With growing demands and limited schedules, more businesses are turning to outsourcing tasks. It can have big benefits, but there may also be some challenges.
Outsourcing is, quite simply, contracting with specialized third parties for certain tasks and services. It has become an increasingly popular means for businesses to lower operational costs, and streamline processes. Covid has opened our eyes to just how many things can and should be outsourced, leaving us more focused on patient care.
Some common delegable tasks include: marketing, medical billing, janitorial, and accounting services. Before execution, it is important to approach outsourcing with a strategic, rational, and integrative perspective.
Evaluate your pain points
Start with an honest evaluation of your business processes, noting any deficiencies. Determine if the function could be incorporated into an existing employee’s daily responsibilities. If it is cost or time prohibitive, it may be the appropriate solution.
In addition, determine the strategic need. Perhaps your internal accounting is well managed by a capable team member, but an accountant is better suited for annual tax preparation. Other functions may need more frequent attention, such as laundry and janitorial services.
Know your numbers
Having baseline assessments for service levels and costs will help determine if outsourcing is the best option for your business. If you can accomplish the task at a lower cost and with a faster turnaround, the decision may be obvious. Additional things to consider: does the task require purchasing more equipment or square footage? This may further support why contract services may be the most cost-effective, and desirable solution for your practice.
Time management that affects your efficiency inside and outside the practice, has value as well. Scrutinize the amount of time you and your team members spend on specific tasks. It may seem efficient to utilize your hygienist for alternate roles. After all, they are already working in the practice, right? Realistically though, they probably add more practice value as a clinician, than building your social media following.
Likewise, if a team member is unable to keep up with insurance changes, providers, and clauses, it may be time to consider a firm that specializes in insurance and medical billing. The time and money lost in unpaid claims could have a profound negative impact on your bottom line.
The time and expense required to hire can be profound. Some estimates say it can take up to 6 months to recoup the costs incurred when hiring and training new hires. With outsourcing, you only pay for the services you need, minimizing detracting productive labor costs, and more efficiently utilizing administrative labor costs. The extra cash flow allows for investment and growth in other parts of your business.
Avoid the pitfalls
As with all aspects of business, there are potential pitfalls. When using third parties, the protection of personal information, and careful attention to security is critical. Anything with intellectual property should never be outsourced in order to avoid the risk of giving away your secret sauce.
When considering contract services, take into account various vendors, their philosophies, cultural barriers, and practicalities such as communication and time zones. For example, utilizing a foreign vendor may be the cheaper option, but if workflow efficiency is your challenge, this may not be the best option for your business. Unavoidable realities, such as time zones and language barriers, may lead to slow turnaround times, lack of input, and control.
A recent order for online print services resulted in a three-week delay before receiving the products. It was the most cost-effective option, but the products were lost in the mail. The precious time forfeited tracking the packages, emails, and back-and-forth phone calls with customer service was simply not worth the savings. Businesses generally consider outsourcing solely from a cost-savings standpoint. But it has the power to do much more for your practice.
Embrace the possibility
Contract servicing has the ability to grow your business by expanding its reach far beyond your brick and mortar building. While every business decision carries risk, your outsourcing partners manage that risk for you. If it enhances your practice, improves efficiency, and saves you money, it’s worthy of consideration. Through marketing, referrals, and business partnerships, your practice has the power to rise high above your competitors by utilizing outsourcing.
Stephanie Baker RDH BS
Stephanie Baker, RDH BS is a coach, consultant, speaker, writer, business owner (Volume 52), singer, and a Registered Dental Hygienist. She is affectionately known as The Singing Hygienist. Her clinical and support team experiences are the inspiration for her writing and the motivation for coaching clients to success. She is a regular contributor to various publications within dentistry and beyond. In addition to feeding the homeless, starting a non-profit, and being involved in her church and other community organizations, she sings professionally and enjoys several creative outlets. She resides in Florida where she enjoys the company of her husband, three children, and four beautiful grandchildren.