4 Reasons Your Team Is Struggling
You might not be able to put your finger on it, but you know something isn’t right. Team members just aren’t as productive as you’d like them to be, and not only is morale down, your struggling team is killing your bottom line.
No matter how talented you are as a clinician or how hard you work, if your team members struggle, so will your practice. They’re the ones you depend on to help move your practice forward and who support you as you strive to meet your full potential. A weak team will do nothing but hold you back and keep you from achieving practice goals.
So how do you turn a struggling team into a thriving team? First you have to determine the problem. Here, I’ve put together four common challenges dental teams face, along with advice on how to overcome them.
1. They have no direction. Just because you hired an Office Manager with 10 years of experience at another practice doesn’t mean that new team member can excel on his or her own. If you want your team members to be successful, then you, the practice CEO, must provide them with the proper guidance.
What type of guidance, you ask? Let’s start with detailed job descriptions. These job descriptions should clearly outline tasks as well as performance measurements, leaving no doubt who is responsible for what.
And let’s not forget about proper, professional training. Team members will feel lost if you don’t take the time to train them when they’re new or when you bring new technology into the practice. With the right training, team members will be more confident in their roles and more productive, making them happy to come to work each day and enabling them to contribute to practice success.
2. They don’t get much feedback. While that initial training is important, it doesn’t end there. To keep employees happy and productive, I suggest you offer feedback. And I’m not just talking about annual performance reviews. I’m talking about regular feedback that will help team members grow in their roles.
Overhear your Treatment Coordinator schedule a patient who’s been putting off treatment for months? Let her know you appreciate her efforts and to keep it up. Realize your schedule is chaotic because your Scheduling Coordinator keeps double booking you? Take him aside and illustrate your frustration, then provide additional training to fix the problem. The point is, offer feedback – both positive and constructive – whenever you can. Not only will team members appreciate it, you’ll soon see their performance improve.
3. There’s conflict among team members. Most dentists would rather do just about anything than deal with staff conflict, but it’s really something you can’t ignore. If you notice tension among team members, deal with it right away before it boils out of control and really damages your practice.
Staff conflict not only tends to make team members miserable (and more likely to look for a new job), it hurts your production numbers. If team members are spending time gossiping about each other, they’re not focusing on how they can better serve the patient and help your practice grow.
The other problem with staff conflict? It could cost you patients. No one wants to come to a practice that’s full of tension and negative vibes, so when patients notice conflict (and trust me, they will) don’t be surprised if they make their next appointment at the practice down the street.
Look at staff conflict as an opportunity to improve your practice and strengthen your team. Rather than ignoring it, find out what the problem is and work with the team members involved to find a solution that not only makes everyone happy, but that also benefits the practice.
4. They’re not in the right roles. As tempting as it might be, don’t just hire the first person with an impressive resume when it’s time to fill an open position. Sure, you’ll get the dreaded hiring process over with quickly. But if you hire someone who isn’t right for the job, you’ll be back to where you started – after wasting a lot of time and money on a bad hire.
I suggest you put a hiring system in place to help ensure you hire the best people possible, not the first ones who come along.
You can’t build a successful dental practice on your own. You need a strong team behind you. If you need help strengthening your team, feel free to give me a call for more guidance.
Next week: Tips to improve your team and grow your bottom line
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
How to Feel Good About Boosting your Production
Treatment Acceptance Case #TA390
“Dr. Smileright” (names have been changed) was in a slump with his practice treatment acceptance rates. He decided to have his Treatment Coordinator professionally trained using McKenzie Management’s Treatment Acceptance Training program.
The pre-training conference call with Dr. Smileright revealed he was not comfortable with what he felt was “pushing” patients to accept treatment, with scare tactics about root canals or muscling to get the patient to buy services they didn’t need like veneers. He wanted to present the findings and let the patient decide if they wished to continue or not.
I invited him to join his Treatment Coordinator in the training course so he could see for himself that presenting treatment options to patients is not about forceful tactics often used by sales people. My recent experience with an optometrist office resonated with his concern. It wasn’t so much that the sales person was trying to push very expensive designer frames for glasses I only needed for computer work, but that I could see the doctor listening in the hall to hear if she “closed” me. Because of my experience there, I never returned.
In the latest edition of the magazine Decisions in Dentistry, there is an article whose source is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry/Cosmetic State of the Industry Survey 2015 (to AACD members), with some very interesting statistics about what patients purchase in the realm of cosmetic dentistry.
Per this publication, there is a growing demand from consumers for these services. The survey included 60% general practitioners, of which 29% described themselves as cosmetic dentists. The top ranked concern for patients was appearance, followed by cost, and lastly, longevity of services. Most frequent services were cosmetic restorative procedures such as bonding, veneers and teeth whitening. Production-wise, cosmetic procedures were valuable to all the practices; the average production per cosmetic patient was $1000 or more, and 27% of visits yielded $2500 or more.
The number one referral source for patients seeking a “cosmetic” dentist was word-of-mouth. In other words, people who were pleased with their cosmetic results talked about it with friends and relatives, spreading the word. Many general dentists don’t market their skills or capitalize on the words “cosmetic dentistry” because they fear being pushy. One such dentist I knew was appalled when one of his long-time patients showed up at her recall appointment with eight new anterior veneers. When he asked her about the treatment she replied, “I went to the cosmetic dentist that my friend went to, I never knew you could do the work.”
Dr. Smileright and his Treatment Coordinator attended the course, and by the time we were finished we had identified some thought patterns that were blocking their communication with patients. One was diagnosing the patient’s ability to pay, and number two was determining whether they “needed” the treatment. Both thoughts about their patients we concluded was in reality, none of their business!
For cosmetic services to be part of the practice, the dentist and team must be educated in the value these services offer to people’s lives. Improved aesthetics make a person not only look more attractive, but imbues health and confidence.
Per this survey, patient concerns are typically in this order: appearance, cost and longevity. During the training, we concentrated on ways to improve the marketing of services that would improve the patient’s appearance. We tied that in with the long-term value and focusing on how cosmetic services can improve total health and wellbeing.
Dr. Smileright and his Treatment Coordinator attended the course, and by the time we were finished we had identified some thought patterns that were blocking their communication with patients. One was diagnosing the patient’s ability to pay, and number two was determining whether they “needed” the treatment. We concluded that these thoughts about their patients were, in reality, none of their business!
Presenting treatment is not just about showing the patient a list of codes and fees with a guestimate of insurance participation. It’s taking the time to listen to the patient and addressing not only the obvious needs, but also what the patient really wants for their life. Sometimes the connection between great teeth and a better life are not obvious to people who have learned to live with stained, broken and missing teeth. It is up to the dental team to provide answers to questions that are not always asked in a kind, empathetic and most of all enthusiastic way.
Want to learn some of the finer points to presenting treatment to patients? Call McKenzie Management today at 877-777-6151 and find out more about the Treatment Acceptance Course.
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