Running a dental practice is, for the most part, a fixed cost business—meaning that about 80% to 85 % of the operating expenses you have are going to be about the same month after month. That means that impacting revenue and improving dental office production above your break-even point is incredibly important when it comes to practice growth, because a lot of that increase goes right to your bottom line.
At the same time, as dentists, you have nothing more valuable than your integrity, so increasing revenue can’t just be a matter of deciding to do more dentistry than what you see is necessary. The fact is, however, that patients will always need dental care, and legitimate opportunities for growth exist in every dental practice.
Five "Dials” to Improve Dental Office Production
When it comes right down to it, there are only a few “dials” you can turn to influence production. There are some I won't get into here, such as increasing new patient flow or optimizing hygiene production, although those can also have a tremendous impact. Let's look at five primary factors that improve dental office production among the patients you see every day:
This is the easiest way to see an immediate boost to the bottom line. Are your fees in line with your abilities, the level of care you provide, and current rates in your area? Doing a periodic fee analysis should be a regular part of your responsibilities as a business owner.
2. Case Acceptance
You can't bill until you provide the care, and you can't provide the care until the patient says yes—so getting good with case presentation techniques and driving case acceptance rates up is a critical component in increasing dental office production. Spear has plenty of online courses to help you with this. And of course, there are always lots of other opportunities to improve the level of care you provide, which leads us to my next factor.
3. Educational Advancement
Sometimes it is about efficiency: doing more in less time, which obviously drives up production. Sometimes it's about simple awareness. Advanced education makes you see things in new ways, and the more you see, the more you do. It is a variation of what psychologists call “red car syndrome”—you buy a new red car and suddenly you notice red cars everywhere. It's the same when you learn a new procedure or technique; you immediately start to see how you can apply it. And that takes us to my next point...
4. Case Value
It can't be about doing more of the same thing. Working smarter, not harder means doing more high-value cases that maximize the value of your time. Ask yourself: Am I practicing to the highest level—to the boundaries of my license and capabilities? By learning new procedures to add to your repertoire—aligners, implants, endo— your revenue can grow by leaps and bounds.
5. Effective Scheduling
Once you have reached a place where you are seeing more success with your case acceptance and case values, the question then becomes: how do I get my cases done in the most efficient, timely, and productive way? In other words, are you scheduling in a way that gives you the right mix of cases to give you and your team the right flow of patients each day to meet your production needs and the needs of your patients? Instead of going through cycles—a $4000 day followed by a $2000 day—how about consistently doing $500 a day more, every day? As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, your overhead is largely fixed, so most of that would be a bottom-line increase.
It’s a simple matter of “programming success” by ensuring you always reserve the right time in the schedule for the right cases. This is one of the simplest and yet most effective things you can do to not only increase revenue but also to provide timely care to patients who need significant treatment.
These are some of the top ways to turn the "dials” to improve dental office production. As you have seen, there aren't that many dials to manipulate, yet the results from adjusting them can yield remarkable results.
Imtiaz Manji is the co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Spear Education.