4 Signs You Have A Weak Team
No matter how talented you are as a dentist, your practice will suffer if you don’t have the right team members in place to support you. A strong team will help your practice grow and meet its full potential, while a weak team will do nothing but hold you back—costing you plenty of time, money and frustration along the way.
Unfortunately, many struggling dentists don’t realize just how important a strong team is to their practice’s success. They ignore any problems that come up, and hope team members will start magically meeting performance goals and boosting production numbers.
If your team isn’t meeting your expectations, it might be time to make some changes in your practice. Here are four signs you have a weak team, and what you can do to fix it.
1. They just can’t seem to get along. Most dentists want to avoid dealing with staff conflict at all costs, but trust me, ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
When there’s a conflict among team members, it costs you money—and I’m talking thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Staff morale suffers, leading to reduced production. And if the situation gets bad enough, team members might start looking for new jobs, even if they’re not directly involved in the conflict. That means you’ll need to spend time and money looking for replacements.
And yes, doctor, patients do notice when team members aren’t getting along. They may over hear a snide comment or simply feel the tension in the air, making them uncomfortable from the moment they walk in. Not only that, when team members are caught up in petty gossip or arguments, customer service suffers. The focus is no longer on the patient—it’s on whatever is causing the conflict. This all creates a negative patient experience, and may even prompt them to make their next appointment at the practice down the street.
As much as you might want to, you simply can’t ignore staff conflict. When you notice a problem among staff members, you have to help them find a solution before it puts a huge dent in your bottom line.
2. They’re not motivated. You need team members who love their job and who want to do their part to help your practice grow. If your team isn’t motivated to help you succeed, it could be because you haven’t given them enough guidance.
Like it or not, you have to lead your team. Create detailed job descriptions that give them the direction they need to succeed, as well as performance measurements. Sit down and talk with them about individual goals, and align them with practice goals. Share your vision for the practice, and let team members know how important they are to helping you make that vision a reality. When they see how their performance contributes to growing the practice, they’ll be more motivated to meet their goals and your expectations.
3. They’re not meeting expectations. While creating detailed job descriptions is key to helping employees meet expectations, it’s also important to provide regular feedback.
Praise team members when you see them going above and beyond, and take them aside and tell them when they’re doing something wrong. You might also want to consider conducting performance reviews to talk with employees about their progress. This regular feedback will help them succeed in their roles, and that will only mean good things for your practice and your bottom line.
4. They’re not confident in their skills. A poorly trained team is the biggest contributor to practice inefficiency and mismanagement. Simply put, if your team isn’t properly trained, it’s killing your production numbers and your bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to invest in training.
Make sure team members are properly trained from day one, and provide training every time you incorporate a new technology. If you don’t, instead of the new technology improving practice efficiencies and increasing production numbers, it will only lead to frustration and wasted time.
While training might cause a minor disruption to your team’s schedule, don’t let that deter you from investing in it. If your team members are properly trained, they’ll be much more comfortable performing their roles and more confident in their skills. That will save you a lot of time and money down the road, not to mention boost your production numbers.
If you want to create a successful, profitable practice, you can’t do it on your own. You have to have the right team behind you. Your team should be motivated, properly trained and prepared to work together toward one common goal—helping your practice meet its full potential.
Next week, Want a stronger team? Follow these tips.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Selling the Benefits of Good Dentistry
“He could sell ice to an Eskimo” - a phrase often used to describe an excellent sales person. It is not uncommon to buy something you don’t need and then later wonder “What was I thinking? At the time I really wanted that car.” Dentists often spend a lot of time in the education process with technical and scientific jargon to motivate patients to purchase dental care. Often after probing the dentist’s motivation for this exhaustive exchange of information, I am given the same answer, “Because they need the treatment and I am supposed to tell them what they need.”
As a healthcare provider, you are performing your function of diagnosis and education. But to the patient, it is often about believing in the need to the point where it becomes something they want to have. Taking need and creating a want takes time and some thought about who you are as a provider first, and then about who and what motivates your patients to accept better health.
Keeping up the momentum to present all day with the hope that patients will buy can have a negative effect on the morale of the dentist. Sometimes by the end of the day the enthusiasm wanes as the doctor faces yet another patient whose needs exceed their wants. Dentists present diagnosed treatment every day in the dental practice, yet never describe themselves as sales people. Can you sell something you don’t believe in? Yes, if you are a great actor – but that is usually not a dentist’s second career. If you don’t care, they won’t either.
You may be diagnosing and calling out surfaces and tooth numbers like a robot, but this doesn’t mean you truly care whether the patient has the treatment or not. Sure they need it, but in order for them to care and want it, the provider has to care first. People buy for their own reasons, yet you can certainly be influential in the decisions they make by taking extra time to listen and get to know them better. Your patients will learn that your intentions are intended for their best interests, not just because it is necessary to tell them.
“I just don’t spend a lot of time with patients who I know are not interested in improving their dental condition. If I know they can’t afford the care I quickly give them the options and then transition them to the front desk. I don’t want to waste my time.” - Dr. X
Have you ever been wrong with this assumption? Judging a person’s ability to pay by outward appearances or by what they say can be misleading. If you do a credit check and they are not credit worthy, that is the best way to judge their ability to pay. Not all patients are right for every office. There are people who make it a lifetime habit of seeing a dentist only when in pain or crisis. Be kind and tell them what they need in straight talk. Explain your philosophy of care and find another practice that suits their needs.
What are the benefits of the proposed care to the patient in front of you? Talk to them like it is custom care for their health as a special individual. Don’t be rushed to get out of the room to the next patient. Don’t think your work is done now that you have presented the need. Slow down and listen and learn what this patient really wants.
Many factors influence a patient’s decision to accept a dental treatment plan. If you want help understanding what influences these decisions, consider taking the Treatment Acceptance Training Program with McKenzie Management.
Are You a Hole Filler?
After typing this title, I realized that this question could easily be posed to a dentist as well as a Business Coordinator! I suppose that a dentist is a “hole filler”! However, this article is directed towards the Business Coordinators that struggle to keep the dentist busy all day long by “filling holes”.
First……what does a “hole filler” do? Simply put, they fill holes in the schedule with patients. Any patient will do – let’s just get someone in the chair so the doctor doesn’t see the hole. Okay. I understand this.
Second….how does a “hole filler” get a patient to fill a hole? They “make contact” from lists of names of patients that need an appointment or they get lucky and a patient calls to make an appointment and the “hole filler” offers the hole!
Third…where does the “hole filler” get the list that allows them to “dial for dollars”? The correct answer is the practice management software but as consultants we still see sticky notes on the monitor or hand written names on pages of paper!
Last….what’s the relevance of filling the “holes’?
Before we discuss how to “fill the hole”, let’s review what a “hole” is! You would all probably agree that a hole is an opening in the hygiene or doctor’s schedule that will lead to lost revenue for the amount of time related to the hole. And how much revenue would be lost as a result of this “hole”?
Good question, right? The answer depends on the daily/hourly goal that is established for that producer. In other words, if you are a hygienist and your daily goal is $1200 and you work 8 hours, your hourly goal is $150. Therefore, if your “hole” is for an hour, the practice will lose $150 as a result of the hole unless it is filled.
If you are a dentist and your daily goal is $5,000, your hourly goal for an 8-hr day is $625. As above, if you have a 1-hour hole, you stand to lose $625 based on the value of your hour.
Why are goals relevant in determining the value of a “hole” for any given day? Is it possible that a hole may have no value at all and as a result, filling the hole could be unnecessary? That concept can be hard to sell to your dentist.
But let’s dig a little deeper and analyze a situation that “hole fillers” face each day:
Susie, the “hole filler” is working alone today, as her co-worker in the business area is ill. Susie has been instructed to “fill the holes”. Now Susie is faced with a time management issue. She has checks to post, appointments to confirm and now, a “hole” to fill. What to do, what to do? Susie gets bogged down with “priority confusion”.
Susie’s first thought is……”2:00 appointments can be hard to fill and I know that Mrs. Jones at 3:00 cannot come in earlier. I will have to spend “time” this morning making calls and hope I get lucky and find someone at home or work that is willing to leave their home or work.”
In reviewing the appointment schedule to see if maybe there is a doctor patient that is due or past due for their professional cleaning, she also notices that Jane is not scheduled to her goal tomorrow due to two “holes” in the schedule. Oh my! Oh my!
Now Susie is feeling the pressure and frantically starts the “dialing for dollars” steps to fill the 2:00. Maybe if a patient can’t take today, they can take tomorrow’s hole.
Susie is missing one piece of the puzzle that will make her life much less stressful and that is asking herself one simple question………”Do I need to fill the hole today?” How would she know how to answer this question? Simple……is Jane already scheduled to goal for today even with the “hole” since she has two patients with SRP appointments? Well, yes she is! So, in theory, the “hole” has no value since Jane is already scheduled to goal for today.
Now Jane’s priorities have changed. Instead of having to stress over filling a 2:00 appointment today, she can now focus on the two openings she has tomorrow where Jane is not scheduled to her daily goal. HOWEVER, does that mean that Jane doesn’t even make an attempt to fill the hole? NO! Because going over the goal to $1350 for the day may make up for a day next week where the last minute hole could not get filled and the production is $1050. While the daily production objective is important, don’t overlook the month to date goal as the bigger picture.
Time management and learning to prioritize tasks are so important for any team member in a dental office, not just the business team. An assistant must decide in a few seconds whether to unbox supplies or load the autoclave. The doctor must decide whether to anesthetize his restorative patient first or take care of a hygiene exam.
Time is money and there are only so many hours in a day to perform the tasks that must be completed in order for the practice to run smoothly and productively. Don’t get bogged down with “priority confusion”. Learn what tasks always takes precedence over other tasks to make your day less stressful and more productive.
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