Five P’s for a Better Future

November 12, 2020 North Shetter DDS

In times of disruption, small changes can have a large impact. Follow the 5 P’s and see where Proper Planning to Prevent Poor Performance leads you.

Those of you who experienced the joys of boot camp may remember the 5P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Since we are all stuck waiting to get back to the office, now is a great time to work on plans for a preferred future.

Although we will be opening in a disrupted world and the market we left has been transformed by forces outside our control, good business principles and practices remain valid. Here are some key performance indicators adapted from Roger Levin’s 2019 article about the KPI’s every dentist should know.

Production, Collections and Profit

Review your production, collections and profit for the last 12 months. Levin points out that the trend on each of these items should be up. Sounds simple but it is not. Dig in and analyze deeper. Start with monthly figures and look for trends, then weekly and daily. What are your most productive procedures, days, time of days? When was your last fee increase? Analyze your outstanding accounts. You should be collecting 98% with only a small percentage over 60 days outstanding. How much are you writing off due to insurance mandates? How profitable are you? Have you set any goals? Understand that any item in your practice that is not true overhead is profit. Now you are ready to start working “on” your business.

What percentage of your active patients is currently scheduled? Nobody should every leave your office without another appointment. Your goal should be 98% of active patients are scheduled for some form of care. What is your case acceptance rate? Are you tracking patients with planned treatment that is not scheduled? What is your average production per patient? What is your average production per new patient? It should be at least two times greater than existing patients. What is your hygiene cancellation rate? If you are not happy with what you are learning, now is the time to be planning for better outcomes.


Now is the time to carefully assess every item included in your overhead. If you have a practice generating a million dollars, a 2% decrease in overhead is $20,000 directly to profit. Levin Group tells us that general dental practices should have overhead at 59%. Very few practices meet that goal. It is very likely that new mandates from the government will be coming for PPE and testing. Now is the time to get lean and mean in this area.


Are you tracking your monthly new patient growth and your patient attrition? With all the media attention to aerosol spreading of Covid-19, it is likely there will be resistance to treatment and dentistry in general. Knowing your current situation is important. It is imperative that you use every means available to help your current and new clients understand that you are concerned for their health and safety as well as to emphasize that deferring treatment will only lead to future more difficult and expensive problems.

Staff Costs

The elephant in the room…staff costs in a general dental practice should be 25% of collected production. Your team members are the most expensive and most important part of your business. You may want to share your homework with your team – or even involve your team in the exercises above.

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About Author

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North Shetter DDS

Dr Shetter attended the University of Detroit Mercy where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1972. He then entered the U. S. Army and provided dental care at Ft Bragg, NC for the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. In late 1975 he and his wife Jan moved to Menominee, MI and began private practice. He now is the senior doctor in a three doctor small group practice. Dr. Shetter has studied extensively at the Pankey Institute, been co-director of a Seattle Study Club branch in Green Bay WI where he has been a mentor to several dental offices. He has been a speaker for the Seattle Study Club. He has postgraduate training in orthodontics, implant restorative procedures, sedation and sleep disordered breathing. His practice is focused on fee for service, outcomes based dentistry. Marina Cove Consulting LLC is his effort to help other dentists discover emotional and economic success and deliver the highest standard of care they are capable of.




Bringing Your Efficiency

January 9, 2020 Drs. Christina & Bill Blatchford

Being efficient with your time increases profitability. 

Life is busy and everyone is trying to find a better balance between work and time off. If you could produce the same amount of dentistry in three days as you did in four, how would your team react?

Efficiency is a mindset and can become part of your practice culture. Producing more in less time does not mean running around like chickens or being hasty with patients. We can learn the art of using time better for our patients. Focusing on the conversation rather then multi-tasking is one example. Being prepared is the Boy Scout motto and fits perfectly here. Most patients would prefer fewer visits to your office.

Being prepared for any possibility allows your team to feel confident.

Having enough tray set-ups for any opportunity that presents itself is a start towards efficiency. Having a team completely cross-trained allows the team members to shine by being prepared and results in greater efficiency.

More time is created when the practice culture is to offer a complete exam on patientsWhen there is a comprehensive plan, this moves a practice beyond patching and emergency care. There is a reason why patients come to you, and most want to know you have a plan for themAlong with this, at the end of every appointment, team members need to ask the doctor, “Is there anything else we can do at the next appointment?” It is a signal to thdoctor to maximize every appointment. 

Combining treatments can be a measure of efficiency.

Always combine crown prep and endo, or any other treatment. If there are fillings and a crown, do the fillings first as you will complete the crown prep in the allotted time. This works well with CAD/CAM as there is downtime available during milling and baking time.

In Hygiene, collect the fee at the time of service. “Yikes,” say the hygienists, “We’ve never done that before.” Patients love it, and once the hygienists do it, they like the connection, too. This eliminates the line at the front desk and allows more concentration on phone conversations.

Follow Nordstrom and Apple examples. Clinically, encourage hygienists to do full mouth debridement at one appointment.  It saves the patient time, and the result is a healthier mouth.

Become completely paperless.

Operating two systems is a waste of time.  New patient forms are on your websites, and all patient records are digital. To be paperless, just start one day at a time, and don’t waste time putting people in digital who have not been in yet.

Efficiency starts over the phone by asking questions to eliminate the 30-minute “look-see” emergency appointment. With the patient records on your computer, ask, Is this broken tooth one the doctor had already recommended for a crown?” From the records, ask if there are any other previously diagnosed teeth in the same quadrant needing treatmentAsk, “Would you like to have all three of these taken care of at the same time? I can make arrangements for that.”

The team is accountable for an efficient schedule.

Phone training is a big part of making days efficient and profitable. You can save a lot of time for the doctor and patient, practicing phone scripts for different scenarios that occur in your office on a regular basis.

Timing your procedures is a great way to evaluate your efficiency. We can learn great lessons from efficient assistants. We call this Ruth’s Rule as a tribute to one of those fine assistantsUse one bur or instrument, do what you need to do, and then move on. That bur does not appear again for that patient.

Efficient scheduling in blocks has a profound effect on efficiency and profit. 

For example, booking alike procedures at the same time eliminates the team having to shift gears both mentally and physically. Blocks of two hours with a production goal forces the team to focus on better scheduling.

For example, if your goal for each two-hour block is $3kdon’t schedule “look-see” appointments during this time. When you produce $6k in the morning, you are on track to efficiency and more time away from the office to rejuvenate.

Drs. Blatchford are America’s leading dental business coaches. Their book, Bringing Your ‘A’ Game 2.0 is now available at (888) 977-4600. Blatchford Coaching results in less patient contact days, greater net, more focus on what is important to you.  

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About Author

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Drs. Christina & Bill Blatchford

Dr. Christina Blatchford is a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, School of Dentistry and has her doctorate degree in medical dentistry. She practices family and general dentistry in Milwaukee, OR. With her father, Dr. Bill Blatchford, she is Co-CEO of Blatchford Solutions, coaching a maximum of 50 dentists each year to reach their goals. Bill has written two books: Playing You ‘A’ Game – Inspirational Coaching to Profitability and Blatchford Blueprints: The Art of Creating Dental Practice Success. He also writes a monthly column for Dental Economics, “Flourishing in Changing Times.” You may call 888-977-4600 to receive a free copy of their latest book, Seven Principles of Highly Profitable Dentists.