Purtzki Johansen + Associates

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A good office manager is critical for practice success

Your appointment schedule is full, hygiene is booked a month ahead, and patients have to wait weeks to see you even for minor treatment. Your staff is hustling to keep up with the pace, which often shrinks the lunch hour to a ten-minute break. For you, the busyness of the clinic is the barometer of practice success, yet the bank account reflects a different story: stalled revenues and rising expenses.

One solution for some dentists has been to hire an office manager. Yet many poorly-run dental clinics today employ such a person. Their job usually consists of running the day-to-day operations, dealing with routine staff issues, and performing bookkeeping tasks. In some practices, this is no more than a glorified Girl Friday position.

What a missed opportunity!

Very few office managers are given formal training in practice management, especially in the critical areas of leadership skills, managing the bottom line to ensure profitability, and monitoring the overall health of the practice while maintaining a happy, motivated team.

Through team appreciation functions, team planning meetings, or just a High Five for a job well done, the office manager’s role is to demonstrate to staff they are not just a salary expense but the key to practice success.  At the same time, the manager has to be an effective problem-solver, managing staff and resolving conflict on a daily basis.

Does your practice have a customized office manual to assist your office manager with these tasks? The manual should include job descriptions with job-specific expectations to facilitate performance-based staff evaluations and salary reviews. To ensure the all-important financial health of the practice, the job description for an office manager would also include:

  • reaching set goals for patient scheduling on a daily basis
  • monitoring patient retention, treatment presentation and acceptance
  • implementing verbal skills training for doctors and staff
  • promoting the dental practice through effective social media and marketing programs
  • analyzing monthly profit and loss statements and comparison to budgeted revenues and expenses
  • managing practice overhead, in particular staff costs and supplies
  • setting up efficient clinical and administrative systems.

As competition grows and patients visit their dentists less frequently, many dentists have restructured their practices to become leaner and more productive. Yet too many are still on the sidelines trying to figure out the options. The solution is straightforward: you have to invest in your top people—the office manager, or a senior team member—so they learn the business of dentistry and become effective leaders in your practice.

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