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Front Desk Archive

by Stephanie Sisk


CDS dentists have many roles in their dental offices. You are doctors, first and foremost, but you are also business managers, new business development leaders and team-builders. This online column will help you stay on top of the latest dental trends and resources as you juggle all of your roles.



  • January 11, 2019

New year perfect to improve your practice


Sure, New Year’s resolutions can be annoying We make them; we break them, sometimes same-day. Ouch.

But for dentists and their practices, the new year should mark a time for reflection on what went right in 2018. Of course, many, many things go right in a year, and that success should be applauded and shared with your employees, who help you in ways big and small.

However, after evaluation, there are some things that will prove to need some work in 2019, and that’s where some planning is in order.

Whether your objectives involve changes to the way your practice operates or a commitment to improve your patient or staff experience, set some goals and review or refine them every three months to stay honest and on track.

Production and business goals often top the list for resolutions, according to the California Dental Association. Set some specific targets. For example:

If you set production goals in 2018, go back and see how you did, then identify areas for further improvement or growth as needed. Consider setting a goal to increase daily treatment by 5 percent to 15 percent.

Be sure to set a challenging goal but not an unreasonable one.

Determine if you should increase hygiene days or add a provider to deliver on scheduling expectations. Consider adding one or two days of hygiene per week to provide more scheduling opportunities for patients. Extra tip: Hygienists provide appropriate and patient specific care. To raise the importance of a hygiene treatment, stop referring to it as a “cleaning,” which some patients construe as optional or unimportant. A hygiene appointment is crucial oral care, not a visit to the spa.

Examine operational opportunities. Do you have a lot of no-shows? Create a follow-up and confirmation protocol, then set a goal for the office, for example reducing no-shows by 25 percent. One way to help increase case acceptance is by training front office staff to discuss insurance benefits.

Develop a budget. Are you able to forecast your monthly revenue so that you can build in purchases you want to make in 2019? Add to that the creation of an accounts receivable plan so patient balances and outstanding insurance claims can be tracked and minimized.

Look at lab costs. Is your figure at 10 percent or higher? According to, lab fees less than 10 percent may indicate you are performing “bread and butter” services and fewer high-end services like crowns, bridges or implants. A part of that evaluation is the important role a skilled coordinator plays in facilitating treatments and follow-ups, which in turn increases practice profitability. Vow to praise your employees. Too often problem employees take up too much time and energy – to the detriment of your top-notch people. Remember that recognition and specific compliments boost morale, which has exponential results: happier employees and a more productive office.

Taking stock is natural this time of year. Making it work to your advantage throughout the year can improve your practice, your outlook and your profitability. Happy New Year!

The views expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Chicago Dental Society.

CDS presents Front Desk, a column addressing issues facing dentists and staff members experience in the office.

Front Desk is prepared by Stephanie Sisk, a freelance journalist.
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