What does “Has your practice plateaued” actually mean? Definition of plateaued: “Reached a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.” Most practices do plateau at some point, and sometimes many times in the life of the practice. The questions are: Why is it plateauing? And, What do I do about it?
Why is it plateauing?
(1) Some practitioners may feel that the plateau is “as good as it gets.” This is usually because they don’t know HOW to improve the way things are being done. They don’t seek help from a consultant who knows how to help the practice shine at a higher level.
(2) Some folks are happy with the plateau and don’t wish to do more. This could be because financially the practice is meeting all their needs and complacency has settled in. This is not always a good thing as neglect can sneak in the same complacency door, and quality may slowly erode as well.
(3) Alternatively, it may be that the practitioner feels they would have to work more hours or it would get too busy or more stressful in order to go higher. This is often because they have reached the limit of their management skills and don’t know that there are inefficiencies everywhere in the practice that could be fine-tuned for increased quality and quantity of service to the patients or clients with less stress and less hours.
What to do about it?
The answer to that question depends on (a) the desire or lack of desire to handle it at all, (b) what is causing the plateau. We’ll just deal with (b).
One cause for a plateau is too few staff at the front desk. For instance, the receptionist often needs about 5 to 10 minutes to properly build a solid relationship with a shopper who called in “for more information”. Yet she has patients needing invoices and pre-appointing for the next visit; or the phone is ringing off the hook, etc. Every time the receptionist shortcuts on handling a shopper and the person does not make an appointment, the practice loses a potential new patient and, to discuss the nasty subject of the bottom line, this could mean a loss of $2,000-$4,000 of future income. Most receptionists are excellent at multi-tasking but this is one task that can’t be short circuited. Practices sometimes get busier and busier and neglect to expand front desk coverage at the right time and it costs big time in loss of business.
Maybe the practitioner and the staff feel too rushed off their feet and unconsciously drop out marketing (who wants more new patients when you are already feeling overloaded?). Or maybe the quality of service drops down a bit due to overload and then patient referrals slow down as a result.
Another scenario is that scheduling of Ideal Days is not being done and the practitioner starts to feel rushed, behind schedule or just plain tired and does not want to grow the practice. This is not at all uncommon. There is an exact science for correct scheduling in order to “save the doctor” from that overloaded, rushed feeling.
Perhaps you really have reached the limit of one practitioner and it is time to get an associate and in this way keep the future bright and expanding.
Don’t Stop Now!
Don’t ever stop looking for ways to improve your practice so you don’t get stale or complacent. Keeping expanding through the use of great management skills and you will enjoy the adventure!