Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday is the new Monday

Don't panic, you didn't oversleep by 3 days.

It really is Friday.

However, the good Dr. G is increasing his smarts at a conference today and asked me to blog for him.

Haven't the guest blogs been great. Makes me want to return to dental school and move to Canada. OK, I'm kidding about the dental school part - just writing that made my eye start to twitch. The Canada part I'm serious about. It is really interesting how different dentistry can be on the other side of an imaginary line.

Well, as I sit here at home writing this blog it is 15 degrees outside and a dusting of snow is on the ground. The forecast for tomorrow at Noon CST is for 18 degrees. That matters not to you, I understand, but to me tomorrow's forecast is important because that is Plunge Day: the day I hurl myself into a public lake raising money for Special Olympics. I will have pictures on Monday's blog. In the meantime, here is the funniest polar plunge I have ever seen - it's like Punk'd on an international scale.

I love Fridays, have I mentioned that before. I'm off on Fridays and so is Susan, so when the kids are in school we get to spend lots of time together on Fridays. Of course, when I say I am "off" we business owners mean "not seeing scheduled patients" because I am almost always in the office on Friday. Paying bills, cleaning off my desk, organizing the office, seeing emergencies. You don't work less as a business owner, you just don't have someone telling you to work more. But the work never really ends.

You ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you spent the week having to be the boss? What I mean is, most weeks the office runs smooth, everybody does their job, patients come and go with happy smiles and no complaints. Then you hit weeks like this one. Staff needs some redirection (don't say that to a patient, don't change the schedule without asking me, etc.) and patients get confused about their bills and how insurance pays. Those weeks are exhausting.

I am what I consider to be a common-sense manager. I hire employees that have a good work ethic and common sense. If they run late one morning, I don't have to pull them into the office and explain the importance of being on time - they know and it doesn't happen again (remember I have 4 operatories in 1400 sq. ft. and 5 staff - we get to talk to each other a lot).

However, there are some things that employees do that fall into the category of "business owner common sense". Those are the things I have to address with them individually and quickly because they have no concept of why what they said or did is wrong.

For instance, apologizing to patients for the "crazy schedule" when the patient was seen on time and left on time - they never saw the running around behind the scenes ("pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, I am the great and powerful OZ"). Or wanting to change the schedule because they don't understand concepts like payroll costs versus production (i.e., I don't need 2 hygienists waiting around for a set of patients that can be seen by 1 hygienist).

It is at times such as these that I am glad that I can honestly say that I never ask my staff to do anything that I have not done. Sometimes they forget because they were not here in the beginning before I had a hygienist. I went 18 months doing my own perio. I had days where I saw 10 new patients or had 3 patients scheduled in 2 chairs over 70 minutes for 3 routine exam/cleanings and they were in and out on time.

It can be done.

It may not be fun and I may not want to do it every day, but it can be done.

People don't always realize that sometimes the most exhausting part of owning a small business is being the cheerleader: Motivating your staff to work smarter, to stay energetic, to make sure patient care comes first - all while presenting an air of calm. Employees may say TGIF - but so do business owners, albeit for different reasons.

have a great weekend,


1 comment:

Charles said...

ric - thank you for an insightful look at both "plunging" and behind the scenes of the dentist as small business owner. I shared it with the AGD staff as I really felt it captured what it feels like to be in your shoes.


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