Resolving Negativity in the Office

Some time ago, I read this article in the Wall Street Journal – which discussed dealing with feuding employees. There is good information in this article on feuding employees, and anyone having staff-conflict issues should check it out. Since dealing with staff bickering and personality conflicts can be a major source of stress in an office, knowing how to deal with it can be extremely useful.

As the Wall Street Journal article points out, when you let employee situations linger too long, bad things happen, and you can end up losing not only the problem employee but other good employees as well. So, when you encounter two or more employees feuding, our recommendation for you is to find out as quickly as possible who seems to be instigating the problem, as well as determine which of the two employees is the most productive, and to quickly nip it in the bud.

Normally, when a feud is going on, other staff members have either been involved or have observed it in one form or another. It usually bothers them as well, even if they are not directly involved. What we recommended to practice owners is to interview these peripheral staff and get a more neutral opinion of what’s going on and who is really causing the problem. Also, interview the staff involved and get their respective sides of the story. From this you should be able to find out who the real problem employee is.

ACT FAST! The longer you let something like this linger, the greater the odds that you will lose not only the problem employee, but the good employee and possibly other staff members who are sick of being involved in that type of work environment. If you act swiftly on such matters, you will keep your employees happy.

There’s another very important point: the longer this kind of thing is allowed to continue in your office, the more likely it is that other staff members will start to feel that their workplace is not safe. They will also feel that the owner is not in control of the office and that they may want to find a better environment to work in. You could end up losing a really good employee because you didn’t confront the problem and act swiftly and appropriately.

Having the right office policy and job descriptions in place to govern acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace will give you an important foundation to stand on when handling this kind of situation. Lack of such policy can make the workplace less than harmonious. And don’t forget to document, document, document the non-optimum issues in writing and what was done to handle the people involved. Without documentation, you can open yourself up to potential legal issues.

The “staff infection” is a term that I came up with long ago to discuss the effects that a negative employee can have on a team and how fast it can spread. Similar to how the “Staphylococcus Infection” is dangerous to the body.

The “staff infection” starts in various ways, such as with a staff member that often rolls his or her eyes at staff meetings. This staff member engages in rumormongering and can be counted on to “stir the pot” in the office. This can be the idle staff member or the person who always seems to be busy but gets nothing done. You get the idea. This is the employee that you are “just not sure about.”

What would you think of a doctor that did not practice good sepsis control and permitted Staphylococcus germs to fester in or on his or her equipment? It simply does not make sense, does it? Nobody would do that. Preventing any sort of infection in a patient is more than second nature to any doctor. What would your opinion be of a doctor that was aware that his or her patient had an obvious staph infection but did nothing about it? Enough said.

How do you handle the “Staff Infection”? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to read the rest of this article (Highly Recommended).










Looking Toward the Future: 10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice

In the course of your career, you might decide to sell your practice. There are ten important aspects of your practice that you should consider NOW, so that when the time arrives, you will have developed a truly marketable practice.

1. MAINTAIN STRONG REFERRAL SOURCES

Professional respect has value. Do you have good relationships with other professionals in your community? You should. If so, are those relationships so strong that you can transfer them to a new owner?

For example, if you have several professionals who continually refer patients/clients to you, you would want to ensure that those referral sources will continue to send patients/clients to the new owner. Otherwise, the buyer might want to discount the practice price by the amount that would be lost from not getting referrals from just those few sources.

Most professionals will continue to refer to the practice after your departure, as long as they are assured that those clients/patients they refer will receive the same good care that you currently provide them. It is also important for your referral sources to know that the new owner will reciprocate with referrals to them (assuming that is the type of relationship you currently have).

Keeping up with and then transferring these relationships will help your patients/clients too. That maintains continuity and quality of care for them, which will help them to always think well of you.

2. MAINTAIN FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT

Everyone is inclined to pay more for something if it looks attractive. The same principle applies to buying a practice. If your facilities are pleasing to the eye, you might be able to command a higher price. While a clean carpet is only just that, it might demonstrate to the buyer that every aspect of your facility and practice is probably well maintained.

Well-maintained, state-of-the-art equipment also speaks well of you. It says that you have a growing practice that is keeping in step with technology.

3. INCREASE YOUR GROSS SALES

The best indicator of the value of a practice is its cash flow. Your successor will want assurance that he is acquiring a reliable income stream. Now is the time to concentrate on reactivation of old patients/clients, increasing your marketing budget to attract new patients/clients, setting goals for the staff and moving the practice toward maximum productivity.

4. IMPROVE YOUR BOOKKEEPING RECORDS

Part of selling a practice requires that you develop and present an accurate picture of what you have accomplished. You will want to be able to disclose good financial figures. Plan to have at least five years’ worth of good financials because the buyer wants predictability. Have an outside professional prepare “compiled statements.” That adds credibility. The practice buyer will find that well-maintained, accurate accounting records help with forward planning. Additionally, good records can even help you explain a slump period.

5. DEVELOP A TRANSITION PLAN

Very few practice owners supply the buying owner with a transition plan. If you were to do that, you will be far ahead of other owners who want to sell their practices. You should develop a plan because it not only can increase the worth of your practice, it can make life easier for everyone. Put the transition plan in writing, then review and outline all the systems and how they work. The marketing plan, referral sources, management policies and accounting systems should all be put down in narrative form.

Indicate a time frame in which the practice will be transferred to the new owner. That will give him an idea of how long he will have to learn the ropes. Don’t expect to make the deal and run with the money. An adequate time frame to transfer a practice in which you will be working side-by-side with the new owner, will range from 30 to 120 days, depending on the size and complexity of the practice.

Part of an effective, valuable transition plan can involve a good loan package. It shows that you have put together a transition plan that is easily understood by a third party. It indicates that you have a good relationship with the bank. That can enhance the value of your practice, since the banker knows that the systems will remain in place and generate cash flow to repay any loans.

Fill out the form to the right to continue reading “10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice – Part II”(highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to continue reading this article 10 Steps You Must Do Before Selling Your Practice – Part II (highly recommended).








Did You Hire the Wrong Person?

A recent survey conducted with practice owners across the US revealed that the number-one management problem they have is personnel issues. Among the problems mentioned by hundreds of owners surveyed were:

  • Procuring qualified personnel,
  • Getting employees to perform competently once hired,
  • An inability to hold staff members accountable for their work,
  • Turnover and handling disputes among employees.

Correctly isolating and debugging non-optimum practice situations is a skill that every doctor finds he needs. Oftentimes, a manager who is seeking solutions overlooks some administrative fundamentals which, left undetected, cause a problem to appear larger or more complex than it really is. Moreover, failing to discover the real source of a problem leads to poor decision-making. In the case of managing employees, this type of failure is not only frustrating, it’s expensive.

The real work begins after the hiring process ends, for each employee must be well trained for his/her position in the practice. Lacking thorough training, an employee will not perform to the expected standard. That will inevitably lead to either the employee quitting or the doctor firing him/her.

There is an exact technology for finding and hiring good staff members. Assuming the hiring techniques are sound, the most devastating managerial mistakes are made during the training period. During that time, an unskilled manager might make assumptions that lead to incorrect reasons for poor performance, and those conclusions, in turn, lead to bad decisions regarding personnel. All too often, a suitable person who is both willing and trainable fails to receive the information needed to do the job. As a result, turnover occurs and doctors and office managers spend their time dealing with personnel problems rather than treating or servicing patients.

Written job descriptions are a must for each position in a practice. More importantly, those descriptions need to include fundamental data that are often omitted because the manager assumes that the employee already knows what is needed from him. Common sense, or common knowledge, to one person may not be so to another. Verbal instructions are much less effective than thoroughly written job manuals.

Every job description in an office should include the seven following sections:

  1. The responsibilities that the person holding the job position has to the patients,
  2. A general description of the position, which includes its purpose,
  3. A statistic that quantifies, and thus objectively measures, the production of the position,
  4. A list of specific duties that one in the position is expected to perform,

What are the final three sections that a job description should contain and the four things to examine when employee problems arise? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to read the rest of this article (Highly Recommended).












A Functioning Office Manager

Your Key to Success

The primary function of the office manager is to accomplish the goals and purposes of the practice as determined by the owner of the practice. The OM should assist the owner in developing policies that forward the purpose of the business as a whole. It is the OM’s job to see to it that all members of the group are fully contributing to the expansion of the practice, and that a high level of communication exists between the group and the owner.

The OM should run the day to day activities of the office and keep the daily distractions off of the owner/doctor’s plate. This would be accomplished by ensuring that the OM, first of all, was trained in the handling of staff and felt comfortable with the hiring, training and correction of all staff members.

The OM should be a person who understands the importance of communication and the power that open communication can generate within any group. The OM should energetically lead the group toward accomplishment of the established goals. The OM should be someone with good communication abilities and someone who can really care for the staff.

The OM would ensure that all internal communication systems are strongly in place and operational, and that the staff is taking responsibility for keeping all unnecessary “traffic” from and within their own posts to a minimum.

To affect the above, the OM should have a strong working understanding of the management tools such as statistical management, the establishment of a communication system that really works for the office, written communications, job descriptions for each position, written policies for the practice, and personnel management.

The OM is in charge of seeing to it that all areas in the practice are running smoothly and producing the desired products of each respective area. This would require her/him to have an understanding of organizational structure and function. They would ensure that all functions in the organization were being firmly held by someone and that they were trained in the skilled handling of their assigned posts.

The OM should have a very strong working knowledge of statistics and their use in strengthening the practice. The OM would be in charge of posting statistics and going over those statistics with the staff in the staff meeting to determine the appropriate steps to take in order to improve, maintain, or increase practice production statistics.

It is the OM’s responsibility to obtain compliance from all staff in regard to the owner/doctor’s wishes and any program or project steps that are being worked on.

The OM would be responsible for the hiring and firing of personnel and for conducting performance evaluations on a regular basis with all staff.

The OM is responsible for the preparing and implementation of programs that would take the group through the needed steps toward the accomplishment of company plans.

Fill out the form to read the rest of this article which includes: 5 key objectives of an OM, the results the OM must obtain for the practice and how to select an OM (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to read the rest of this article which includes: 5 key objectives of an OM, the results the OM must obtain for the practice and how to select an OM (highly recommended).










Recruiting New Employees

Who, what, when, where and how:

It is a 100% certainty that with any practice you will need new employees at some point in time, either to replace employees who leave or to help the practice grow. Where do you find the type of people you want to work with, people that you can trust and who will want to see your practice succeed?

Posting on the Internet and in the Newspaper:

The most obvious resources to use in recruiting new personnel are the internet and the newspaper. Before we discuss the ad itself, let’s take a look at some basics. The best place to place your want ad is going to be online. There are several websites that you can use to find a qualified employee, such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, Glassdoor.com, and Craigslist.com.

Never lower your standards when looking for a staff member. Keep your standards high and remember that you not only want a top quality person, but you deserve that person! Your practice growth depends upon people who are bright, energetic, sensitive, intelligent and outgoing. Be willing to compete for that type of person.

Also, realize that the type of person you are looking for may not be actively looking for new jobs. Some of the most qualified individuals already have jobs, but they may be looking for a change. These individuals may seem like “cold prospects,” but they actually do skim through the want-ads just to see what is out there. So, it is very important to develop an advertisement that will attract the person you are looking for.

For newspapers, Sunday is definitely the best time to run your ad. Even though newspaper sales have been declining in recent years, it isn’t out of the question to use it as a means of finding new hires. Running an ad on both Sunday and Monday would be the most successful combination because people who are looking will look through Sunday’s paper and continue “looking” at least through Monday’s paper. Do not waste your valuable ad dollars by advertising right before a major holiday, as people are less likely to read the classifieds. They are too involved with other matters, and will usually look after the holidays.

Part two of this article will go over tips on how you develop your ad and how to use hiring agencies.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “Recruiting New Employees – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to continue reading this article Recruiting New Employees – Part II (highly recommended).








The Do’s and Don’ts of Bonus Plans

The subject of bonus plans has bewildered practice owners for quite a long time. The theory—create an incentive for staff to do exemplary work—generally makes sense. The difficulty is in the implementation. When you tread into the realm of bonus plans, you are entering a minefield. If you construct a bonus plan correctly it can be a very useful tool for you, the executive. But when done incorrectly (and for every right way there are countless wrong ways) it will blow up in your face and create a terrible work environment; your staff will be livid. And when the dust settles, you, the besieged practice owner, will be likewise incensed, as you will feel unfairly attacked when all you were trying to do was to find a way to pay your team more.

Why does this all go so wrong?

First, let’s look at this from the staff member’s perspective. No matter how the bonus system is structured, it’s essentially all about money. While the old adage, “Never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table” is sage advice, neither of those subjects provokes as much emotional reaction as when you tamper with someone’s pay.

Consider how salaries and wages are set up. It’s fundamentally based on exchange. A staff member is hired to do a certain job. Money is given in exchange for that work. Anyone who has ever held a job understands that basic concept. He knows that if he were to consistently do poor work, he will be dismissed. Consequently, most personnel strive to do a good job. In return they expect remuneration and they expect it to be consistent. If an owner constantly changes the pay scale, the staff would understandably be upset. In other words, agreements are in place that are a matter of routine: work ‘x’ number of hours and get paid ‘y’ amount. When and how much a person will be paid then becomes predictable and dependable. There is nothing arbitrary or capricious about it.

Predictability is the Key

So, this brings us to one of the basic problems with many bonus systems: bonus plans are neither predictable nor dependable to most staff members. Here’s an example: In many practices, bonuses are doled out on a whim; the owner feels that this month’s production was better than usual, so he wants to share his good fortune with his staff by distributing some of the profits to them. They obviously like this and want to experience such generosity again. The next time monthly production is exceptionally high, there would understandably be an expectation of a similar bonus. And when it doesn’t materialize, resentment ensues.

What has been violated is “predictability.” To earn their basic check, staff members know they need to show up and do good work. This will predictably lead to a paycheck. However, with the bonus, there is no such predictability. The practice had a similarly good month but the staff was not rewarded as before. Now they resent the owner and view him as a cheapskate; the owner, in turn, is left wishing he had never doled out a bonus in the first place. So, what started out as a generous act on the owner’s part has now become the source of dissatisfaction on everyone’s part.

Nevertheless, the owner, who still perceives some benefit to the implementation of a bonus plan, makes adjustments and sets up an actual bonus structure: If the practice does ‘x’ amount of production, the staff will get ‘y’ amount of money in the form of a bonus. So now there is predictability.

But upon closer inspection, we see that predictability still eludes the staff. For if production consistently increases, so will the expenses associated with obtaining it. Consequently, the owner must increase the amount of production required (‘x + 5’, for example) to earn the same ‘y’ bonus. And the unintended result is that the staff loses predictability again. From their point of view, just when they started making consistent bonuses, the owner suddenly changed the rules and moved the goal line further away, making it more unlikely that a bonus will be earned. And their concern is that even if they were to somehow achieve the new production goal, the owner would again change the rules. And he’d be viewed as a cheapskate once more.

Lack of Control = No Bonus

 In addition to the problem of predictability, there is the issue of control. Oftentimes the team can work hard to achieve a production goal, only to see the practice fall short of the named target. In that event, they will become frustrated, as the carrot (incentive) has been dangled in front of them, but they don’t know what they can do to make sure the practice reaches its target. In other words, they don’t know what to control that would help to achieve the stated goal. They work hard, perhaps work through lunch or take less breaks, and pay close attention to their workmanship. Those are all efforts on their part to control something that can be controlled: their time and quality of work. But when that still doesn’t result in the practice reaching the targeted level of production, staff morale will most assuredly plummet. They will feel as though they are just a cog in an enormous machine wherein their individual efforts can’t affect the overall income of the practice. And when they reach that conclusion, they will cease making the extra effort and then for sure the intended goal will never be attained.

This dilemma of staff feeling that they aren’t able to effectively contribute and resultantly help to control the income level of the practice is one of the most common problems in virtually every practice I’ve analyzed. In most cases, I traced back the source of this predicament to the owner not knowing how to identify all the parts of a practice that affect income. By the way, did you know that in a solo-doctor practice there can be up to 12 or even 15 such areas? In a multiple-doctor practice there are more than that! Once those areas have been identified, the owner must place a staff member in charge of each area and develop a statistic to monitor it and then teach the staff member how to control the area so as to keep the stat at the appropriate range. The owner who can accomplish that is the owner who can control his or her own economic destiny.

Bonus Plan Inequity

Let’s return to the subject of bonus plans. In addition to the problem of the staff’s inability to effectively control the attainment of targeted income goals, there is also the sense of inequity or unfairness that most bonus systems create. The majority of bonus systems are set up to take a certain amount of money and divide it among the staff, generally in proportion to the number of hours they work. But in most practices, you’ll find a few superstars who do the majority of the extra work required to reach the target. They are the ones who talk to patients about referring friends and family when the other staff members are reticent. And they are the ones who are more productive than their co-workers on an hourly basis. But when those superstars see everyone being rewarded equally, despite the obvious differences in the quality and quantity of the work being done, resentment emerges. Consequently, they stop putting forth the extra effort. After all, why should they work so much more diligently if they will be paid the same bonus as those who don’t make the extra effort? And, of course, the irony is that when the superstars start cutting back on their efforts, the goal won’t be achieved and NO ONE gets a bonus!

Profit-Based Bonus Plans

Poorly crafted bonus plans also create problems, mainly financial, for owners. Bonuses are supposed to be calculated and paid on profit, i.e., the money a practice makes after accounting for all expenses (often referred to as the make-or-break point or overhead). If a bonus system starts to pay out before profits are achieved, then the owner has effectively taken a pay cut.

Based on analysis of many thousands of practices, we can conclude with certainty that most owners don’t know how to correctly figure out their make/break point. One of the reasons for this is that those owners don’t take into account the non-monthly expenses when calculating overhead. Examples of such expenses are repairs to equipment, equipment replacement, money set aside for reserves or for staff training, etc. Since those aren’t bills the owner deals with on a recurring monthly basis, it’s easy for them to be excluded from the make/break point calculation. But they are expenses and will eventually have to be paid. Therefore, in most practices, the make/break point is actually higher than what the owner believes it to be. Consequently, the bonuses levels can be tied to income goals that don’t correctly take into account the actual profit being made.

Summary of the Situation

These are the main reasons bonus systems can fail to function well:

  1. lack of predictability for the staff
  2. the staff’s perceived inability to proactively control the production or income that would achieve the bonus
  3. bonus distribution that is not based on level of contribution
  4. bonus levels set incorrectly.

While other factors might cause bonus programs to be problematic for the practice, those listed above are some of the biggest culprits. And the result of that is the opposite of a win/win scenario. The team is unhappy and perceives the owner to be a cheapskate. On the other hand, the owner is resentful, shocked or even furious that his or her efforts to help the staff make more money are not just unappreciated, they are attacked. What a mess!

Fill out the form to the right to read “Bonus Plans – The Solution” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to read Bonus Plans – The Solution (highly recommended).








Screening Applicants

The Group Interview
Finding a new employee is a very time consuming process. To consolidate efforts and streamline the initial stage of the interview and selection process, have all of the applicants who meet the basic criteria come into the office for a group interview session. The purpose for this is that it consolidates the office manager’s efforts, giving you an opportunity to get a look at the applicants and screen out those whom you do not care to invest any more time in. The finalists from this segment will then be invited back for an in-depth individual interview.
Once you have collected all of the resumes from your advertising, go through them and screen out those that do not have the qualifications you are looking for. Take into consideration whether or not the applicant included a cover letter and whether that letter really communicates something about the applicant. Look at the experience, background and talents being conveyed in the resume and letter.
The First Interview
Phone those applicants that appear to be the very best and schedule them to come into your office to fill out an application. During this phone call you can rate their phone voice and composure and get a bit of a feel for their willingness. Make notations on the resume. Schedule all of the applicants for the same time, e.g., an evening after work or on a Saturday morning.
Make preparations ahead of time. Have packets of paperwork ready for each of your applicants. Their packets will contain an application, a questionnaire, a sheet that they will fill in with their employment goals and what their understanding of a practice is. They will also be asked to write a brief collections letter and sign an Authorization for Release of Information form.
When the applicants arrive, welcome them and deliver a brief statement (10 minutes or less) about the practice, its purpose/mission and the position. Then, direct them to the pre-printed packets handed out. Have them:
  1. Fill out their Job Application Essays.
  2. Fill out their Hiring Questionnaire. Asking them what your practice is about, its purpose, the position that they are applying for and a few negative and positive things about the position or practice.
  3. Write a brief letter to a client who has an overdue account (which gives you a good indication of how the person deals with others on sensitive matters).
  4. Sign and date the Authorization for Release of Information form.

As the applicants complete their forms, rate them on their appearance (1-5) and take them individually into a private office to conduct a brief interview (about 5 minutes for this first interview). This will give you a feel for the person.

Before your applicants leave, give them each a card for a complimentary exam at your office. (This is optional, but could garner a new patient even if not hired). Thank them all for coming in and let them know that they will be hearing from you within the next couple of days.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “Screening Applicants – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to continue reading this article Screening Applicants – Part II (highly recommended).








Vital Steps for Collecting Money Over the Phone

In any practice, Accounts Receivable exist. Whoever collects money in your organization needs to know that this particular job has a two-fold purpose:

  1. To bring the patient/client’s account current
  2. To maintain sufficient goodwill with the patient/client to ensure his continued patronage and support.

The statistics that can be used to measure how effectively the job is being done are:

  1. Money collected (Amount)
  2. Number of accounts brought current

TELEPHONIC COLLECTIONS PROCEDURES

Your telephonic communication skills are very important. Following are some guidelines and proven techniques that will assist you in being most effective in collecting outstanding payments from your patients/clients over the telephone. 

PRIOR TO THE CALL

  1. Study the patient/client’s account record, and all related documentation to ensure you have ALL the information necessary to make an effective and accurate collection call. Spotting a past due amount on your aging report and then picking up the phone to call the patient/client, without pre-planning, is not a very good idea, as there may be vital information of which you’re not aware. Placing the call without doing your “homework” could result not only in NOT getting paid, but in creating an upset with the client/patient or poor PR for the practice. So, study the file prior to making the call.
  2. Know the correct name of the person with whom you are planning to talk. Make sure that you have his/her complete name, spelled correctly. It is vital to speak with the person responsible for the account, so ensure that you have that data.
  3. Be in the right frame of mind when you place the call. Think positively. Believe that you are going to resolve the account. Do not call in anger, frustration or anxiety. You will get nowhere with your patient/client if you do so. Be both cheerful and professional.

MAKING THE CALL

  1. Introduce yourself and state the purpose of your call.
    Example: “Hello, Mr. Smith? This is Mary Jones from Dr. Nelson’s office. How are you this evening?  I’m calling you about your account. Do you have a few minutes to talk with me about this?”
  2. Be very deliberate in your statement about the account. Do not rush through this or be difficult to understand:“Our records indicate that you have an outstanding balance of $350, and I am inquiring as to when we might expect that payment.”Now give him an opportunity to respond.
  3. Do not make him feel embarrassed or as though he has done something wrong. Do not verbally attack him. Notice that in the above example it states, “Our records indicate…” Avoid statements such as: “I’m calling about the $350 that you haven’t paid us for four months!” This would definitely get you off on the wrong foot with him, and it would be quite difficult to resolve the ensuing conflict.
  4. The tone of your voice is very important. Do not be hostile or angry. Do not think of the client/patient as a “deadbeat” or a big problem. Think of yourself as a problem solver and come across that way. He will see that you are trying to help and will be more willing to help in return.
  5. After you have identified yourself and stated the purpose of your call, STOP!! Don’t say anything more at that point. It may seem like forever, but if you wait for the person to say something, it will go much more smoothly, as he is now having to originate a response to you regarding your inquiry.
  6. Listen to what he has to say. Don’t just hear it, but really listen and understand. It could be that he has already mailed the check, or maybe he was planning to mail it that day. If you come on with a harsh demand for payment, you could stop an already intended payment. So, give him a chance to talk.
  7. If he resists, registers an objection or is just generally uncooperative, let him say everything he has to say. Let him know that you understand, and then handle the objection, confusion or whatever it is by giving him an honest and realistic answer. If you do that, you will get a full picture of what his objections are, and you will have left him with little or no argument to fall back on once you have handled the objections he put forth.
  8. Don’t be brash or punitive. Understand that this is a tough position for him to be in. Don’t harass or attack him. Don’t make a threat (such as a lawsuit), except as a last resort and ONLY if you fully intend to carry it out.
  9. Go over with him the fact that it is to his advantage and benefit to make payment. Let him know that the advantages include: not getting turned over to a collection agency, feeling better because an agreement has been worked out, no harm being done to his credit rating, etc.
  10. Bear in mind that everything he has to say might sound very reasonable. But also remember that those “reasonable” explanations are the very “reasons” why he’s in a bind in the first place. The explanations won’t handle anything.

Fill out the form to learn the remaining 5 indispensable collection call techniques AND to find out the 5 vital steps to take AFTER the call (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

learn the remaining 5 indispensable collection call techniques AND to find out the 5 vital steps to take AFTER the call (highly recommended).









Getting Clients and Patients to Be Accountable for Cancellations

You need to put a system and policy in place to discourage your clients or patients from unnecessarily canceling appointments. First, you should have a company policy that is given to your clients/patients as part of their “Welcome to the Practice” handout, letting them know what is considered a no-show—usually less than 24 hours’ notice—and what happens when a no-show occurs. It is important to make sure that your clients/patients are aware of this policy before enforcing it, or you might create an upset.

Clients or patients who wish to cancel an appointment on short notice or who fail to come to a confirmed appointment need to be gently challenged on missing that appointment. An attempt should be made to get them to keep the appointment if at all possible, and if that doesn’t work, they should be notified of the $25.00 fee to be collected at or prior to the next visit. If the client or patient still wishes to cancel, he or she is to be rescheduled. The fee should only apply if the client/patient has already been given his/her “first-offense warning.” The idea behind the fee is NOT to anger the person or make the person wrong but to inform him or her that you are serious about the importance of appointments being kept and completing a course of treatment on time.

The script would be something like this: “You can’t keep your appointment? Oh dear! The doctor has this time set aside especially for you. Is there anything you can do to make it?” If that doesn’t work, move into the missed-appointment-fee handling.

  1. For the first offense, the office policy is to waive the fee. The client/patient should be notified of this, and it must be documented in the chart by the receptionist. The ideal way to approach the individual is by saying, “Mr. Jones, it is our office policy to charge $25.00 for late cancellations or missed appointments; but since this is your first offense, we will waive the fee. Now, let’s get you rescheduled. . . .” This message should be practiced so as to be said all at once and in one breath. The entire message should be delivered before the person can interrupt. This part is very important. You should have the client/patient chart in front of you so that you can be accurate in telling the person of his first offense and the waiving of the fee. If you do not have the client/patient chart in front of you, treat the person as if this were the first offense and note it in the chart.
  2. For the second offense, a client or patient will be called by the OM because a second failure may mean that the person is upset or unclear about something in the treatment. Please give the chart to the OM so the client/patient can be called that day. This must be documented in the chart.
  3. For the third offense, the client/patient will be sent a letter that will require a $25.00 payment for missing the appointment, plus a $25.00 payment to be held as credit for the next appointment, for a total of $50.00. This must be documented in the chart.

If you have any questions regarding this procedure or its implementation, fill out the form to schedule a free call and we would be happy to assist you.

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

If you have any questions regarding this procedure or its implementation, fill out the form to schedule a free call and we would be happy to assist you. (highly recommended).







Discussing Payment with the Patient/Client: How to be Both Polite AND Effective

You should always assume that a patient/client can afford the recommended treatment when discussing payment with him. Don’t be shy, embarrassed or apologetic about the cost of your services. This can give the appearance that the treatment isn’t worth the fee being charged.

When making financial arrangements, your goal should be to collect the entire fee at the time of service via direct payment and/or verified insurance reimbursement. You should have a well-defined financial policy for patients to read and agree to with regard to payment of service.

It is important that the accounts manager does not give the patient/client the opportunity to say “no”. Never say, “Would you like to take care of that today?” Instead, give her options that are compatible with office policy. For example:

“Mrs. Smith, the fee for today is $50. Will you be paying with cash, check or credit card?”

With such an approach, “no” is simply not an option. Remember, if you make clear financial arrangements in the first place, you won’t have any trouble collecting the amount due.

Suppose there was a misunderstanding and the patient/client tells you she can’t afford to pay the entire balance at the conclusion of the visit. Your reply might be,

“Could you tell me how much you are able to pay at this time?”

The idea here is to get the largest payment possible. Now you need to secure the balance:

“Mrs. Smith, that will leave a balance due of $560. We need to work out an agreement on how that will be taken care of.”

When she agrees to a definite date for the payment of the balance, put the information on a financial agreement form and have her sign it.

If it becomes necessary to offer a monthly payment plan to a patient/client, adhere to the payment schedule as governed by office policy. Do not stray from the established policies.

Fill out the form to learn (1) what to do if someone REALLY can’t afford your service and (2) how to address insurance reimbursement issues with your clients/patients (highly recommended). Scroll to top

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Fill out the form to learn (1) what to do if someone REALLY can’t afford your service and (2) how to address insurance reimbursement issues with your clients/patients (highly recommended).