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This week’s management tip sounds a bit like a get-rich quick idea.  After all, it isn’t easy to double the size of anything.  It takes hard work, vision and tremendous persistence.  But it isn’t unrealistic and isn’t a scheme.  In fact, many practices across America don’t just double in size, but expand far beyond that.  So it is possible.

What does it take?

We’ve attempted to lay down the basic steps any owner can follow in order to directly expand the size of their practice.  One could call these a road map to expansion:

1.  Think big.

You don’t have to be small just because everyone else is.  There are millions of business owners across the world with highly successful businesses, who are achieving their goals.  You can be one of them.  Don’t set your goals based on what your competition is doing.  Your potential is determined by one thing: what you decide it is.

2.  Exactly state your goal.

Define what you’re shooting for.  If you haven’t set an exact goal in terms of concrete numerical terms, it will be hard to achieve it.  You can’t hit a target you don’t aim for.  Figure out exactly what numbers you want to hit annually and write them down.  If you haven’t exactly stated what you’re attaining, then you won’t necessarily conceive of all the other actions necessary to attain it.  This is where a lot of practice owners fall down.  They want to get bigger, but they don’t state how MUCH bigger.  They’ve got to decide exactly what they’re shooting for if they expect hit it.

3.  Break it down by week.

Figure out how much production or collections you would have to hit per week in order to achieve your goals.  In order to make your goal achievable, you’ll have to take  it out of nebulous annual numbers and break it down on a weekly basis.  This puts the target into concrete terms of what has to be done by the practice each week in order to say, “Yep.  It was enough.”  Or “We did great last week, but let’s keep pushing.”  This serves to focus everyone’s eye on the goal so that you can all be working on the same page.

4.  Figure out ALL the practice numbers to hit your goal.

It’s very nice to say “I want ____ collections” but what does that mean in terms of practice production?  In terms of visits?  In terms of new patients or new clients?  In terms of promotional pieces sent out?  You can say you want more collections all day long, but this means you’ll need more production, which means you’ll need more patient visits, which means you’ll need more new patients, which means you’ll need more promotion and advertising.

If you set a goal to double your collections and production, then you’ll also have to set goals to double every other number in your practice that goes into making up those collections and production.  This is what makes the whole thing realistic.  If you don’t do this, then you just end up making a “wish” for your practice to get bigger.  If you actually figure out the goals for all the other numbers in the practice, you now provide a real roadway to expanding your practice.

5.  Work out the plan for each one of the those numbers.

Now you have to write a plan in order to achieve each one of those numerical goals you wrote down.  Again, it’s very nice to say, “I want to double my new patients” but how is this really going to be done?  You would have to sit down with your New Patients goal and figure out what promotion and advertising would have to go out in order to hit that goal.  You figure out how many staff this would take.  You figure out what resources you would need to do it, and you write this out in a plan.  Do the same thing for Patient Visits, for Production and all the rest.

Of course these plans will change in time, but they give you a starting point.  They at least provide a direction for you to start walking toward your goals.  As you learn more, you’ll change them until you eventually do hit your overall practice goals.

 6.  Get your staff on board.

Now you have weekly numerical quotas for each area of the practice, and a plan of action worked out to achieve each of them.  The next step is that you have to explain all this to your staff.  Get each person on board with the quotas and plans related to their area.  Get their feedback.  They may have some ideas themselves about how these goals could be achieved.  Work with them so that they are an active participant in helping you do it.

Set up a bonus system so that, as the staff get closer to hitting the quotas you set, they are rewarded more and more personally.  The important point here is that you actually get your staff to “buy in” and become motivated to attain the quotas for each area.

7.  Persist.

Achieving anything big requires persistence.  The world will tempt you to give up or wonder if what you originally decided was unrealistic.  It wasn’t.  Keep going.  I’m sure you’ve read about the number of failures Thomas Edison had before he finally succeeded with inventing the light bulb.  The moral of the story is that you just have to keep going.  Progress may be slight.  However, recognize that it is progress.  Little by little you will take the small steps along the roadway you’ve laid out until after a period of time you’ll look back and realize you ARE getting there.

The number one reason for failing to expand a practice is the inability to think big enough and set a goal in the first place.  The number two reason is lack of persistence.  The difference between someone who achieves their goals and someone who doesn’t often is simply that the first one didn’t quit.

No one assumes expanding a practice will be easy.  It isn’t.  But it can be done.  And if you want to be, you can be someone who does it.

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Hiring new staff is a necessary part of business but few practice owners find it palatable, and many outright hate it.  If you hire the wrong person, you’re stuck and they can cause tons of trouble for you.  Is it even worth it?

The trick of hiring is to be able to distinguish between the RIGHT person and the WRONG person for your practice.  But how do you know who will work out and who won’t?

There are a few simple steps any practice owner can use when interviewing new staff to determine whether they are someone who is likely to work out in their practice:

1.  Do they have an acceptable appearance?

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.  Appearance can’t tell you everything about a prospective employee, but it will tell you whether or not you should even go further in interviewing them.  They don’t have to be wearing Armani, but if they have a bad appearance, poor personal hygiene or show up wearing inappropriate attire, don’t go further.  When employed, there are likely to be additional problems with this person’s attitude or life outside of work.

2.  Check out their ability to communicate.

Have them write a three paragraph essay about why you should hire them and why they’d like to work there.  This essay will show you a) handwriting, b) ability to communicate using the English language, c) what kind of representative they will be for your practice.

3.  Determine whether they are “product oriented” or not.

Look at their resume and for each of their last three positions ask them, “At (name of practice or company), what was your product?”  You are looking to see if the applicant is focused on production as opposed to their status or actions.  Being “busy” is not the same as getting things done.  Ask them how much quantity of that product they produced.  Ask them who can verify the things they just told you.

If the applicant isn’t focused on production but is focused on other things, don’t hire them.  You need employees who get things DONE in the real world and naturally have things as their focus.

4.  Verify what they just told you with their previous employers.

Call the names the applicant gave you.  If any of these people seem negative in general before you even mention the name of your applicant, end off.  Their information will not be valid.  If the person you are calling seems like an upbeat person then ask them to verify what you were told by the applicant.  Ask them if they would hire the applicant back.  Judge by the nature of their response what their thoughts are.  Is it a “no”?  Is it a “yes” but with a delay in answering and some other signs of uncertainty?   Is it a resounding and enthusiastic “yes” with a statement along the lines of “I wish she hadn’t left!”?  Or “I’d hire her back in a flash.”  Or “You’d be a fool not to hire her!”

5.  Determine if they’re negative about their previous employers.

Ask the applicant about their previous employers or places of employment and what it was like. If they then proceed to engage in negativity, complaints and criticism which are stated in a resentful way or a friendly but “gossipy” way, do NOT hire.  They have broken rules and agreements at that place.  They will do the same thing at your practice or company if you hire them.  They will quit or you will find it necessary to fire them.  Then, they will be back out in the community with one more company (yours) which they will bad mouth.

6.  Administer a “skills test.”

Do NOT accept that they have a skill just because they said they do or because they wrote it on their resume.  Depending on the position you are filling, do some work related to that position.  Have them actually USE the tools they will be using.  Give them your template for how letters are to be written and dictate a letter and see how they did on the formatting and the words per minute. Have them set up a new patient record in your practice management software.  Call in to the office as a pretend patient and see how they handle your call.

7.  Lastly, if you don’t like them, don’t hire them.

This is more important than you might think.  Your office is a reflection of you.  It’s your creation.  Your joy and your happiness are important.  An office should function as a team and you should be comfortable with all of your employees.  Don’t hire someone that you don’t like personally.

This is not meant to be a full list of everything to look for in an applicant or a “how-to” manual or full hiring procedures.  Background checks, drug tests and other tests may be necessary depending on the position.  However, the above gives you some good tips on things to look for in order to determine if the applicant in front of you is the right person for your office.

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A key part of your practice’s marketing strategy should be sending out emails.  Postcards and newspaper advertisements are good, but if you’re not taking advantage of email marketing, you’re missing out.  It’s easy to do, people read emails and it’s nearly free because there are no printing or postage costs.  However because emails are a new technology, sometimes practice owners have trouble figuring out how to start doing email marketing in their own practice.

Here are 5 easy steps any practice owner can take to make email marketing work in their practice:

1.  Set up email addresses for your practice.

This is step one.  If you don’t have a way to easily send and receive emails from your practice, you need to get that handled pronto.  Your staff need to be able to write to a patient or client without using their own personal email address, and patients need to have a way to be able to easily email your staff.  The best thing to do is set up emails for everyone in your practice which match the name of your website.  This is called owning your own “domain name.”  An example would be “frontdesk@millcreekdental.org”.

2.  Collect email addresses from everyone who walks through the door.

You can’t contact them if you don’t have their address.  Every time someone comes in for treatment they should fill out a form (if they don’t, this in itself is something that you should handle).  Look at every form or questionnaire that you have them fill out.  Do you have a line for the email address when they fill out their contact information?  If not, fix it.  Every time you ask for someone’s home address or telephone number, include a line for their email address.  Also, you’ll need to make sure your staff members actually get them filled out.  Put a little sign below the counter at the front desk that says, “Remember to get an email address” in order to remind your staff each time they have someone fill out paperwork.

IMPORTANT:  Include an “email permission request” under each line where you ask for their email address.  This is just a little check box with a statement in smaller print that says, “Yes, I give my permission for this practice to send me emails regarding products and services” or similar statement.  This is legally required for email marketing.  Most people are totally fine with giving permission, but it’s a necessary formality.

Now, what do you do with all the email addresses you collect?

3.  Use an online email management system.

You’ll need some way to manage all of these emails you collected; you can’t just file them all away and never use them.  The easiest way to do this is an online email system.  This will allow you to enter in all of the email addresses you collect, along with the client’s name and other relevant information.  Once the information is in there, you will now have an email list you can promote to.  You can now send out email blasts to your entire list, or any part of it.  Some examples of these online services are www.ConstantContact.com or www.MailChimp.com.  There are many more and they’re easy to find.  The advantage of using these services is that they already have ALL the tools you need in order to do email marketing built right into their online system.  They know the laws and rules and have set it up so anyone can do it.  They even have templates pre-made that you can fill out so that creating an email newsletter or special offer is as easy as writing a document in Microsoft Word.  Their monthly fees are tiny and they are made to be super user-friendly.

4.  Send out bulk emails.

Email is an amazingly cheap way to promote because there are no postage and printing costs.  Staying in touch with your clients is a breeze when you can send out newsletters or limited-time specials to your whole list and it costs you nothing!  And if you don’t want to be a “spammer,” then just don’t send out spam.  Make sure the emails you send are relevant and valuable and people will be glad to hear from you.

5.  Use email “autoresponders” to automatically send out reminders.

This last one is a bit more advanced, but extremely powerful.  Every online email service has a feature called an “autoresponder.”  An autoresponder is a series of pre-set emails that go out on a timer.  Once a name is entered into the system, it will automatically receive whatever emails you create, and on whatever schedule you want them to be automatically sent out.  Autoresponders make sending out reminders a no-brainer.  As an example, you could set up your autoresponders so that when a name is entered in the system, a reminder email will automatically be fired off six months from the date they were entered, then once a month for the next 3 months.  And you can customize the series so each email is different—that way you aren’t being repetitive or annoying.

There are a tremendous number of ways you can use email to effectively market your practice and reach your patient base.  This is just a short summary of tips anyone can apply to get started.  If you have more questions about it or would like a specific question answered, feel free to write us.  We’ll do our best to direct you to the right place.

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This is one of those topics I love to talk about.  Everyone is always so interested and you have a rapt audience.

“Making money”…all you have to do is say it and people start paying attention.  Their heads turn, their ears perk up and they look at you out of the corner of their eye even though carefully trying to appear interested in whatever they were doing before.  We currently live in an economic society and one’s survival is inextricably tied to the quantity of money one has or controls.  As a result, you could say we’re all kind of interested.

Of course, we know life isn’t all about money.  That obviously isn’t the case, and money really is only as good as it allows you to do what you really want to do.  However, it is energy and that’s important in this world.  It’s potential.  It’s possibility.  It’s the ability to go where you want and do what you want.  So it’s valuable.

So many conversations revolve around this topic of how to make money.  Gurus and experts, crooks and geniuses–this is a topic everyone has something to say about.  And SO much of it is false.  The subject is practically a minefield of incorrect and misleading data, some of it intentional and some of it just through lack of understanding.  Compounding this is the fact that people often have a vested interested in others around them being uneducated financially.  You end up with a powerful yet maddening milieu of hope and betrayal intermingled wherever you look.

So what’s a girl to do?

Let’s get down to the brass tacks of making money.  Money is simply an idea.  It is merely that which we have decided is a valid and real exchange for goods and services.  It is obviously backed by the government (well…er…sort of) and issued by a (quasi) governmental agency, so it looks very official.  But at the end of the day, it is merely the symbol by which all the people of a country represent their goods and services.  It’s a lot easier to pull out your wallet than bring in three live chickens to pay the chiropractor.

And this is the key to making money.  Money represents services or goods.  People pay you money for them if you are able to provide them.  If you provide them with a little, they’ll pay you a little; if you provide them with a lot, then they’ll pay you a lot.  Of course sales and marketing and quality control and all the rest goes into this.  However, the simple truth of the matter is that the more services and goods you render to others, the more money you are entitled to by natural law.

This may seem like an oversimplification.  It’s not.

Don’t worry about making money.  Put your attention on delivering massive quantities of goods and services.  Work out how to really ramp up your production and keep it high consistently and you’ll automatically make more money.

Figure out what you deliver or sell:  What do you produce?  Why are you valuable?  What do people want from you?  Then, figure out how many of these items you produce in the average week or month.  This is your rate of production.  To make more money, figure out how to double or triple that number–or more.  Work out how it is possible for you to greatly increase the amount you’re able to produce.  When you’ve got that figured out, you’ll have figured out how to make a lot more money.  It literally is that simple.

People get paid for products, nothing else.  Where a person is getting paid for something besides products he’s producing, he is a freeloader and he’s resented and has an unstable existence.

If you want to know the route to riches–the land of milk and honey–work out how to make your business produce, not at the next level, but a couple levels above even that.  It’s all about production, and massive amounts of it.

Remember what someone is saying to you when they tell you to slow down or not to work so hard: they’re telling you to be poor.  I’ll let you decide your response to them.

 

Matt Hanses

Hanses Management

 

Photo by 401(k) 2012 http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/

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Why?

Why do we spend so much time on this topic of management?  It’s dry.  It’s boring.  It seems to be the sort of thing that an accountant or a spreadsheet freak would be interested in.  At best we could maybe say that it is interesting because it sounds like corporate execs would talk about it and they make a lot of money.  Or something.

In reality, the entire subject of management is so often viewed as a necessary evil–something that you must do to survive, but that if you could somehow delegate, would make your life far happier.  Management is kind of like one of those things that people have to do to keep their business from dying.  They’re sort of thrust into it because without it they have no building or phones or staff, but it isn’t something they necessarily relish.  Probably they got into whatever field they’re in so they could actually practice that field, not manage people or deal with the problems of management.

And the truth is that management is an entire subject complete unto itself.  It really isn’t the same as the trade that the business owner is in; it is a skill and discipline of its own.  It is the skill of correctly dealing with and handling groups and resources.  It is the skill of survival and expansion in groups.  It’s really the skill of living.  At its core management really isn’t about accounting.  It isn’t about figures and spreadsheets; it’s about survival.  It’s about success.  It’s about growth.  It’s about expansion.

Everyone has goals and dreams.  Everyone has something they are shooting for.  Everyone has some overall betterment that they envision for their own square yard of this Earth.  The difference between how they are currently living and how they’d like to be living is often fraught with heart-wrenching agony and ulcer-causing anxieties.  It’s that difference that is their own path they must wend through the mountains of confusion (or sometimes dynamite straight through solid rock) on their way to the ultimate goals they’ve set for themselves in life.

If you really sit down and talk to people and find out what they’re trying to achieve, it isn’t about a bottom line.  It’s about happiness.  It’s about quality of life.  It’s about LIFE.  People are trying to get things done because they’re going somewhere.  They want to make a better life for themselves and their family.  They’d like to have more time to do what they want in life.  They’d like to have more money to spend on what they want.  They’d like to have more moments with their kids like the ones they have in their memories–and hopefully before their kids are too old.  Those milestones of their life go by quickly, and they’d probably like to be in whatever state they feel they need to be in so they can enjoy them.

Oftentimes people just want more time off or less stress for themselves.  These things are pretty easily achieved for any business owner with a sensible program of organization.  However, sometimes the goals people make for themselves are far greater, involving faith and ideals and politics.  The finer things in life and the higher echelons of human activity beckon and people many times have goals bigger than themselves, their family and even their community.  How to make these happen?  How to reach out and touch the mirage of personal dreams?

This is management.  This is real management.

Management is how to win, how to organize, how to succeed.  Management isn’t a motivational speech, nor is it a self-help guru.  Management is the profession, skill and knowledge of how to organize and direct people and resources to achieve one’s goals.  Management is taking something that isn’t in such a good state and then skillfully moving it to the state one wants it to be.  It is a separate skill set from everything else.  A person skilled in management can manage any number of things.  It really has its own laws and rules, just like any other profession.

Management is about taking the hot, fast and often brutal nature of life and shaping it into a winning picture for YOU.  Given all the different components and elements you are handed, how to take this motley patchwork of impossibilities and turn it into your dream?  That, my friend is management.  We’re talking all of the success and happiness anyone ever dreamed of for themselves, their families and their friends.

And so management is actually about all the fun things a person ever wanted to do, all the success a person ever wanted to have, and all the personal achievement a person ever hoped for himself.  In a chaotic and often unfair world, management is about taking the clay of “one’s lot in life” and shaping it into the beautiful and perfect sculpture of one’s dreams.

And that’s why management.

 

Matt Hanses

Hanses Management

 

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Every practice needs new patients or clients so marketing is an important topic in practice management.  However, the subject can so complex that nobody really has time to sort it all out.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve broken down the different types of marketing a practice should do into three key areas, and created a basic checklist for each one of them.  These three types are vital for any practice, or any business, for that matter.

To begin, and before we really start, we have to discuss the first rule of marketing:

Do it.

All too often people ask for help with their new patients or their marketing.  However, in reality, when you break down their specific numbers, you find out that they simply just aren’t doing it.

Therefore, the first rule of marketing is just to do whatever kind of marketing you know how to do, do it now, and do as much of it as you can.  If the only thing the business owner knows how to do is send out postcards and get the front desk staff calling files for reactivation…do it, do it, do it!  The reason why 99% of marketing fails is that it’s “going to be done next week” or “when we have more money” or “when it isn’t quite so busy” or whatever.

90% of the trick on marketing is just actually doing it.

However, assuming that you are doing that, and that you are actually working out how to keep it up consistently, you’re now ready to talk about different types of practice marketing methods.  The number of different ways that you can market a practice can seem complex and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  What does one do?  Where to start?

In order to answer that question, we need to break down practice marketing into its basic categories.  These are:

1.  Existing patient files

Under this comes all of the charts you currently have, and everyone who has received treatment–your current patient base.

2.  Broad public contact

This means ads, mailings and promotions to the broad public.  These means getting people in who aren’t necessarily previous patients.

3.  Referrals

Plain and simple.  A current patient tells their friends to come in because you are an awesome practitioner.  The friend needs care and decides to come in.

These are the three major categories of marketing.  Now, how do you use them?

Checklist of Promotion:

I thought it would be helpful to just create a little checklist of promotion for each category and how things fit in.  Take a look at the checklist and make sure that you’re at least doing something on each category.  If you do, your new patients, collections and production should start going up steadily in the coming months:

1.  Existing patients

  • Monthly newsletter
  • Reactivation letters
  • Reactivation calls
  • Special promotions mailed out to your list

2.  Broad public contact

  • Radio Ads
  • Print Ads (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  • Fliers
  • Direct mail
  • TV ads
  • Internet ads
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media (like Facebook)
  • Postcards to mailing lists
  • Welcome Wagon-type promotions to contact new residents

3.  Referrals

  • Posters and fliers in the office
  • Referral cards for the patients
  • Buttons reminding patients to ask the staff
  • Patient referral reward programs

This is by no means a full list.  However, it does give you a basic idea of where to start.

At the end of the day, you need to ensure that your practice is doing regular marketing to each of the three categories: existing patients, broad public contact and referrals–and keep doing it week in and week out.

If you can do that, and just keep doing that, you’ll find your practice numbers expand and expand.  And when they get too big and you start worrying if you’ll be able to handle the traffic…KEEP IT GOING!!!  That’s the time when you’re really making progress.  There are many ways to deal with the traffic flow and better organize the practice if things get too busy.  Just keep going on those three categories and you will end up with a healthy and thriving practice.

If you have any specific marketing questions about how this applies to your situation, you can feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to get you pointed in the right direction.

Best,

Mark Hanses

Hanses Management

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Let’s face it.  You don’t really have time to read this article.

Not only do you not have time to read this article, but you’ve probably spent too much time on your e-mail and the Internet today already.  You probably have pressing things that need your attention at this exact moment.  You know, that thing you’re thinking has to get done even as you read this sentence….  Yep, that’s the one.

And there are probably more where that came from!

The fact of the matter is that most people have far more on their “to-do” list than they could ever hope to accomplish.  The list goes on and on—and many times it is expanding, not getting whittled down.  The more a person works, the more gets added to the list, and he never gets done what he wanted to that day.  It seems like he can never quite keep up.  If this is you—or someone you know—we need to talk about “time management.”

Firstly, we should clear something up.  There really is no such thing as “time management,” strictly speaking.  Time is occurring at a regular rate and there really isn’t much managing of it that one is going to do.  No matter what you do, it isn’t going any faster or slower.  So when we talk about “time management” we really aren’t managing any time.  In this world, that isn’t something that can be controlled.

What CAN be controlled is what one does during this time.  What a person works on and one’s efficiency in getting things done is really the subject of “time management.”  In fact, it probably would be better called “activity management” or “production management”—perhaps even “self management.”

When one speaks of “time management” it sounds as though one is going to parcel out some pieces of time in little piles or something—like divvying up minutes in boxes or something.  Thus, time management, in its common paradigm, would be just deciding the best possible use of your “investment”—where to place your piles of time to get the best return on them.  This is a nice theory, but in a practical sense doesn’t approximate reality.

Why?

Because in reality a unit of a person’s time isn’t necessarily as efficient as every other unit of their time.  This sort of assumes that a person has a fixed rate of production or efficiency which they aren’t going to exceed.  If one believes that they have a certain fixed capability, then of course it would be extremely important how one spends one’s time.  If you lose an hour, you’ll never get that back again and it’s SERIOUS!

However, in real life an hour isn’t like every other hour.  If a person is happy and enthusiastic he gets a lot more done in 60 minutes than if he’s sad and defeated.  A person’s outlook day-to-day and hour-by-hour can totally change their productivity per unit of time.  Additionally, one’s training and education level can have a profound effect on productivity.  It goes without saying that a person who is a 25-year veteran doctor will get a lot more done in a day than a guy who just got out of school.

Why?

Because he already knows all the tricks.  He has practice.  He’s sure of himself.  He can sit down and do something much, much faster with less wasted effort than he could when he was just starting out.  So when we’re talking about time management, we’re really talking about efficiency.

And what IS efficiency?

This could be described as “doing what you’re doing while you’re doing it”.  This could be described as not engaging in unnecessary and unneeded motions.  This could be described doing actions that result in a valuable product rather than those that don’t.

Let’s look at this.  If everyone on Earth only has so many hours in which to get things done, how is that some people are billionaires and some aren’t?  How is it that some people are at the top of their field and some are just getting along?  Sure there is such a thing as ill-gotten gains and cheating to get ahead, but the fact remains: nobody has a longer day or week or month than the next guy.  It’s just how you use it.

So ask yourself these questions:

1.     What are your long-term goals?  (Meaning 10 years or longer.)

2.     What major actions do you need to take in order to achieve them?  In other words, “What is my plan?”

3.     In your day-to-day activities, are you working toward making your plan become a reality or are you doing things that are unrelated to your goals?

AND LASTLY

4.     Are you totally blocked on your plan or your goals?  Is there something that is just making it seem impossible?  (If this is the case, you are just spinning your wheels.  We call this apathy and you need to get business or personal consulting immediately as you are essentially wasting your time and your life.  There is nothing more important in your life than your dreams for yourself, for your family, for your business and your community.)

Make sense?

A person who is spending their time doing things they “have to do”—but which don’t forward their long-term plans—needs to rearrange something.  Regardless of the reasons, the cold hard truth is that they are wasting their life.

Now, moving along on the subject of efficiency, the next point is this: does the person really know how to smoothly get their product?  Do they know their job well?  Are they trained in it?  Are they certain about it?  If a person is uncertain or nervous or worried about things on the job, he won’t just sit down and do it.  He doesn’t really know what to do.  In other words, he can’t control it.  He has to figure out everything as he goes.  Or he has to cautiously look at each piece to make sure he won’t make a mistake.  He has to be careful.  He has to go slow.

Efficient?  Not on your life.

What’s the solution?  You have to train him.  He has to be able to handle each and every single part of his job smoothly and without worry.  He has to feel like he can control each part of it—the employees, the clients, the finances, the marketing, the supplies and procedures, etc.  If a person is unable to control each of these things, he avoids them.  He wastes time.  He lets things go unhandled for months.  This is all wasted effort that works against him, while he sits paralyzed thinking over and over about his problems.

If he is then MADE to deal with this problematic area, because of some external threat or pressure, he might address it to some degree, but he goes much more slowly than he otherwise could and gets very little of real value actually done on it.

Take a look at it this way:

1.     Make a list of the areas of your life you are most skilled in and have the most training on.

2.     Make a list of the areas of your life you are most productive in and feel best about.

3.     Make a list of the areas that you have the most worry and are fixating your attention.

4.     Write down exactly what training or formal education you’ve had in those areas.

See any parallels?

The point is that if a person is trained, he can handle something rapidly and easily.  He gets a tremendous amount done and feels great.  If a person isn’t formally trained and doesn’t really know it down cold, he spins his wheels.  This causes worry, stress and blocks his progress.

Now, notice an interesting fact: most of the subjects that small business owners and practice owners have trouble with are… business related!  Very few dentists have trouble with dental procedures.  It’s always staff, finances, new patients, etc.  Things they weren’t trained on!

So time management is solved, not by compartmentalizing your day or rushing around like a crazy person or ignoring things that need to be done—no, no!—it’s solved by increasing efficiency.  Figure out what you’re actually working toward in your life and remove the blocks and distractions from achieving it.  Orient your life around the things that actually get real products toward your own goals.  Then, figure out what things you have a hard time with and spend some time studying them until you KNOW how to handle them.

At Hanses Management we specialize in training people in areas that aren’t normally taught.  How does one handle personnel correctly?  How to deal with people?  What about life-planning issues and strategy for your future?  What does one do to train staff so they know their jobs better?  How do we get more production WITHOUT sacrificing quality?

It is highly doubtful that the areas of your life where you’re spinning your wheels have to do with clinical practice and treatment.  They have to do with management.  Get consulting.  Get training.  Get some help on how to resolve these issues.  Sure it costs money—so does everything.  But it will be the best money you ever spent, because this is the senior thing to everything else you’re doing in your life.

If you’re being bogged down by management and organizational-type problems, don’t wait 10, 15 or 20 years and then wish you’d have done something about it.  Take action now and have the life you want.

Best Regards,

Mark Hanses

 

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Employees….

This is one of the most heated and debated topics in the fields of business and management.  It almost single-handedly determines the prosperity of a business, but also creates the most trouble.

It’s such a touchy subject that we hesitate to even write the article.  Invariably someone will be offended.  There is almost no way to write about the relationship of employees in managing a business without upsetting someone.  This is because it’s a subject that’s fraught with emotions and failures.  Who hasn’t experienced it?  Everyone who’s ever had anything to do with business at all has seen the “mean boss” or the “no-good employees.”  In fact, this one problem of small businesses across the country, taken to the macrocosm of American history IS the classic battle between management and labor; “the bosses” and “the woikers” (workers); the unions and the coal companies.

The subject of employer-employee relations is one of the most volatile subjects in the history of this planet.  Taken to epic proportions, it evokes images of everything from the 1917 Revolution when the USSR was born, to slaves being whipped into building the pyramids of Egypt.  People get quite touchy about the subject.  Whole political parties are built around it.  Entire philosophies of life can be constructed around this one subject: how do you deal with the idea of getting people to get some work done?  Failures to handle this area correctly has led to raw, red revolution and rioters in the streets.

And yet, if some manager somewhere doesn’t do something about it, everyone starves.  No one makes any money.  No one eats.  Extreme examples of this are third-world countries where no industrial infrastructure has ever been built and so the people simply aren’t utilized.  They sit around as subsistence farmers, eking out a living the best they can with no electricity, no running water and no chance at a job.  In other words, without SOMEONE running SOME kind of business, there simply is no industry.  No one works; no one eats.  This is called starvation and poverty.

It’s sort of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of situation.  If there are no jobs, then no one eats and the whole culture suffers.  However, if employees are handled wrongly, it all blows up in your face and can make the company nearly impossible to run.

Bringing this down to the level of reality and practicality in YOUR business, it’s like this: if one doesn’t have employees, then one can’t run a business.  Period.  If there aren’t good, dependable and trustworthy people, then you won’t produce anything.

On the flip side, the moment you have any employees you now have to deal with OSHA regulations, benefits, extra taxes, etc., ad nauseum.   You’ll have to answer questions, handle upsets and sort out confusions.  You’ll have to keep discipline in, ride herd on inter-office warfare and keep certain factions separated.  Part diplomat, part counselor, part teacher and part supervisor—the manager of any business is in for quite a ride.  Let’s assume that he also has his own duties that no one else can do…like treating patients.  When does he have time to, oh…see the family?

Probably he doesn’t even want to get into it.  The amount of work required just to keep the place going makes dealing with employees an insurmountable task.  The solution becomes keep your head down and walk quickly past them.  Just hope that no one notices you and brings up some problem.  Don’t look over in that direction.  Maybe you can make it through the day, get everything done and not even have to open up that can of worms.

This is called running your business at “effect.”  This means that the owner is so far backlogged and behind that he is unable to proactively deal with issues, and so really isn’t managing the company.  He is handling whatever pops up, but mostly is simply hoping that nothing DOES pop up.  This necessitates, by the very nature of it, avoiding confronting what issues might be lurking there.  It requires that the owner sort of skirt right over everything, hoping desperately that nothing gets brought up he’ll have to sort out.

And this is the exact sort of thing that keeps a business small.  Every single area that the business owner isn’t looking at, every single part of the business that the owner sort of swiftly walks by, while averting his gaze …these are all the weak spots and problem issues in the business.  These are the areas that hold the business back.  It’s in these areas you find embezzlement, you find duties undone, you find hidden attacks on the owners, company protocols violated and a million million other things.

If the business owner really were confronting what was holding his business back, wouldn’t it be handled?  If he really knew what was wrong, wouldn’t it be solved?  He would solve it!

All the undone, unhandled and un-dealt-with issues are the ones that prevent more clients from being seen, they hold production down and they create the sudden confusions that “unexpectedly” pop up, requiring the owner to handle them—all the stressful points of a business.   So who is running whom?  Is the owner running the office or the office running the owner?  That’s why it’s called being the “effect” of your own business.

What’s the solution for this sort of thing?

Well, it requires proactively running the business.  It requires dealing with employee issues and confusions before they develop into large business-affecting issues.  It requires that the owner have enough free time and energy so that he can get HIS work done and have enough left over to actually inspect his business.  It requires that he be able to get around to the office and talk to the employees off of production time.  It requires that he be able to look at the issues and really dig in.  It requires that he not just gloss over an issue, actually bring it into the sunlight and assess what the problem really is.  Only then can he find a real solution for it.

That last is extremely important.  The only way that one will ever find a real solution to a problem is if he brings it out into the open and looks at what it really is with no bias or blindness.  It requires talking to the person and finding out what’s REALLY going on.  Then, and only then, can the problems in an office actually be solved.

But how does one go about doing this?  It’s all very good to talk about it, but everyone talks about it.  If it’s all just a bunch of hot-air psychobabble, how does it relate to the real world?  If you’re just told to “proactively run your business” that’s great, but it doesn’t mean anything.  It doesn’t open the door to any kind of handling or meaningful course of action.

We have to go a bit deeper.

Why does an owner fail to “proactively run their business”?  Why does a person avoid those problems in their business?  Why do they skirt around issues rather than confronting them?  If we tell a person not to do those things, that’s all well and good, but there’s an underlying reason.  We can tell them to stop doing that all day long and they just treat it like it’s a New Year’s resolution: “Ok, I realize I need to confront the things in my business I’m not confronting and deal with them rather than avoiding them.”  Ha!  It’s almost a joke.

So why does a person avoid confronting certain issues in their business?

The reason is that they don’t know how to handle them.

Mark that well: the reason a person avoids looking at and confronting the problem spots and employee issues is just that they don’t know how to handle them.  They don’t really know what to do!

How does one handle the critical employee?   What about the perennially confused front-desk person?  How about the associate doctor who just marches to the beat of a different drummer?  Two different employees fighting?  Someone who is having personal issues and bringing them to work?  These lead to protocols not followed, clients not properly serviced, tasks forgotten or botched and many other problems.

The owner, not knowing how to deal with these issues, just doesn’t LOOK.  It’s easier.  It’s more comfortable.  He just walks by the person.  Knowing there might be something wrong, but not having a clue what to do if he found out what it is, he simply doesn’t ask.  He hopes they don’t bring it up.

The solution to employee troubles is to teach the executives how to handle employees.  One has to be expert in training, organizing, interpersonal relations and the laws of communication.  One simply can’t expect to run a business without being trained in management.

It’s like this: would a dentist avoid dealing with issues related to a patient’s oral hygiene?  Would the veterinarian avoid looking for the cause of a pet’s very obvious pain?   NO!  Why?  Because they’re trained in it!  They want to find out what’s going on.  They actually dig in and look for the root causes of trouble, because they know what to do with it when they find it.

If you actually know how to handle employee-related problems, not only are you eager to dig in and find out what issues you have in your office, you can actually SOLVE them.  You can get results.  You can change the fate of your company and your future.

Get trained in management.  Get a consultant.  Learn how to deal with employees.  Implement a training system so that people know their jobs.  Create a company organizational structure.  Set up inter-office communication channels.  Get your long-term planning straight.  Work out the direction of your business.  Find out how to judge good employees from bad.  DO something about it.

Hanses Management can help you.  With over 20 years of experience all across the United States and Canada, we assure you that your problems aren’t mysterious.  They aren’t unusual.  They are what everyone runs into.  It is actually easy to handle.  It just takes a belief that things can run more smoothly, an understanding that there are right ways and wrong ways to manage and a willingness to stick with it long enough to learn how.  You stuck with it all the way through undergrad school, all the way through your professional schooling…you invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and now you have a business.

Learn how to run it.

Call us today for a free consultation and let us see how we can help you.  We treat each person as an individual situation and are interested in yours.  There is no obligation.  Write us and let us know what you’re running into.  We’ll give you an honest assessment of the situation.

Sincerely,

Mark Hanses

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Here is a seemingly incomprehensible fact of life:

How is it possible for the owner of a small business to be so overworked, so involved and so busy… and still not make the income they need?

How is it that an intelligent, educated and hard-working person can devote hours and hours of their time, sometimes working late into the evening, with stress that they bring home to their family, and then not even make the money they really should be making? It seemingly violates natural law! How can it even be possible?

A business owner can have all kinds of brilliant ideas; consultants can provide them with stellar advice; seminars, webinars and classes can tell them all sorts of things they ought to do…and maybe they should do them. But who has time for it all? A business owner is typically so busy just handling what they’ve already got on their plate that there is just no time to do anything else. And the overwork can be unbelievable! For most, try as they might, they never seem to be able to get on top of it all. It’s sort of like a treadmill that is going ever-so-slightly faster than they can run.

The “to do” list mounts up and, though the business keeps going, the amount of work required can be enormous. The effort expended by a small business owner is Herculean at times. They are the unsung heroes of the American economy. What the average small business owner goes through just to keep their business running would make others quail and close the doors their first week. If there is one common denominator of small business owners or practice owners, it’s the fact that they work hard—continually

However, there is another side to this. When speaking of hard work which doesn’t get you anywhere toward your goal, this is OVERwork. When a person is working and working, yet isn’t winning the game they set up for themselves, this isn’t about being a hard worker. This is about being overworked and overwhelmed.

But do they have to work that hard? Can it really be true that they have to do all of this hard work, devote their life to it and then in the end not really get ahead?

One is apt to just sum it up with, “Life is like that” or “Well, that’s how running a business is” or just “You take what you can get.” After years of trying, years of working 50-plus hours a week, pouring heart and soul into the business, one tends to “face the facts” and “get real” about things.

But what if this weren’t the way it really is? What if there were another answer?

There is. It lies in the field of organization.

To understand overwork, one has to understand organization.

All business owners tend to know their particular field pretty well. A dentist generally understands dentistry. A veterinarian can handle animals. A mechanic can fix cars. This isn’t the problem. For them to be in business at all, they normally have to be pretty decent at it. So where do they get bogged down? On the business end of things. They never really had any formal training in organization or management. Everything they do is through trial and error. Therefore that’s the part of their life that gives them the most trouble.

Does the dentist worry about root canals? Does the veterinarian worry about spaying a dog? No! These are fun for them. These can even be relaxing at times, compared to finance and business issues. That’s because these are the areas that they were trained in. These are the areas they are certain of. This is what they’re skilled in.

Their entire trouble lies in the fact that they never learned HOW to organize. They never learned HOW to manage. There are procedures of organization. There are methods and skills involved in managing. One doesn’t just open up a business and start banging around any more than a person opens up the hood of a Cadillac and starts banging around. Every specialized field has its own knowledge and skills—running a business is no exception.

Being overworked in a business is not a symptom of having too much to do; it’s a symptom of too little organization to handle what’s going on! Almost any volume of work can be handled comfortably so long as it is properly organized. It all depends on having an owner and a staff who understand organization and management—and these subjects can take some real work to learn.

Thus, the “overwork” of any business owner is actually “under-organization.” The specific skills and tools of management just aren’t known, so any time the traffic gets too high, it exceeds their know-how and overwhelms them. They become overworked and don’t know what to do to get out of it. They need to make a good paycheck, so they have to keep the traffic coming in. Unfortunately, they are actually running their day-to-day operation well above their real knowledge and ability to organize! The work stacks up around them, they get backlogged and they just stay there…for years. Now that becomes “just how their business runs.”

One has to get the real picture of what’s happening here: the business and its employees are actually creating the “overwork” by not really knowing how to handle that flow of traffic. The “overwork” is actually an illusion. This isn’t a natural part of life. It’s CREATED. The reality of what’s happening is that the business needs X dollars to survive in any given week or month. Therefore, they must flow X volume of production and traffic through the place. In truth, this volume of traffic isn’t overwhelming; it could be smoothly handled. It isn’t natural that it has to be more than that business can comfortably deal with. However, lacking proper organization, the office staff mishandle the customers, the materials and the accounts. They neglect what they are supposed to do, there was never a system set up to handle it correctly, or the employees never fully learned the workable systems that are in place. One or two staff members then end up doing everything to keep the place running. This creates overwork.

Did you ever wonder how certain people are somehow able to do an extraordinarily large amount of business? You know, the dentist that is doing $6 million a year comfortably, when all his peers are doing $2 million…. There are always a minority of people around who just seem to be able to run a bigger show. They have more going on and still have time to do other things in life. What’s the difference? Are they better? Smarter? Have more ability?

No. They’re better organized. Somehow—through training, natural intuition or something else—they have an ability to correctly organize the traffic and production they handle. Thus, they can handle a ton of it with no strain.

Then there are others who are overwhelmed and trip all over themselves if one customer walks through the door. The customer waits for a long time, is told the wrong price, and then it turns out that the office staff had the wrong file…the customer needed a different product. Whoops.

Every business is somewhere on this scale. At the low end of the scale we have an office that falls all over itself and bumps into walls when one person walks in. They can hardly handle any volume. No need to promote or drum up additional business…if anyone additional walked in it would just swamp the place. At the high end of the scale we have a business that can handle huge volumes of people, incredible production volume, tremendous numbers of jobs. The place is efficient, busy and full. Even if there aren’t a large number of employees, somehow they can handle it all and no one is under serious strain.

The “ceiling” on any office’s production capabilities is its degree of organization. In other words, every office has an invisible limit to the amount of work and production they can do. This is determined solely by how organized the place is. If you try to push an office beyond its “ceiling” this results in overwork. If you push the production very far past this ceiling, it creates chaos for the business owner, whose only solution is to simply work later into the night and skip meals.

Every business has an invisible production ceiling. Where is yours? Take a look. See if there is a line that you can’t really seem to get past. Feel stuck at a certain level? Never can get your collections above a certain point? That’s because there is a line that, above which, you can only reach by raw effort and chutzpah. Business owners instinctively know that they can handle X dollars in collections and production. However, trying to push it higher than this, well….

If you notice an invisible ceiling in your practice, just realize that you’re looking at the limit of your business’s organizational skill. It just isn’t set up to handle—or generate—more traffic than that. It will coast along in that fixed area, getting a bit better or a bit worse, but won’t move into a different range.

The solution is to organize the business. Locate the jammed up internal flows, locate who is overworked, discover who doesn’t know their jobs or company policy. Find out who has all of the work landing on their desk. Chances are, you’ll find out it’s the business owner.

Now that you know what the problem is, you can do something about it. Restructure your office duties. Delineate more clearly who does what. Train your staff on the underlying laws and principles of organization. Teach the staff their jobs better. Switch the physical traffic flow in your office so it doesn’t all pile up in one place. Change the schedule. Put your best staff in charge, getting someone else to cover for them. Teach the new person how to do the jobs your other one was handling. Track the office production. Find out what caused more new patients and do that. Locate what made the production to go down. Remove that. Little by little you can organize your office and turn it into a smoothly-running, highly effective machine. And quality of work will only get higher, your customers happier and the products you deliver, better.

Best,
Mark Hanses

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We are often told that we need to delegate.  We hear “You’re not good at delegating” or “You need to work on delegating.”  But for many, this seems to be nearly impossible.  It seems to them that almost everything needs to be done by them personally.  From experience they know that if they try to delegate it, it either doesn’t get done or it takes more work to deal with the confused staff they assigned it to than if they had just done it themselves originally.  Soon, the owner has all the work of the office stacked up on their desk.  When they look at it realistically there isn’t much they feel they CAN delegate.  And in a way this is true… or at least true according to their current methods of organization and management.

Yet without delegating, the owner rapidly becomes overworked.  There’s too much to do and it becomes impossible to keep up.  No matter how late the owner stays, no matter how fast the owner works, it never gets done.  In fact, in many cases if the owner does work in one part of the company (say marketing), this just means an overwhelm in another part of the company (in this case, delivery or treatment).  Thus the bigger a company gets, the more work develops and the more impossible it gets to run.

This one factor can stop all expansion.  Who wants to expand when it just means more hassle, less time with family and later nights?  If success equals overwhelm, this makes it look pretty bad to grow any business above a certain level.  Many business owners actually limit their expansion at this point.  Without realizing it, they instinctively “know” that to get bigger could be dangerous or unpleasant for them and so unconsciously stop themselves from getting bigger.

Delegating is the only real solution.  For long-term growth—or even just a peaceful existence at the current level—one MUST figure out how to effectively delegate and turn over functions to the others below one.  This factor is a secret of success.  Let’s go over some facts about the subject of delegating to others.

Delegation becomes difficult or impossible in the presence of a couple of factors.  One of these is untrained staff.  Another is unwilling or totally negative staff.  Another of these factors is staff who lack stably assigned duties (exact job descriptions).

Let’s look at each one of these.

One of the hardest things to do is give instructions or directions to unwilling, totally negative staff.  No matter what you tell them to do, they manage to say no.  They somehow prove that it’s impossible.  Wittingly or unwittingly, everyone has had experience with this type of staff member.  Even if they act willing and receptive, they really refuse to work.  If you give a task to them they will find a way to show you how it can’t be done, or will require a week and great expense.  The same task given to a different staff member somehow gets done in 5 minutes.  Experience and training have very little to do with this situation.  It is simply that particular staff member is negative and unwilling.

What is the solution for such a person?  How do you handle them?  The answer is… you don’t.  You fire them.  No matter what you do, it really won’t go anywhere.  Your office will be better in the long run because they are pretending like they’re part of the team while actually making the goals of the group seem impossible to achieve to everyone around them.

Now, the next thing that makes it hard for the owner to delegate is the untrained staff member.  This is probably the number one reason why people can’t delegate.  The owner is trying to give instructions to someone who just flat out doesn’t know how to execute them.  It’s like asking a person off the street to fly a Boeing 747.  It doesn’t matter how good his intentions are; if he’s not trained as a pilot, that plane isn’t going anywhere.  An untrained staff member can be quite deceptive.  Because they are willing, good guys, they seem like they should be able to do whatever you throw at them.  However, the truth is that they just don’t know how.  It will just be frustrating for everyone, because they really would like to help—they want to do the right thing—but they don’t understand the nuances of what needs to be done and so end up either messing it up or constantly coming back asking for help.

What’s the answer to such a person?  Simple: train them.  Most business owners greatly underestimate the effort, time and energy that must be invested in training staff and somehow just expect them to sort of “absorb” their job and duties.  However, it actually requires forthright dedication and patience to bring that new staff member up to the point that they really understand the job.  After all, how many years have you been doing this?

Exactly.  To expect them to be at the same level of understanding (or even close) without intensive, careful training is unrealistic.  In every office and every business, a continuous, detailed program of staff training must occur for the staff to do well and for the business to expand.

Another extremely common cause of difficulty in delegating is a lack of assigned duties.  This typically means that everyone in the office sort of does everything.  There aren’t clearly laid-down, exact duties that each staff member is responsible for and sticks to.  Many times each staff member is part of the team but doesn’t have a specifically defined JOB.  When this happens, the owner invariably winds up with EVERYTHING on their plate.  All problems, all decisions, all plans… they all go to the owner because they’re the only one with a stable job description.  If someone needs something, they look around and at least know, “Well, he’s the boss.”  The owner then has to stop what he’s doing and decide which staff member to use, then assign him the task.

The problem with this is that the owner has to continually handle every decision in the entire place.  Also, the problem is that the owner doesn’t really know who to go to for what because there is no organizational structure.  It gets very difficult to delegate anything to the staff because no one really has any jobs.  More often than not the owner doesn’t even think to delegate.  In this “system”, it works like this: the owner handles all traffic and tasks that come into the business and the staff wait for orders.  However, the owner is simply too overworked handling the mountain of confusion that he doesn’t even have time to THINK about issuing orders.

What’s the solution to this?  Quite simple.  One has to decide exactly who does what and get it fully understood by everyone in the place. This includes getting a chart up that defines all the duties and who does them.  This helps all the employees to know who to go to for what.  It also tells the owner who he sends the different types of work to.  With a chart up that delineates the exact duties of the office, delegating becomes a breeze.

…as long as they know their jobs.

…and as long as they’re not unwilling negative staff.

With a workable system of management in place, employees who have assigned duties and who are trained for their jobs, a business owner is then free to do HIS job, plan for the future and… maybe take some time off.

At Hanses Management, we are experts in staff training, organization and management systems.  Those things an owner never has time to do are the exact things that can make or break a company.  They can cost an office hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in lost revenues.  They are also very easy to fix.  Let us help you train your staff and set up your organization.  With practical systems that are workable in the real world, we enable you to do what you want to do in life—not just what you have to do.

Sincerely,

Mark Hanses

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