As I visit practices across the country, I am often asked to assess how well (or otherwise) the team is working. I spend a lot of time with Practice Managers on looking at roles, tasks and structure of the team.
I meet many Practice Managers whose heart is in the right place, but the nature of the way their role has evolved means that they are frequently being set up to fail. The right attitude and an ability to adapt to change are my top 2 skills and attributes required to be a successful Practice Manager and I would take these over previous experience within dentistry any day!
The Practice Manager role essentially falls into 4 broad areas of responsibility, in my view:
- Staff management
- Administration, systems & procedures, health & safety, regulatory requirements
- Sales and Marketing, including front desk and customer service
- Financial Command & Control: including Key Performance measurement and monitoring
This is a very broad and disparate set of skills, which very few people are naturally likely to excel in all 4, two at best.
In small practices with up to 2 clinicians, it is probably possible to have a practice manager who covers everything, but it will always be a compromise. Larger practices are unlikely to succeed with one person expected to cover all of these.
For example, in a practice I have recently worked with the PM had:
- a talent for sales
- was motivated by goals
- was enthusiastic to learn about the right marketing strategy for the practice
- was excellent with patients
- there were few systems in place,
- work was still to be done on CQC compliance
- sorting the nursing rotas stressed her out
- the financial management and reporting was always on the bottom of her” to do ” list.
So what did we put in place?
1. Practice Manager responsibilities became:
– managing Front Desk staff ( including time on reception herself)
– managing new enquiries and treatment plan uptake,
– developing and managing client experience (including systemising it and ensuring adherence)
– manage Lead Nurse
– manage (part time) Financial assistant
2. Create Lead Nurse role
– Interview and promote Internally
– take on rotas, surgery management, health & safety, management of nursing team, related systems & procedures
3. Hire part time Bookkeeper/Financial assistant to include
– auditing for regulatory procedures/CQC
– monthly KPI reporting including data capture, measurement
– overall coordination of practice systems & procedures and documentation.
This structure lead to :
– Practice Manager enjoying her contribution to the practice and reduced overwhelm
– increased conversion of new patient consultations
– more motivated team, as had clearer defined roles andsystems in place, who were regularly appraised and had seen promotion opportunities
– KPI information to analyse and manage the business for the first time
All this was achieved without increasing the practice staff costs!
If you would like some help developing your team, please call Ernie on 07990 568909