On this episode of the Delivering WOW Podcast, I’m thrilled to be joined by Dr. Paul Etchison. In this episode, Paul reveals the secret to building a powerful dental team and preventing employee turnover.
Paul is the author of ‘Dental Practice Hero: From Ordinary Practice to Extraordinary Experience’. The book details how dentists can grow startups to $1m in collections the first year. As well as explaining how to de-stress the day to day running of a practice and how to become a leader that influences practice culture so positively that practice growth becomes organic.
Paul owns a large office in the Chicago suburbs and only does two days per week clinical dentistry. He is also the host of the Dental Practice Heroes Podcast. During our conversation, he talks about dealing with team power, culture and running a great practice. The practice is likely to collect a staggering $4.5 million in collections this year. And, if that’s not enough, Paul has never lost a single team member throughout the eight years his practice has been running, and as a result he has zero employee turnover.
On the podcast, we discuss:
How Dr. Paul Etchison got into dentistry and started his own dental practice
Why Dr. Paul Etchison has experienced zero turnover and what he attributes that to
Tips for hiring the best team members, no matter where you are positioned
How to grow demand for your services and why block booking is so beneficial to your bottom line
The importance of creating an amazing patient experience and getting referrals from your existing patients
How to keep your team happy, engaged and accountable for practice growth
Dr. Paul Etchison and his good friend, Dr. Justin Bhullar have released an amazing online course called ‘Dental Business Mentor,’ which includes over 175 videos and 50 documents relevant to dental practice management. So, if you are interested in taking part in this course, you can learn more about it here.
To watch a short trailer video of the episode, click play below:
Sharing practice numbers with team members is a touchy subject for some practice owners. But it’s an important subject to consider because it can have a big impact on practice performance.
I recently reached out to the members of the Delivering WOW Dental Hangout Facebook group to get their take on the issue. My questions to them were simple: Should the practice numbers be shared with the office manager or team leader. And I asked them to defend their answer: If so, why? If not, why not?
Members were overwhelmingly in favor of sharing. In defending their answers these three themes formed.
Sharing numbers gives your team more context to their work.
Sharing your numbers is similar to sharing your practice vision with your team in that it helps you put context into key areas of team member performance.
For example, as I shared in my book (which you can get for free here)in 2011 I walked into my practice and told my small team I had a big vision. I wanted to grow while making a greater impact on people’s lives than we had been making. And I wanted to be different. I wanted to create an extraordinary customer experience for my patients. I wanted more! Had I tasked my team to help me achieve that vision without more context, they would have no idea what to do next.
The same is true with sharing numbers with key team members. With so many tasks that need to be performed in our practice, important things can seem like “busy work” without putting them into context. By sharing numbers with key team members, we let them know how seemingly disconnected tasks work together.
Additionally, sharing numbers shows team members where revenue goes. It shows them costs they don’t realize you encounter and trends in practice spending. They can see when things like supply costs, lease payments, or real estate taxes rise. When team members see the costs of running a practice, they often get even more aware the areas where they can help, such as reducing waste, negotiating supply costs, and more.
Sharing your numbers with your office manager or team leader builds trust.
Although some people hesitate to share numbers because they fear it could cause a rift between team members and practice ownership, many people found otherwise.
One member commented that sharing the numbers ensures the “boat will be going in the right direction.” She said it fosters an environment of “trust” and “honesty,” in her practice, which she described as “two vital things for a lasting (and rewarding) relationship.” She continued, “It’s been a huge part of our success, if everyone knows where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going… those who are the right fit will be ready to help row!”
Another member said, “It breeds trust, it breeds culture and the numbers are the way to measure success!”
Because the Facebook group is closed, I have kept these responses anonymous. But trust was a common theme from the members.
Sharing numbers helps you incentivize and reward based on practice health.
Another common theme with the members was something else I talked about in my book, rewarding based on practice health. In my book, I mentioned that my team understands that as our business becomes more profitable, they can earn more money because I share the increasing profits with them. They know that can enable them to do things in their lives to achieve their personal dreams. Having conversations connecting practice success with their personal success helps connect their personal goals to my practice vision.
One member put it this way:
When you share the performance results with those who are performing, performance begins to improve every time. It’s a form of transferring ownership. Every day we come into the practice we surround ourselves with brilliant people. Letting them see the successes and opportunities for improvement will allow their creative juices to flow and help capture those opportunities. Use data as a way to empower and motivate. Celebrate successes daily and identify one to two opportunities daily as you review together and incredible things will happen
Your numbers should be shared with your entire team on a monthly basis. A goal and bonus system should be in place in every dental practice. If you invest in your team they will invest in you and your patients.
Sharing numbers, setting goals based on those numbers, and assigning a bonus system that allows you to share in the upside helps get the entire team working together.
Do you share practice numbers with team members?
Do you share your practice numbers with team members? If so, which team members? All team members? Just your office manager or team leader?
What about your numbers? Do you share all of them? Just high-level profit/loss numbers plus key performance indicators?
Building a WOW practice takes a lot of work. And if you try to do all the work yourself, you’ll never be able to do it all. Even worse, you’ll spend your days stressed and frustrated. Eventually, you’ll burn out, never reaching your full potential as a dentist or practice owner.
The only way to build a WOW practice that delivers amazing patient experiences while maximizing practice growth is to have rock star team members supporting you. You can provide top-quality clinical care, deliver spalike patient experiences, and have systems and processes to run an efficient practice. But if you don’t have team members you can trust, you will never reach your full potential.
But finding the best team members is something many practices struggle with. In the Delivering WOW Dental Hangout Facebook group, dozens of practice owners and I talked about how we find amazing team members to support us. If you’re struggling to find the best talent to grow your team, here are some of the places fellow practice owners and I have used to find top talent.
The benefit of using sites that like is they are dedicated to matching job seekers with new jobs. But if you only post on online job search sites, you might be limiting the quantity and quality of applicants. Many times, the best team members are valued by their current employers. Thus, they might not be looking at job ads online and online job search sites should only be used as one part of a thorough search.
One of the best things social media has done is allow people to connect with others all over the world. And with Dental Facebook groups like the Delivering WOW Dental Hangout Facebook group, you could connect with thousands of dental professionals working hard to support each other. If the group allows, create a post letting people know about your opening. And if you’re not sure, just message the group admin and ask. Even if nobody in the group is a good fit, someone in their extended network might be.
Dental Events and Association Meetings
Conferences, trade shows, and association meetings can be great places to meet team members. Many people who attend events and meetings are there because they want to advance themselves in the dental industry. That’s a good sign that they are growth-minded and eager to learn and advance.
Referrals from Dental Sales Reps
Dental sales reps interact with dozens of dental practices. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you have an immediate need, let them know you’re looking for a rock star. Describe the ideal candidate. And ask them to gauge the interest of anyone they think would be a good fit, even if they are unsure whether the person is actively looking for a new opportunity.
Dental Networking, Group Coaching, and Mastermind Groups
By actively participating in those types of groups, you’ll get to meet and build relationships with a lot of practice owners and potential rock stars at once. And the next time you have a position to fill, ask your fellow members for referrals.
The reality is, rock star team members are all around us. And because we don’t always know when we’ll have a position to fill, it’s best practice to always be looking for top quality people.
As some members discussed, sometimes we need to think outside of the “dental box.” We can train people by teaching dental terminology and our systems and processes. But we can’t train people to have good personalities, be outgoing and friendly, or have a strong work ethic.
So, look everywhere and never stop looking. You may find your next rockstar waiting tables at your favorite lunch spot. Give her your card and just get to know her. And the next time you have a position to fill, reach out.
Are you ready to find and develop rock star team members?
Rock star team members are everywhere but they’re not always looking for jobs. That’s why it’s best to not wait until you have a position to fill to start looking. It’s much better to start building relationships with people you can reach out to when a need arises.
Also, no matter where you find your next team member, it’s critical that you continue to train and develop them. That’s the only way they’ll reach their full potential.
If you want help finding and training your team members, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where you can access top training and coaching from experts in all facets of running a practice.
Dental assistants are some of the most important people in your dental practice. Often the face of the practice, they are often the first people patients meet when they sit in your chair. They are by your patients’ sides throughout their time in your practice.
Because of the influence they have on the patient experience, developing top-performing dental assistants must be a high priority of dental practices. And for dental assistants who want to advance in their careers, consistent improvement in key areas can make you indispensable to your practice.
Here are six important functions top-performing dental assistants execute well.
Get to know each patient by name and face.
The best dental assistants know patients before they come into the office. Perhaps the practice can put a system in place to take pictures of each new patient for their chart. That way, the dental assistant can check the patient’s chart and greet patients by sight. This will make sure each patient knows they are not just a number. The practice cares about them enough learn their name and face.
If you don’t have patient pictures in their charts, the dental assistant should ask the receptionist which person in the waiting room is the next one. You don’t want your dental assistant to walk into the waiting room and call out the patient’s name. That is very impersonal. They should know who the patient is so that they can walk directly up to them and meet, greet, and then seat them by name.
Review medical history and patient forms before each appointment.
Before the patient comes in, the best dental assistants review their medical history and patient forms. Are there any medical conditions that require pre-med? Is there anything that needs updating? Taking just a few minutes to review medical history and patient forms makes the patient experience more efficient, customized, and welcoming.
Explain procedures and ensure informed consent is obtained.
Patients feel much more comfortable when they understand procedures in plain terms. This is where dental assistants can really stand out. Top-performing dental assistants know enough about procedures to explain them and answer questions. Once informed consent is obtained, dental assistants will also make sure it has been properly documented.
Help patients during procedures.
Throughout procedures, most dental assistants read the doctor’s needs to ensure she or he has everything required to perform the procedure. The best dental assistants anticipate these needs, ensuring the doctor has everything needed in real-time. This makes procedures smoother and quicker.
The best dental assistants do not only read the doctor’s needs, though; they also read the patients’ needs. They’ll notice if they’re tightening their grip or if they feel uncomfortable and either get your attention or adjust what they are doing to ensure the patient is comfortable.
Deliver post-procedure instructions.
Once the procedure is done, the best dental assistants reorient the patient and ensure they are ready to return to their daily life. If the patient is elderly or on nitrogen, they’ll make sure to sit them up slowly in order to avoid dizziness. They’ll give the patient time to get comfortable and ready to go. Once the patient is reoriented, dental assistants should give post-operative instructions in plain language. Then, they should invite the patient to call or return to the office with any questions.
Dismiss and hand off patients.
After post-procedure instructions are given, the best dental assistants ensure each patient is cleaned off then escort them to the front desk. Once there, they will update the front-desk staff with specific instructions about next steps needed for the patient. This reduces the chance of mistakes in billing or scheduling, two big patient frustrations.
Are your dental assistants top performers?
Dental assistants are with patients throughout their experience with your practice. They can make a big difference in patient experience, practice efficiency, and productivity.
If your dental assistants are not performing at the highest level, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where you can access top training and coaching from experts in all facets of running a practice.
Data tells us that between 66% and 87% of workers are disengaged. Even at modest salaries, disengagement is costly. Disengaged employees are more absent than engaged employees and significantly less productive and profitable. Eventually, disengaged team members leave, adding additional costs to hire, onboard, and train new team members.
One way to help improve engagement is to ensure each team member feels appreciated for the work they perform. When they do, they are much more likely to work hard and feel a part of a team. If not, they often do just enough to keep from losing their jobs.
You might appreciate your team members to the moon and back, but if they don’t feel appreciated, it might not do much good. In many dental practices, there is a disconnect between how leaders present appreciation versus how team members feel appreciated. To get the best out of your team, we must be sure to show appreciation in the way they feel it. That requires us to express appreciation on an individual basis, too, because people feel appreciation differently.
Here are the four ways team members might feel appreciation. If you have been expressing appreciation in one of more of these without results, a simple switch might be all you need.
Express praise using words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation are praise expressed in words or in writing. If somebody does something well, praise them. And be specific. Don’t just say, “Hey, you did a good job.” Instead, add some specifics, such as, “Great job setting up that marketing campaign. You really knocked it out of the park with that audience targeting!”
The specificity helps in many ways. First, it lets people know you are sincere. You’re not just saying “good job” as a matter of habit. You were paying attention. Second, it lets team members know what behavior to continue doing. In this example, it’s paying attention to audience targeting when setting up dental marketing campaigns.
Giving words of affirmation is the simplest and lowest-cost way to express appreciation to team members. And many team members will feel appreciated when they know your praise is sincere. This is especially true when your words of affirmation are paired with other ways to strengthen your dental practice culture.
Spend quality time with team members.
One of the best ways to improve practice culture is to spend quality time with team members. To some team members, a few minutes of quality time is appreciated more than even monetary rewards. Like most ways to express appreciation, it doesn’t have to be a lot of time. An out-of-office lunch works. Even taking a few minutes to go for a walk around the parking lot to burn some calories and learn about each other personally can help. Many team members appreciate even a few minutes of your undivided attention and quality conversation.
Perform acts of service for team members.
Acts of service is an often misunderstood way to express appreciation, with some people believing it requires performing chores or doing someone else’s job. That’s not true. But the reality is, with some team members, actions speak louder than words.
To those employees, words of affirmation or quality time have only a short-term effect, or none at all. But they will remember the time they were stressed by something at home and you offered to help them with their work so they could get home early.
Give team members small, tangible gifts.
Giving someone a tangible gift is another effective way to express appreciation. Again, this doesn’t need to be anything big. But the more thoughtful you can make the gift, the better. A tangible gift is personal and thoughtful. It could be a ticket to a local sporting event, concert, or play; a gift card to their favorite store, or even a little bit of extra time off after a particularly busy period.
If giving gifts isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Note that only 6% of people report that tangible gifts are their favorite way to be appreciated, and 68% of people reported that they appreciate tangible gifts the least out of these four ways.
Are you appreciating team members the way they feel it?
Don’t let your appreciation land flat. No matter how sincere it is, you might not be presenting your appreciation in a way that resonates with your team members. Find out how your team members like to be appreciated, and appreciate them in that way.
If you want help improving team member engagement at your practice, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program today! There, you and your team can access the best resources and coaches in the dental industry.
A healthy team is a productive, high-functioning group. It leads to more growth for your practice, more profits made by your practice, and more lives being changed by your practice. In other words, a healthy team is what makes a practice successful. So, what makes a team healthy?
Josey Sewell, the Team Health, Culture, and Leadership coach for our Dental Platinum Coaching Program, loves to use the Lencioni Team Health Pyramid to describe what makes a team healthy in five simple elements.
Trusting in your team and trusting that they have the ability to take care of the practice without you feeling like you need to be there to manage everything is important. But that’s not what vulnerability-based trust means. When we can count on someone to get something done, that’s not trust. That’s predictability.
Vulnerability-based trust means not showing your team your highlight reel but instead showing them the behind-the-scenes operations. It means you take off any mask you’ve put on and just be yourself. You admit when you fail, you ask for help, and you take ownership when you make mistakes. If your team member has an idea that’s better than yours, having vulnerability-based trust means you recognize that and praise them. Your team has to get past the whole “doctor persona” and really understand you as a person. Be open, honest, and—this can’t be stressed enough—vulnerable. In other words, be transparent. This can be emotional transparency or even financial transparency.
Vulnerability-based trust provides the foundation of the entire pyramid. Without it, you can’t achieve the other elements of the pyramid.
A lot of practice leaders shrink away from conflict because it means confrontation and can destroy relationships within a team. Constructive conflict, however, is conflict around ideas rather than confrontation. Conflict around ideas makes ideas better as they are tweaked according to everyone’s opinions.
If you present an idea to your team during your morning huddle, but nobody participates and tries to make the idea better, the idea will never reach its full potential. If people weigh in and try to improve the idea, then the idea will only get better. A healthy team works together. One person doesn’t come up with all the ideas, expecting the team to just go with it with veiled discussions and guarded comments. If the team is healthy, members will all work on an idea together, regardless of who proposed it. They’ll be willing to debate the idea and even disagree with it if they want to.
Once an idea has been agreed upon after some constructive conflict, your team needs to take action and be committed to making the idea productive.
After an open debate of ideas, your team will be more willing to commit to an idea. If you don’t have that constructive conflict, however, and the idea was yours and yours alone, your team won’t feel thrilled about committing to your idea because they had no say in it.
The doctors can be held accountable by the team too. Accountability isn’t strictly from the top down. Everyone has to be accountable to each other, regardless of their position in the hierarchy, if you want your team to be healthy.
“Results” doesn’t necessarily mean profitability, productivity, or collections. One of the best results you can get is having a team that gets up in the morning excited to work with you. When your team members are happy to come to work, they’ll treat your patients with enthusiasm, and they’ll be happy to help you grow your practice.
Does Your Team Have all Five Elements of a Healthy Team?
All of these elements work in harmony with one another to create a healthy team, and a healthy team means a successful practice. How many of these do you have with your team?
If you need help building these five elements into your team, sign up for our Dental Platinum Coaching Program. In there, you’ll have access to leading experts on all parts of running a practice!
You’re a dentist. You’re a visionary. You have goals you want for your practice and you have a vision for what you want your practice to look like. While you might have a million ideas running through your head, you can’t expect your team to read your mind. And you can’t expect your team to have the same goals as you have.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a team that passionately buys into your practice goals. Your team members can share your practice vision—and they can buy into helping you achieve them. To do so you will need to get them to buy into the possibility that your practice goals will help them achieve other goals that matter to them. By doing so, your practice goals will become personal to them and they will be motivated to help you achieve them.
Here are three things you need to do to get your team to buy in and help you to achieve your practice goals.
Share Your “Why” With Your Team Members
Instead of only talking about what you want to accomplish, talk about why practice goals are important. Even before introducing practice goals, talk with your team about your vision beyond achieving the goals.
Do you want to build a practice that gives back to the community? Do you want to build a practice where all team members can achieve personal goals and spend quality time with their family? Talk with them about why you want to achieve the goal. Only after they understand and agree that your goal is for noble reasons should you explain what your goal is and how you and your team will achieve it.
This is true for big and small goals. For big goals, you might say, “I have something exciting to share with you. It’s a vision for our practice, to make sure we all get home on time, get to take stress-free vacations, and give back to the community by supporting important causes and providing free dental care to people in need.” Your team will be much more interested in that than, “I have a plan to triple profits.”
For smaller goals, such as wanting to go paperless, you might introduce it by saying, “I have an idea to help make all our lives easier and eliminate a lot of busy work in the office so we can all focus on the parts of the practice we love most.”
Starting that way and elaborating with all the benefits to them will help you communicate to your team why going paperless will help everyone. They’ll be more motivated to learn the software they need to learn to make the change for your practice to become paperless. More likely than not, they’ll be excited to go paperless because it will make everything so much easier.
Make Sure Your Team Knows How to Achieve the Goal
Getting your team members to understand the “why” is important. But if you stop there, the excitement and motivation won’t last long. Make sure you also work with your team members to find the simplest, most efficient, and best way to achieve your goal.
Take time to map out a suggested plan so you come to the discussion with an idea. Then, ask for their input so they can feel like a part of the process. You don’t have to accept all of their suggestions but listen to them—especially about things they do more frequently than you.
If your goal requires you to get 100 new patients within the next month, the “why” might be because you need the practice to make more revenue to support labor and overhead costs. But how do you do that? You could do it any number of ways. Marketing is an obvious first choice, but just saying “marketing” doesn’t tell anyone how to get 100 new patients. You need to ask “how” again. How will you market? Facebook ads would be a great start. We regularly attract dozens of new patients on a very small budget using Facebook. Keep asking “how” until you know exactly what each team member needs to do to help you achieve your goal.
Let Your Team Know What Success Looks Like
How will your team members know when they have succeeded? For example, a goal of 100 new patients in a month might sound clear. But what if your Facebook campaign attracts 200 leads, 100 appointments, but only 50 patients who show up? That’s certainly progress but it did not help you achieve your goal. And it didn’t help you earn the revenue you needed.
Thus, once you get your team to understand why and how you will achieve your goal, reiterate what success looks like. In this case, success would look like having 100 patients show up for appointments. Being clear about that helps you and your team can know whether you are on track. If you’re two weeks in and you have 60 appointments but only 20 patients show up, you might be on track for 120 appointments but you’re only on track for 40 patients who show up. That gives you time to adjust your plan. Maybe you need to change your Facebook ad targeting. Maybe you need to add other marketing strategies. Or, maybe you need to adjust your ad copy or split test multiple ads to find better-performing ones.
You can’t get to where you want to go and know when you might need to adjust without knowing what success looks like.
Get Your Team on the Same Page!
Once your team understands these three things, they’ll be ready to get on board with your practice goals and work hard to help you achieve them.
If you want help setting practice goals and getting your team on board with helping you achieve them, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where the best experts in the industry will work with you and your team to help improve every aspect of your practice.
As dentists, we need to lead our practices well. We need to demonstrate good leadership skills to help our practice grow and get the best out of each team member.
But sometimes, dentists have a hard time letting go of tasks they have no business doing themselves. It’s a natural tendency. If we do things ourselves, we know they will be done the way we want them. But if we want to grow our practice, we need to create systems and processes to ensure other people can do tasks as well as we can. This is especially true with tasks that can be done by a team member at a much lower cost than if the dentist had to take time away from patients to do them herself. But letting go is a problem for a lot of dentists.
If you struggle to let go, you are missing out on many benefits. No practice can succeed over the long term if the dentist bears the brunt of the workload. And if it does survive, the doctor will likely burn out fast. If that doesn’t sound fun, it’s because it’s not. The long-term impact of not delegating is burnout. But the short-term impact of not delegating isn’t good either. Here are two reasons to delegate more.
You Can Focus on the Things Only You Can Do
Only you can perform certain procedures but anyone can file paperwork. That might be an extreme example but we often hold onto tasks anyone else in the office could do with proper training and direction. Why spend doctor time filing paperwork, checking voicemail, or doing other tasks anyone can do at a much lower cost?
By managing your team members well and delegating tasks anyone can perform to them, you will be able to focus on the high-impact items only you can do. You can also free up time to get out of the office, be with your family, or take that much-needed vacation. Sometimes you’ll get busy and need to roll up your sleeves to help out but, for the most part, dentists can make their greatest impact on the practice by focusing on doing the things only they can do.
And practice leaders need to focus on strategy, growth, leading team leaders and other team members, and performing other high-level planning. Your time is valuable. You went to school to learn how to specialize in dentistry. You might love to do the marketing, scheduling, and so on, but you didn’t go to school for that—and you can get someone to do those things at a much lower cost than what your time is worth.
Getting People out of Their Comfort Zone Is Where Growth Happens
When we delegate a task to someone, we’re enabling our practice to grow. We’re ensuring we’ve got a capable team that is able to handle any project that is thrown our way. We can trust them to get things done.
Many times dentists don’t delegate because they know how to do the task and their team members don’t. This is especially true with tasks involving specialized software or spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. But we can train our team members to do what we need them to do—and we can even outsource that training to an expert.
By doing so, both you and your team member might step out of your comfort zones. Training or outsourcing the training might be a reach for you. And learning a new piece of software might be a stretch for your team members.
But, in the end, both you and your team members will grow. And delegating things you don’t need to do allows you to spend more of your time treating patients and earning revenue. You grow. Your team grows. And your practice grows, all because you stepped out of your comfort zone to delegate.
Are You Delegating Enough to Your Team?
You can’t—and shouldn’t—do everything in your practice. Your practice will make less money. You will work too many hours. Your team members won’t grow as much as they can. And you’ll eventually burn out. If you’re not delegating enough to your team, start today.
If you need help identifying what to delegate and then doing so effectively, sign up for the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching program today! In WOW Platinum Coaching, you and your team will be trained by leading experts in every aspect of running and growing a dental practice!
Your front office team members are the first people patients interact with, on the phone or when they come to your office. If patients love them, you’ll make a great first impression and be well on your way to building loyalty with your patients. That’s because patients don’t judge your practice based on how you perform dentistry. They expect you to be good with teeth. Patients judge your practice based on their experience coming in.
That’s why many online practice reviews have nothing to do with dentistry. They are usually about how patients were greeted and treated, how practices handled their appointments when they called last minute, or other “experience” issues that made them feel important or unimportant. These things all begin with your front office team members. Here are three things your front office team members can do to WOW every patient who calls or comes in.
Follow Basic Customer Service Rules
When a patient first arrives, a front office team member should stand up and greet the patient. They need to welcome them to (or back to) the office and make them feel welcome with a smile and a personal introduction.
While they are waiting in the lobby, your front office team members should offer them refreshments like coffee, tea, or water, show or remind them where the restroom is if they need it, and make sure they don’t wait an excessive amount of time. If things are running behind schedule call them before they arrive so they can leave their house or work later or reschedule. If things run behind while they are in the office, let them know as soon as possible.
When patients are on the phone or in your office, your front office team members must make serving them their priority. Don’t make other office work the priority. If they have to make a call to an insurance company, that can wait a few minutes until the patient is taken care of. It’s more important that they connect with your patients and make them feel welcome and important.
Use the Right Words When Discussing Treatment
Confidence and delivery when talking with patients can go a long way to make patients feel good about being your patient. Front office team members should avoid saying “maybe” or “um” when a patient is asking them whether or not they need treatment. They need to sound confident.
Also, make sure front office team members don’t talk about services or service alternatives being “cheap” or “cheaper.” A better word to use is “affordable.” That helps avoid the perception of being the cheapest alternative.
In a similar sense, if a procedure is expensive, ensure that your front office team members aren’t talking about its “cost” when a patient asks about the price.
It’s much better if they talk about the “value” that the patient will get from the procedure. With high-cost procedures, they can focus on monthly payment ranges than total cost, too. So, first focus conversations on outcomes patients will get from procedures first so the patient has more context for what they will receive. With dental implants, for example, you can talk about smiling confidently again, being able to chew again, or avoiding their teeth becoming crowded. When talking about price, it’s much better to talk about the price being as low as $99 a month instead of $2,500, for example.
Avoid Using Scripts
While bullet points or lists of answers to frequently asked questions are certainly helpful for maintaining consistency in answers, scripting full conversations can make patients feel unimportant.
People know when your front office team member is using a script. If a patient asks a question that makes things go off-script, you run the risk of having your front office team member stuttering because they don’t know what to say or trying to lead a conversation back to a script.
This can be incredibly frustrating for patients. If they believe your front office team members are either reading scripts or not listening to their specific issue, they are highly unlikely to stay with your practice.
Do your front office team members help grow your practice?
There’s no denying that customer service makes a difference when building relationships with patients. These three strategies can help make an immediate positive impact on the direction of your practice. How do your front office team members contribute to your practice growth?
For more strategies about building a WOW front office team, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program today where you and your team can get coaching from leading experts on all aspects of growing a WOW dental practice.
We’re dentists. Many of us are also perfectionists. It’s not our fault. We’re trained to be perfect with our clinical care in dental school. But many of us expect perfection in all parts of our practice. That makes us do too much work ourselves, fearing we need to do things to ensure they get done right. That’s why implementing systems and processes is so important. It’s the best way to make consistent performance easy.
To put systems and processes in place that get followed, we need to set the right expectations throughout our practice. We need to set expectations of our team members. And we need to set the right expectations that our team members can have for us. That way, everyone on the team can trust that they have the best tools and support to serve our patients well. And when we set the right expectations, everyone on your team will be motivated to perform, have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, and have the tools to do their best work. Here’s how to set the right expectations in your practice.
Anticipate Setbacks and Failures
As powerful as it can be to set clear expectations and put systems and processes in place to support every team member, growing a dental practice is anything but linear. You are going to have setbacks no matter how well you plan or clear your expectations are. Getting into the right mindset is critical to pushing through those setbacks and failures and continue on your growth plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of people abandoning an amazing growth plan because they believe a setback or failure along the way means it was not the right plan.
When things don’t go as anticipated, be resilient—for yourself and your team. Team members will mess up. Systems and processes will be improved. And unexpected setbacks will happen that will be out of your control.
Be there for your team during those times because that time is when they need you the most. Don’t make your team members feel bad when they mess up. If someone is consistently not meeting expectations, address it with them or let them go. But nobody will be perfect so we can’t expect perfection.
Set Data-Driven Expectations in Real Time
You can make your expectations more attainable and more realistic if you set them up in real time with data to support them. For example, it might be too ambitious to say you want to have a 15% increase in case acceptance within the next month, especially without guidance from experts in case acceptance, like Dr. Paul Homoly, our Delivering WOW Platinum Case Acceptance Coach.
But you could set a realistic expectation to increase case acceptance within a week. At the end of the week, measure what your increase was and set expectations for further increases based on your actual data. If you see a 2% increase in case acceptance after that week, you can set a more realistic expectation. Maybe an 8% increase in case acceptance within the next month. Or, maybe you see an opportunity for improvement and invest in getting expert help for an even larger gain. The expert can share their experience and guidance for improvement and help set expectations based on data from their experience with other practices.
Either way, data-based expectations in real time help ensure you set appropriate targets and position everyone on your team to succeed.
Avoid Projecting Expectations about Your Performance onto Your Team Members
Many dentists have the expectation that their staff should be performing at the same intensity that they are. While your staff may be connected to your vision, they won’t always be as emotionally connected as you are. You can’t expect them to care as much about the goals you have for your practice as you do.
We can reduce this by tying your practice vision into their personal goals and dreams. But it can take some time to get complete buy-in. And, even then, not every person can have the same intensity and emotional connection to your practice as you. If you expect everyone to be as intense and invested as you are, you will get frustrated a lot.
You can also make sure to connect with your team members on a personal level. If you care about them and helping them achieve their personal goals, they’ll start to feel the same way about you and your practice vision. They’ll be much more invested in helping you achieve your practice vision because of their personal relationship with you and the connection between their personal goals and your practice vision.
Are You Setting the Right Expectations?
If you’re not setting the right expectations in your practice—for you and your team—your practice will never achieve its full potential. By expecting setbacks, setting real-time data-driven expectations, and avoiding projecting expectations about you onto your team members, however, you can build an amazing team and achieve incredible things together.
If you want more help setting expectations in your practice, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where you and your team can get expert guidance from our resident Mindset Coach, Dr. Shakila Angadi.
The wrong hire can cost a practice thousands of dollars in direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include costs for job postings, recruiters, training, and more. Indirect costs include culture damage, delay in bringing in the right candidate, and stretching your team thin until you find a great candidate.
Recruiting is one of the biggest challenges for dental practices. But all hope isn’t lost. Practices can take specific steps to recruit better candidates for their practice. Here are three steps you can take to avoid hiring the wrong candidate for your practice.
Determine Each Candidate’s Personality Type
Many practice leaders readily understand that each position requires a candidate with a specific skill set. Front desk team members need to have basic technical skills, for example, such as the ability to use office management software, fax machines, scanners, and telephone systems.
Traditionally, practice leaders searched for candidates with the skills needed to complete each position’s primary job responsibilities. But skills are only half of what makes a candidate successful. Someone could have extensive experience using computers, fax machines, and telephone systems but make a bad fit for your front desk team member because their personality isn’t outgoing or personable. Front desk members are the first people your patients meet when they call or come in. They are critical to making the best first impression.
Thus, their personality style can be even more important than their skill set. After all, you can train someone to use a fax machine. It’s hard to get someone who isn’t extroverted to be outgoing and lively five days a week.
In my practice, we use the DISC personality test to find the right personality fit. DISC is an acronym for four different personality types: Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, and Cautious. My hygienist is very outgoing, for example, but she’s not going to be the person to soothe a patient. Thus, I make sure her assistant has a very Supportive personality style. The person who handles my financial accounts has a Cautious personality type, which means they are very detail-oriented and deliberate with everything they do. This makes it natural for them to catch even the smallest mistakes.
If you have had trouble finding the right candidates, it’s possible you are filling positions based on skills only. Add personality tests to the equation and you can likely find much better fits.
Conduct Multiple In-Person Interviews and Interview Multiple Candidates
We recommend conducting at least two in-person interviews. It’s very hard to know a candidate fully with only one in-person interview. Have them talk to practice leadership and their direct supervisor face-to-face. Get a sense of whether they have the skills and experience for the job. Ask them about their experiences and how they addressed issues similar to those that come up in your practice regularly.
In addition, have them spend a little time with the team members they’d work with if they got the job. This is important because the best recruiting finds the right candidate for your practice and not just the candidate with the best résumé. By having them come to talk to the team, you can get the team’s input on whether they think they’d like working with the candidate. You can listen to their evaluation of the candidate and see if they approve of them or disapprove of them. The candidate can also see if they think they’d get along with your team.
Finally, unless you find what you believe to be the perfect fit of skills and personality, consider interviewing multiple candidates for each position. This helps you and your team compare the pros and cons between candidates to find the best overall fit. Of course, if you find the perfect candidate right away, be prepared to make them an offer. But most of the time, everybody benefits by interviewing multiple candidates.
Test Each Candidate Before Hiring Them
Many dental practice jobs require a lot of skills. And as much as someone’s résumé can list their employment experience, there’s no way to tell if they’re actually good at what you’ll need them to do.
If patient-facing team members can’t perform how you want with a patient they’ll damage your practice’s reputation, or worse. Consider testing them in a mock situation. Test them on yourself or with a team member willing to be a test patient. Give office staff small sample projects. If they do well, it’s more likely you can trust them.
How Do You Avoid Hiring the Wrong Candidate?
Do you consistently find great candidates for your practice? If so, what are your best tips for doing so? If not, these three tips can help. If you want more help, consider joining my Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where dental recruiting, hiring, and team onboarding expert Samantha Leonard will work with you and your team to find, hire, and onboard the best candidates for your practice.
Running a dental practice is a lot of work and a lot of responsibilities. And during the first twelve years of running my practice, I did way too much of that work myself. Like many dentists, I had a decent business, a supportive team, and very satisfied patients. But I had been just going through the motions for years.
In 2011, I decided to change the way I ran my practice. I told my team of three I had a big vision for our future. I wanted to grow. I wanted to make an even bigger impact on people’s lives than what we had been making. I wanted to be different.
But in order to achieve different results, I needed to do different things. Doing the same things I had been doing would only get me the same results. So I committed to continually learning and growing. I got a lot of help running my practice. And one of the best things I did was surround myself with great mentors. My mentors shared their wisdom and experience, held me accountable, and pushed me forward. Here are three ways you can find a mentor to help you run your practice.
Find a local mentor.
Because dental practices can take a lot of work to run, many dentists hesitate to reach out to other dentists for help. While it is important to respect people's times, many dentists will happily share what they have learned with dentists genuinely looking for help.
The key to finding a local mentor is to make it as simple and convenient for the mentor. You don't need to formalize anything, either. You could just invite someone to coffee, lunch, or dinner and get to know them. Go out of your way to make it convenient for them by picking a place near their home or office. While there, ask if they minded if you asked for their advice with something in which you are struggling. Make sure you pick up the check and thank them for their time and wisdom.
Local mentor relationships work well because your mentor will likely know your specific market well, can look you in the eyes, and shake your hand.
Find a virtual mentor.
While local mentors can be great, many dentists prefer to find virtual mentors. These dentists prefer having an outside perspective and can choose among many more potential mentors when they are not limited by geography.
One great thing about virtual mentors is you can get started very informally. Some virtual mentors don't even know their mentees. But they produce and share content on a podcast, blog, or book, sharing their wisdom and experience with the world. You can try out many potential virtual mentors this way until you find one whose message resonates with you.
Once you find a virtual mentor you like, you can grow into your relationship with them. Subscribe to their blog or podcast. Join group coaching programs. Or, sign up for one-on-one coaching.
Virtual mentor relationships work incredibly well because you can often find a better fit and be more selective than you can if you limit yourself to finding someone in your local market.
Join a premier dental mastermind group.
Dental mastermind groups are an underutilized way of finding mentorship and guidance for running your practice. For those who aren't familiar with dental mastermind groups, they are a way for you to access the best and brightest minds in the dental industry. Not only are the leaders of the mastermind groups dental experts but the members of the mastermind groups are high achievers committed to excellence. Each member will come to the group with strengths and areas for improvement.
Thus, when you join premier dental mastermind groups, you can find mentorship from both the leaders of the group and other members.
Dental mastermind groups work well because you have a similar ability to find good fits and be selective with what group you join as you do with virtual mentors. But you get access to many different mentors with dental mastermind groups. No matter what area of your practice you need help with, you are bound to find a member or leader who can help. This makes for an environment of consistent learning and growth.
Do you have a mentor for your dental practice?
If you've struggled to find a mentor to help you build your practice, these three strategies could help you find the guidance, support, and accountability you need.
Look in your local area. Or, if you prefer, find a good virtual mentor. When you're ready to really grow your practice, consider joining a one-on-one or group coaching program with them.
And if you're ready to take your practice to a whole new level, you can join my Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Group. I have assembled a team of expert coaches, trainings, and resources to help you no matter what you need help with.
Running a practice can take a large amount of work and create a lot of stress when you can’t rely on your team members to perform on their own. There’s always something to do, so when you feel like you are the only person who can do things well, you will never experience true freedom.
When we train our team members to become true leaders, a lot of the burdens on practice leaders disappear. That is why so many practices are investing in coaching or training for their team members—such as the team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.
Here are three signs that your investment in your team members is building them into true leaders.
1. Your team members are communicating clearly with each other.
Leaders know the way to evaluate effective communication is through the responses they get. If the responses match expectations, the communication was clear. If the response is not what you intended, chances are you were not clear in your communication.
A good leader knows this and does not get frustrated when people do not respond the right way—especially when more than one person misinterprets the leader’s words. Instead, they seek to communicate more clearly.
If your team is communicating clearly with each other and consistently working on improving communication, chances are your team members are becoming true leaders.
2. Your team members control their emotions and do not take things personally.
Leaders know how to control their own emotions and not take constructive criticism personally. Dental practices can be emotional places. Many patients are anxious at dental practices. Additionally, patients can easily become confused about out-of-pocket costs for procedures, especially with insurance practices. When emotions get high, leaders remain calm.
Leaders are also able to manage their own emotions. They recognize when they begin to get frustrated. They take a walk, breathe, pause, and do whatever else they need to stay in control. Leaders manage their emotions for the good of the practice.
3. Your team members overcome adversity to complete difficult tasks.
One of the telltale signs of a true leader is their ability to overcome adversity. It takes humility, the willingness to make mistakes, and the tenacity to push through challenges to become successful. Only developed leaders will truly have this ability.
When times get tough, leaders dig in and push forward. When something doesn’t go well, they learn from mistakes and try again. This trait does not always come naturally, but it will come out as team members grow into leaders.
Are your team members developing into leaders?
These three traits are common signs that your team members are developing into leaders. When you build a team of leaders, everyone wins. Negativity will go down. Team members will identify and improve systems and processes. They will delegate to each other and step up to support each other when needed. Best of all, they will take much of the work—and stress—of running a dental practice off the doctor’s shoulders.
If you ever want to build a practice that gives you true time and financial freedom, it is critical that you get out of the “I’ll just do it myself” mindset and invest in building a team of leaders to support you.
Having leaders on our team can make our jobs as owners so much easier and can build the strength of the entire team. A good leader lifts everyone with them and guides the team forward to a brighter future. Use these signs to evaluate your current staff members and maybe even to evaluate yourself. You may be surprised by what you find.
If you want help developing leaders within your team, our team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program can help. Not only will we share tools, trainings, and resources, but we can also train your team members directly and hold them accountable.
Often, leaders fall into the trap of hiring people and expecting them to have all the skills needed to perform their tasks well. While that is ideal, it is almost never the case. Even the most highly qualified and experienced applicant will be missing some traits and skills needed for your practice. They have been trained by another practice to do things the way that practice does it.
With Delivering WOW, your practice will be different than most other practices. It will be run differently. It will be more focused. And when everyone is on the same page, it will be smoother and easier to run. Here are three skills to help every team member develop if you want to ensure your entire team can help your practice achieve your practice vision.
The Ability to Create and Harness Value
One of the best skills a team member can have is the ability to understand what actions would add value to your practice. That skill helps team members provide direction, confidence, and creativity. It helps them understand their unique talents and strengths. It helps them identify areas for improvement and gives them the confidence to ask for help when needed, for the greater good of your practice. And when they need help, the ability to identify, create, and harness value lets them know where to look to get the help they need.
As practice leaders, we can help team members create and harness value by talking openly about practice goals and individual strengths and areas for improvement. That allows us to build a team of leaders who can elevate our practices to new heights. They will do so by having the confidence to get help when needed and consistently improve the way your practice is run.
The Ability to Take Initiative to Solve Problems
Team members create an environment of excuses, not initiative, if they constantly say, “It’s not my place,” “I don’t want to step on anyone's toes,” or “It’s someone else’s responsibility,” when something goes wrong. We must promote the idea that taking initiative to find solutions to practice problems is part of everyone’s job responsibilities.
Your staff should be looking for ways to take initiative to solve problems in your practice. When problems arise, the best team members identify, discuss, and solve them as efficiently as possible; they don’t pass the buck to someone else or ignore the problem, hoping it will go away on its own. The best team members take action to solve problems as soon as possible.
Encourage team members to execute solutions that are well-reasoned without having to go to you beforehand. Give them the freedom to try new things, and accept that not everything will work out. Being proactive means stepping out, taking a risk, and trying something.
The Ability to Maintain Focus on Achieving Results
In my Inner Circle Dental Mastermind, we teach leaders and team members to ask themselves what tasks look like when they are done and done well. When leaders train team members to ask themselves that question, it helps them focus on results without sacrificing the practice culture. It helps them work “smarter, not harder,” which maximizes results achieved within set time periods.
This will give them a really solid point of reference for any upcoming similar projects. They won’t be left scratching their heads, wondering if they’re doing something right and constantly having to check in with a leader for approval. From that explanation of a “good” outcome, they can reverse engineer success.
Giving Employees the Skills Needed to Succeed Together
Training and developing a team that performs consistently well and heads in the same direction can be the best investment you make in your practice. It is the only way to be able to delegate with confidence. It is the only way to make sure everyone is working both smart and hard. These three skills will position team members to do exactly that.
You can also check out our upcoming Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge where you will receive 21 days of actions to implement in your practice, alongside your team. By the time the challenge is complete, you will have created your 12-month marketing plan, launched a successful marketing campaign in your community, and implemented systems for repeatable, scalable success in your practice. Click here for more details!
Gossip is something many dental practices deal with. Many of us experience it in our practice. It is important for all team members to be able to voice concerns and resolve problems. Everyone needs to be able to talk about and improve work conditions. They need to be able to get feedback on how to handle situations and brainstorm solutions.
But when people resort to gossip, it causes pain, fractures trust, and creates a toxic culture. To eliminate gossip, we must understand where it comes from and create a safe environment to resolve issues before they lead to gossip. Here are six characteristics of a healthy, gossip-free practice culture.
1. Clear Expectations and Accountability
Dentists and other practice leaders must be very clear that there should not be any gossip happening in the office. Educate the team on the best ways to get help with team members or leadership. Talk with them about ways they can communicate with each other to discuss and help find solutions to issues in a productive way.
Ask your team members to also lead the way and set those clear expectations with each other and when new people join the practice. Clear expectations and accountability will help ensure a no-gossip environment continues over the long term.
2. Vulnerability-Based Trust
Vulnerability-based trust occurs when people are comfortable sharing problems they are experiencing without fear of retaliation or losing respect. It also occurs when people feel safe discussing issues with the person causing the issue—especially as the dentist or team leader. With vulnerability-based trust, people know others will support them in finding solutions and not judge them for not being able to solve a problem on their own.
There must be vulnerability-based trust among your entire team. If issues cannot be resolved because there is no trust, that is an environment that is ripe for gossip.
3. Agreement and Commitment from the Entire Team
Make sure there's agreement and a commitment from everyone in on the team to having no gossip in the office. This is not something one leader or dentist can do on their own.
Most of the time, gossip happens outside of the dentist or team leader's presence. If the issue is about them, the gossip will occur outside of their presence. If the issue is about someone else, their conversations are generally solution-focused. That is why it is important for leaders to set expectations but get wider agreement and commitment. The team's commitment and agreement will define your long-term success when it comes to building a no-gossip environment.
4. Commitment to Discuss Issues With any Person Directly With That Person
When the team is comfortable discussing problems or challenges with the person causing it in a productive way, everyone wins. If someone needs help, that is fine. Even having somebody sit with you while you discuss something that is difficult can help keep the situation productive.
Encourage your entire team to address things head on directly with the person causing the issue. If they want help, encourage them to approach leadership with their concerns so they can get advice and direction.
5. Solutions-Based Communication
Keep lines of communication open by promoting and practicing solutions-based communication. Leaders must keep communication lines open and allow people to talk about difficult things in a productive way—especially if they need to give the leaders feedback. This avoids putting up a barrier that leaves team members confused about how to get issues solved. Because they will not know what to do they will start talking with each other and make it much more likely that the conversation will lead to gossip.
Ask team members to bring suggested solutions to conversations if they need to talk about something difficult. The solution you bring might not be the one that is adopted but it ensures the tone of the conversation is solution-focused. Let them know that it is ok if they do not have a suggestion. In those cases, ask them to be able to discuss things they considered. That will also help focus the conversation on finding solutions.
6. Real-Time Feedback
Create an environment of consistent real-time feedback—positive feedback and constructive criticism. When we constantly solicit feedback, we will create an environment that catches issues early. When somebody needs to give you constructive criticism, it can be difficult to not get emotional or upset. You can ask clarifying questions but make it a safe discussion or people will eventually resort to gossip.
We can create an environment of consistent real-time feedback by asking for feedback at the end of each shift. Ask team members what went well and where could we have done better. As time goes on, these conversations help avoid things from getting to the point where team members feel the need to gossip.
Are you building a gossip-free environment?
An environment with these six characteristics gives all team members a safe place to have their voices heard and resolve issues without needing to resort to gossip.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
If you’re anything like the 300 practices that have gone through our Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, you may be feeling like your team could use a bit more energy and excitement about growing the practice. That way they could spend less time on gossip and more time serving patients and doing the dentistry we all love. If that sounds familiar, then this is your invitation to join our 21-day Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, and get a 20% discount at checkout when you use the code CHALLENGE here.
On this exciting episode of the podcast, I welcome my good friend, Mike Buckner, onto the show to talk about how you can increase patient retention, with help from some powerful technology.
Mike Buckner has been working in the Dental Technology Field for eight years. He has worked as a Business Development Executive for Solutionreach, as well as a Director of Business Development for Dental Intel.
He is currently the Director of Business Development for Weave, and speaks at various meetings about patient retention and building patient loyalty. And, on top of all that, he has twin baby boys that keep him on his toes!
On the podcast we discussed…
What makes patients reluctant to come back to your practice
How to improve patient retention by focusing on relationships
The action steps you can take to maximize relationships with your patients
Why you should use text messages to bond with patients and increase case acceptance
Using the Weave App to help improve efficiency and communication
Weave is a powerful and unique platform that improves your customer response, team workflow and revenue generation. Go to try.getweave.com/deliveringwow/ to save 50% off activation!
If you’d like to get in touch with Mike to learn more about Weave or to ask him any questions, you can email him at [email protected]
For a sneak peek into the episode, watch this video trailer where Mike explains how to improve patient retention and conversion:
Growing a dental practice requires you to do a number of things. First, you need to set a vision and goals for your practice. That tells you where you want to go. Second, you need to develop a WOW culture to attract and retain the best team members possible. Third, you need to give every patient a WOW experience every time they visit your office. Fourth, you need to be profitable. If you are not profitable, you will not be in business very long.
I lay out these four steps—and more—in my book, Delivering WOW: How Dentists Can Build a Fascinating Brand and Achieve More While Working Less…. (which you can get for FREE right here—just cover shipping). Here are the three pieces to building a productive, profitable practice to support you and your team as you work to achieve your practice vision and goals and give patients a truly WOW experience.
1. Empowered, Accountable People
You will never build a productive, profitable dental practice without having the right people on your team. Setting clear practice goals and a practice vision helps attract people who share your values. Building a WOW practice culture helps you keep your team engaged.
But making sure every team member has clear goals and the processes, systems, and tools to do their job well gets you profitable. In other words, once you have the right people on your team, you need to make sure they know what to do and how to do it. That's where the processes, systems, and tools come in—to empower, focus, and hold team members accountable for achieving their individual goals.
2. Processes and Systems
Processes and systems help make everyone's jobs easier. They promote consistency in people's work and hold people accountable for doing tasks the right way.
One of my favorite systems to put in place is a dental practice scorecard. A dental practice scorecard allows you to see the most important numbers in your practice, in real time, and in one place.
In my practice, I have my scheduling coordinator pull the info into the scorecard. Every Tuesday we have a leadership meeting where we discuss the numbers from the scorecard. We have a system for her to pull the information and update the scorecard by Monday morning. That system holds her accountable for completing it and allows us to spot and address issues in real time.
For example, one of the most important metrics we track in my practice is our dentist's production per visit. If we set a goal of $700 per visit but see $400 per visit in our scorecard, we know we need to close that gap. One way to do that would be to do Invisalign or crown promotions to attract more patients for high-revenue services. We could also talk with the doctors about doing as much as they can in one visit so the patient gets their treatment faster and our production per vision increases. Over the longer term, we could send one of our doctors to a CE to learn how to perform higher-revenue procedures as well.
This system allows us to make a change right away and not wait a month or longer to see the overall numbers. And if we are hitting or achieving our goals, we can congratulate team members in real time, too.
Finally, we need tools to help make the systems and processes easier and more efficient. Processes need to be very easy for your team or they will feel overwhelmed. One of my favorite tools to increase productivity and profitability is Dental Intel.
Dental Intel's software suite connects with your practice management software and pulls actionable data into one simple presentation. My team can pull everything we need for our scorecard in a matter of seconds. It has several other powerful features, too.
With tools, we need to be careful in choosing tools that help make our practice better that we have the resources to integrate and use well. Dental Intel is one that is both highly effective and easy to use.
With the right people in place and systems and processes to support them, having tools to make their work even easier is the final piece of the puzzle.
Do you have all three pieces to the productive, profitable, practice puzzle?
Way too many practices do not have all three pieces of the puzzle together. Some have great team members but lack the processes, systems, and tools to help them do their best work. Others have a strong team with processes and systems but no tools to make them easier. Once I had all three pieces working together, my practice growth skyrocketed. I worked less and made a lot more. And my team was supported and set up to succeed.
When is the last time you reviewed your core values? Core values define who you are, who you want to be, and what your company strives for.
Why Core Values Matter
Core values make running a dental practice much easier. They guide you in how you hire, fire, reward, and recognize team members. They also make tough decisions easier because they give you important context within which to make decisions. Additionally, when team members know about your core values, it guides them in many things, including these:
what they should be doing
how they should be conducting themselves
how to interact with other team members
how to interact with patients
If you have not written core values, take a few minutes to work through this exercise. If you already have core values written, take a few minutes to re-evaluate or update them to make sure you have the strongest set of core values guiding you and your team.
Brainstorming Possible Core Values
Start on a personal level. Think about yourself as a person. What are the ten or so principles you personally live by? It doesn’t matter what they are, just list things that are most important to you. For example:
How do you want people to perceive you?
How do you want people to think that you act?
How do you actually act?
What do you want people to say about you when you are not around?
Write down everything that comes to mind when thinking of those questions. If it helps, imagine you live in a perfect world in which you can design exactly who you are and how you act. Write down the characteristics you would choose.
Analyzing Your List of Core Values
Take your list of personal core values and think about them in the context of yourself, your team, and your practice. What core values do you want everyone to think about you, your team, and your practice? What values are non-negotiable in your practice? Edit your list with that in mind. Then ask yourself each of the following “yes or no” questions for each value listed. Write down your answers for each value.
Is the value absolutely necessary to our unique culture?
Would we want our organization to stand for this core value 100 years from now no matter what changes occur in the world?
Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if at some point in time it became a competitive disadvantage?
Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if in some instances the environment penalized us for living this core value?
Do we believe those who do not hold this core value or those who breach it consistency simply do not belong in our organization?
Would we personally continue to hold this core value even if we were not rewarded for holding it?
Would we change jobs before giving up this core value?
If we awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire for the rest of our life, would we still hold true to this core value?
If we were to start a brand-new organization, would we build around this core value regardless of the industry?
Does this value represent the primary behaviors our organization wants to encourage and stand by?
Is this value one that we will continue under stress, duress, and in the face of all obstacles?
Finalizing Your List of Core Values
Narrow down your core values to the seven to ten most important values. Use your answers to the questions in the last section to guide you. For example, the more you answered yes for a value, the more important it is. Keep only the seven to ten values that are most important on your list. Those will be your revised core values that will lead yourself, your team, and your practice forward.
Communicating Your Core Values With Your Team
Make sure everyone on your team knows your core values. Post them in your office where people can see. Discuss them openly and regularly. Let everyone know why they are so important. Be sure to let them know everyone in the office is expected to act consistently with the core values. Let them know you will be evaluating decisions they make in accordance with the core values, even if the decision goes wrong. For example, let them know whether they acted in accordance with your core values will be something you consider when mistakes happen. When you position this in a positive light and follow through on that promise, you will encourage your team members, and everyone will benefit.
Give your dental practice a core values checkup today.
If you have not set or updated your core values in a while, take a few minutes to update them today. You will come away with a list of seven to ten principles that guide everything you do in your practice.
With so many documents, photos, and bills to manage, keeping organized can be a nightmare. We need to organize leadership files, patient photos, advertising assets, and more. We need to keep our accounting documents organized to make sure bills get paid. We need to keep training and development files up-to-date and accessible to everyone who needs them. And with many team members accessing key documents, it can be easy to get disorganized.
Google Drive can help you keep everything organized and make sure everyone is working from the best and latest information. Here are four steps to using Google Drive to make organizing documents, photos, and monthly bills easy.
1. Create primary folders within your main Google Drive.
Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage and synchronization service. If you manage your practice email using Google, you already have a Google Drive account. If not, you can sign up for free. Google Drive allows you to control who can access documents on an individual level or by folder.
Once your account is active, set up folders for your primary practice categories. We set up folders for accounting, leadership, marketing, office documents, patient photos, and training and development. If we have special projects that are outside of those main categories, we will set up additional folders. If you use Asana to create teams and assign projects, you could match your folders to your project names to make it familiar for team members.
These main folders should make it easy for team members to know where to find and save documents. Invite team members to the folders they will need to access to make sure the right people have access to the right documents.
2. Create important sub-folders within your folders.
Sub-folders are an important part of getting and staying organized. Instead of putting all files relating to marketing in one big folder, organize the documents further using sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders. For example, within marketing, we have sub-folders for articles, Facebook ad examples, Google ad examples, images, swag information, and a few more.
We also have a main folder for photos. Within those, we have a sub-folder for patient photos. Within our patient photos sub-folder, we have further sub-folders for procedures, such as dental implant before-and-after pictures. Within that sub-folder, we have additional folders for each doctor. Within each doctor's sub-folder, we have folders for each letter of the alphabet.
That folder structure allows us to easily find patient photos by procedure, doctor, and last name.
3. Make sure everyone uploads all documents to the right folder or sub-folder.
Once your folder structure is in place, make sure each team member stores documents in the right folder. Have one file system and one place for each type of document. This way, nothing can get lost.
This is especially important for keeping monthly bills organized. In my practice, we scan all bills into the computer. We then put them in sub-folders by month. For monthly bills, my team knows use the accounting folder, monthly bills sub-folder, and specific month sub-sub-folder.
4. Communicate about each document using Google Drive comments and Asana.
Google Drive's document sharing feature is helpful. You can create a link to each folder, sub-folder, and individual document that you can share with your team. If you need to communicate about a document, you can add a comment within Google Drive and tag the right team member to see the comment.
You can also use Asana to communicate by creating a task for the document within Asana, pasting the link, and communicating back-and-forth within the Asana task.
How do you keep files organized in your dental practice?
If you do not have one place to organize your documents, Google Drive is a simple but powerful tool. You can add every type of file to Google Drive. You can add images, PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, Google Spreadsheets, or any other type of file. It helps you keep everything safe and in one place.
Visionary practice leaders are an inspirational group of people. Many dentists consider themselves visionary leaders. I am a visionary leader.
Visionary leaders set big goals. We have big dreams. We can’t help ourselves. We see opportunities to make a positive impact beyond our practices and cannot help but pursue those opportunities.
That passion helps us achieve amazing things and inspire our team members. But it also presents challenges when it comes to leading more introverted or detail-oriented team members. If you consider yourself a visionary leader, it is important to understand those challenges and how to support your team members so you can get the support you need to achieve your big dreams.
The Benefits and Challenges of Visionary Leadership in Dental Practices
Visionary leaders are community changers. We are world changers. We want to impact the world beyond our practices. We want to change dentistry for the better. We are driven. We are relentless. We do not accept the status quo. We will not continue doing something just because that is what the dentists who came before us did.
While that passion and focus can lead to incredible things in our communities, the dental industry, and the world around us, it presents two key challenges for employees.
First, in the world, it can become intense. We set high expectations for ourselves and our team. We are not satisfied showing up, fixing teeth, and going home.
It can get uncomfortable for our team members.
Sometimes it becomes a little bit difficult for our team members to be able to handle our expectations.
How to Support Team Members When You are a Visionary Leader
The best way to support your team members is to put yourself in their shoes and let them know you recognize the challenges of working with a visionary leader.
Their days are full. They have a list of tasks. And then all of a sudden, you burst in with a great idea that will change the world. That can be overwhelming to them. Let them know you recognize the challenges of working with a visionary leader. (They already know the challenges; let them know you know.)
Tell them you know you have some ideas that might be crazy. Tell them you know that on a whim, you come up with ideas that you believe will change the world.
Let them know you need to get your idea out right away, but that does not mean they always need to do the work right away. Most of the time, we do not need things done immediately. But we need to get our ideas written down and scheduled.
Finally, when you give them a new idea, ask them what else they are working on. Then help them prioritize the work.
These things help you ensure that your team members feel supported.
How to Get Support Team Members When You are a Visionary Leader
Getting the support you need from your team can take time. But you can get the support you need by helping them help you. Here is how to do that.
First, be open and honest about what you expect from them. If you need something done right away, let them know.
Second, give them the tools they need to do their work well and efficiently. My team and I have been using Asana to organize and prioritize tasks. Invite them to ask questions on Asana so you can reply as soon as possible and keep all communications in one place.
Third, encourage questions. No matter how amazing your team members are, it is unreasonable to expect them to have the same vision as you. Be open to questions. It will improve results. Be patient.
A Visionary Leadership Case Study
Sara, one of my amazing Delivering WOW team members, is a high C in the DISC personality test. She is extremely detail-oriented. She is a planner. She knows exactly what she has to do at the beginning of each day, down to the smallest details such as when she’s going to walk her dog and eat.
When she first started working with me, she was not used to working with a visionary leader. She would be the first person to tell you it took her months to adjust. But we got into a rhythm, and we work very well together. I committed to supporting her, and she committed to supporting me.
So when she gets a message (or ten) from me with another idea, she knows exactly what to do. First, she asks, “How important is this task, and when would you like it done by?” This helps her stay organized.
She also lets me know what she already needs to get done that day. If this is a higher priority than that work, we set new deadlines for those projects. If not, she suggests a deadline for my new idea. Most of the time, her suggested deadline will be fine. Sometimes, I will want it sooner, so I will push out another task she is working on.
Either way, we both get what we need. She gets order to what would seem like disorder. I get the support I need to implement ideas.
Are you getting the support you need from your team members?
Are you a visionary leader? Do you feel like you are getting the support you need from your team? If not, be sure to get them the support they need to help you. Then work with them to ensure you get the support you need in return.
Holding productive team meetings is one of the best ways to make sure your most important practice tasks get done. For some larger practices, that means meeting regularly with your leadership team. Smaller practices might include every team member. Either way, the key to success is to run your meetings well.
We suggest holding meetings on a regular schedule, preferably weekly but no less frequently than every other week. Weekly works best because it puts you in better control of your practice results. They ensure you do not wait two weeks to learn about and address issues. Also, if you are traveling and your team needs to run a meeting without you, you will not go a month without attending a meeting.
Regular weekly meetings create a productive rhythm for your practice. Here is our seven-step plan for getting the most out of team meetings.
1. Opening Exercise (5 minutes)
Appoint a team leader to run your meetings. Make sure they start and end every meeting on time. Starting on time sets a standard of timeliness that extends beyond the meeting. Ending on time makes everyone focus during the meeting and avoids having them drag on.
Make sure someone takes notes at each meeting. Important items will be discussed and having to remember it all is impossible, especially with so much on our plates. Keep those notes in one place, such as a single notebook or shared Google Doc.
As the meeting opens, the meeting leader should ask for a volunteer to share one personal achievement and one professional achievement from the last week.
Personal achievements could include that someone ran a 5k and are really proud. A professional achievement could be that someone asked ten patients for reviews that earned six five-star reviews for the practice.
This is not a time for discussion, just announcements, but it is an important part of team building. Move around the room until everyone has shared a personal and professional achievement.
2. Scorecard Review (5 minutes)
Take five minutes to review and fill out your practice scorecard. Ask each team member to let you know if their scorecard items are on or off track.
If it is on track, great. Anything off track should be moved to the IDS portion of the meeting, where you will identify, discuss, and solve practice issues.
3. Rock Review (5 minutes)
In addition to practice goals, each team member should have their own rocks—or goals—to pursue. Take five minutes to review practice and individual rocks and find out what is on track and off track.
For example, one of the doctor’s rocks might be to create a dental savings plan. One of your team leaders’ rocks might be to get cancellations and no shows below 10%. Another could be to create a coffee table culture book for the practice.
Asking each team member about their rocks during your meeting helps build a culture of accountability and support among team members. If something is off track, put it on the agenda for the IDS part of the meeting, during which you all identify, discuss, and solve issues.
4. Customer and Employee Headlines (5 Minutes)
After each team member updates you on their rocks, take five minutes to discuss updates about patients or employees. These can be positive or negative, such as good Facebook or Google reviews or disgruntled patients. This is also a good time for team members to give kudos to colleagues who have gone above and beyond.
If something negative can be resolved quickly, do so. If it needs more discussion, add it to the IDS portion of the meeting.
5. Previous To-Do List Review (5 Minutes)
Take five minutes to discuss the status of to-do items from last meeting’s IDS session. Ask each team member whether they have completed their to-do items.
If so, check it off as complete. If they are on target, keep it in the to-do list for next week. If they are off target, move it to the IDS discussion for this week.
6. IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) (30–60 minutes)
This will take the majority of the meeting time. Ask each team member to take thirty to sixty seconds to write down the three most important issues they are facing.
When they are finished, have one team member identify their issues. Once the issue is identified, take a few minutes to discuss possible solutions. After a couple of minutes, choose a solution with which to move forward. Then put the tasks on a to-do list for your next meeting, and assign the tasks to the appropriate team member.
Go around the room until you identify, discuss, and solve each team member’s top three issues.
At some point during your IDS session, you the meeting will start to wind down. Give a ten-minute warning to ensure the meeting will end on time. Do the same with five minutes left, at which point the meeting will begin to conclude.
7. Review and Conclusion
Once you have completed your IDS session, recap your to-do checklist so everyone knows what they need to do. Read them out loud and make eye contact with the team member responsible for doing the task. Designate someone to deliver messages to people who could not make the meeting.
Finally, ask each team member to rate your meeting on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. If someone rates it less than an eight, ask them to tell the group why so you can improve.
Are you ready to boost productivity in your practice?
If you want to make your practice more productive, high-impact productivity meetings might be the answer. Follow these seven steps, and you will be well on your way to a more productive office.
And if you want to go beyond productive team meetings to a practice that’s as effective, repeatable systems designed to help you grow your production month over month, then our upcoming Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge is for you.
My Delivering WOW team members are some of the most trustworthy, knowledgeable, and motivated people I have ever met. They know marketing, dental practice management, and effective ways to help practice leaders grow.
They are successful with Delivering WOW and active in the dental industry. For example, one team member works at a multi-location dental practice. During her first year, she grew the hygiene department 104%. In the last 18 months, she added millions of dollars to the organization through hygiene production alone. She also decreased cancellations and no-shows from 30% to less than 10%. The list goes on.
Her success with Delivering WOW and in her current position suggests she turns everything she touches into gold. While it is true that she is talented and hardworking enough to do so, she would be the first to tell you her career wasn’t without its challenges.
As leaders, we can help team members fly or clip their wings and hold them down.
Earlier in her career, this amazing team member moved across the country to take a job. When she started, she was told not to say or do anything for the first ninety days. Her bosses told her to be a “fly on the wall” and just observe operations during that time.
Twelve days into her job, however, she was called into the president’s office and fired. She was told that management didn’t think the position was right for her. They complained that she hadn’t made any decisions to help the company during the first twelve days. She had moved across the country and her husband had quit a job he held for a decade to move with her.
After defending herself as having followed directions, she was given one more chance. Needless to say, she completely lost trust in the leadership team. They told her to be a fly on the wall and then tried to fire her for doing so twelve days later. After taking a break to compose herself, she told one of the leaders how disappointed she was. She then decided to go back to the office do her best work, although it was hard to trust leadership after that. Eventually, she left and found new employment where she felt better supported and did incredible work from the start.
While she was able to turn a negative situation into a positive, not every team member is as self-motivated and determined as she is. She only stayed there long enough to be noticed and recruited by her next employer.
Build a positive environment to get the best work out of every team member.
What did her new employer do differently to get her best work? Why did her earlier employer tell her to be a fly on the wall and then fire her twelve days in? Simple. The difference between the two companies is the environment the leadership team built.
The environment at her old employer caused her to feel fearful. She would sit and question her emails multiple times before sending them out. She wouldn’t take risks or reach beyond the direct responsibilities of her position. She would not take any risk. She was miserable.
The environment at her new employer gave her the freedom to take risks and make decisions she felt were best for the company. She did not have the same fear of being fired for minor offenses.
How to build a positive environment that gets the best work out of every team member.
Leadership expert Simon Sinek talks frequently about the impact of environments on productivity. In short, Sinek says if people trust leadership and feel safe and supported, they will do their best work. If not, they will do just enough to not get fired before they can find another job.
Building an environment that gets the best work out of your team is much simpler than many dentists expect. Generally, you only need two things to build a supportive environment.
First, you need consistency in what you measure and the metrics that matter. Let your team know what is most important, and systematize as much of your day-to-day operations as you can. By doing so, each team member will know what they need to do to succeed and will have simple strategies for completing the most common ones. That frees them up to direct their creativity toward helping you build your practice.
Second, you need to manage people. You need to lead people well. With systems in place and clear metrics being measured, your team will understand the goals for their position. But team members work harder for leaders they trust. If you tell them to be a fly on the wall for the first ninety days, do not threaten their jobs twelve days later for not doing more. That is a surefire way to lose trust. Your team will do just enough to not get in trouble.
If you are consistent and trustworthy and show people small failures won’t make them lose their job, they will do whatever they can to help you achieve your practice vision.
Continued improvement in systems and measurements plus your ability to lead people will create an environment in which every team member feels empowered and does their best work.
Are you building a supportive environment in your practice?
The only way to get the best work from every team member is to build an environment built on trust and support. As practice leaders, we all must continue to develop our leadership skills in addition to implanting systems and processes to support our operations.
For more help get started on becoming the best practice leader you can be, join our upcoming Marketing & Practice GrowthChallenge — save 20% off with the code CHALLENGE at checkout!
Asana is one of my favorite tools to increase productivity in dental practices. It is the best way to collaborate with team members to manage key tasks and projects. You can easily get everyone on the same page and prevent key tasks from falling behind or not happening at all.
Asana keeps everything organized and sends automated email notifications to team members when they have something to do or a task they are working on gets updated. You can also send notifications to team members manually through Asana by tagging them in a post just like you would tag someone on social media.
If you have never used Asana before, you are only four steps away from the peace of mind that comes with knowing your most important tasks are organized, assigned, and on track.
1. Sign up for Asana to manage dental practice projects with ease.
If you have never used Asana, you can sign up at Asana.com. Asana is a web-based program so you can access the secure platform from anywhere you have an internet connection. No need to stay late at the office to review progress and keep tasks on target anymore.
Asana offers a free version for small teams that do not need customized privacy settings. The free version lets you either keep information private to you or make it public to everyone on your team. For customized privacy settings, which I recommend, claim a free trial to the premium version. Customized settings allow you to choose exactly who has access to what information, instead of limiting it to nobody or everybody. When your trial expires, you pay a small fee per user. If you use Asana well, increased productivity will more than cover the fee.
2. Create teams for your practice.
The best way to manage projects is to make sure everyone knows exactly what they need to do and by when they need to do it. Asana’s “team” function allows you to do just that. Once you set up your account, you can set different Asana teams for different needs and assign team members only to the teams they need to access.
We suggest starting with five teams. First, create a team for your entire practice. There, you can share practice-wide initiatives, news, and information. Second, create one for training where you manage training activities within your practice. Third, create a team for accounting and finance. There your accounting and finance teams can manage information. Finally, set up a team for marketing where you can keep all your marketing materials and activities organized.
When you set up a team, choose a name, add a description, and then add email addresses for team members who need access. You can choose for the team to be hidden or public to the entire practice. Projects and tasks in a hidden team will only be visible to members of that team. Projects and tasks in a public team will be visible to all practice team members.
3. Create team projects.
Once you create your teams, start creating projects for each team. As with teams, you can edit privacy settings for projects to be public or private only to select team members.
We recommend adding projects for the items you want to make sure happen in your practice. For example, you could set a project for your Team Leader Live Agenda, Training, 90-Day Planning, and Systems for your practice-wide team.
Having a Team Leader Live Agenda projects allows you to make sure your agenda is up to date. It also ensures your entire team knows what topics their team leaders are focusing on. Your Training project lets everyone know what training they must complete. The 90-Day Planning makes sure you set your 90-day goals and stay on track with tasks needed to achieve them. Finally, a Systems project organizes key practice systems in one place.
4. Create sections and assign tasks to the right team members.
Within projects you can create multiple “sections.” Sections function as additional ways to organize tasks by timeline or priority. For example, in your 90-day planning project, you could have three sections, one for each month.
Once you set any sections you need, you can easily create and assign specific tasks to team members. Each task is organized in one convenient thread where you can add a description, attach documents, assign a due date, communicate with team members, and even assign the task back and forth. All of your communications will be in one place, so you never have to waste time searching email or papers again. When a team member completes his or her part of a task, they can “assign” it back to you for review similar to volleyball players knocking the ball back and forth over the net. If you need them to adjust their work on a task, you can add a comment and assign it back. If it is complete, you can mark it as complete or assign it to another team member to add their part.
Are you ready to get more organized and productive than ever before?
Asana is my favorite productivity tool for your practice. Once it is set up, creating and assigning tasks will be easier than ever. You can keep all tasks organized and on track from wherever you have an internet connection.
To learn more about using Asana to get more organized and productive than ever before, check out the team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.
What happens in your office when you leave the country for two weeks?
If you come back to a pile of work, you’re not alone. That’s the reality in most dental practices.
But what would it feel like to come back to $18,000 of new appointments? And what would it feel like if those $18,000 of appointments cost only $50 in ad spend and took only 10 minutes of staff time?
That’s what happened for Dr. Meghna Dassani of Dassani Dentistry in Houston, Texas. While she was traveling, her rock star team took to Facebook and ran an Invisalign promo. By the time Dr. Dassani returned home, her team had scheduled more than $18,000 in Invisalign patients. Needless to say, she was happy.
We can learn a lot about the strategies her team used, and we’ve discussed many of them before. But what’s even more important than the strategies is the initiative her team took. They could have easily wasted much of the time she was away. But they didn’t.
Led by Christina, Dr. Dassani has a small but great team. Christina is not a marketer. She’s not even really outgoing. But she is hardworking and a team player. And the rest of the team supported her.
Give Them the Right Tools and Resources
Hardworking and goal-oriented team members won’t get you results unless they have the right tools and resources.
Dr. Dassani and her team are in my Inner Circle Mastermind. They’ve been trained by me and my team so they know exactly how to use Facebook and funnels to build their practice.
Dr. Dassani also had advertising audiences already built in Facebook. That meant they could promote to people who are more likely to accept their offer with a few clicks.
From being in my Inner Circle Mastermind, Christina knew Facebook Live videos were highly effective. And she knew the types of promotions that work best.
That took a lot of the pressure off her. Again, Christina isn’t a marketer. She’s a great, hardworking team member. She knew what worked and had the tools and resources to create a great promo, put it on Facebook in the right way, and promote it to the right audiences.
Empower Your Team to Succeed
In addition to the tools and resources, be sure to empower your team to take initiative. Dr. Dassani was away on a cruise and was not immediately reachable. But she gave Christina access to a $50 ad budget and what they called their “super audience.” Basically, their super audience includes patients, Facebook followers, Instagram followers, and lookalike audiences.
So, Christina had everything she needed to get her post live and seen by the right people.
Incentivize Your Team to Perform
But what if you already do all that and your team still doesn’t take initiative to help you grow? It’s possible they’re not incentivized to do so. There’s nothing like an awesome incentive to take an already-performing team to the next level.
For Dr. Dassani and her team, the incentives were big. When Dr. Dassani went to the first Delivering WOW Summit in Jamaica, her team was a little jealous.
Dr. Dassini decided to give them the opportunity to go to the next Delivering WOW Summit. She also gave them an opportunity to earn a trip to a Smiles at Sea cruise.
So she set production goals. If they hit the goals, they’d get to go on the Smiles at Sea cruise and the next Delivering WOW Summit in Jamaica. When I talked with Christina, she mentioned this with a big smile on her face.
Incentivizing your team is a powerful strategy. I’ve used it in my practice, and other members of my Inner Circle have as well.
Give Your Team What They Need to Help You Succeed
Christina posted a promotion that brought in $18,000 in appointments in a matter of minutes. And she did it with an ad budget of only $50.
Even better, Dr. Dassani was relaxing on a cruise the whole time. Now that’s what I call a WOW team.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
To learn more about how we can help your practice to empower your team members and to succeed in their individual roles and make a significant difference in your practice, check out our upcoming Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge. You can learn more here — and get a 20% discount when you use the code CHALLENGE at checkout!
It doesn’t matter if you have the best online scheduling software available. It doesn’t matter how easy you make your online scheduling process. A large number of patients will want to speak with someone on the phone before making an appointment.
That means if your team handles the calls poorly or inconsistently, you could be wasting a lot of marketing dollars. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple way to get more dental patient leads to schedule appointments when they call. All you need to do is train your team and give them tools to help them perform well every time.
The best way to do that is to create communication scripts for them to use when leads call. Here are five elements of an effective communication script for your dental practice.
A Consistent Greeting
Make sure your greeting includes (1) your practice name, (2) the name of the person answering the phone, and (3) the words “thank you for calling.”
This (1) lets people know they got the right place, (2) makes a human connection, and (3) lets the caller know you appreciate them.
Make sure your team member slows down for the greeting. If they rush through the greeting, it sets a rushed tone for the call. If they demonstrate patience and care, the caller will feel welcomed.
Acknowledge Their Questions and Ask Your Own
After the greeting, the caller will usually transition into the reason for their call. Instead of answering right away, have your team members acknowledge their question and then say, “Is it okay if I ask you a couple questions so I can serve you best?” This is important because we often don’t have all relevant information to answer questions. We also pass up the opportunity to ask important questions about how patients found our practice so we know what marketing activities are performing best.
For dental leads, ask, “Can I ask your name and how you heard about the practice?” Getting their name helps you address them by name, adding an additional human element to the conversation. How they heard of your practice gives you valuable insights into your marketing performance.
Also, ask what they’re looking for in a dentist. This helps you better understand what’s most important to patients. It also lets them know you care and that your practice is different.
Transition to Open-Ended Questions
This is the most important part of scripting.
Once you establish rapport and understand how they found you, transition to asking open-ended questions. You must ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Yes or no questions allow prospects to close down conversations and make your team member “sell” the patient on the practice.
Sticking to open-ended questions makes your prospect think deeper. Open-ended questions can even get the caller to sell themselves on your practice so all your team member needs to do from there is schedule an appointment. For example, “Why are you interested in getting a crown?” is a great question to get the prospect to convince themselves that they want a crown. It also helps you understand exactly why they want the crown. Many times, you’ll learn they want the procedure to ease some physical pain or stop being self-conscious about their smile.
That can help you respond by saying, “We can get you smiling again” instead of “Sure, we do crowns.” Which do you think would result in the patient being more likely to schedule an appointment?
Other open-ended questions include “Tell me more about that” or “How does that feel?”
At some point, your prospect will raise an objection. That’s okay, as long as your team member is prepared to address them. Make sure to put ways to address objections in your script. That includes answers to common objections as well as ways to address objections that are not on the list.
Whatever the objection, ask the prospect to tell you more about that. Ask what their biggest concern is. Ask what’s stopping them from moving forward to get the results they just mentioned to you. For example, if they mention fitting a crown into their budget, you might ask them about their budget and how much they can afford for a monthly payment.
Understanding the objections helps your team member overcome patients’ biggest concerns on the phone, which makes them more likely to move forward.
You know what they’re calling about. You understand their real concerns. You’ve helped them overcome their objections.
This is the point where you get the patient to agree to move forward in getting the treatment they’re calling about.
To do so, repeat what they want, acknowledge the objection, and ask them if they’re ready to move forward if you can help them overcome the objection. For example, with a crown, you might say, “So, it sounds like you want to get full use of your mouth back so you don’t have to worry about your tooth cracking. We can help you with that and give you multiple options to fit it into your budget. If we can get your out-of-pocket cost below $100 per month, would that work for you?” “Would that work for you” helps you close the conversation and schedule an appointment.
Document Your Script and Get More Patients
If you’re not training your team and giving them scripts to help them succeed, you could be wasting a big percentage of your marketing dollars on leads you’ll never close. Creating a script that walks through these five steps is your first step to improving your marketing ROI.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
As you create your script for inbound calls, one of the best ways to see results is to track your numbers! Of all the calls you received this week, how many appointments have you scheduled? How many follow-up appointments have you scheduled? How many no-shows did you have? Knowing these numbers helps you to clearly see whether you’re on track to grow your revenue for the month, and what opportunities you need to focus on when a new or existing patient calls in. Want to learn more about how we have helped over 300 practices do this in our 21 day challenge? Click here to learn more.
And if you want to get more leads to call your office so your scripts can help you close even more patients, check out the team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.
What would need to happen to make the next year the best year for your practice?
Do you need to increase revenues? Decrease expenses without sacrificing quality of care or patient experience? Expand or move your office? Or, maybe you want to work fewer hours next year than you did this year. All of the above?
Now is the time to make a plan for the next year of your practice. That’s true no matter when you’re reading this. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this as we enter the final 90 days of a calendar year or in mid-April. There’s no rule that says you need to wait until the beginning of a calendar year to improve your dental practice.
No matter how well we’re doing with our practices, we all have room to grow. Here are three steps to making the next year your best year yet.
Establish a Vision for Your Dental Practice
If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s impossible to know how to get there. That’s where your practice vision comes in. It’s also why I made establishing a vision for your dental practice the first step of my Delivering WOW process.
Do you have a long-term vision for your dental practice? What do you need to do over the next 12 months to get you closer to that vision? What do you want people to say about your practice when you’re not around? What do you want your life to look like?
Decide what you want your practice and personal life to look like 12 months from now. That will help you make better decisions and take better actions. It will help you decide what opportunities are worth your time. Even more important, it will help you decide what’s not worth your time. You’ll know when to say yes to opportunities and when to say no.
The only way to build a practice you love is to not have to do everything yourself. Putting together a 90-day plan will help you systematize much of your practice so your team can handle anything you throw their way.
True Delivering WOW dental practices communicate the practice vision to all team members. Effectively doing so inspires the team to help achieve the practice vision. They also establish KPIs (key performance indicators) that will get the practice where it needs to go, and let the team know what’s expected of them. They put systems in place to help the team perform consistently well. And they incentivise and reward team members when they help the practice achieve meaningful milestones.
Make a Plan
Only after you have your vision can you put a plan together to help you achieve it. If you’ve been growing your practice for a while, you may be used to setting annual plans. While that can help, I teach my Inner Circle Mastermind and Dental Profit Academy students to create a 90-day plan for your dental practice. If you’re a member of my Inner Circle or Dental Profit Academy, you’ve likely seen the full 90-day plan training.
If not, the 90-day plan helps you set and achieve goals in three key areas of your dental practice. First, it helps you achieve profit goals, increase revenue, and decrease expenses. Second, it helps you achieve systems goals to make your practice run smoother and more consistently. Third, it helps you achieve brand development goals to help you improve what people say about you when you’re not around.
Remember, there’s no reason you need to wait for a new calendar year to change the direction of your dental practice. Over the next 90 days, you can set a vision for your practice, get your team on board, and follow a 90-day plan. That can build incredible momentum toward having a dental practice you love.
Because dentists take on so many roles in their practice, it would be impossible to build a thriving practice without help. A hardworking and motivated team is essential. In fact, if there’s one thing that separates thriving practices from ones that struggle, it’s the team you have working with you.
Team-building is also an area where many dentists struggle. We work so hard that investing in team-building can feel like an additional burden. But the reality is it can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. And it doesn’t need to be hard.
You don’t need to immediately hire a dozen new people and build a huge team. With the right people, in the right positions, working the right systems, you can do well with a small, motivated team. Here’s how to make sure your team is motivated to perform every single day.
Hire the best, motivated people, and let them know why their work matters.
Many times, production problems are actually hiring and communication problems.
A quote by author and speaker Simon Sinek sums this up well:
“Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something better than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job, and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”
Hiring motivated people and letting them know why their work matters will help you build a team of the best people doing their best work.
Not every person will be a good fit for your practice. People who are just looking for a paycheck or who aren’t willing to work hard to get their job done won’t be a good fit. The same is true with complainers. Having even one team member with a poor attitude or poor work ethic can put a strain on your practice. Thus, it’s important that you have the right people working with you from the start.
It’s also important that every team member knows why their work matters. Let your team know your big vision for your practice and how they fit into it. This will transform their tasks into something much bigger than the task itself.
For example, we call our patients on their birthdays. Without context, that task might seem like something we can skip on a busy day. After all, people don’t expect to get a call from their dentist just to say happy birthday. If a birthday passes without a call, they might not think twice, especially if this is their first birthday as our patient. But birthday calls help us to build deeper relationships with patients. Those calls lead to referrals, build stronger loyalty, and develop greater trust. A team that knows why their work matters will be much more likely to perform tasks with enthusiasm.
A WOW team with the best dental practice systems and processes will form a solid foundation to help you achieve your practice goals. One of the best ways to get your team to perform their best every day is to hold a morning huddle. I lead one in my practice every morning, and it has revolutionized my practice.
During the huddle, we check in with each other, talk about the upcoming day, and look at our whiteboards with our production goals on them. Sometimes we see that we’re falling behind on production goals for certain procedures. Other times we find ourselves ahead.
Whatever the case may be, our whiteboards help us focus and have important conversations about productivity. For example, in early 2018, we set a crazy goal to do seventy-five crowns per month in my practice. That was a crazy number for us because we had been doing fewer than 40 per month to that point.
Setting the goal got us to focus on what we could do to attract more crown patients. Obviously, our current patients and practices generated fewer than 40 crowns per month, so we knew we needed to do something more. We started marketing to crown patients. We changed how we presented treatment plans to make emotional connections with people who needed crowns. That way, patients wouldn’t focus on the transaction of the crown. They would focus on how their life would improve when they got the crown they needed. We utilized online scheduling to make it easy for people to make an appointment. We utilized Instagram and Facebook to promote crowns. We did a lot to focus on attracting new crown patients. In the end, we became extremely successful in attracting crown patients to our practice.
If we see that we’re falling behind on production goals, we will focus on what we can do to catch up. For example, if we’re falling behind on Invisalign, we can run an Invisalign Facebook ads campaign. We can also follow up with patients who expressed interest in Invisalign. Without a morning huddle, your practice can easily become reactive. Weeks and months even can go by with team members doing lower-priority activities. That can lead to profits plummeting and more work being required of you to keep up.
Or, you can have a morning huddle to get everyone working together on what’s most important that day.
Do you have the right people on your team and connect with them daily?
Having the right people performing the most important tasks can transform your practice. Do you have the right people on your team? Are they motivated by nature? Do they know why their work matters? Are you connecting with them every day so everyone can focus on the most important work?
Recently one of my bootcamp group members was having a problem. One of her best team members was thinking of taking a position with another practice. Losing that team member would have presented a big challenge for her practice, so I quickly jumped in to see how we could help.
My first question to her was, “What’s the issue?” Team members leave for many reasons. They might want more money. They might want more flexibility. They might just be bored. They might want better advancement opportunities. They might want a shorter commute. The list goes on.
That said, even the best practices experience turnover and not all of it is avoidable. Also, when you start building a Delivering WOW practice, you may naturally experience some turnover if some existing employees aren’t a good fit for the new direction of your practice. But you don’t want your best team members leaving.
In this case, the main reason for the person leaving was to seek advancement in her career. She felt stuck in the practice and thought she could find new opportunities somewhere else.
This happens all the time. Sometimes, the lack of advancement opportunities is true. A small practice that doesn’t want to grow might not have advancement opportunities in the near future. Other times, advancement opportunities do exist but the doctor might not know the employee wants more responsibilities. Some dentists have amazing team members who want to become leaders but the dentists don’t know it.
Team members frequently feel stuck for many reasons. I’ve felt that way before, too. Most dentists I work with have felt that way at some point, too. With me, I got bored with the practice of dentistry. I got bored doing fillings all day. They weren’t challenging. They didn’t make any meaningful impact on patients’ lives. They just filled a cavity.
When I started focusing on more complex dentistry, I found my passion again. I now enjoy the fillings more than I ever used to because they’re only a small part of a diverse practice.
The same thing happens with our team members. A lot of times, there’s a lot more in them they can contribute if we just give them an opportunity to become the best version of themselves. When we do that, they’ll be much less likely to want to leave.
Here are five steps you can take to help your team members advance in your practice by taking on more responsibilities.
1. Talk with your team about how their goals align with your practice vision.
One of the most important parts of building a Delivering WOW practice is establishing a vision for your practice. When you develop and share your vision for your practice, your team will know exactly where you want to go. Take this one step further, and talk with your team about their goals and how they can align with your practice vision.
2. Write down what you want to accomplish.
Writing down what you want to do as a practice. This will give you something to show every team member what you want to achieve together. This will put some context to their work. It will make seemingly routine tasks part of something bigger.
3. Communicate your vision to your team.
Once you’ve written down what you want to accomplish together, communicate that vision to your team. Talk with them about why you want to achieve that. Tell them about how it will help them do their best work, advance in their career, and serve your patients and the community. This will pull your best team members together and build excitement.
4. Create processes.
Writing down what you want to accomplish helps everyone get on the same page. Communicating it to your team builds excitement and pulls everyone together. Creating processes to achieve your goals will help your team visualize how you’ll get there together.
5. Delegate or outsource tasks to implement the process.
After creating processes to achieve your practice vision, delegate activities to each team member. If you don’t have a team member with the skills or capacity to do some task, outsource it. Put the process in action, and you’ll build momentum and excitement.
Are you helping your team members do their best work and achieve their personal goals?
You can reduce the risk of losing your best team members by working together to set and achieve common goals. When you write down what you want to accomplish, communicate it with your team, create a process, and delegate or outsource it, amazing things happen.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
One of the best ways to keep from losing your best team members is to get them invested in setting, achieving and surpassing, the goals in your practice. In our Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, this is one of the first steps every team takes. Team members that can see how the goals that they have set are being achieved week after week are more likely to feel purpose in their work and more investment in your practice. Find out more about how our Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge can help to get your team more invested in your practice.
Most of the people who reach out to me are doctors who are frustrated with their practice or looking to grow. They tell me they wish they had team members like mine. They say they wish their team members would take more initiative. They want their team members to contribute more.
What most of these doctors don’t know is their team members often feel similar frustrations. While most of the people I hear from are doctors, I also hear from team members, either directly or through my free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook group. It surprises some dentists when I tell them this, but the team members who contact me often want the same thing as the doctors. They ask how they can hold their doctors accountable for growing, scaling, and putting systems and processes in place to make the practice run smoother. They ask how they can make a meaningful contribution to their practices. They ask how they can be given more responsibility.
In other words, many times the doctors and team members want the same thing. This is true in dentistry as much as it’s true in any other business. Most people want excitement, advancement, and opportunity. They want to make a meaningful impact on their family, company, or community. They want to be trusted and valued.
If you’re frustrated with your team, chances are they’re frustrated with you, too. Sometimes that means you have the wrong people working with you. Many times, however, it just means you aren’t building team members into leaders within your practice. If you ever want to grow and scale your practice, you need to develop team members into leaders. Team members who are leaders are just as driven as you are to grow the practice and lead it forward. You can’t scale if you’re the only one who can lead.
Here are three ways you can build your team into leaders.
Amazing things will happen when you set your vision of what you want and share it with your team. It will give team members other ideas about how to accomplish practice goals. It will help people focus on what’s most important. It will help people make better decisions. It will give people better ideas about how to improve your practice.
Sharing your vision for your practice also helps you find amazing people who buy into your vision and want the same thing. It also encourages people who don’t share that vision to look for a better fit.
Finally, sharing your vision with your team gets the best team members excited and recommitted to your practice. A lot of times, our team members feel stuck and will think there’s no advancement in your practice. I’ve felt that way before. If we’re honest, most doctors feel that way at some point in their career.
With me, I got bored with the practice of dentistry when I realized that fillings weren’t challenging me anymore. I wanted more excitement and variety, so I decided to focus my practice on more complex dentistry. When I did, my passion for dentistry returned. I even enjoy the fillings more than I used to because they’re only part of my practice now.
Your team members might be feeling the same way. Share your vision for your practice with them and you can see renewed passion, energy, and focus in your team.
2. Make team members feel safe to share ideas and hold you accountable.
After sharing your vision with your team, let them know how important they are to achieving your vision. Encourage them to share ideas about how to achieve your vision. Make them feel safe to offer ideas, ask you about progress, and suggest ways they can help.
If someone comes to you with a good idea for improving the practice, give them the opportunity to try it out. Not every idea will work out, of course. But amazing things will happen when your team is motivated and comfortable suggesting how to improve your practice. You can even set aside brainstorming time during team meetings where people can suggest ideas.
Encourage them to share ideas. Encourage them to share things they want to take the lead on to serve patients better and grow.
By doing so, your team will feel open to sharing ideas. When you’re comfortable accepting ideas, they’ll begin to take more leadership roles. And when everyone’s on the same page and working together, magic happens. Everyone will discover the collective ideas of the group to be better than your ideas alone.
3. Delegate things that won’t get done.
A lot of times as dentists, especially in the early years, we feel like we need to do everything ourselves. Even as we get experienced, we feel like we need to handle everything ourselves.
The problem is if we do that, everyone loses. We end up stressed and overworked. Our practice never reaches its full potential. Your patients don’t get the best care possible from you and your equally-stressed team. Also, your best team members will leave for jobs where they’ll feel more valued and less stuck.
To prevent that from happening, look for opportunities to delegate. If a team member suggests a great idea, ask them to take the lead. If a great team member asks how they can help, ask them to take the lead on one of the best ideas you won’t have time to implement. Ask team members to help implement systems and processes to make the practice run smoother.
Together, those things will make your practice more efficient, take work off your plate, and show team members they have opportunities to advance into leadership roles.
Your best team members will step up. Your patients will get better care. And your practice will move closer to your vision.
Are you building a team of leaders?
Doctors often get stuck. Many times, they get stuck because there are things they wanted to have implemented in their businesses but they’re tired. They’re exhausted by the end of the day. I know. I’m often tired, too.
When you step back, empower your team, and let them take control, you’ll build a team of leaders and amazing things will happen.
As you’re looking to grow and scale, start thinking about whether you’re allowing your team to step up to the next level. Are you letting your team members grow into leadership roles?
In this week’s podcast episode, I talk about how you can get your team to crush your production goals.
Have you ever thought about the life cycle of growing a business? In the beginning, production levels are through the roof. However, if you’re the business owner, it’s likely that you’re doing most (if not all) of the work. It’s your practice, after all, so you are the one creating the systems, seeing patients and leading the team. You do everything you can to get your practice off to a great start, and it all goes well…up until a certain point.
Eventually, you burn out. You feel overwhelmed, stressed and you just can’t do it anymore. You’re exhausted, and it’s not long before your own productivity simmers down. At this point, it’s critical to build and structure your team. You need to put them in a position where they can take your vision for the practice and take it to the next level.
Here’s what I discussed on the podcast:
Dr. Glenn Vo’s story on hitting his monthly goals despite working fewer hours!
The importance of empowering and training your team to carry out your vision
Discover what motivates your team and let them know that if they work with you to achieve the practice’s goals, they can accomplish ALL of their own goals too
Making your team members aware of what’s expected of them
Training team members to close cases
Having processes in place that encourage patients to agree to your treatment plan
Using whiteboards as a strategy to track your practice’s services
Giving your patients a variety of payment options and why this can help grow your practice
What to do if your practice is not on track to hit its monthly goals and how you can resolve the issue, overcome obstacles and hit your monthly target
How to be proactive and market your practice on social media and with a simple but effective email marketing strategy
Building a productive team and creating an effective and profitable action plan