In my first year as a dental office manager, my head assistant asked me, “What’s my pay raise this year?” This question seemed old to me.
First, this was not a government job where one gets “COLA… This text opens a new tab to the official term…” (Cost of Living Adjustment), this was a small business where everyone had to show their worth in earning their pay raise.
I looked at her and asked, “I don’t know? What do you want your pay raise to be?”
She looked at me like I just ran over her foot.
How to ask for a raise in a dental office
When employees come to us about their salary, we need to educate them not just on the clinical side of their job, but the part that they’re responsible for to make themselves a great employee.
In the case of this assistant, I sat her down and explained that it was her job to ask for what would keep her here, and it was my job to pay her what I thought would keep her with us.
She was floored that I would make her responsible for her own pay!
It’s not that I’m trying to pass the buck, but just as one staff member is responsible for their action and employment, so are we.
I often hear, “I’m not getting paid what I’m worth.”
When I hear that statement, I ask, “Well, did you ask your boss to pay you what you are worth?”
Most of the time, I get, “My doc should know what I’m worth.”
I’m sure everyone’s doctor would love to pay us what we “feel” we are worth, but they can’t. We need to get away from words like, “I feel I am worth this much” and give our boss the facts of what we are worth.
Tips on asking for a pay raise
Here a few examples of what you should bring with you when you are discussing a raise with your doctor:
- Have a number in mind for what you want. If you don’t ask for what you want, there is little chance that you’re going to get it.
- Make sure you bring these annual numbers to your meeting to remind the dentist how well you are doing.
- Employee retention
- New patients
- Percentage of accepted treatment
If any of these numbers are not where the doctor wants them to be, bring an action plan of how you are going to make them better.
- Work with hygiene on wording to set a production schedule
- Work with assistants to make sure all questions the patient had for the doctor were answered and understood
- Increase your relationship with referring doctors
- Give small discounts for amounts paid in full at the start of treatment
- Offer a cash discount
- For delinquent accounts, have a contest with the front desk staff to see who can collect the most in a week (offer a cash prize)
- Pay for scrubs
- Pay for CE
- Pay for Sam’s Club or Costco Membership
- Have monthly or quarterly staff development events
- Build relationships with referral offices
- Recruit new offices for referrals
Percentage of accepted treatments
- Offer 3rd party payment plans
- If you’re fee for service practice, still offer to help file patients’ insurance
- Offer discounts for paid in full at the start of treatment
- Break treatment down to make it more manageable for the patient (if possible)
These are suggestions that work in and outside the dental industry. If you go into your meeting with your doctor or boss armed with facts instead of feelings, there’s a greater chance you’re going to get what you “feel” you are worth.
Meet the Author
Jennifer is a former U.S. Army medic with over 25 years of administrative experience.
She received her FAADOM in 2019 and is Chapter President of AADOM Austin… This text opens a new tab to the Austin chapter website…. Jenn is excited to be inducted this September in the first AADOM Mastership Class!
When she has spare time, you can find her working with metals and creating art pieces in her home studio. Jenn and her husband Bob enjoy being parents to several fur babies.