Kicking off Q2 with Claire Dickinson and Dayna Johnson

Claire Dickinson, MS
Claire Dickinson, MS

Claire is an Executive Level Dental Coach, Operator and Consultant.  Her experience has been gleaned over a 25 year career spanning clinical, administrative and business functions on a dental team. 

Welcome to 2nd quarter of 2023 my friends! My good friend and colleague, Claire Dickinson, and I kick off the next three months talking about evaluating your process for keeping your schedule full as we start down the summer months and how to be better prepared for team vacations. As Claire talks about these topics at a high level, I will get into the weeds with your Dentrix software.   Below you will find the full transcript of our podcast transcribed by Otter.

Dayna Johnson  0:08 

We are super excited you have found Novonee on the Go, the premier Dentrix community’s free podcast. I’m Dayna Johnson, the founder of Novonee, and my goal is to give you about 15 minutes of juicy content to take back to your practice and help your team have a more productive and less stressful day. Enjoy.

Hey, welcome everyone. Dayna Johnson here with Novonee and we are here today kicking off Q2. So, we are now in second quarter of 2023.  There were some really good April Fool’s jokes on Twitter yesterday, I put them up on my Insta story, which would they were pretty funny. One of my favorites was that there was a two Dalmatians and they had changed their spots to like rainbow colors. Oh my gosh, it was so funny.

But anyway, we are getting into second quarter. And I have whenever we kick off a new quarter, I have my very special good friend and dental colleague Claire Dickinson on with us. She is Operations Director for a perio group up in the Washington State area and an executive coach with Vityl Management. So she is a wealth of information, and also one of my best friends. And I always love having her on because we just dive into topics and get into these good juicy conversations. So welcome, Claire.

Claire Dickinson  1:49 

Hi, Dayna How are you doing?

Dayna Johnson  1:51 

I’m good. I’m good. It was so good to have you here a couple weeks ago, Claire was visiting in Colorado, visiting her son Logan, who is a student in Colorado, and he was on spring break. So, Claire got to spend a few days with us while she got to visit her son on spring break. So, it’s so good to have you.

Claire Dickinson  2:10 

Yeah, thank you for having me back with love spending time with you. And Kevin, um, you know, we try not to get into work too much. But we do have some good conversation. So we do it. I love it. I always learned so much from the two of you. Ya know, it’s always it’s always good. It was it was a great little, little kind of mini vacation because I’d Yeah, a few days off of working and just worked on projects and got to spend some time with you and see Logan, it was good to see you love him. Because, you know, he’s always head down in the books. And it was good to have him out in about. Yeah, it was awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

So when we kicked off Q1, first quarter of this year, one of the things I remembered you said, and it has stuck with me for months is that this was going to be the “year of organization”. And I just thought that was really profound, because it really helped me to identify what I wanted my content to really revolve around. So tell me, tell me a little bit just kind of recap for us. You know, what you meant by that? What you’ve been seeing and offices have? Have you really seen that that’s been working and and what are offices doing? And kind of recap that for us?

Sure, yeah. So I’m still 100% subscribe to the idea that this year is the year of organization. And you know, going into it, there was a belief that it would be reevaluating SOPs, and having clarity around job descriptions, and, you know, all the all the technical stuff that we do with it our dental offices to take care of the patients the way we do to be profitable, etc. However, as we’re getting through, you know, this exercise of organization, you know, we’re coming across the things like we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And so the project is becoming bigger and bigger. And yeah, and it’s, you know, a lot of people can get intimidated by the idea of like, where do we start that I would say data that was that’s probably the biggest challenge that I see that I run into is like the ideas that are there, and the vision of the outcome is there. But you don’t know where to start. And I would say that for me personally, because I’m very much you know, in the trenches of doing this for our peer group up here in Seattle is you just have to start and if that means that you know it doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t feel right it doesn’t matter. You’re still getting it out and you’re getting it down and you know my partner with Vityl Management Thomas Kang, I’m You know, he said something pretty profound to me. He said, “it doesn’t have to be perfect”. We just have to, you just have to start. And once we got over, not worrying about it, that this has to be the final outcome as we start, it, just it the creativity, and the information just started to flow out of us. That being said, again, I go back, I go back to the fact that as this continues to go on, Oh, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And oh, so it’s continuing to build, you know, we had some pretty lofty goals that, you know, would be done in a year, I think that this is going to be an evolving exercise over time. I think, you know, 50% of it will probably be finished within 2023 for most of the practices that I work with, but it will be the skeleton of this, you know, reorganization or redefinition of how we operate and dental offices or what our dental offices look like, overtime. Yeah, yeah, I like the idea of just getting things down, you know, I can just Yeah, I can picture, I can picture just a room full of those big wall sized post it notes with, you know, just lots of scribbles all over it. And yeah, that’s I think just where you start is just get your get your ideas out on paper, and then really start refining it as you go. Sure. Um, yeah, I know, job descriptions are a big one, they are a big one. And it’s okay to get it wrong, the first time giving yourself that space to be wrong, will give you that faith to discover. And, um, you know, I think in dentistry, I’m just gonna make an assumption here, that vast majority of us, you know, are very technical, and we’re perfectionist, which, it just doesn’t help us when we’re trying to do something, you know, such as this. So it’s, aside from the outcome that we’re hoping to achieve, I think going to this exercise is teaching us to be more flexible, and more open to being creative. And that’s, you know, flexing those, those brain muscles outside of the technical stuff that we do.

Dayna Johnson  7:08 

Yeah. Agreed, agreed. I mean, you really, it’s hard, it’s sometimes it’s hard to look at the big picture, you know, it’s hard to, it’s hard to stand on top of a mountain and look down and, and look at the big picture, because you want to just get into, you know, the weeds and, and you want to talk about all the details, when it’s harder to, it’s harder to get to the top start at the top of the mountain, you know, and look down. And, and, you know, when I was creating my content over the last couple of months, and, you know, I did a lot of articles and podcasts about job descriptions. And it also helped me to create, start creating a brand new course. And you know, what you said to me that the year of organization, I’m like, I have to create a course about this. And yeah, and so, you know, I have this brand new course, you know, the, I call it, fundamentals of dental office management, The Essential Guide for new hires. And I think it’s definitely going to be a great course for identifying the information and the workflows for new hires. But I think it’d be is going to be a great course, just for someone in the dental practice to just kind of go through it and say, oh, gosh, yeah, that I didn’t realize that I really should be doing that, you know, and, and so it really helped me to identify a good cross training program. And, you know, so I really appreciate that you kind of labeled this year as the year of organization, because it really helped for us, me to identify these cross training programs and all of that. So, yeah, it’s been fantastic. I need to I’m super excited about it. And it’s also, you know, on a little side note,

Claire Dickinson  9:06 

I think it’s actually helped me become a better coach to my teams, as well. Because I have a lot more clarity about how I can better serve them. So then, so then the teams are developing and we’re growing and we’re moving towards direction. It’s like, it’s almost like that whole path of like, it’s okay, like, we’re gonna if we’re gonna make this better, so I love it.

Dayna Johnson  9:31 

Yeah, I agree. I agree. 100% And it’s been really fun. So, so that that was kind of a recap of of our first quarter. So you know, there’s lots of good articles and podcasts and tip sheets and all kinds of stuff that you can get from our media page over the last quarter. That was kind of a good recap. And so while you were here at Claire spending a few days visiting Logan you and I Um, you know, it’s hard for us not to talk about dentistry. Right? Right. I mean, that’s what we do, you know, we grab a glass of wine or, Kev makes us a cocktail. And we get we dive into dental conversations. And, and so one thing that we were talking about, because I was kind of picking your brain a little bit about, okay, what’s coming up in, in Q2, and your and your you’d like, instantly it was, it was, well, we really need to start preparing for the upcoming slower months, because we are going to be getting into summer, where patients are not wanting to come in to the dental practice and team members are going to be on vacation. And you know, so kind of keeping our, our theme of organization how kind of big picture how do you think teams should start preparing for those two, two topics, one, keeping the schedule full during some slower months? And then, you know, preparing for team members being on vacation?

Claire Dickinson  11:10 

Yeah, um, well, first of all, I want to, I want to back up and say, you know, I hope everyone has, is either going to or is already in exercise of future pacing, pacing your schedule a year in advance, now, it doesn’t mean it has to be set in stone, like it, you know, this is just the way it is, it can be flexible, but taking the time as a full team about, um, pre planning, in, in idea when people are going to take vacation, so then we know how to set the schedule for the year in advance that I think that is critical, you know, you just got to be on their head. That’s a guy, you know, in in, when I worked for a different consulting firm, we would take like a half, you know, they I was taught by them, we used to go with your clients, you take a half day, everybody on the team brings your calendar, this isn’t the doctor saying this is when you’re taking vacation. This is a team. Con, you know, everyone contributes to Hey, this is when I have family vacation, it says blah, blah, blah, can we make this work? And then it is a team schedule, not a doctor schedule, right. And so piano part they participate? Well, it’s a great exercise. So going back to, you know, you know, where we’re going with this topic is, so if you do that, we already have a relative idea of when the office is going to be closed, and then we can look at okay, so if we’re closed for two weeks in August, you know, in that quarter, how many more days do you have to make up to offset that, you know, the production and the collections and all that stuff. Bigger, though, than preparing for the summer, in the schedule, one of my concerns is, is that the things that I see is, you know, January, February, March, you know, just depending on where you’re at, everyone has a slightly varying difference of opinion about how busy they are. But generally speaking, in the first six months of the year, you’re going to produce more than you are in the last six months of the year. And once you get to the second six months of the year, it’s really hard to make up for a shortfall. Because you don’t have enough time, right? Yeah. And if we are paying extra attention to making sure that people are always reappointed and hygiene, then we can basically future pace for the whole year about exactly how this is going to look and the expected revenue that we’re going to get from it. But everyone has to be committing to reappointing everyone to their agreed stent, okay. So, if we know that people are gonna take vacation in the summer, so if we have people coming in now, we’re going to reappoint them for 346 months out which will hit summer into fall. I agreed. So because we’re busy now, we cannot ignore the fact that the people who are not active that we need to reactivate, we’re going to start scheduling them into you know, later spring, early summer, getting them on the books. So then when we think ahead to September, October, November, December, we’re already future we’re already let’s say 75% 80% guaranteed that our schedule is going to be full that far out. So it’s something that we have to start within the first or second quarter of the year is making sure that it’s not we’re not filming today, we’re filming for the future. And what does that look like? And you have to think about it from the first appointment to the follow up appointment always thinking from first to second, not just first. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And so then if we do that, what happens is you know, treatment is a little bit harder to future pace for right because the patient needs and whatever. However, It means not, it’s we have, we have a vast amount of resource there. It’s just we need to make sure that we’re working that resource. And we’re, we’re strategically putting them throughout the year. So then we have that continual flow. So then when the doctors do their exams, they have a continual flow of production and operative.

Dayna Johnson  15:24 

Exactly, yeah. Yeah, I know, I talk a lot about how hygiene is the lifeblood of your practice. You know, continuing care is the lifeblood of your practice. It is what feeds the doctor’s schedule. And you know, so I really talk a lot about patient retention, and Cannan. Again, what you were just saying about pre schedule, you know, and and with all the teams that I work with, we always look at, okay, how what’s the percentage of patients that are getting pre scheduled? And then how many patients are keeping their appointment? You know, so there’s two percentages. In the Dentrix, practice advisor report, one of them shows the percentage of patients that are pre scheduling, and then what is the percentage of patients that are keeping their appointment, which is the which is patient retention. So those are two key numbers that I really stress my office’s monitor, because it’s interesting, you know, I’ll see the preschedule know, for example, I’ll see the preschedule is super low, but then the patient retention is super high. And I’m like, Okay, well, it’s good that your patient retention is really high. But what that means is that you’re working harder to get that scheduled full, because you’re not pre scheduling. And then the total, and then the opposite could happen, your pre scheduling could be really high percentage, but then your patient retention is low. So that means they may just be putting people into their next visit, you know, without really kind of qualifying the appointment with the patient. I’ve seen that in offices, and then the patient drops out because it doesn’t work in their schedule, or whatever. So then their patient retention is really low. So what we really want to see is those two percentages, pretty equal, we want to see those patient retention and pre pre scheduled percentages in the high 80s, low 90s. On a really consistent basis. Yeah, it’s not

Claire Dickinson  17:28 

I have a firm belief that everyone’s intentions are in the right place. I do. And so I don’t want this to come across as I’ll just leave it at that. Point being is, when we’re busy.

We don’t think about the future. We’re in the thick of it. We don’t think about it. But unfortunately, our business we actually we have to think opposite. We have to think we always have to think for the future and plan setting the table so to speak. Yeah. And so that means that, you know, when you’re talking about your reports, you know, you’re consistently working your reactivation list or your you know, your active patients or when we’re there last week, there was I’m not when we need it, but when we don’t need it, it’s when we don’t need it that it needs to be work the most.

Dayna Johnson  18:19 

Yes, not that thing. It’s a consistent thing has to be worked every single week, even when you don’t have holes to fill, you know, and okay, have offices, that, you know, we talked about those four reports in Dentrix that you should be working on a consistent beat well, three out of the four, they need attention every single week. And you know, and then I’ll have team members they’ll like well, I don’t have anywhere to put the patient. Yeah, and I’m like that’s exactly that’s exactly why you need to be working those reports because you know, you have to you have to address the elephant in the room from the very first sentence out of your mouth is you know, the reason I’m calling you is because we’re already scheduling into September and I need to get you on our books so we can try and get you in to our get you in sooner. So I mean, that’s the perfect time to work the reports is when you’re busy.

Claire Dickinson  19:16 

Exactly. And you know data, you can send the same message but the quality and the way you communicate it is critical. So yeah, exactly. I can’t get you in and six weeks or eight you know it’s gonna be six or eight weeks so you can get it but we don’t say I will not be able to get you in say exactly. I would love to get you in May 15 At four o’clock or is that does that work with you? So you always talk about what you tend to you and what then yeah, step is for them, give them give them option without talking about, well, our doctors really full. We don’t have time right now, because then it creates scarcity that, you know, you’re creating hurdles for the patient that don’t need to be there. So and so is it in schedule is one that, you know, patients do like to see him. And that’s why we really encourage pre planning so that we can always make sure that we’re in, we’re seeing you in a timely, timely fashion. So why don’t we just get you in now, you know, at our next available and then moving forward, you will not leave our office without an appointment. So then you get to how we stay on track, right. So talk about the things you can do with a positive twist.

Dayna Johnson  20:41 

Exactly, exactly. You know, you know, I want to get you into my first available opening, and then I’m going to put you on my priority list. You know, I always, I always switch the Dentrix ASAP list to the priority list. And, you know, you’ll be one of the first people I call when we get an opening. And, you know, it’s all Yeah, it’s definitely all about verbal skills. And, and, you know, one thing that I also talked about in first quarter was creating your perfect day scheduling, so that it will help you to have those, you know, reservation times available for certain types of appointments. So I’m always also a big believer in having your, your ideal day mapped out. So you do have availability for certain types of appointments. And so that’s also a big a big, important piece of having that organization done. Is that that perfect day scheduling?

Claire Dickinson  21:37 

Yeah, I agree. I have a question for you, Dayna. So in dentistry, as dentists or you know, clinical providers, we, the vast majority of us, we speak to our patients when we’re doing diagnosis and treatment about, we’re proactive, okay, yes. Why aren’t we proactive? With our business of dentistry enough? Maybe now, what we need to work on in our year of organization is changing our mindset or the or developing habit of being proactive in our business.

Dayna Johnson  22:13 

Yeah. Oh, my gosh, so that reminds me. So that’s such a great point, I was working with a with a team recently. And two, they have two brand new team members, like they have never been in dentistry before. And, and the one of the first things that so to brand new front office team members and to brand new dental assistants. And the first thing that I talked about with them was not reports in Dentrix, and not how to fill the schedule. But the but here’s what dentists, what dental practices, our dental practices are not only in health care, but we are also a small business. And the only way that you get raises that you get incentives that you get, maybe a clothing allowance is if this practice is profitable. And the way that we are profitable, is we have to be productive and collect what we produce. That is That is how we are profitable. And also reducing expenses. But also but the the admin team, sometimes they can help with expenses a little bit. But the you know, that was one of the first conversations I had with this, these two, four brand new team members that have never been in dentistry was was really, you know, honing in on the fact that we are a business and this is why not only we can’t just put bodies into these holes in the schedule, it has to be the appropriate appointment in that hole in the schedule, you know, so, and also that the doctor, you know, can’t be running around with roller skates on because then he’s gonna get burnout. And, you know, and so it’s about scheduling appropriately. So that we are productive, not busy. Move on. And yeah, so that was that was that. That’s a great point, because that was like my first conversation with these four brand new team members that had never even been in dentistry.

Claire Dickinson  24:24 

What a great conversation. How do they respond to it?

Dayna Johnson  24:27 

Yeah, they were a little bit like, shocked. You know, because they just feel that it’s, you know, they had no idea what to expect coming on into a double practice. And they’re like, oh, my gosh, I had no idea. Yeah. And, and, you know, it’s a it’s a big eye opener for sure. Because, you know, they don’t they just know dentistry as being a patient. You know, and you know what a What the perio probe feels like when they go in for their hygiene visit, or they know how uncomfortable the X ray sensors are when they get X rays as being a patient. That’s the only thing they really knew about dentistry. And so now being on the other side of it, now they have to think about, oh, I have a production goal that I have to book to. And I have, I have a day sheet I have to balance and, you know, they don’t, they don’t think about the behind the scenes, things like that in dentistry. So it was, was definitely a really good way to open up the conversation at with our two days of training was giving them those those high level views of what is a dental practice, you know, then, you know, we

Claire Dickinson  25:51 

I don’t know how much time we have, but in maybe we talk about this later, but the perception about the word, the words production and goal, right, because we’re all natural. We’re all natural caregivers in dentistry. Yes, we have a lot of really great business mind focused dental people out there. But generally speaking, we’re all more focused on, you know, the things like how we take care of patients, right. And so you do hear that all elderly? Gosh, yeah. Are we putting the patient first this is a conversation about meeting goals or production? Or is this a conversation about doing the right thing for the patient? Well, they go hand in hand, silver shirt, and just maybe we figure a different, you know, maybe it’s just the words that cause conflict for people, I’m not sure. Um, or just having a different conversation and perception about what the production and what the goals mean, And why’s that like the conversation you have? But do we need to dive into it deeper?

Dayna Johnson  26:50 

Right. Yeah, I think that’s, I think that would be a really good future conversation. And because I do hear that I do hear that a lot as well. Well, you know, we’re not going to put numbers ahead of our patient care. And unlike Ron asking you, I’m not asking you to, what I am asking you to do is if you treat the patient with optimum dental care, the production is going to follow. Yeah. It’s when you don’t treat, it’s when you don’t treat patients with optimum care, then that’s when you fall short of your production goals. And when? And yeah, exactly, yeah, let’s do that. I know, I think that’d be a great conversation. So what I am going to be doing over the next three months, is, you know, my content, my articles, blog posts, videos are all going to revolve around helping dental the dental teams prepare better for keeping their schedule full. And like you said, Claire, you know, kind of forecasting for the whole year, rather than just today, looking at today. Now, a lot of the things that we do today do help us to forecast for the future. But you know, my articles and everything are going to be revolving around keeping your schedule full. So we’ll be diving into those four reports in Dentrix. And then how to manage the schedule as far as your team members being on vacation, making sure that your Dentrix appointment book is mapped out so that your days and hours that you’re working are accurate, so that if you’re using any kind of analytics software, or or using the practice advisor report that those are all accurate, so that’s what I’m gonna be diving into. So it sounds like you’re gonna get from organization 10 I think so I definitely think Oh, well. You have you have definitely inspired me on that. And it sounds like you’ve really taken that, that tagline for this year to heart as well. Absolutely. i

Claire Dickinson  28:57 

Yes. I 100% It’s almost become evangelistic about it.

Dayna Johnson  29:05 

But I think that’s good, for sure. Well, good. This has been a great conversation. I appreciate you taking out time out of your, your busy weekend.

Claire Dickinson  29:14 

And, I really appreciate your conversation. So thank you. Yeah, it’s always a pleasure, Dayna, anytime.

Dayna Johnson  29:22 

Well, I will have Claire’s contact info in our show notes. And if, if today’s topic if it resonated with you, if you think other Donald teams, maybe your study club thinks that that this topic would really resonate with them that it was informative, please review it, share it, rate it wherever you listen to your podcasts, whether you’re listening on Apple or, or Spotify, wherever you listen to your podcast, please rate it, review it, share it so that our resources get out to more people. We would really appreciate that from you. So Until next time I enjoy watching your journey of becoming a Dentrix super user I hope you have a great rest of your day so Thank you Claire you have a great rest of your day

Claire Dickinson  30:10 

as well you as well have a good day

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