Want a Stronger Team? Follow These Tips
You know every person on your team has the potential to make great contributions to your practice. They’re all intelligent, hardworking people, which is why you hired them in the first place. But for some reason they’re just not meeting your expectations, and instead of helping you succeed, they’re holding your practice back from meeting its full potential.
To build a successful dental practice, you have to surround yourself with strong, motivated team members. If you don’t, I guarantee you your practice will go nowhere fast. But what can you do if your team just isn’t cutting it? Here are a few tips designed to help you build a stronger team, which will increase production numbers and boost your bottom line.
How? Start by creating detailed job descriptions that outline your expectations. Offer regular feedback, both positive and negative, and consider conducting performance reviews to help keep team members on the right track.
Hire the Right People
Don’t Give Out Raises No Matter What
Even if you’re only raising their pay 5% each time, these small increases start to really add up, sending your overhead costs soaring. Not only that, guaranteed raises don’t exactly give your team members much motivation to improve, do they? The way they see it, if you’re giving them a raise they must be doing something right. Why should they work any harder?
Instead of giving out raises just because, explain to your team members when raises can be discussed and under what conditions they will be given. Set clear expectations and goals so they know exactly what it takes to earn more money, and you’ll soon see more motivated employees who do what it takes to meet or even exceed your expectations.
Squash Staff Conflict Before it gets Out of Hand
Remember you don’t have to view staff conflict as a negative. Look at it as an opportunity to improve your practice. Not convinced? Let’s say your hygienist is frustrated because Karen the Scheduling Coordinator isn’t scheduling her to meet production goals. When you talk to Karen, you realize she didn’t know that was an expectation. Now that you’ve identified the problem, you can provide Karen with the training and tools she needs to properly fill out the schedule, making your hygienist happy while also improving production numbers and practice revenues.
Provide Proper Training
Know When to Let Go
Your team can make or break your practice. Follow these tips and you’ll create a strong, dedicated team that’s ready to help your practice reach true success and profitability.
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
Do’s and Don’ts for a New Patient Appointment
Few things are more important than patient perceptions during a new patient exam or emergency visit. Happy and satisfied patients will tell, on average, five other people about their great experience. An unhappy and dissatisfied patient will tell at least ten (and then go on Google or Facebook to further complain about you). Therefore, it is important to provide the best new patient experience possible!
When meeting a new patient for the first time, try very hard to appear upbeat and happy to see them. It may be 3:30 in the afternoon after an exhausting day, but convey as much positive energy as possible. Listen carefully to what they say so you can appropriately address their primary needs and concerns. If you make a good impression during this first appointment, patients will tend to be forgiving later if something does not turn out perfectly. It creates the “halo effect” – if someone already likes you, they tend to dismiss a possible problem as a one-of-a-kind thing. If they don’t like you, they may categorize a misstep as one of a string of problems.
For new patient exams, here are a few suggestions:
Do welcome the patient with a smile and by name. Front desk staff can introduce the chairside or hygienist who will be caring for the patient. The hygienist can say, “I’m so glad to meet you. We are happy you are here.” Don’t hand the patient a clipboard while looking down at the desk. Muttering “fill this out” and ignoring the patient for the next twenty minutes until they have to come to the desk to see if they’ve been forgotten is not an effective strategy. Don’t make new patients wait!!
Do introduce yourself. Walk out to where the patient is sitting and say, “Mrs. Smith? My name is Carol. I am Dr. Jones’ hygienist. I will be taking care of you today.” Don’t stand at the doorway and yell, “Mrs. Smith!”
Do ask the patient how they heard about your office. Make a note of this. If it was an online source, be sure to monitor the website frequently. If a current patient referred them, be sure to send a thank-you of some type. Don’t forget this important step! Don’t start right in with x-rays or other “routine new patient” procedures. Begin by going over their medical history and visiting for awhile. Even if you are busy, find out about the patient and prepare them for what will be happening during this appointment. No one likes surprises.
Do have the dentist come in to meet the patient and perform a preliminary exam prior to any radiographs if at all possible. Patients appreciate x-rays being “ordered” rather than just routine. If the dentist is busy, the chairside or hygienist can explain the need for radiographs. Don’t let patients leave without setting up an appointment for their next treatment or treatment conference. Tell patients at the close of the appointment, “If you have any friends or family who need a good dentist, we would love to meet them.”
For New Patient Emergencies:
Do go over their medical history at the chair before beginning any treatment. No local anesthesia or other services should be started prior to this. Don’t act rushed and annoyed if the patient tells you a tooth has been bothering them for a month. Even though we are thinking, “A month!!! And you are just coming in now?” we must keep in mind that satisfied emergency patients can become patients of record, along with their entire family. Keep calm.
Do take a radiograph or use other diagnostic tools such as a cavity-viewing wand right away, even if the dentist cannot come in immediately. When the dentist comes in, this important information will be ready to help make a diagnosis. Don’t worry about the dentist not meeting the patient first if he/she is in another treatment room. Make introductions in the operatory and address the patient’s concerns and pain. This is different from the new patient exam procedure; but the circumstances are very different as well.
Do perform palliative treatment today. It is very important for the patient to be comfortable when leaving the office. Don’t perform complete treatment today if other patients are scheduled. You may make one patient happy while making three patients unhappy if they are waiting for their scheduled time while the dentist performs an unscheduled crown prep and seat.
Do make every effort to set up a regular examination with the emergency patient before he or she leaves the office. Don’t release an emergency patient without a plan for the future. Call the patient at the end of the day or the next morning to see how they are doing. A follow-up call is good for patient care and good for the practice as well. Don’t let emergency patients get lost in the mix. A properly treated and satisfied emergency patient can become a powerful practice ambassador.
Listen Up Leaders
Often people rise to leadership positions through hard work and the development of proficiency. Along with being knowledgeable and experienced comes the authority to tell others what to do, to lead by example and to educate. These are important leadership skills, right? It turns out, the most effective leadership skills actually emphasize listening over telling. How can this be, you might wonder? After reviewing the below model for how to utilize some key listening skills, make your own determination. Far be it from me to “tell” anyone what to do!
Listening as a leader requires a skill set you might not have developed, as it often is not inherently known. There are four key metrics for demonstrating listening as a leader, which, when deployed effectively, will engender followership in a way wholly different than you have experienced. Your staff will become more autonomous, thus alleviating your stress level. They will see you as a guide, but not necessarily the person to “fix it” or solve the day-to-day crises. You will help others grow, which will in turn provide you with much satisfaction.
The model is simple. To be an effective leader, all you need are OARS: Open-Ended Questions, Affirmations, Reflections and Summaries.
To learn more about listening as a leader, consider leadership coaching. Listening is a skill to be developed, and will be well worth the effort when your job becomes easier as a result.
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at email@example.com
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