As the owner of a dental clinic, you approach your job as both a practitioner and a business owner. It’s important that you provide exemplary care for your patients. It’s also critical that you keep your business running smoothly. Doing both while maintaining a decent overhead can be challenging.
Cain Watters and Associates reports that the average overhead for a single-doctor practice in 2013 was 59.26%. Many consultants recommend shooting for 50% overhead, and other suggest that 60% is a good goal. Wherever your practice stands, you’re looking to maximize your profits. Staffing is a great place to start, both for cutting costs and for increasing productivity.
How does your practice hire dental auxiliary staff?
Having the right staff in place can mean the difference between growing your practice and losing your shirt. Vacancies can result in schedule delays, unhappy patients and lost opportunities. Overstaffing means paying for nothing.
When you’re up against the clock, staffing adjustments can be incredibly stressful on both you and your business. Registered dental hygienists are especially critical to productivity. The ADA reports an “increased demand for dental services” and predicts that in the near future, “dentists will need to employ more dental hygienists than ever before” to meet this demand. When an RDH calls in sick, goes on leave or quits suddenly, you don’t have time to wait.
Most vacancies need to be filled as efficiently as possible. To that end, many dental practices use temp agencies to fill gaps in staffing. It’s a popular solution, but is it the best one?
Dental staffing agencies seem like a perfect tool. After all, temps can fill gaps quickly without the need for a long-term commitment. But it’s important to have your eyes open to the disadvantages of working with a dental temp agency. Most dental practice owners see agency fees and delays as part of the system. They may fail to consider other options—and that can be an obstacle in minimizing overhead and maximizing production.
What’s wrong with temp agencies?
When you need a dental assistant, your first stop may be a dental assistant temp agency. If you’ve been working with dental temp agency for a long time, you may think that agency fees are an unavoidable cost of doing business. You may pay a periodic fee for access as well as a high markup on the worker’s hourly fee. Then, if you decide to bring an agency worker on full time, you pay a permanent-hire fee.
There’s also the time it takes to fill a position and the control you relinquish. Once you submit your request, you have to wait for a response. The agency may get back to you with a list of options, or they may just send someone over. If you have a choice, you’ll have to use the limited information you’re given to guess which candidate will be the best fit. Communication has to go through the agency, so you may not get to talk to your temp until she or he arrives at your office. This makes it hard to take advantages of the best practices for hiring.
Money, time and control all go to the middleman when you use a dental placement agency. It’s enough to make you wonder whether the pros of working with a temp agency outweigh the cons.
What’s the alternative?
“Cutting out the middleman” is a cost-saving solution in many situations. It’s always been possible, of course, but until now, hiring temps without the help of an agency has meant a lot of legwork. In recent years, it has become easier for dental practices to take matters into their own hands. Social networking and bold changes in the way we work have given rise to new hiring platforms. These new platforms make the cons of dental temp agencies a thing of the past.
Instead of paying a middleman to find a candidate, dental practices can now find temporary workers through efficient, online tools. Because internet-based platforms run on a lower overhead than typical job-placement services, fees tend to be much lower. One such platform, Cloud Dentistry, offers thirty days of access for a single fee and doesn’t charge a markup on professionals’ hourly rates.
Using a newer platform has advantages beyond financial savings. There’s also a lower time commitment and a greater element of control. Some platforms allow direct, real-time communication between dental practices and dental professionals. This makes it possible to choose the right person for the job, helping you strike a balance between great patient care and sensible business decisions. And when you work with a platform that does things in real time, you could have a dental assistant or a dental hygienist at your office and ready to work within a few hours.
Have you ever wished for a better way?
Perhaps you’ve resigned yourself to the necessity of working with a placement agency. Maybe you’ve never liked the fees and the time it takes to get your office working right. If you’ve ever thought that life could be better, hiring-wise, you’re absolutely right. The downsides of working through a traditional dental temp agency are many. But today’s technology and today’s work trends mean progress in dental hiring. By taking a little time to research alternative ways to fill your staffing needs, you could make a dent in your staffing expenses and increase your business’ profitability.