Archive for the ‘Staffing’ Category

4 Ways Dentists Will Grow Their Practice in 2018

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

I have to imagine that most every practice has a 2018 goal of growth. Now it’s time to start implementing your plans so changes can take hold and start producing results. Goals are a means to keep everyone motivated and pushing for excellence. Investing in new technology can certainly provide advantages that make you stand out from the crowd, and get new patients coming in your door. Current patients will take notice too, and feel confident that they made the right choice entrusting you with their family’s dental care.

Let’s first talk about recall. Maybe it’s not your strong suit, but it needs to be! Seventy-five percent of your revenue comes in through your hygienists, and getting people scheduled is the first major hurdle to making that happen. There are many ways to improve what you are already doing to reach patients, but perhaps you would rather this particular problem would solve itself? Automated patient communications are the answer to the time-consuming and challenging task of reactivating dormant patients and reminding scheduled ones to come in. Using a customizable combination of phone calls, emails, and texts, front desk staff can better utilize their time interacting with patients and focus on patient experience.

Many offices gain or lose staff after the holidays. Either way, the start of a fresh year is a chance to review standard operating procedures, especially if they haven’t been updated in a while. SOPs provide guidance to each member of your team, so they always know what part of the workflow is whose responsibility. Better to lay out practice expectations at the beginning, so that your new, or re-assigned, team member fits into your practice like a puzzle piece from the start.

Faster and mXLDent.Blog.1.21.18 (002)ore accurate payment processing, clearer insurance benefit coverage, and electronic insurance payments (EFT) are a few focus areas for those looking to streamline payer and insurance services. To maximize these options, integration of the service is a must. XLDent’s integrated ERA solution not only auto-populates the payment amount during the posting process, but also the contractual adjustments from Electronic Remittance Advice.

One of the best things to do when there is a slow-down and the winter doldrums set in is to retrain or “tune up” your team. Webinars are a great way to kick this off, but on-site and live web training are important options to consider as well. They give you a more hands-on training that isn’t quite the same as watching a video. Whether it’s appointment reminder automation or staff education, this year, set out with your best foot forward for growth!

To connect with XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.comDawn

Dawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

A Smart Start to Practice Growth

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

As the owner of a practice starting out or a stagnant one trying to grow, you are faced with figuring out what impacts practice growth the most. When properly planned, three areas can help to maximize growth from day one.

  1. Systems

You’re likely not thinking about efficiency or productivity during your first days or weeks in business. With a handful of patients each day, you’re not faced with bottlenecks, communication gaps, or duplication of processes. Alas, you soon will be. Systems minimize gaps or overlaps in your daily processes. They are needed for productive workflows and profitability.

Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) early on. Doing so sets the stage for staff expectations, accountability measures, and helps you measure areas of success or needs for improvement. Early on, you are likely running your practice without a full team. You have an assistant also taking on the front desk role, because you’re simply not busy enough yet to hire a full-time admin team member. As you bring on new staff, a written set of SOPs will ensure each team member is prepared and knows their responsibilities. Systems should be created knowing they will evolve as your practice grows and staff roles change. XLDent provides each practice, whether just starting out or transitioning from another PMS, a core set of SOPs to start with. They are a fantastic starting point for those new to establishing systems, and are customized by each practice as needed.

  1. XLDent blog photo Mockup-12-19-16Reviews and Referrals

I doubt there’s a practice starting out today that doesn’t have an online presence from day one. From the day you open your doors, focus on creating a process for reviews and referrals. Nothing attracts new patients more than a healthy online rating and patients who aren’t afraid to tell others about their great experience. After a visit, ask your patient if they were happy with their experience and funnel them right over to do that 5-star review. Lighthouse 360 helps you automate this. Emails. are automatically sent post-visit, and good reviews are posted right to your website and social media pages.

  1.  Patient Experience

It’s no surprise that convenience and consumer experience are priorities when a new patient chooses a dentist. They are especially significant in gaining one who is loyal. Don’t discount the importance of electronic reminders, online access, and paperless forms, to a patient. A busy mom doesn’t want to be faced with a stack of forms to complete that you’re going to scan and shred anyway. Consider a system that embraces all aspects of a streamlined paperless system, so you’re not left with the task of finding disconnected solutions that leave you with clumsy systems.

To connect with someone from XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email

DawnDawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.


Careers with Purpose in the Beautiful Great Plains

Friday, April 29th, 2016

IHS_DEN_Blog_614x215_ScottsBluffNB_APR_NewDentistIf stress, traffic and high living expenses are getting you down, consider a career move to the Great Plains.

The Indian Health Service (IHS) offers dental health professionals extraordinary opportunities to provide comprehensive care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics and outreach programs throughout the Great Plains Area, which covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

The Great Plains Area Office in Aberdeen, SD, works in conjunction with its 19 Indian Health Service Units and Tribal-managed Service Units to provide health care to approximately 122,000 Native Americans in the four-state Area. Area service units include seven hospitals, eight health centers, and several smaller health stations and satellite clinics.

The dedicated providers at the IHS Division of Oral Health enjoy a work-life balance that offers ample time for recreational pursuits. Known for its awe-inspiring natural attractions and landmarks, the Great Plains Area boasts world-class fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing and more.

And the financial incentives can’t be beat. As an IHS clinician, you’re eligible to apply for up to $20,000 a year in loan repayment to fund your qualified health profession education loans.

You can choose from three distinct career paths — working in the civil service, in a Tribal/Urban Indian Program, or as an officer with the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps.

Applicants are subject to a pre-employment background check, including a fingerprint analysis, and must be US citizens. Male applicants must be registered for the selective service. Veterans and American Indians and Alaska Natives are encouraged to apply and receive hiring preference.

Applicants for civil service and USPHS Commissioned Corps positions must submit their materials through Tribal hire applicants must apply directly through the Tribe with whom they are seeking employment.

Professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling — explore a world of opportunities at or contact a recruiter and upload a resume here. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

The policy of IHS is to provide absolute preference to qualified Indian applicants and employees who are suitable for federal employment in filling vacancies in the IHS. IHS is an equal opportunity employer.

INDIAN HEALTH CAREERS — Opportunity. Adventure. Purpose.

Employee Recognition and Rewards Programs

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015


In our last blog, Summer is mentioned as the ideal time to begin your employee rewards program to keep the momentum going.  What are you doing so far to keep your top players?

As you get started, keep in mind that while it may be easy, a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition and appreciation is ineffective. People respond differently to different forms of appreciation. One employee will beam in the spotlight when he/she is recognized in a staff meeting, while another will shun the individual attention. There is no substitute for genuine displays of thanks and appreciation.  Of course, if you tell everyone that they are “the best,” your words eventually become hollow. So, keep it real. Keep it sincere.

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Invest in your team. When it comes to rewarding high performing employees, continuing education opportunities are a commonly preferred perk. What’s more, CE can benefit the entire practice. If employees are learning new skills that energize them, they will be eager to put them into practice – resulting in improved systems, better patient education, and increased treatment acceptance.

While you’re at it, don’t overlook the immediate and obvious benefits of catching employees at their best. On the spot rewards in the form of gift cards – $5 to a favorite coffee shop, $10 for a nearby lunch spot, or $20 for – can be ideal for recognizing excellence immediately. The program should be flexible, so that bigger rewards can be tailored toward the specific interests of the employee(s) recognized.

Ensuring that your employees feel appreciated and valued will ensure that the program achieves its intended purpose – motivation, recognition, and achievement of overall practice goals. 

Having a rewards program in place recognizes your top performance and reinforces the goals you are all working towards.  If you cannot afford the gift cards, appreciation is your best form of reward to keep your team headed in the right direction to a time when you will be able to afford it.



Employee Satisfaction Is Up, But Employees Are Out

Monday, June 15th, 2015

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According to the latest SHRM survey, overall, employees are reporting that they are much more content in their current jobs. “86 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their job in 2014” – an improvement of five percentage points over the year before.”

Although they are generally happier in their jobs, a recent survey reported 83% of the 1,200 employees surveyed are scanning the marketplace for new employment opportunities.

The obvious question is, what are you doing to keep your top players? After all, you have far more control over your employment rolls than many of you realize, starting with the least expensive and most effective employee retention tool in your toolbox: appreciation.

In general, dentists, like many employers, tend to think about thanking and recognizing their employees around the holidays.  The gifts, the parties, the bonuses are doled out. Everyone celebrates and then the doctor withdraws to the treatment rooms and the employees resume their respective positions around the office. Keep the momentum of good cheer and goodwill going throughout the year and it will pay huge dividends in retaining quality staff.

Summer is an excellent time to rev up your rewards program. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect opportunity to establish it. Keep in mind, a well-constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives.

Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals. Be sure to ask for input from the team and involve them in designing the program. You want to know what motivates them to excel. If they are instrumental in creating the program, they will appreciate the recognition all the more. Additionally, it’s important to establish a budget. This encourages creativity and underscores the fact that recognition need not be synonymous with bonuses or high-dollar gifts.


See more at: “How to Reward Your Dental Team,” a well-constructed rewards program with specific criteria and objectives.

Employee Background Checks

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Performing employee background checks is important for several reasons, including minimizing the potential exposure to lawsuits or other administrative claims initiated by unhappy patients over alleged inappropriate care, treatment, or billing issues. Employee background checks are also important for safeguarding your practice against internal theft. Finally, background checks can assist you in protecting the safety of your patients and staff.

As employers and owners of small businesses, dentists face possible claims for the negligent hiring of both associate dentists and support staff. Consequently, it is important to perform background checks in order to confirm an applicant’s qualifications and professional standing. The extent of the background check will depend on various factors, including the position for which the person is being considered. For example, when the decision is made to hire an associate dentist, it is important to ensure that the prospective associate is appropriately licensed. It is also important to determine whether the licensee is the subject of any present or past licensing action. Confirming your hygienists and/or assistants maintain the appropriate license or certification is equally important.

There are numerous methods of performing background checks, including obtaining credit reports, performing criminal background checks, obtaining education and driving records, checking public records and obtaining information regarding an individual’s past employment experiences. Obtaining proper consent for the performance of many of these checks is recommended and, in many instances, mandatory. Careful consideration must be given before performing background checks to ensure you do not run afoul of the laws that protect the privacy rights of prospective employees and protect individuals from unlawful discrimination.

Of course, a lawful background check cannot guarantee you will not have issues with your staff, but it can certainly help minimize the potential exposure and risk you face as an owner of a dental practice.


Screenshot 2015-04-16 10.33.11Andrew Paluda has specialized in the representation of dentists in malpractice and general business matters for over 20 years. He has a Martindale-Hubbell AV rating in recognition of his preeminent legal ability and high ethical standards. He frequently is called upon to give risk management seminars and was recently named a top lawyer by DBusiness Magazine.


To read this article in its entirety CLICK HERE


 Editor’s note: This does not constitute legal advice.  Please consult professional counsel for your individual situation.

Spreading Holiday Cheer …within the Budget

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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As the year winds down, I hope you and your staff are seeing a bit more “sparkle” on the practice profit margin and you can take time to celebrate the Holiday Season. After all, there’s nothing like a little “rockin’ around the Christmas tree” to build camaraderie. But how do you ensure that you spread the holiday cheer without having to hand over a chunk of cash? Follow a few guidelines to keep the party on pace and the budget in line.

Here are a few suggestions of my own for a holiday party success:

1. Involve employees in the planning. Making them part of the process helps to ensure that you can deliver a celebration they will enjoy.
2. Provide clear budget guidelines, and encourage the party planners to be creative. For example the location could be a museum, or perhaps an ice rink.
3. Fixed Menu – If you do choose to hold your party at a restaurant, select items in advance from a limited menu. Include a variety of appetizers, pasta, chicken and fish. While you don’t want to skimp on food, you can be selective.
4. Limit Libations – Keep in mind that toasting the success of the practice once or twice is great, but should be limited. An open bar is an open invitation to potential problems. 5. Holding the event during the day can also keep expenses down – If the event is held during the day, the guest list is expected to be employees only.
6. Use the holiday party as an opportunity to give to others as well – In the spirit of “it is better to give than receive,” encourage staff to bring non-perishable items to the party that will be donated to the local food pantry or collect unwrapped new toys for area toy drives.
7. Make it a point to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year by showing genuine appreciation to your team members. Perhaps write a note of thanks and read it to them before presenting it to each team member present.

If a holiday party is not in your budget this year, consider offering staff members flexible scheduling over the holidays. This is a potentially huge reward with little/no impact on the bottom line. It can be a relatively easy way to thank employees who, like most of us, struggle to keep their work and personal life in balance.

Keep in mind that while the holidays offer an opportunity to recognize hard work and thank employees for their commitment to the practice throughout the year, they should not to be the only time of year in which you acknowledge their efforts.

The Profitable Associate

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Can an associate generate a profit? The answer is in the size of your patient base. If you have a saturated practice with an abundance of patients, you can keep your associate busy and generate a 30-35% profit margin.

The first step after accurately measuring the size of your patient base is to perform a cost benefit analysis to determine the likelihood of profitability, as well as to gauge the non-monetary benefits such as improved quality of life, which may be equally important. The following steps will help you analyze the economic sense of hiring an associate, and will help you set realistic expectations about the return on investment you are likely to attain.

Step 1: Determine Production Goals

Step 2: Assign Direct Expenses to the Associate

Step 3: Apply the Formula and Get the Answer

Associate Profit Analysis Summary

Daily Collection – $950
(Assume 95% Collection/Production Ratio on Daily Production Goal of $1000)
# Days Worked Per Year X 196
Projected Annual Revenue $186,200

(Assume 34% Collections) Associate Compensation – $63,608
(6% Dental Supplies) Associate Payroll Taxes – $4,843
(8% Lab Expenses) Associate Lab Expense – $14,896
Associate Supplies – $11,172
Assistant Salary (inc P/R tax) – $21,620
Uniforms – $200
CDE Allowance + $1,100

Projected Annual Revenue: $186,200
Less TOTAL EXPENSES – $117,439
Associate Profit: $68,761

($68,761 PROFIT / $186,200 ANNUAL REVENUE)

Once you’ve assured yourself that the economics make sense for your associate, proper planning is key. Most importantly, if this associate is a candidate for your long term transition plans, make sure that you properly think about your exit strategy so that once you begin interviewing candidates, you clearly spell your vision for a successful relationship.

To read the original article in its entirety please visit: The Dentist’s Network Newsletter #100

Dr. Thomas L. Snyder, Director, Practice Transitions for The Snyder Group, a division of Henry Schein Professional Practice Transitions.

3 of 3 Steps to Establish Performance Expectations

Monday, June 30th, 2014

This is a continuation of my previous post on 3 Steps to Establish Performance Expectations.  As you have learned, the culprit of poor performance is typically due to lack of or weak performance measurement systems. To address this we first created effective Job Descriptions.  Then we looked at providing the tools and finally, it is time to measure results.

Step #3 – What Gets Measured Gets Done
Appraise employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that evaluates key areas such as:

    • The employee’s ability to follow instructions
    • Their willingness to help others and cooperate with others
    • The incidents of errors in their work
    • Their initiative, commitment, and innovation in carrying out their responsibilities and improving work flow
    • Their work ethic, attitude, and individual productivity

When you provide your team with clear direction they have the opportunity to do more than just perform a task. They can excel. Remember, the vast majority of employees want to deliver a quality work product. They want to feel they are part of a harmonious team that not only enjoys working together, but also is committed to succeeding together. They want to feel that they are rewarded based on their individual ability to achieve what is expected of them. And they want to know that they are heading down the right path to achieve individual and overall practice success.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at

2 of 3 Steps to Establish Performance Expectations

Monday, June 16th, 2014

This is a continuation of my previous post on 3 Steps to Establish Performance Expectations where it was mentioned the culprit of poor performance is typically due to lack of or weak performance measurement systems. Again, successfully measuring employee performance requires a clear and well defined strategy, the first step was to create effective Job Descriptions next we look at providing the tools for success.

Step #2 – Lay The Groundwork For Success

  • Provide the necessary equipment and tools to perform the job
  • Provide training to help team members carry out the job duties most effectively
  • Evaluate the number of staff to ensure it is adequate
  • Explain what is expected of the employee and how their performance will be measured

For example, if you are measuring the performance of your dental assistant, you should be able to see the distal of the cuspid on every bitewing X-ray, you should never have to reach for an instrument on any setup, and the molds the assistant pours should be free of defects. In addition, if you expect your assistant to achieve an 85% case acceptance, s/he needs to know this. If it’s your expectation that s/he give a daily report on post-treatment calls, s/he needs to be told. If you expect her/him to convert 75% of emergency patients to comprehensive exam patients, and that s/he is to keep the cost of dental supplies at no more than 5% of practice collections, make sure that direction is abundantly clear to the employee.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at