Efficiency Equals Profitability

Increase efficiency and become more profitable with these 14 tips. 

Updated 6/30/20

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Are your expenses increasing, but your profit isn’t? Are you disappointed in your expected return on investment of equipment purchases?

A common thread among practices with these challenges is lack of efficiency. Efficient doctors and teams complete tasks in the least amount of time possible with the least amount of resources possible by utilizing time-saving strategies. Inefficient doctors and teams take the long road.

Skip the long road! In fact, if you are not looking at ways to become more efficient in your practice, you may well be losing ground on staying profitable and successful.

Successful companies look at ways to enhance efficiencies. There’s the “olive” of change that American Airlines made in the 1980s. They calculated that if you remove just one olive from every salad served to passengers, nobody would notice and the airline would save $40,000 a year.

At the American Standard plant in Tyler, Texas, it’s the doormats in the entryways. Now, they just get vacuumed instead of sent out for cleaning and that saves the company $70,000 a year. Xerox saved $200,000 a year by having the employees do the watering instead of a watering service.

As a small business, efficiency is even more important because your resources are limited compared to large global companies. To keep pace in an increasingly competitive world, your practice needs to run as efficiently as possible.

Efficiency isn’t just about reducing costs; you still have to achieve other business objectives, including service quality, in order to attract new patients, keep existing patients, and provide profitability. The blending of efficiency and service quality is the combination you need to maintain a healthy practice in a competitive economy.

Take action! Schedule a meeting with the doctor(s) and the entire team to look at ways you can enhance efficiencies while also providing great service. Here’s a jump start checklist you can use to increase the efficiency in your practice today!

  1. Set the operatory up right the first time. Barring a change in the procedure, the dental assistant should not need to get up and down and break the flow of treatment.

  2. Inventory is money on the shelf. Establish a monthly budget for dental supplies and stick to it! Keep it to within 5-7% of total office production (this does not include equipment purchases or single items over $500). Avoid over-stocking.

  3. Evaluate overtime expense. If this occurs on a regular basis, why is that? The goal is everyone is clocked out no later than 30 minutes after the last patient leaves.

  4. Are you paying for services you no longer use? Investigate all auto charges/deducts and invoices to assure that you still are using the service.

  5. Meet with your insurance advisor to make sure your current policies are adequate for today’s needs. If you are leasing or paying on a loan on equipment, check that you are sending your Lender’s Loss Payable Endorsements to avoid unnecessary charges.

  6. Assess the need for every hygiene patient to receive a toothbrush, floss, etc. Those patients with electronic toothbrushes may not want a brush. Customize to the patient’s need. They may not even miss a full goody bag and you’ll be able to save an “olive.”

  7. Check the settings for your HVAC system. Does the heat/ air need to be on during non-business hours? Schedule regular maintenance to keep your system running at its most efficient and effective level.

  8. Invest in marketing that gives a Return On Investment (ROI). Track each marketing investment to make sure it is providing the desired results. Read “How to Have a Rock Star Marketing Strategy” for more ideas.

  9. Make sure patients are always scheduled for their next appointment BEFORE they leave today’s appointment. The goal is that 95% of your patients leave with a next appointment scheduled. At a minimum, everyone needs a next hygiene appointment. Even your fully edentulous patients need to be seen annually!

  10. Minimize your cancellation risk. Use effective communication skills that help keep the patient scheduled.

  11. Do not be the bank! Partner with a third-party finance company to be able to answer patients with, “Yes, you can make payments!” This provides a huge savings in employee time following up with patients on their payment plans.

  12. Avoid over-staffing. Engage with an electronic patient confirmation service like the eCentral Communication Manager that can work behind the scenes confirming appointments, sending marketing messages, offering a portal for patient payments, etc.

  13. Save your stomach lining and money. Have a current personnel manual that spells out all HR requirements. When a question comes up, refer to it and use it to answer employee questions.

  14. Significantly increase your ROI on a piece of equipment you may already have: your intra-oral camera. Use it for every new patient exam and in hygiene.

Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words and will build enormous trust with your patients. This is not an exercise in cost-cutting. Instead, efficiency is a measure of whether the correct amount of resources have been used to deliver a process, service, or activity. An efficient process achieves its objectives with the minimum amount of time, money, people, or other resources.

Start today by enhancing the efficiencies in your office and be prepared to see greater profitability that provides for continued growth and stability in your practice.


Learn More

Get a free 30-minute Practice Advisor Assessment to get insight into your practice numbers and learn the next steps to increase your profitability. Visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/dentrix-profitability-coaching.


By Virginia Moore, Moore Practice Success

Bringing greater productivity and profitability to general dental and periodontal practices has been the result of Virginia Moore’s consulting practice over the past 25 years. As a speaker, Virginia has presented at the top dental meetings in the U.S. and has spoken at meetings in Canada, the Middle East and Asia. Virginia is a contributor to ADA’s newest publication Expert Business Strategies, is a regular contributor to ADA’s Dental Practice Success, as well as authoring two books and co-authoring eight books on practice management. Her passion is getting results that further the success of dental practices. Virginia is a graduate of the ADA KEMP for dentists. She is a member and past president of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and also holds membership in the National Speaker’s Association and the Speaking and Consulting Network. She can be reached at vmoore@virginiamoore.com or 530-527-9457.

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Fall 2015