Why you need a bonus system

It is performance review time in your practice. You are faced with a dilemma that has happened before and you know it is about to happen again.

In walks a team member – call her Erin. She has been with your practice for six years. Erin is dependable and does an adequate job. She is reliable but not terribly assertive. She will accept responsibilities when given to her but she does not seek them. She knows the practice but does not lead the team as effectively as she could.

At the conclusion of her review, you give Erin a sizable raise in her salary, not because you truly believe she deserves that much more money but because you are afraid that if you do not give her a significant increase, she may look for another position someplace else. You do not want to lose her so you live with this decision, even if you are unhappy about it.

It should not surprise you to know that this scenario plays out in thousands of practices every year. Face it, the dental team is one of the most important assets of the practice. However, like all investments, your team must also be assessed from the standpoint of profitability, or return on investment.

You probably have allocated a certain percentage of practice overheads to be used for staff expenses. This formula, though valuable, only represents a number on a piece of paper.

Here is where it gets a bit dodgy. How do you stay within your practice’s financial boundaries while at the same time keeping your staff happy and motivated? The implementation of an effective bonus system is an excellent solution.

Often, a bonus system is the perfect catalyst for team members like Erin who are clearly capable of more than they are delivering. All they need is a push. Bonus systems are the perfect solution.

A bonus system can motivate your team

Can team members like Erin be kept happy while at the same time getting them more motivated?

Yes – by creating a well-organised, well-run practice and implementing a bonus system. The difference between salary and a bonus system is important to the practice’s financial equation.

A salary is a fixed expense that must be paid regardless of return on investment, while a bonus is a variable expense that is paid relative to the desired increase in annual production and profitability.

That’s why Erin’s raise, which increases fixed expenses, poses such a problem. If her additional revenue comes from a bonus system tied to an increase in production, the practice will be far better served. And Erin would be quite pleased to learn that she could potentially make more money through a successful bonus incentive than through salary increases.

Are dental teams likely to approve of the concept of a bonus system? Absolutely. When Levin Group begins consulting to a practice, often the very first question we hear from the dental team is: ‘Are we going to get a bonus system?’

Levin Group has seen many instances where a high-performance team spurred on by the bonus programme has finally excelled to reach all the practice goals.

Improving your bottom line

Bonuses can be beneficial for the dentist and the staff, but the team must completely accept the idea. Staff members must have a firm grasp of what the bonus is and how they get it.

In addition, the system should be relatively easy to comprehend with results measured daily so that the staff know where they stand in relation to the goal and the resulting bonus. Nothing is better than excitement building up as the practice performs better and the team continues to work to increase production.

Bonus systems help to build a cohesive team by focusing everyone’s efforts on working towards the singular goal of practice success.


Bonus systems offer incentives to team members while at the same time keeping fixed expenses from getting out of control. You can’t offer your staff unlimited salary increases. However, you can offer them a bonus system where everyone benefits.

Remember that there are people like Erin in every

practice. You probably have superior team members just waiting to emerge. Your task is to create the climate that allows this to happen.

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