End 2016 With a BANG!

10 Simple Ways for Your Practice to Close Out 2016 on a High-Note!

The end of the year can be stressful.

You want to get things done so that, when the holidays arrive, you can spend time to spend with family and friends. Your employees are taking time off for vacation and that dreaded tax season is right around the corner.

How do you manage get everything done and be able to enjoy the holidays as well?

The best way—lose that urge to procrastinate and get it done today!

As 2016 winds to a close in the coming weeks, we thought we’d put together a checklist of a few things for you and your practice to consider before 2017 takes over.

1. Help your patients avoid “snoozing and losing”

dental practice management

Every year, patients collectively leave millions of dollars on the table that could’ve been used for preventative care. You can become your patients’ biggest hero by delighting them with an unexpected end-of-year bonus.

The majority of your patients probably have no idea how much money they’ll leave on the table come December 31st.

But, you do.

Or, at least you can find out for your patients and alert them.

But, what’s the best way to do so?

Here are some ideas:

Pull a report of all patients with remaining insurance benefits

If you’re not sure how to do this, management software companies put out very simple step-by-step explanations. Here are a few:

Eaglesoft

Dentrix

Curve Dental

Alert this group—preferably via text or email—that they have unused benefits

Here’s what to include in your message to your patients with unused benefits:

  • Alert them that the end of the year is around the corner (create urgency)
  • Explain (simply) how their benefits work
  • Show concern for their health and wellbeing
  • Provide a link or phone number where they can learn more and schedule an appointment

Follow up every couple of weeks until the end of the year

Let the patient know you’re alerting her of this issue because you care about her and her family’s health and wellbeing. Explain the importance of regular check-ups and cleanings (perhaps with a supporting statistic).

For example, “did you know dental cleaning reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases?

In fact, one study has shown that people who get their teeth cleaned and scaled by a dentist have:

  • 13% less chance of stroke
  • 24% lower risk of heart attack

2. Plan for the end-of-year rush

dental practice management

Many parents schedule appointments for their college students while they’re home for the holidays—especially since children can remain on their parent’s plan until age 26.

Between these patients and those who you convince to schedule an appointment to use their yearly insurance benefits, you’ll likely be quite busy in December. Prepare for this rush by making sure you’re sufficiently staffed and don’t have employees leaving town the same days, leaving you understaffed.

3. Reactivate inactive patients

dental practice management

September through November can be some of the hardest months of the year for dentists. One of the best ways to survive and thrive around the end of the year is to focus on reactivating patients within your existing base.

For whatever reason, we focus on attracting new patients a lot more than we focus on tapping into the list of patients we already have but who have gone silent.

Why do we do this when it costs 7x more to acquire a new patient than to retain or reactivate an existing one?

Not only that, but check out these stats:

  • The average practice has a 60-70% chance of gaining treatment acceptance from an existing patient, but only a 20% chance of getting commitment from a new prospect.
  • The average practice loses 10-15% of its patients each year.
  • Lifetime value of a patient is about $2,000, with about $500 of revenue coming in the first year.
  • An average practice with 2,000 patients loses 200-300 patients/year, leading to a loss of $300,000-450,000 each year.

4. Hold end-of-year performance reviews

dental practice management

The effectiveness of end-of-year performance reviews is rather mixed, but most professionals still believe they serve an important purpose.

In fact, 3 out of every 4 companies still hold annual end-of-year reviews.

Of course, it’s even better if you can give your employees more consistent real-time feedback, but the end of the year can still be a great time to take a step back and look at the overall performance of each of your employees.

This is something that coincides with the next item on the to-do list: rewarding your employees. An employee’s bonus or raise should be attached to her production for the year. The last thing you want is for bonuses and raises to become expected despite poor performance. Review with the employee her performance and production over the past year when you make decisions about her bonus or raise.

5. Reward your employees

dental practice management

Regardless of whether you perform more regular performance reviews (you should), the end of the year is a great chance to take a step back and recognize the hard work of your dedicated employees.

The real question is, how should you reward your employees?

Should you give them a bonus or a raise?

Most dental consultants will tell you that yearly raises are not the best idea as they often become expected, rather than based on production.

With bonuses, on the other hand, you can tie them directly to production results and the profitability of the practice. In other words, if the practice grows throughout the year and becomes more profitable, the employee receives a bonus for her contribution. But, should employees receive a bonus if the practice doesn’t grow?

6. Make plans and set goals

dental practice management

Hopefully your year doesn’t go like this 1950s track athlete’s high jump. Nothing will make your practice fail faster than neglecting the measurement of your key metrics and KPIs—except not knowing what KPIs you should even be measuring in the first place.

As Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin said in a Harvard Business Review article, “There is a difference between numbers and numbers that matter.”

Bladt and Filbin explain further that “good metrics are consistent, cheap and quick to collect” and that’s the beauty of today’s software solutions—they’re making it increasingly easier and less costly to collect and measure data.

Here are 20 metrics that our good friend Gary Takacs and his team track.

7. Bring the fun

dental practice management fun

You can’t be all business, all the time.

The end of the year is a special time for most people. It’s also a great opportunity to make your employees remember why they love working for you.

Did you know, 88 percent of Millennial employees say they want a fun and social work environment—compared to just 60 percent of Baby Boomers?

8. Show gratitude for your employees and patients

dental practice gratitude

Is your team fully engaged in their work?

Perhaps we should ask a different question: have you shown appreciation lately for your employees and all they do?

Your answer to the second question will likely answer the first. After all, the top reason employees leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. Yet, 65% of employees said they received no recognition for good work last year.

Don’t be part of that 65% this year. Show your employees you appreciate their efforts!

9. Figure out your holiday schedule

dental practice schedule management

The holidays can make your schedule more complex.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you prepare:

  • Should you close early before a holiday?
  • Should you provide holiday pay?
  • Should you provide additional time off?
  • Should you throw a party for your office?

10. Take some time to kick back and relax

dental practice management

You’ve been working hard all year—don’t you think you deserve a little R&R?

We’re not saying you have to take a bubble bath (we’re not going to tell you how to live your life), but relaxation can help you rejuvenate and be well prepared and rested to start 2017 the right way.

There is plenty of science behind why you should take time to relax. One specific study was done by Ernst & Young. In the study, Ernst & Young found that for an additional 10 hours of vacation an employee took, her end-of-year performance review ratings improved by 8 percent.

Take advantage of the holidays by getting some much needed rest and come back refreshed in 2017.

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