My story is a bit different than most you read here. While most dentists have a problem with attracting enough new patients, mine was just the opposite. New patients were waiting up to half a year to get an appointment and I had to improve my efficiency so I could get them in sooner.
I completed my residency in 1992 and spent the next seven years as a military dentist. Three years ago, I opened up a pediatric dental practice in Zanesville, Ohio, a small city about fifty miles east of Columbus and a few miles west of where astronaut John Glenn grew up.
I have four full time staff and one part time. Production was running about $40,000 a month, and I felt that I had done everything I possibly could to get the practice to grow.
I started as a Sterling client two months ago. The biggest problem I wanted them to help me with was to eliminate my patient wait. Since I am the only pediatric dentist in the area, the demand for my services exceeded my ability to deliver. As a result, there was a five to six months wait for new patients and existing patients would have to wait one to two months between treatments. I was too busy to accommodate all of them and I knew that this situation wouldn’t last long before things started moving backwards.
Once I came out to Sterling and saw first hand the value of the program, I knew that my staff needed to learn the information as well. I thought that the most efficient way to address the situation would be if everybody learned the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Last month I had Sterling send a consultant out to the office. I shut down the office on Friday and had staff training that day and all day on Saturday and Sunday. We saw patients in the morning on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and spent the afternoons doing additional training. A lot of material was covered in a short period of time, but the components became clearer as we went along. After hours, the consultant and I would meet, sometimes till ten or eleven at night. These were some long days, but everybody got a tremendous amount of valuable information.
The primary areas that were addressed were communication and efficiency. The consultant helped put the communications system in place and get everything in the office documented. A lot of policies have been written which the staff like.
Doing this program got the staff more organized, with everybody on the same page and working in harmony. It established common goals and gave us the processes and tools needed to achieve those goals. Staff now know exactly what they should do rather than asking a lot of questions. There are also a lot less of the ‘That’s her job,’ ‘No, that’s her job’ arguments going on. Although it has only been a month since the consultant came out I can already see a big difference.
The bottom line is that with the office running smoothly, it frees me up to see more patients in a given day rather than spending as much time running all the details of the office. This not only helps the income but also means that patients who need my help won’t have to wait as long for service.
I’m very glad I did it.
Robert Malek, DDS