Is your dental office staff having trouble staying motivated? Have you seen performance decline across your team due to burnout or stress?

One way to energize your dental team is through a bonus program. Dental office bonus systems give your staff members a common goal to work toward and motivate them to work more productively. These programs can improve employee satisfaction, reduce turnover, and boost your dental practice’s profitability.

Read ahead to learn more about implementing an employee bonus plan in your dental practice.

Why Should Dental Offices Consider a Dental Bonus System?

Every business in the dental profession hits highs and lows in its profitability and productivity. The same is true for its staff members.

Employee production ebbs and flows over time, with highs and lows occurring during certain days, weeks, and months of the year. According to a study from Forbes, employee productivity is highest around 11:00 a.m. most days. Monday is the most productive day of the week, and employees complete the highest percentage of tasks in October.¹

However, your dental practice doesn’t need to suffer when employee motivation wanes. Instead, you can use a bonus program to motivate your dental employees during periods of low production.

Here is how a bonus system can benefit your dental practice:

Align goals: A bonus system can align your goals as the practice owner with the goals of your team members, allowing you to all work toward a common purpose.

Improve satisfaction and accomplishment: A bonus program can eliminate the monotony of everyday tasks and help team members feel more satisfied and accomplished in their work.

Bring meaning to daily tasks: A bonus system can give your employees a reason to work hard and go above and beyond, aside from simply helping out the business, which doesn’t always benefit them personally.

Reduce turnover: An incentive program can motivate employees to continue working at your practice, reducing staff turnover.

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How Do You Structure a Bonus Program?

You can structure your staff bonus program in a few different ways. However, we recommend ensuring that your program meets at least one of the following qualities:

Measurable and achievable: Your team members know what they must do to win the incentive

Attainable: The bonus goal is challenging yet definitely obtainable for at least a few employees

Short-term: The program is not so long that the end goal seems impossibly far away

Here are a few ways you can structure your program:

Monthly bonus: Rewards employees for meeting a monthly goal

Competition bonus: Rewards the first few employees to meet a specific goal

Spot bonus: Rewards certain employees on the spot for desirable behavior

Referral bonus: Rewards employees for referring job candidates who get hired

Profit-sharing bonus: Rewards all employees with a percentage of your practice’s profits

You can reward your employees for completing a wide range of tasks, such as bringing in new patients, providing excellent patient care, or working well with other staff members. You can also implement an individual or team bonus system depending on your office structure.

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3 Dental Bonus Ideas to Motivate Your Staff Members

Developing a reward system that motivates your employees and meets the above tenets is an important step in ensuring that it achieves your goals. As a result, you should spend ample time creating your incentive plan before rolling it out within your dental practice.

While team-wide incentive programs can sometimes be effective, you may find more success by focusing specific programs on particular departments. For example, you can create an incentive program for your treatment coordinators, office managers, and dental hygienists.

Example 1: Dental Treatment Coordinator Bonus

Dental treatment coordinators play a major role in patient satisfaction, customer service, and profitability within your dental practice. One way to recognize and motivate these dental staff is through a curated incentive program.

You can structure your treatment coordinator reward program as a team-based or individualized bonus program. However, we recommend detailing individual goals your coordinators can meet to win the rewards.

For example, you can motivate treatment coordinators to:

  • Schedule a certain number of cleanings with previous patients who are not on the schedule yet
  • Schedule a certain number of new patient appointments
  • Close a certain number of patient cases each month

You can make the program more exciting for your treatment coordinators by creating a poster in the break room where you track each staff member’s performance. Then, you can reward the first three or five team members who meet the production goals you have set.

Alternatively, you can implement an ongoing bonus system that resets monthly or quarterly. For example, you can reward the top-performing treatment coordinator each month.

Example 2: Dental Office Manager Bonus

Your dental office manager contributes significantly to your profitability, turnover, and organization. Incentivizing the staff member in this role can improve their production and enhance the satisfaction of the administrative staff they oversee.

However, creating a bonus plan specifically for your one manager may feel like you are singling them out and pressuring them. Instead, you can involve your manager in incentive programs in a few different ways.

For example, you can invite the manager to participate in incentive programs alongside the treatment coordinators. If the manager is also responsible for patient scheduling, you can include them in any goal-based programs for scheduling new appointments and bringing in potential patients.

Alternatively, you can place the manager in charge of the bonus program for treatment coordinators and offer them a percentage of the reward. Doing so will help the manager feel included while incentivizing them to motivate the treatment coordinators.

Example 3: Dental Hygienist Bonus Structure

Finally, creating a bonus program for your dental hygienists can motivate them to improve the patient experience, enhancing retention.

These dental professionals typically are not responsible for bringing in new patients. However, many dental offices structure their scheduling so that hygienists are the ones scheduling future appointments with patients at the end of each appointment.

You can incentivize your dental assistant or hygienist team to increase the number of repeat appointments they schedule. Alternatively, you can encourage them to minimize the number of patients who walk away without a follow-up or cleaning appointment in the schedule.

You can also create a program to incentivize hygienists to promote cosmetic dentistry services. For example, you can reward the hygienists who schedule the most cosmetic appointments each month.

How Are Dental Office Bonuses Calculated?

Implementing a measurable bonus program is essential to motivate employees to participate in the program. Your staff should know the specific production goal or bonus goal they must meet to earn the reward. They should also know how much they can gain by completing the bonus program.

As a result, before rolling out the bonus system, you should spend time determining the bonus amount you will offer. Here are a few bonus calculation methods you can use:

  • Offer a percentage of the net income for the year, then divide that amount by the number of employees
  • Offer a bonus that is a percentage of the winning employee’s salary, such as 3%
  • Designate a specific monetary amount for the winner, such as $500

If you decide to distribute a percentage of the profits between each employee, you can use the following formula:²

(Total net profits ($500,000) x Percent to distribute (3%) ) / Number of employees (20) = $750 per person

Alternatively, if you decide to offer a percentage of the employee’s salary as the bonus amount, you can use a calculation like this one:

Employee salary ($75,000) x 3% = $2,225

You can consider the different ways to calculate the bonus and determine the best method for your specific dentist’s practice.


How Can I Get More Money in a Dental Office?

If you’re looking to boost profitability in your dental office, you can implement several strategies. Here are a few of the most effective ways to immediately increase cash flow:

What Is a Good Collection Rate for a Dental Office?

If you’re struggling with profitability, collections could be the culprit. Every dental practice loses at least a little money each year to unpaid billing. However, if your collection rate is too low, you could be throwing away more money than you should be.

You should aim to keep your collections close to 96%.³ Ideally, this percentage should be on the higher end, nearing 98% and above. However, if it falls below 91%, you have a problem on your hands.

Examining your collections rate is the first step in ensuring that this rate is in the peak range to maintain high profitability.

Implementing a dental office bonus system can benefit your practice in many ways. It can reward good employees, improve potential patient conversions, enhance equity, boost production, and more. However, structuring your bonus system effectively is essential to obtaining these benefits.


  1. When Do People Actually Get Work Done?
  2. Dental Staff Bonus Programs: Review of 4 Incentive Plan Models
  3. Net Collection Rate in Medical Billing: Understanding Your Practice’s Most Important Metric