When Laura Hatch, who was one of our most downloaded guest columnists ever, offered to give us another guest post, we didn’t hesitate for a minute. Her last guest spot in Prosperident’s newsletter was the most-clicked-on guest article ever. (If you want to check out that article you can find it here – https://www.prosperident.com/2016/06/23/guest-post-laura-hatch/).
Here is Laura’s newest article, which we are sure will be at least as popular:
Speed vs. Quality: 3 Reasons Why Being Productive is Not Your Only Concern
Dentists focus a lot on production. I hear these questions all the time: “How can I produce more in a certain period of time? How can I make my hygienists more productive?” Dentists are constantly asking, “What was our production today versus goal?” As owners or managers of a dental office, we are always looking for ways to become more efficient with the schedule, simply because more production typically equates to more collections.
It’s true that production (along with collections and new patients) needs to be monitored and achieved on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It’s important to keep those numbers up. But I do think that sometimes there is a significant downside to focusing too much on increasing production.
Here are 3 ways that too much focus on production can actually hurt your office.
- Choosing Production Over Quality
Many times when we are trying to produce more, quality can be jeopardized. If your staff is feeling pressured to hurry up and meet production goals, they will be tempted to cut corners in order to save time. When quality is jeopardized, mistakes happen. This leads to things like having to re-do dentistry that should have been done the right way, or patients that are unhappy because they have to come back to have dentistry fixed. We should always be looking to be more efficient—but not at the expense of quality. Your patients’ satisfaction, and your staff’s sense of integrity, are at stake.
- More Production = Faster Pace = Less Time Per Patient
The idea of producing more and producing faster is to get more things done in a certain period of time. What is missed, though, is making sure we are spending enough time with the patients in the chair. Patients don’t want to feel that they are just a number—they want to feel recognized and appreciated.
Chances are, there are plenty of dentists in your city for your patients to choose from. When you build a real relationship with patients, they will keep coming back and they will refer their friends and family. On the other hand, if patients feel that you are trying to rush them through the process and move them along to billing, then they are going to think twice about spending their hard-earned money at your dental office.
And since most people feel some level of anxiety about going to the dentist, it’s going to take great customer service to get them to keep scheduling. When your office is focused only on meeting productivity goals and not on relationships with patients, you are creating a tense environment that will only add to patient anxiety—and they won’t come back.
- Too Much Focus on Production Leads to Frustration
There is a real difference between a productive schedule, which realistically allows for time to complete the scheduled work, and a schedule that is packed so tightly that it’s impossible to complete work in the time allotted. When this happens, both patients and staff get frustrated. The worst thing an office manager can do is to create an impossibly tight schedule that guarantees the day will run behind.
We all know that every day in the dental office brings changes and interruptions. It’s not possible to have the schedule run perfectly on time every day. The way to accommodate this reality is to build in scheduling cushions that allow for the unexpected to happen while still making it possible to meeting production goals.
Running a dental office requires a balance. Too little attention to production means that collections goals won’t be met. But putting all of your attention on production will hurt the office in other ways that will be felt deeply by staff and patients. A happy medium, with an eye on production but plenty of attention to quality and relationships, is the best long-term strategy for any dental office.
Laura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her web site is www.FrontOfficeRocks.com , and her phone number is 800-914-3595.
See Laura’s video introduction to David Harris here — Laura Hatch video for David Harris Feb 2017