I was with a dental team the other day and asked them how they know if they are winning. They said, “Based on the mood of the doctor! If the doctor is in a good mood, that means we must be doing pretty good. If the doctor is in a bad mood, that means we have to work harder!” Unfortunately, many teams are the same.
Defining how you win starts with how you choose to keep score. Can you imagine attending a sporting event where they did not keep score? It is not likely it would attract many spectators if the players just dribbled the ball up and down the court and no one kept score. Keeping score is a form of feedback.
How do you keep score in your dental practice? Most track production and collections. But that may just be the start. In baseball, for example, they track a host of stats like hits, strikeouts, runs batted in, home runs, etc. The final score may be the only thing publicized at the end of the game, but each team pores over the stats afterward to see how they might have played differently to win. All of those individual stats tell us volumes.
Similarly, there are numerous “stats” or scores that tell us how we are performing in the dental practice. Those stats provide feedback on a daily basis on how we are playing the game and the degree to which we are winning. You might consider the “final score” production and collections, but how we keep score in other areas can tell us even more.
Let’s take an example from hygiene. What would be a good way to keep score in hygiene to tell us if we are “winning?” Let’s start with defining winning in the first place. What percentage of the population has some form of periodontal disease? 70, 80%? Let’s say it is 80%. So if we were winning in hygiene, we would be treating disease 80% of the time, right?
To see what we are actually doing, we would compare the number of healthy mouth cleanings, or 1110’s compared to perio maintenance and perio treatment codes, 4910’s and 4341’s and greater. If we were winning the fight against disease and truly treating it, it would follow that a winning score would be 80% 4910’s and 4341 pluses and only 20% 1110’s. In other words, we would be treating disease 80% of the time and doing healthy mouth cleanings 20% of the time. That would be a winning score. Unfortunately, in many practices, that score is reversed. Eighty percent of the time, they are just cleaning teeth, not treating disease. But you would never know what is really going on unless you keep score. You have to have the feedback.
How about keeping score in the front office beyond production and collections? Score could be kept on the number of no-shows and cancellations, open appointment times, and continuing care visits scheduled. The key is that we tend to focus on the areas where we keep score or where we are getting the most feedback. One of my favorite statistics to track in the front office is the number of potential patient calls compared to the number of scheduled appointments. What would you consider to be a winning score in this area?
For years, we thought converting eighty percent of the potential new patient calls into scheduled appointments was a winning score. We tracked it daily. Everyone who scored eighty percent or higher was considered to have a winning score. And then one day everything changed.
As I was reviewing the monthly score boards from the many practices we work with at the Total Patient Service Institute, I paid specific attention the score in this area: calls to scheduled appointments. As expected, most of the scores were in the range of about seventy to eighty percent of calls to scheduled appointments.
Then I stumbled across a score board that said one hundred and thirty percent calls to scheduled appointments. As I looked more closely, I was convinced that the business assistant who had generated the report had made a mistake. She was new, so I gave her a call. I reviewed everything with her and told her that she might want to check her math because it was calls to scheduled appointments, not the other way around.
She immediately responded that it was right the way it was. So I asked, “How do you schedule more appointments than you have people who call to schedule an appointment?” “Well, let me explain it to you,” she said. “You see, I went to a really good seminar, taught by this very good-looking, very intelligent guy.” (She was getting way too much juice out of this!) “And one of the things that he just kept going over was the importance of asking. Questions are the answer. Ask, ask, ask! So, I did what he said. Every time a new patient scheduled, I just started asking, ‘Who else should we go ahead and schedule today while I have you on the phone?’ About one out of every three new patients will go ahead and schedule an additional family member if I just ask. One out of three. That’s how you get one hundred and thirty percent!” Duh!
That was the day that we changed the definition of a winning score in that area. Instead of eighty percent being the winning score, we upped it to one hundred and thirty percent. As a result, we have had two contests running ever sense. One is who can schedule the most number of new patients out of one phone call. The record to date is nine. The other is, who can get the highest calls to new patients scheduled ratio. The record, one hundred and sixty-eight percent.
Think about it. That is a double in what we used to consider a winning score. All because we were keeping score in the first place and stumbled across a simple idea that has the potential to double results.
So, how to you keep score? The way you keep score determines the specific things on which you and your team focus.
Keeping score goes back to a fundamental habit of successful teams and successful people. That habit revolves around four questions:
Question number one: Do you have goals?
Question number two: Are your goals written down?
Question number three: Do you review your goals every day?
Question number four: Do you carry your goals with you or do you physically see them every day?
If you answered all four questions with a “yes” you are part of the select few who tend to out-produce the rest combined. You see, winning is about defining the end result that you want and then keeping score along the way to measure your progress.
Do you have team goals? The same rules apply. If you want to win, you have to define what winning is and then keep score every step along the way to measure your progress.
To know if you are winning, do the following:
1. Define what winning is to you. How do you measure it?
2. Write it down. What are the specific areas you will measure, and what is the score you need to know that you and your team are winning?
3. Keep score on a time sensitive basis. Some scores need to be kept daily. Keep that score visible and updated just like they do in an athletic competition. When we can see the score in front of us at all times, it allows us to adjust our performance to achieve the goal.
4. Review the score on a regular basis. It might be daily, weekly, or monthly, but review and update your action plan to affect the score.
Keep score. It determines your focus. It is one of the characteristics of a winning team!
For more secrets on winning teams and keeping score, read the FREE ToPS Institute ebook entitled 4 Characteristics of a Winning Team, by Steven J. Anderson, packed with ideas, techniques and systems for dental team training. Download the free e-book. Supercharge your morning meetings with FREE daily Action Thoughts!