types of procedures?
These are important mental, physical and culture types of goals that should be met so your team and your patients are well taken care of each day. Our team will want to come to work every day when they are taken care of. This helps with longevity and reduces the cost involved with training new employees.
Now the other goals you want to think about are the financial goals of the practice. Every office should have a set of production goals, new patient goals and perio goals. These goals also play a role in how you design your schedule and setup your appointment book. Hopefully, you have already created these goals during your annual planning session way back in the third quarter of last year. If you need a refresher on this topic, you can look back at previous articles and podcasts with my guests.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about your financial goals . . .
- The practice, each doctor and each dental hygienist should have a production goal that is met each day.
- Do we have a perio protocol in place to make sure we are diagnosing, treatment planning and treating periodontal disease?
- What is our perio production goal?
- How many new patients can we effectively see each day or each week?
After you have successfully answered these questions and have a game plan in place, we can now map out your schedule so you can create an effective cross-training process for your team. In the next couple of articles, we will discuss why it is important to get the entire team on board and create consistency with your systems. Everyone should learn the same systems and hear the same thing when it comes to training.