Overstaffed or Understaffed?
When I started my practice, like many of you, I had one employee. Then, as I grew, it was easy to add another and another. Now, 4 1/2 years into this practice, I have 7 team members and I’m looking to grow the team. But during my 27 years in total practice, I have always faced one question: Is it better to be overstaffed or understaffed? The benefits of each are apparent.
If you’re understaffed by just a bit, you’ll save money and you won’t burden your overhead with payroll issues. However, you’ll always find yourself and your team working at 110%. You’ll also find that many of the smaller issues in the office just don’t get addressed. Maybe your marketing plan isn’t that well established or your Instagram isn’t so well handled. But again, you’ll stay within your overhead target and bring home more money.
If you’re overstaffed by a bit, you’re able to assign more tasks to more people and hopefully increase the customer service experience as well as reduce overall stress levels. However, your overhead is going to go up a that could be a stressor in itself.
Earlier this year I found myself at 13.3% staff overhead including all taxes, etc., however, I also found my stress levels going up. Sure, our aligner percentages had gone up which means less chair time for most appointments, and we were averaging about $700,000 production per chairside assistant. Pretty good, but with that comes issues.
If someone is out because of illness or personal issues, the days can be very tough and administrative work can go undone. Also, it sets up a dynamic where it becomes very tough to let someone go for underperforming. The leverage the team members have is great. Compounding that last fact is that in Dallas, where unemployment is almost non-existent, finding another team member is tough.
So, I recently made the decision to add two more assistants and one more administrative team member. Why? I expect growth and need to be prepared. I am done (for now) “playing from behind” and am willing to sacrifice some short-term profit for some long-term happiness and lower stress levels.
Of course, more team members always means more problems, but I’ll take that chance to allow better customer service and more attention to the details that run an effective practice.
What are your thoughts?
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Wishing you all the best!!!
GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.