In the dental world, it can be challenging to find the right front office person to act as both the face of the practice and the money master. When faced with this hiring dilemma, many dentists begin asking for referrals from other team members. Others will call an industry specific agency and a few will post ads online to attract candidates for the job.
Once interviews are complete and references have been checked, the dentist will hire the candidate that “fits” the practice best. This criteria could include personality, previous connections, and of course there is the financial consideration: “How much will this person cost?”
For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on that last question – “How much will this person cost?” You’ve heard the phrase “You get what you pay for.” I have witnessed this time and time again in the dental field. You have narrowed it down to 2 candidates. Each one will do a fine job but one is $4/hr less than the other. The decision is easy… you hire the least expensive candidate.
STOP! Before you make this final decision consider that this person will be:dental front office training
- The first impression of your practice
- The first face new patients will see
- The one who controls the schedule
- The one who handles all billing, both claims and patient payments
- The one who follows up on outstanding treatment
- The one who possibly books recall appointments
- The one who has eyes on everything coming and going from YOUR practice
The front office team member is in a powerful position to help you grow your practice. There are so many areas of missed revenue opportunities that pass by the front office every day in a dental practice. Do you want someone who is “invested” in the practice and will go the extra mile to help increase revenue? Or, would you rather pay $4/hr. less and have a “worker” who is great on the phones and patients will love however, is not invested in the practice.
Now, if you currently have a less expensive “worker”, don’t get hot under the collar just yet. It isn’t their fault that they aren’t proactive. Their brain just isn’t programmed to take ownership of the dental front office duties. If you tell them to do something, they gladly will complete the task. But it is not realistic that you can monitor the front while actually doing dentistry in the back.
By now you may be asking, what could the front staff be doing that they aren’t already?
Here are a few examples:
- Let’s say that Mrs. Jones comes in for her recall appointment. While there, the “invested” employee is going to look at the rest of the Jones’ family treatment history to check if anyone else is due for recall. If they are, she will mention it to Mrs. Jones upon check-out and try to get the other family members on the schedule. That is being proactive and identifying missed revenue.
- How about when a patient calls with an emergency. This patient cracked a tooth at dinner the night before and needs to see the doctor right away. There is a balance due on the patient’s account. The “invested” employee will call insurance to make sure there aren’t any outstanding claims waiting for review and then look the original signed treatment plan to make sure everything was billed properly. Once it is determined that the patient does in fact owe this money, the “invested” employee will mention it to the patient and collect the amount at check-out.
- It’s 3:00am and you wake up feeling very ill and have a fever. You make the call not to see patients that day. Around 7:00am you check in with the front office team and let them know you will not be coming into the office and patients need to be rescheduled. While the office remains open for existing hygiene, the day is very light for the staff. The “invested” employee will generate revenue. He or she will check on outstanding insurance claims, try to schedule outstanding restorative treatment, and follow up on all outstanding recall appointments. This could possibly generate thousands of dollars for the practice.
Are you starting to get the idea? If you don’t have an “invested” employee, it could be costing you a lot more than an additional $4/hr. Think about the missed revenue opportunities that take place each day in a dental practice. Think about how much more revenue someone can bring into the practice when they care, or are “invested”.
Dental school never taught you how to manage a business. It’s natural not to think about these aspects of business when trying to hire the right team. Every staff member needs to add value to the practice. If not, you are losing money.
About the Author…
Tracy Civick is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, and author who focuses on motivating dental front office teams to grow practice revenue and get a better handle on the daily dental practice front office tasks. Her memberships include The Academy of Dental Management Consultants and AADOM, Academy of Dental Office Managers.