Are you over or under staffed?

Many practice owners wrestle with this question:  Is my practice over or under staffed?  This is a “hot potato” question because the answer depends on a lot of factors.

First factor:

What situation in your practice is making you even think about whether you are over or under staffed?  The first questions to consider are whether or not all of the possible functions of the practice are being done (AND done well), and is the practice growing to your satisfaction?  If yes, then you are probably just fine.

Alternatively, are essential duties not able to be properly performed because there are not enough pairs of hands?  Is it holding back the growth of the practice?  That would be under staffed.  What should be done about that?

Or, are there times or seasons when you have staff standing or sitting around with nothing “important” to do?  What can be done about that?

Second Factor:

What is your percentage of staff wages to your overall revenue?  This could give you some idea as to whether you are actually over or under staffed.  Most professions have a specific percentage that is considered to be the “norm.”  Find out what it is for your own profession and your province.  Your associations usually generate these facts and figures from surveys they have done.

This doesn’t mean that you should immediately eliminate staff to bring your percentage into the “norm” range however.

Third Factor:

Do you have complete job descriptions for every position?  Do they have an additional, essential line at the end that says:  “And anything else that contributes to the expansion, well-being and survival of the practice?”  Staff who have that attitude may very well be your most precious stars because when they get THEIR duties done, they will look around for other functions to help with that will contribute to the overall practice expansion.

If your staff do not have a complete job description, they may not be aware of ALL the functions you expect of them.  So how can they meet your expectations?  It could also make you feel that you are understaffed due to these undone functions.

Fourth Factor:

If you feel that your practice is over staffed, either all the time or from time to time (seasonally, for instance), look at all the potential actions that could be done. When the “excess” resources are properly utilized, you should generate an increase in revenue which will bring your staff pay percentage into the correct range.


Some examples of functions that tend to not be adequately done which could lead to growth are:  Finding and reactivating patients who have fallen off the radar, taking enough time to properly turn shoppers in new patients or clients (most practices lose 2-5 shoppers every week due to inadequate time spent on handling them as well as lack of sales training), chasing up all the overdue treatment that has been presented but not gone ahead with yet, reminder calls, etc.

There are ALWAYS marketing actions that anyone in the practice can help with that will lead to expansion.  For example, a monthly emailed newsletter could be prepared and sent out.  Almost anyone can do one of these with the templates available online but, if not, they could at least find potential material to be included. Or, since the staff are usually knowledgeable about your profession, they could write or prepare (ghost write) blogs for you, post them on your Facebook, etc.

Hope this helps!  If you want any guidance or more information on this topic, please give us a call.