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A Bonus System that Works! | The Thriving Dentist Show

A Bonus System that Works! | The Thriving Dentist Show

Have you implemented a proper bonus system in your dental practice for your team? 

I have been a fan of the bonus system/compensation system since I entered this profession in 1980.

How has the bonus system helped me?

I must tell you that it has been one of our main keys to success, as it has allowed me to attract and keep the best team members.

Why you should have a bonus system? 

It gives your team a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. What a well-designed bonus system achieves is that it aligns the goals of the owner and that of the team members. It will motivate them to earn the bonus so they can use it for their requirements. Who wouldn’t love a few extra bucks?

When you put a bonus system in place that is measurable and achievable, it gives your team a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. And in a lot of instances, it focuses on helping everyone come together.

Finally, they get a bonus check, and everyone has reached their goals.

What are the guidelines for a proper Bonus system? 

From my experience, I find that there are four main guidelines: 

  1. It has to be a win-win
  2. The bonus system must be easy and clear to understand 
  3. It has to be immediate as possible
  4. It needs to be tied to a specific measurable goal

It has to be a win-win

The bonus system you implement should be a win for both you and your team members. There is no point in giving a paycheck, grudgingly.

Also, you cannot lose out financially by giving your team a bonus. 

The bonus system must be easy and clear to understand 

What is the point of having a bonus system that neither your team nor you understand? 

It should be simple and easy to comprehend. You don’t want your team members to question you constantly, whether they will get the bonus as they don’t understand how it will be implemented.

So, make it simple and uncomplicated. It would then be easily achievable too. 

It has to be as immediate as possible.

Give them a target to be achieved and award them monthly or quarterly. Rewarding yearly is a little bit too long, as the team will lose focus midway since they will have to work 12 more months to get to the next bonus. 

Research shows that immediate bonus systems bring in more effective results, and you would be able to achieve your goals faster. 

It needs to be tied to a specific and measurable goal.

You can’t give a bonus to your team if you feel like they have worked well, that is not a proper system as it would be given based on your instincts and to please them.

Rewarding like this is not measurable and therefore, not repeatable.

The team would not know what they would have to do to receive it again, and you wouldn’t know it either.

So have a specific goal and share it with your team members. Let them achieve it and then reward. It then is measurable and can be repeated. 

For you to implement an appropriate bonus system, the above guidelines will need to be met. 

To learn more, listen to my podcast. 

Bonus schemes

Listed below are a few bonus schemes that you could implement in your dental practice beginning today.

  1. Starter Bonus
  2. Individual Bonus
  3. Fun Bonus
  4. Team Bonus

Starter Bonus

This bonus scheme is simple, easy, and something that we could use to build some positive momentum. It is straightforward, and if an office has never had one, this might be the ideal way to start, or if an office has had one, but it has been dormant, this could be the way to start.

In my practice, we pick something in the practice that has a few KPI, something we would like to improve on, let me share with you a good example of a starter bonus. 

Set a target for your team to achieve like new google reviews for your dental practice, since reviews are especially important. It is not only the number of reviews that you have but also the frequency of getting the reviews is important too.

So, a simple starter bonus might be, reward the entire team on the number of new Google reviews received during the month. If you are an office that is consistently getting ten new Google reviews a month, you will need to stretch it a little bit. 

First of all, everyone’s compensation, whatever their salary, their hourly rate, their daily rate should be based on a lot of different factors like their skills, their experience, their contribution to the practice, etc. A bonus should be given for work done above and beyond normal performance. 

Also, if they get double the results then they get double the bonus. It would motivate them to achieve their goals.

Team Bonus

The way this is done is we select a monthly goal for collection for the practice, and one of the simple ways to do this is, I like to grow the practice, and I’d like to always have double-digit growth. 

So, you could look at your numbers for the last year for 2019 and figure out what your average monthly collections were and then say the goal would be 10% double-digit or anything above 10%.

You could make your goal 10% greater each month, and if you get that every month, then the entire team gets a bonus.

You could distribute any amount over an average of what your goal is. You could distribute 20% of that to the team divided equally. Now the only variation I would make to equal that would be if you had part-time people, it might be prorated by taking that number and dividing it. 

Individual Bonus

This is the system that I currently have in my practice, LifeSmiles, and I love it. We have an individual bonus for each team member tied to something that they have some effect on. They don’t have 100% control over it, but they have some effect on it. Let me give you an example. 

Carlie is my hygiene scheduling coordinator. She is responsible for putting butts in the seats in hygiene, and our goal is to fill 92% or more of the available hygiene appointments. That is an A on the report card. 

So, Carlie is responsible for the hygiene schedule. Now she does many other things, but that is her core responsibility, so she gets a $250 a month bonus if we are at 92% or more filled hygiene appointments for the month. If she is at 95% or more, it doubles to $500.

It pays for itself because every filled hygiene appointment is worth $150.

The reason I love the individual bonus scheme is that then you can direct a person on something, they have some control over, and there’s a way to do this for every team member that doesn’t require a lot of administration. 

Fun Bonus

It could be something where we say, – hey, we’re going to do a spa day for the team if this happens. team members love spa days where they get it might be manicures, pedicures, facials, pampering. 

We have one that is called the grab bag bonus, which is a fun one to do. It is something that we have done for some time in our practice. It might run for two months. We say, Hey, these two months we’re going to do this.


It is super immediate because it’s daily, and every day they have an objective. If I can describe it, we have a daily production goal that represents a stretch from where we have been, and if we hit that goal, everyone gets a bonus that day.

Even though it happens daily, it is paid monthly, and it is fun.

The goals of all these bonus ideas are that we want the entire team to figuratively to feel like everybody’s in the same boat, rowing in the same direction towards commonly defined goals and objectives. 

I hope this article will help you to set up a goal and to achieve it successfully with the support of a proper bonus system. 

Please share with us your favorite bonus system. I would love to hear from you.

In my latest podcast episode on this topic, I will be sharing answers to the questions below: 

  1. How do I know if my practice can afford to add a bonus system?
  2. Gary, should there be a waiting period for new team members before they are included in a bonus?
  3. I have heard you talk about the idea of providing a bonus to drive a particular KPI in the practice, can you please provide a few more examples of what KPIs to consider for this type of bonus system?
  4. Do you recommend sticking to a bonus system for a long period or should I mix it up now and again?