Two years ago, I set a goal for Prosperident of increasing the knowledge level of dentists and those who advise dentists about embezzlement.
Overall I think we have done a good job of increasing awareness. Prosperident’s other speakers and I have given hundreds of presentations and have logged thousands of travel miles. Our articles have appeared in every major dental publication in North America. Google search the word “Prosperident,” and you will see the extent of the information that we have put in front of the dental community.
And yet, occasionally, something happens that causes me to question our effectiveness at getting the word out. Last week I had two encounters with dentists that caused me to question our effectiveness at getting the word out.
First, I got a call from a dentist. As this dentist described his situation, it became clear that embezzlement was very likely happening, given the suspect’s behavior. We were retained and began our intake process. The dentist contacted us two days later to say that he was discontinuing the investigation, and the reason was that there was a labor shortage in the area of the practice. In other words, that it was better to keep an employee who was stealing from the dentist than trying to find another one. I couldn’t believe my ears.
A few days later, I got a call from another dentist. One of this dentist’s staff had taken the scrap gold in the office, sold it, and kept the proceeds. The question that this dentist was calling to ask me was whether the employee should be fired. While the amount involved was fairly small, the answer to this question seemed so obvious to me that I’m still having trouble believing that it had to be asked.
What concerned me about both of these incidents is the apparent willingness of the dentists involved to tolerate some level of dishonesty on the part of an employee.
Let me make this simple — there should be ZERO tolerance for dishonesty from your staff. Someone who will sell a few hundred dollars of your gold is obviously over the ethical hurdle that employees must cross before they steal, so it is only a matter of time before this evolves into a more direct (and monetarily significant) form of stealing. And the dentist who suddenly decided that a local labor shortage existed had obviously bought into the idea that the suspect is completely indispensable to the practice.
The costs of inaction can include severe financial damage. It also consigns the dentists to “long-term uncertainty” — wondering what these employees are up to will continue for as long as they continue to work in these practices.
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