What to Do When Production is Down

Is your team tracking their productivity and continually hitting below the benchmarks? Follow these three simple steps and you’ll see improvements.

Updated 6/30/20

Think about the last time you were on an airplane and you heard the flight attendant say these words: “In the unlikely event of a water landing. . . .” If you’re like me, you’d probably prefer not to think about water landings. Don’t we all have a strong need to believe the airplane will land safely and at the desired destination? Some doctors and team members have similar feelings when it comes to their practice management statistics. They want to believe that the team will reach its production goals without any special effort, and they prefer not to analyze the production data. Why? Because if the news is bad (like a water landing), it means the team may need to make unplanned–and perhaps unpleasant– changes in order to reach their desired destination.

I have tremendous empathy for teams who feel they are working as hard as they can and yet continue to be confronted with statistics that are below goals. This kind of experience can be a tremendous de-motivator and often leads to stress, denial, analysis paralysis, judgment, and blame. Why would anyone want to subject him or herself to that?

So, what if a team is tracking their productivity monthly and year-to-date (YTD) and they are continually hitting below the benchmarks? What can the practice proactively focus on that will have a direct impact? As a practice management consultant, I can say the worst thing to do is nothing. Any focused action has the potential for improving the situation. For production downtrends, there are countless opportunities to immediately increase dentist and/or hygiene production. Half the battle is won as soon as the team sees a potential positive solution and unites collaboratively to implement it.

Follow these three simple steps and you will see improvements.

Step 1: Always Start with Your Cup “Half Full”

There’s nothing worse than feeling that you’re starting in a negative position. If the team has just discovered they were short $10,000 in productivity at month’s end, it can feel overwhelming to try to make up that deficit and meet next month’s production demands at the same time.

To get started, focus on next month’s potential production first. Have the team add up the production totals of what’s already scheduled for both the doctor and the hygiene department. Subtract that from the goal and then have the team brainstorm how to achieve the difference by focusing on specific patients and procedures. Once the new month is action-planned, discuss how the team can begin making up the $10,000 deficit from the previous month (e.g. in one month’s time or over an extended period). The team will then be able to monitor their success in smaller increments and begin to see progress.

The Dentrix Practice Advisor makes it easy to track critical production statistics and other key performance indicators (KPIs) in a single, consolidated report. To generate the Practice Advisor Report, open the Office Manager, and from the Analysis menu, click Practice Advisor to open the Practice Advisor window. Click Practice Advisor Report to open the Practice Advisor Report dialog box, and then click Preview. The production statistics appear at the top of the report. Yellow yield signs appear beside each statistic that falls below industry benchmarks. The numbers in the yield signs correspond to suggestions for improvement listed in the footnotes at the end of the report.

Step 2: Don’t “Spray and Pray”

When there is a downtrend, the tendency is to panic and try to fix anything and everything that may not be functioning at an optimal level. If, for example, the focus is on improving doctor productivity, create an action plan to address that–and only that.

Based on the suggestions supplied by the Practice Advisor, have the team pull the ASAP List to identify patients who might be willing to come in for treatment right away, as well as the Unscheduled List to identify patients who missed appointments and might be willing to reschedule during the next week or two. Both lists are available under the Appt Lists menu in the Appointment Book. The team can also use the Treatment Manager to find patients with outstanding treatment plans and benefits remaining. To use the Treatment Manager, open the Appointment Book, and from the Options menu, click Treatment Manager to open the Treatment Manager dialog box. After you select the desired settings, click OK to generate a list of patients to contact.

Remember, if doctor production is your focus, fight the impulse to address other issues, such as marketing, continuing care or financial arrangements, at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.

Step 3: Monitor Daily and Praise Progress

If you wait until the end of the month to notice that none of your plans were implemented or effective, expect your team to get upset. If you are “all-in” when it comes to coaching the team to excellence, then you must be active and timely with your observations and feedback. If on the first day of the new month, your team has added $1500 in new treatment to the schedule, you need to praise the team’s progress, analyze the success points and reinforce the remainder of the plan.

If you follow these simple steps and use the Dentrix tools at your fingertips, you can help the practice remain positive and focused under any circumstances. So in the “unlikely event of a water landing,” don’t grab a life jacket. Embrace the Dentrix Practice Advisor instead, do something differently, and get that different result!


Tools to Boost Production

ASAP List:

Identify patients who might be willing to come in for treatment right away. To generate the ASAP List, open the Appointment Book, and under the Appt Lists menu, click ASAP List. By default, the ASAP List displays existing appointments for the next seven days that have been flagged as ASAP. To expand the search for ASAP appointments, increase the number of days in the Span of Search field.

Read “Opening the ASAP List” in the Dentrix help files for more information.

Unscheduled List: 

Identify patients who missed appointments and might be willing to reschedule during the next week or two. To generate the Unscheduled List, open the Appointment Book, and under the Appt Lists menu, click Unscheduled List.

Read “Opening the Unscheduled List” in the Dentrix help files for more information.

Treatment Manager: 

Find patients with outstanding treatment plans and benefits remaining. To use the Treatment Manager, open the Appointment Book, and from the Options menu, click Treatment Manager to open the Treatment Manager dialog box. After you select the desired settings, click OK to generate a list of patients to contact.

Read “Using the Treatment Manager to Keep Your Schedule Full” for more information.


Learn More

To learn more about the Dentrix Practice Advisor, see the Practice Advisor report topic in the Dentrix Help.

Read “The New Dentrix Appointment List” and “Mining for Gold: Three Reports for Searching Out Unscheduled Treatment” to learn about other lists you can use to fill holes in your schedule.


By Amy Morgan, CEO, Pride Institute

Amy Morgan is a renowned dental consultant and CEO of Pride Institute. Amy is also a contributing designer for the Dentrix Practice Advisor. She can be reached at AmyM@prideinstitute.com, www.prideinstitute.com, or 800-925-2600.

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Fall/Winter 2010