Operating your business within the framework of a more condensed schedule can yield maximal productivity in fewer hours and fewer workdays. I am reminded of a statement offered by my childhood dentist, “I can produce as much in 25 hours per week as it would take most dentists 35 hours to produce.” The data bear out that dentists operating within a highly efficient, compressed work schedule tend to be more productive and ultimately more profitable. Dentists utilizing a three day work week often out produce those laboring four or even five days per week. The explanation for this is that these three day practices are operating more efficiently. There are fewer openings in their schedules, and waiting lists of patients help to ensure that. Schedule compaction not only fosters greater hourly productivity, but also enhances profitability through overhead reduction.
The elimination of additional days per week of hourly staff pay and associated variable costs can reduce overhead and directly flow to your bottom line. Less time at work permits periods of rejuvenation necessary for most dentists to side-step the all too frequent reality of occupational burnout. A dental school instructor related an anecdote of once dining with colleagues, each sharing numbers of annual practice production, in an attempt to go one better than the others. On the contrary, my friends and I often try to outdo each other by actually scheduling the fewest number of workdays per year. Net income being equal, the true victor in terms of practice success may be the dentist achieving this income result via the fewest labor hours invested.
Operating your practice on a three day work week offers multiple variations of workday selection, provides patients with multiple appointment time options and helps prevent workplace boredom. For example, a doctor may choose to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of one week and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the next. Vacation time can be worked into the six day chasm between weeks, eliminating the necessity to close the practice for an entire week. When the doctor elects to open early on Monday and Friday and close late on Tuesday and Thursday, patients will always have convenient scheduling options. Patients can choose appointments on any day of the week, early morning, through the lunch hour or after work, even though the practice is only open three days any given week.
Another option for the doctor is to open the practice the same three days every week. Whether the doctor chooses M-W, T-Th, or W-Fr, the resulting five day break between patients regularly seems adequate to reduce professional burnout. The downside to this type of regularity in the schedule is the difficulty it imposes on patients to find convenient appointment times. Any three day work week also encroaches on a doctor’s ability to treat dental emergencies in a timely fashion. For these reasons, a doctor may elect to open Monday through Thursday one week and Tuesday through Friday the next. This schedule affords the doctor a four day weekend every other week and permits patients to be seen in a prudent manner through convenient appointment times.