Hygiene and Incentives
Lately, I’ve received several questions about paying team members, how to pay them, and what is “fair.” The answer to this question is simple but simply doesn’t mean easy. It will take some discussion and/or thought on your end to run some numbers. As I like to say, “if the math doesn’t work, nothing else will.”
Pay for hygienists is one of the most controversial and misunderstood metrics in dentistry. The problem stems from the limiting mindset of per hour pay. Remember that people in sweatshops are paid per hour, so this alone is not the most productive way to think about your solution. The question is usually “how much should I pay my <hygienist> per hour?” The better question to ask is, how much does he or she want to make, and then what can he or she produce per hour?
A quick and valuable way to boost your hygiene “TME” (Team Member Efficiency) is to measure on a 4:1 and up to return. This can be further boosted by implementing value-add services such as fluoride varnish. Often adding a few bonus services per day can be all the difference to go from a 3:1 to 4:1, or from a 4:1 to a 5:1 and above. Plus these hygiene services can greatly help your patients avoid preventable root canals and cavities. Plus they are typically not covered by insurance in adults, which means less accounting, instant cash flow, and not AR or insurance claims.
Some examples of these valuable services your hygiene department include:
- Bonded Sealants
- A guarantee (yes I know you cannot usually guarantee results but you have to dig deep to find something you can guarantee to take the risk out of it for your patient, be creative!)
- Social Proof – such as why “85 or 95%” of your patients choose to have this done, etc.
- Stories of other successful patients
- Consultative recommendations (valuable to both your team member and your patient) vs simply make a transaction (where a win-lose relationship exists)
By incentivizing your team members to make and help your patients stay healthier, everybody wins. In the long run, it saves your patients thousands of dollars as well as pain by avoiding preventable dental care and other medical issues that are interrelated.
Remember that it’s easy to focus on negotiating the per hour rate you pay your hygienist. But what you should really be focusing on is the net production that your Hygienist will produce. Let the superstars show you what they can do and earn the extra pay. But the laggards will actually weed themselves out by under performing and realizing they may not have what it takes to help grow your hygiene apartment and most importantly provide more care to your patients in need.
The upside of a recession is that team members and potential team members are typically more motivated, because they know there’s more at stake and more to lose by not working now, more than ever. As Dan Sullivan says in his great book, The Laws of Lifetime Growth, “focusing on the reward is a trap because it diverts your creative energy from what generates the rewards in the first place, and the value that your audience gets from what you do.“ Look beyond just the pay, and what really motivates your hygienists to work for your team. Whether it is reducing debt, buying a home, supporting a cause or raising a family, this is the real reason a hygienist want to be part of your team in the first place.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic of structuring your hygiene compensation, check out this 10 minute video I just recorded which is free for a limited time by clicking here.