By ERNIE WRIGHT
Most of the practice managers I meet are terrific at handling the operational side of making a practice work on a daily basis. They make sure the place is compliant, that the receptionists book the patients into the right slots, stock the cupboards, have the kit working, arrange the nursing rota and make sure the principal has the coffee he likes. They sort a lot of “situations” and everyone relies on them, and often they get little thanks for their efforts.
However, very few of these folk (a significant number of whom used to be nurses themselves) have much in the way of marketing, sales or finance skills. As is clear to us all, the business of dentistry has changed and in order to grow your practice you need to have sufficient new patients and sufficient returning patients who are saying yes to comprehensive treatment plans, and you need to know what your key numbers look like daily, weekly and monthly.
Unfortunately, in many practices the manager and principal try between themselves to muddle through, watching the bank account online, putting a quick advert in the local paper now and again, tolerating a poorly functioning website (with inadequate traffic) and with little chance of the website visitors calling reception (and even if they do, your receptionists only have the skill to convert 20 per cent of them to a new patient consultation). I could go on!
If any of this sounds familiar, then you need to help your practice manager acquire some essential business skills so they can manage your marketing. You could also make sure your team has the right communication skills to properly offer your patients the choice of treatments they expect and have financial command and performance reporting for the business.
With some key business skills in place (relevant to dentistry, of course), you and your practice manager can sit down weekly and monthly to review your business’s performance and then make valid business decisions that will help you meet your objectives.
If this is missing for you, apart from being mightily stressed by all of the missed opportunities, you will struggle to sleep because of not knowing just how well or badly your business is actually doing. I think many practice managers would jump at the opportunity to increase their skills and knowledge – what a lovely thank you to them for the support they give you. I run a Business Managers’ Club with regular workshops focusing on a different business area, which gives practice managers practical hands-on skills that they can go back and implement in the practice immediately.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you develop your practice manager into a business manager, please call me for a chat.