How 71 practices (just like yours) had their best year ever!
Build systems and follow them. Show up for and participate in team huddles. Set goals and hold yourself and your team accountable for those goals.
This is a true story with a very happy ending. But the best part of all is that this happy-ending story can also be yours if you want it to be.
Here are some numbers from 2021 – Year #2 of the global pandemic, in case you forgot 😉. These were shared with us by Kelly Schwartz, CEO of Schwartz Consulting, from 71 of the several hundred practices his company works with.
Ready to have your mind blown?
- Average increase in production per office was $346,000. Two had an increase in production of over $1.5 million from the previous year.
- Collections average $ increase per office was $307,000.
- Treatment $ to Acceptance average per office was 51%. Highest was 74%.
- Patient Acceptance per office average was 80.8%. Six were over 90% and one was at an incredible 94%.
- Total increase in Production was over $24 Million
- Total increased Collections was over $21 Million
Record production. Record-breaking increases in collections and case acceptance. In any year these would be worthy of a huge celebration, but to experience this type of success in a year like 2021 is almost miraculous. And here’s the best part — for the most part, these practices aren’t struggling with staffing shortages. Their team members are thriving and happy. Their impact on patient care and practice growth is recognized and rewarded. In a moment when so many practices are desperately trying to fill open positions, these practices are celebrating their success as a team and exploring ways to grow even more.
A great story, right? Maybe this is your experience right now as well, and if so, fantastic! However, we work with enough practices (over 8,000 and growing) to know that many are not doing as well as these 71 offices. We hear daily reports of struggles to keep chairs full, painful stories of out-of-control AR, and of serious staffing shortages that are directly impacting patient care and practice performance. As an organization, Dental Intelligence has a simple mission: Help dental practices to provide more and better dentistry. Our all-in-one solution was built for this singular purpose. Schwartz Consulting is one of many consulting companies that use our solution to help their clients experience exceptional performance.
For this reason, we’re excited to share exactly what these practices did to experience such remarkable results, so you have a map to follow as you chart your own growth path. To keep things simple, we’ll focus on two areas: Scheduling and treating patients; and retaining and recognizing team members. If you can get these two things right, you’re well along the road to sustainable success.
An important point to emphasize before we begin: These practices have implemented robust and repeatable systems and processes that are the foundation of everything they do. In other words, their success isn’t based on luck or talent or location. This is critical to understand because it means what these practices are doing can be repeated. That’s right, if they can do it, you can too.
Scheduling & Treating Patients
One of the first questions that Schwartz Consulting asks a practice is a simple but important one: How’s your recare? Before exploring other important areas of opportunity, knowing what the practice’s current capacity is for adding new patients and more production with existing patients is the first step toward improvement. Kelly Schwartz calls this a “practice snapshot.” Knowing where you are is key, and recare is a great place to discover this.
When examining recare, Schwartz looks at unscheduled treatment and recall. “One of the things we’ll do is identify patients who’ve been in the last 12 months who need the most care and prioritize them accordingly. This could be 15-20 patients. Then we look at those needing lower levels of care and identify the top 5-10 or so to schedule. Instead of going from top to bottom of the list or just by the highest dollar amount, we want our practices to schedule the patients who need the most care.”
Schwartz Consulting requires all their practices to use Dental Intelligence, the leader in dental practice growth analytics. Dental Intelligence automates many of these systems and processes so a practice can focus on what their numbers mean and what to do instead of trying to find and understand that data.
This enhanced access to insights about patients has important implications. “I try to train the team to think of the patients that need the most care,” Kelly said. “So, if a patient comes in every six months for a cleaning, that’s great, but if that patient doesn’t need or accept presented care but still want an eight o’clock appointment every six months, the practice needs to think about how to manage this. Do we want these patients on the schedule? Of course! But that 8:00AM appointment should be reserved for a certain kind of patient — the ones most in need of and who accept presented care.”
“For example, your patient Katie urgently needs care. And if she doesn’t get it, she’ll have more issues. At Schwartz Consulting we train the team to use Dental Intelligence Patient Finder to identify the patients that have been in during the last 18 months and who need the most care and to then start with them.” Is this how you handle recare? Is there a process here that you could replicate?
Scheduling is a very complex and time-consuming process. It’s also never done, right? Notice that the focus for these practices isn’t to just fill holes in the schedule. It’s scheduling the “right” patients — the ones who most need care and who are most responsive to that care being presented. This is so critical to understand.
“Here's where Dental Intelligence becomes so important,” Kelly continued. “We want every patient to come in for the care they need. We coach our practices to triage and schedule based on patient need and level of care. But instead of the old methods of scheduling, we use the tools Dental Intelligence gives us, which is like replacing a screwdriver with a power drill. When I’m filling our hygiene schedule, I want to go into our Unscheduled Patients pie chart and look for patients who’ve been in recently that need the most care and that’s where I’m going to start treating — that’s where our focus is. Then, if we have holes in the doctor’s schedule, I’ll use Patient Finder and jump in and pull in patients that aren’t scheduled.”
“I can also find patients that are better matches when I use the quick fill that DI has provided by the best match. When I click on — ‘I have an opening on my schedule’ — I hit my best match and that pulls up the patients that would best fill my schedule for that day – the ones I’m most likely to reach.”
Kelly also mentioned two scheduling-related metrics he gives special attention to in these high-performing practices:
1. Patient Acceptance % — How many schedule after treatment is presented?
2. Treatment $ Acceptance % — And of those dollars presented, how much is scheduled?
There’s much more that these practices are doing to schedule and treat the right patients. You can’t ignore an average increase in production of $346,000! Check out our entire interview with Kelly on our podcast, Growth in Dentistry, to learn more ways you can schedule more effectively and experience the same incredible growth as these 71 practices.
Retaining and Recognizing Team Members
Now let’s take a minute to learn how these practices are taking care of their team members. One of the most important things they’re doing is scheduling and treating the right patients. You read that correctly. When a practice is thriving and patients are happy and responsive to the care they’re receiving, team members also tend to thrive. It just makes sense. Your practice team are professionals who have a passion for patient care. The more opportunities they’re given to care for those patients will naturally lead to more employee satisfaction.
Here's a great way that these Schwartz Consulting practices tap into this employee satisfaction during the hiring process. “They record several team members sharing a few of their favorite things about working for the practice and then send those as a highlight reel to an applicant,” Kelly said. “Instead of the owner or hiring manager talking about how great the practice is, this method instantly showcases the practice culture in a direct and powerful way.”
Kelly also mentioned how important it is to schedule the first interview with someone at a time convenient for the person being interviewed. “You’d be surprised at how many practices I’ve worked with that don’t do this,” he shared. “If the applicant is currently working in a practice, getting away for an interview during business hours is difficult and awkward for them. We encourage practice owners to hold the first interview outside of work hours, so an applicant sees we value their time. This has had a positive impact on many of our practices’ ability to hire quality team members.”
Perhaps one of the most important takeaways that Kelly shared had to do with employee retention. With over three decades in the industry, he’s worked with thousands of practices and has seen many different approaches to retaining team members. A consistent pattern he’s noticed is that in those practices where the owner (who’s often also the doctor) has a trusting, nurturing relationship with his or her team, team members are much more likely to stay. He often asks owners who on their team is the easiest person to fire. After a pause Kelly will smile and say — “It’s you, doc. Whenever someone leaves you for another practice, you are being fired.” He then talks with them about the importance of giving each team member a sense of ownership in the practice, whether financially, by responsibility, or both.
A big part of why these 71 practices had such an amazing 2021 comes down to how each team member perceives their value. “If I have a ‘secret sauce,’” Kelly said, “It’s teaching owners and doctors how to make sure their team knows how much the doctor cares for each of them. This is leadership. Build systems and follow them. Show up for and participate in team huddles. Set goals and hold yourself and your team accountable for those goals.” With an average increase in production of over $300K, average case acceptance at 80%, and collections up 50%, the numbers tell the story. These teams have figured out how to work together, and that starts with the person at the top.
Now It’s Your Turn
With so much to consider here, perhaps you’re asking yourself this question – “Where do I start?”
Let’s break it down into the same two areas: Scheduling & treating the right patients; and recognizing and rewarding team members.
- Focus on the patients that most need and who are most likely to accept care. Dental Intelligence can help you find these patients in a few simple clicks.
- Follow up fast with patients that didn’t schedule their next visit before leaving your practice. Don’t wait weeks or months before reaching out. Dental Intelligence Follow Ups lets you automate this so unscheduled patients can’t fall through the cracks.
- Develop a system for how you and your team schedule, reappoint, and treat each patient. Don’t leave this to chance. Remember, systems and processes are your map.
- Involve your team in hiring new team members. Whether you have them record a video testimonial or some other method, they’re the best advertising for how your practice really works.
- Create a team of owners, whether through actual sharing of profits or a robust bonus system, and most importantly, by giving them a meaningful role in how you define patient care and practice growth.
- Get granular with your systems and processes. These are your practice religion. They will make or break your practice culture. Great systems = great place to work.
Can you do all of this, all at once? No! That’s not realistic. Start with one step, maybe two. Be consistent. Spend a few minutes each day reviewing how you are doing and celebrating any progress made, however “small” it might be. These exceptional practices didn’t get to where they are overnight, and neither will you. But over time, if you persist, you will absolutely reach new heights and enjoy sustainable success — absolutely!
If you’re ready to move forward, we’d love to help! Schedule your free practice demo today to learn how you can use the power of practice intelligence to build the practice of your dreams.
To learn more about Schwartz Practice Consulting or to request a complimentary practice consultation, visit them here.