Question: Recently, it has been challenging for us to locate personnel because we are shorthanded. Should I think about contracting out front office work?
This query is quite pertinent! I’ve avoided outsourcing in the past because I like to have direct control over important activities. In general, I dislike having my company’s success depend on a third party that I cannot direct or control.
However, given the current economic climate, growing expenses, and labor market challenges, some dentists may need to take this into account.
Let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks. I’ll start with the adverse aspect of the situation.
The Cons: Outsourcing has the propensity to be “set it and forget it.” “Oh, it’s not my concern; we’re paying them to handle it,” However, if these outside firms/contractors manage things poorly or it results in a loss of revenue, guess what? Suddenly, it becomes your issue.
When you appoint a worker, you would (ideally):
- Hold routine coordination meetings.
- Educate them on how things should be done in your office.
- Team members should communicate openly within the workplace.
- Keep track of staff statistics and output.
As required, offer assistance and respond to queries.
Do all the tiny things to grow your team, like making sure everyone understands the overarching mission of your company, emphasizing patient care, encouraging teamwork, attaining short- and long-term objectives, etc.
It might become challenging, if not impossible, to do all of these tasks when you outsource them to a third-party organization or contractor.
In my experience, even when an employee is 25 feet away at the front desk, most dental practice owners already struggle with managing and supervising their workers. This means that if they outsource a task, the situation will worsen and could even turn disastrous unless extra care is taken to guarantee correct control.
Having said that, there are some tasks that I would never outsource, especially those that are essential to the smooth operation of my firm, such as my duties as in-office Treatment Coordinator, the office calendar, and a few other tasks. It greatly depends on the circumstances whether you outsource or not.
After that, let’s examine the opposing side of the argument.
The Pros: Outsourcing is frequently used in companies to reduce costs and boost productivity. It may be less expensive to outsource work to a company that specializes in it if it doesn’t need to be done internally.
Certain tasks, such as marketing, insurance filing, and insurance verification, don’t always need to be done internally (mailings, web design, Google PPC, SEO, etc.). Because of their expertise, if someone else can do it competently for less money and perform a wonderful job, that’s great!
Even some of our clients have successfully outsourced a small portion of their reception work, having a third party take care of new patient phone calls for a specific marketing campaign. However, there is a very important caveat: in order for this to work, you absolutely MUST do your research and choose a wonderful company.
In the end, I believe that outsourcing may make sense in some circumstances. Outsourcing may be the best option if you can’t locate the necessary staff in-house and you’ll save a lot of money doing so. Additionally, it might be convenient for your staff to concentrate on scheduling patients, providing excellent patient care, and fostering practice growth when some of the laborious or logistical tasks are taken care of by someone else.
However, the only practices I’ve observed to work with outsourcing are those that make a concerted effort to maintain all the things they’d normally do for an external contractor with the employee. For example, they maintain constant communication, organize frequent coordination meetings with the contractor, instruct them on how to conduct business in their office, keep track of statistics and output, etc. Do all of that while keeping oversight in place, just as you would for an internal team member.
The final point I’ll make is that, even if a task is outsourced, you still need to know how to perform it successfully on your own and have policies in place for how it should be carried out.
What happens if your contractor disappears or performs a subpar job if you don’t know how to do something well? You’re in trouble then! As a result, the first step is to establish efficient front office systems for your firm as well as a policy on how things should be done in order to succeed and spur growth. Once that task has been completed appropriately, you can delegate it to another person, whether they are an internal employee or an outside contractor. You will be able to instruct them on how to do it right and assess their performance.