Mention “culture” to many dentists and it brings back dental school memories of how they determined what organisms were causing what disease and what antimicrobial could be used to combat the disease.
Actually, the culture of a dental office is the personality that defines what it’s like to work there, how the staff treats their patients, and what the staff’s fundamental beliefs and work ethics are. One of the challenges of growth in dental businesses, whether in one or multiple locations, is maintaining the culture.
All it takes is leadership!
The leader needs to align with the culture and model any desired behaviors. A leader’s values, actions, and development of his or her team need to visibly reinforce the culture of the organization. A leader has the ability to make or break an organization.
Through leading by example, the leader sets the tone for the company’s culture every day. One of the biggest factors that can hinder a leader’s ability to effectively drive results is failing to align with, act on, or uphold the organization’s values.
Poor leadership can reinforce the wrong values, behaviors, and attitudes, creating interferences that can lead to a toxic culture and create discord between an office’s image and how it actually operates. Most consultants would say if the culture is not great, it doesn’t matter what system is used or how well it is implemented, because it will never stick.
Leadership and culture are the crosshairs that, when coordinated, can make for a competitive advantage in a competitive market.
Here are some steps you can take to start
Show genuine interest and concern—Connect with the emotional side of the workforce, which creates a shared sense of purpose and motivation.
Lead by example
Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. If the office staff has to stay late for a patient and they’re behind on closing the day, grab a vacuum and help.
Respect your team, both inside and out of the practice
Empower team members in their positions and let them do the jobs you hired them for. Try not to call, text, or email them when they’re outside of the practice.
Create a clear vision and share your mission statement
Defining the office vision is your responsibility. You must embody the practice’s cause, and that includes defining it. People buy into the leader way before they buy into the vision. Communicate your goals with the team.
Create job descriptions
Make sure your team knows their jobs, that they are educated on how to do those jobs, and that they have the tools and resources needed to complete their jobs. This sets them up for success.
All good leaders will not let employees know just once a year how bad or good they are doing at their jobs. Leaders communicate often and openly.
Whether big or small, celebrate the victories in your practice.
Create a safe environment for staff
Do not display an aggressive attitude. This can make team members nervous in their job surroundings.
Identify strong suits
Never place someone who is uncomfortable talking about money in a treatment coordinator position and expect the person to be good at it. Find staff members’ strong areas, and place them where they belong.
What kind of employees will be attracted to this style of leadership? The answer is, enthusiastic and happy people who look forward to coming to work, who are reliable, satisfied, self-motivated, and willing to help grow the practice.
Nothing is more costly to a business than losing a valuable team member. It might take months or even years to find and train a replacement who can operate at the same level of productivity. In the meantime, the lost productivity will never be recovered.
Your team is your practice’s most valuable asset because patients value relationships with you and your team members more than they value the dentistry you provide. It takes years to build those relationships. Lose a key team member, and you lose some of the relationships with your patients.
Showing sensitivity to the culture of practice will reap benefits for all concerned and show improvements in staff morale, patient treatment acceptance, profitability, and growth. Without that awareness comes stagnation, frustration, and poor performance. It might be time to revisit the culture if you’re having team retention issues, systems that fail to stay in place, are not progressing toward practice goals, or have high office stress levels.Read More
What does it take to get a “yes” from your patients? There is no quick fix, magic wand, or potion that will give you treatment-acceptance success. The difference between success and failure is not a single secret, but a secret formula.
In this article, we — here at Next Good Thing Academy — will discuss four critical principles that will lead you to success. Some of these principles are fundamental steps that successful salespeople and entrepreneurs have been using for centuries. All are attributes that high achievers have in common.
1 Believe you can
Confidence is the air you have about you that is bred by preparation. Prepare with education. Acquire the skills to become proficient in your work. Preparation and education will breed self-confidence. The best part about confidence is that it’s contagious. You can give it to your team and your patients.
Having a “yes” attitude gives you a positive determination to achieve your goals. Earl Nightingale said, “You become what you think about all day long.” Is your attitude being sabotaged by negative self-talk? When you are reviewing patient treatment plans, do you say to yourself, “He [or she] will never go for this comprehensive treatment plan,” or “The patient’s maximum insurance benefit will be maxed out and she [or he] will never pay the difference”?
Avoid negative self-talk and misperceptions that lead to sour grapes. (“My fees must be too high,” “The politicians are ruining my practice,” “If only I had the right team.”) The negative senses block your ability to focus on the positive ones — the ones that breed success.
Think you can. Believe you offer your patients the best comprehensive care dentistry can offer, and that your office offers the best treatment options and best products available. High self-belief leads to high success.
According to the Encarta Dictionary, the word “intention” is defined as “aim or objective and quality of purposefulness.” For the office to achieve a higher level of treatment acceptance, a doctor needs to share his or her purpose and direct practice efforts to meet those intentions. Clarity of purpose inspires the team to excel in its professional endeavors.
The doctor’s intention directs everything — team effort, the office environment, and practice-development strategies. With the practice vision clearly determined, teamwork is more effective and system strategies are simplified.
The patient will witness excellent care from all team members when everyone understands and genuinely commits to the intentions of the doctor. A team meeting may be required to revisit the practice intention and align team efforts.
3 Team involvement
Patients are looking for validation of their treatment choices. They want the assurance that they have chosen the right office and the right doctor for their dental care. When team members introduce the practice philosophy and treatment opportunities and praise the doctor’s care, they are fulfilling the patients’ need for treatment validation. In essence, the team becomes the second opinion in the office.
This behavior is not optional, but a requirement of a highly effective team. Team training may be required and should be scheduled.
According to American business philosopher Jim Rohn, “The biggest reason people don’t succeed is that they don’t expose themselves to existing information.” Be proactive about learning the art of presenting. Listen to audio tapes and read to stay up-to-date. Attend live seminars. Record yourself doing a treatment presentation and review it to learn how you can improve.
Ask your team members to evaluate what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of your current treatment-presentation style. Sharpen your clinical and communication skills so you have the confidence to present your treatment plan and the finesse to do it well.
If you’re still lost on how to increase treatment acceptance with your patience, we recommend enrolling in Next Good Thing Academy’s comprehensive eLearning courses. This will show you exactly how to get patients to say “YES” to treatments and will shine a light on bad habits you may be falling victim to.Read More
It’s no surprise that dental office management appeals to many dental professionals. Dental office managers are often viewed as one of the leaders in the practice. They oversee the day-to-day operations of the dental office so that dentists can concentrate on patient care. Managers’ wide-ranging duties may include supervising staff, maintaining appointment schedules, coordinating patient treatment and managing finances.
As such, dental office management job titles vary. For example, managers’ titles may include office manager, patient coordinator, business manager, practice administrator, or insurance and finance coordinator. As you can see, for dental office managers, the possibilities are endless!
Salary is always a hot topic, and many prospective dental office managers are interested to know about the typical wages for this role.
According to PayScale, as of March 2018, dental office managers in the United States typically earn between $34,253 and $63,398. Similarly, in 2018, DentalPost reported that the average salary for office managers was nearly $50,000 per year.
Of course, different surveys report different salaries. Like dental assistant salaries, for dental office managers, practice type, size and location and years of experience as a dental office manager will also impact salary levels. Therefore, you may want to consult a variety of sources to get the most accurate picture of what to expect.
How can you become a dental office manager? Read on to learn more!
Learn on the Job
Ask dental office managers about their career paths, and you’ll likely hear a variety of responses. Some dental office managers began their careers working as a chairside dental assistant; others started working at the dental office front desk.
Some dental office managers may have a degree in business or administration, but many are trained on the job. If you would like to test out whether dental office management is right for you, consider asking your current employer if you can become cross-trained.
This approach will not only help you learn about dental office management, but it also will help you be able to contribute more to the dental office by stepping in wherever you are needed most.
Enroll in eLearning Courses for Dental Office Management
Typically, dental office managers have a variety of educational backgrounds. Some dental office managers have bachelor’s or associate degrees or some other type of formal education. But there are a variety of other educational opportunities available outside of a college or university setting.
For example, we here at Next Good Thing Academy, offer online courses in a variety of office management-related topics. You can take these courses online at your convenience, on any device. What’s more? Our lessons are created by professionals with over 10 years of experience in consulting for practices of all sizes. This means you’ll be learning the proper skills and put in realistic scenarios to give you a leg up when it comes to finding a role in dental office management.Read More
Getting regular check-ups from the dentist not only is important for one’s health but is also beneficial for preventing tooth decay and other issues that could potentially cause problems down the road. Some patients put off going to the dentist just for those reasons alone. Others hate going because of the time and expense. But did you know, a study found out patients also dislike waiting in that unpleasant reception office?
Waiting rooms and dentist offices are rarely fun places to spend time, but using these tips can help to improve dental patient experiences and inspire more people to make regular visits to the dentist again.
Making a Lasting First Impression
First impressions are important. When patients are walking into the waiting room, have that area reflect the practices attitude toward overall patient comfort. It should be clean, calm and relaxing.
This also reflects on the receptionist’s appearance. In order to establish a lasting and professional impression, receptionists should dress neat and clean, providing patients with a smile that is warm and welcoming.
Calming a Patient’s Worries Over the Phone
Nerves don’t start when the patient arrives. They often worry about going to the dentist before they even pick up the phone to make an appointment. This is why telephone interactions are also important in dental patient experience.
To help patients feel comfortable about talking about their dental problems, phone etiquette is important. The greeting should be clear, concise and friendly. Ideally, phones should be answered away from the front desk to allow the receptionist to focus on the present patient.
Being Friendly to Patients and Other Staff Members
Patients in the office should be welcomed with a positive interaction, eye contact, and a nice smile to build client relationships and trust. Patients who trust their receptionists feel at ease and are more likely to enjoy their check up and look forward to coming back. Receptionists relationships amongst themselves should also be clear and have consistent systems put in place to ensure positive patient experiences that lead to cooperative and collaborative relationships. Another important key to improving dental patient experience is how the staff and receptionists communicate with each other.
Speaking Properly to Patients
Receptionists tend not to use “medical terms” with patients who have questions or are just receiving information from the clinical team.
As such, receptionists should be able to understand the information that was given to the patient by the clinical team and be able to reinforce that information. It’s easier for the patient to understand and is also beneficial in helping to create client relationships, trust, and the right impressions.
The importance of improving dental patient experience is not only crucial for first-time patients, but it is also very significant in improving that experience with patients who have had bad interactions in the past with other dentists or with patients who just have a fear of being at a dentist office.
Whatever the dismay might be, it is essential to keep the same amount of awareness and care for each patient and continue to work towards a greater dental patient experience.Read More
If you’re a dental practice owner, the following real-world headlines might give you some heartburn.
- U.S. Department of Labor investigation results in Tennessee dental practice paying $50,000 in back wages and liquidated damages (US Department of Labor)
- Company to pay $584,000 for firing employees who demanded overtime (Washington Post)
- Court orders dentist to pay $85K to employee fired for safety complaint (OSHA)
- OSHA investigation finds two dental locations failed to protect employees from risks of blood-borne pathogens (OSHA)
- In 2015, the first dentist was fined for a HIPAA violation. The fine of $12,000 was for the alleged mishandling of the protected health information of 5,600 patients. (HIPAA Journal)
Do you or your practice manager have a solid grasp on areas typically handled by HR professionals? If not, you could be putting your organization at significant risk. Does your dental clinic have documented policies and procedures and an employee handbook? If not, this should be a top priority. Someone in your clinic also needs to know how to ensure employees are actually following established policies and procedures. How about regulations governing overtime and employee classification? Are you or your practice manager up to speed on those? Take our quick, 3-question quiz and see how you do– https://members.dentalofficecourses.com/quizzes/hr-skills-regulations-governing-exempt-employee-status/
So, here are the facts. Salaried employees are only exempt from overtime if they meet the federal requirements for classification as an exempt employee. They have to earn at least $913/week and “the employee’s primary duty must be…work directly related to the management or general business operations and… include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.” (U.S. Dept of Labor) And don’t get too comfortable after you have this information under your belt. These Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules are scheduled to be updated every 3 years. The next update will be in 2020.
A small investment in staff training can save you money in the long run by ensuring that your clinic is in compliance with regulations, protected from fines and prosecution. Having a practice manager with HR training is an asset not just in promoting compliance. Equipped with the right skills, she can also elevate the performance of your dental employees, starting with attracting top talent in the hiring process. Then, to retain your best employees, she can work to cultivate a positive organizational culture―another valuable HR skill. She can also implement training programs and an employee evaluation process, based on best practices, to bring out the best in your staff and build their skills.
Our HR Skills for Practice Managers series consists of an introduction followed by eight micro-courses on the most critical HR skills for dental practice managers.Read More
Feeling the pinch of competition? Looking for ways to increase revenue for your dental clinic? You might think that recruiting new patients is the best possible way to boost production. Think again. Your current patient base is actually a treasure trove of potential income—if you can increase your rate of dental treatment acceptance. If you’re like most dental clinics, your current conversion rate is low.
Oral health providers often feel frustrated and a bit perplexed by patient failure to accept treatment. It seems to make no sense that patients would choose not to have cavities filled or opt for bridges when they could have implants. Part of the problem may stem from the messages you convey to patients. For example, “it’s just a small cavity; we can keep an eye on it.” Patients translate that as, “oh, treatment is optional.” Though, as a dental professional, you may find the characterization of your patients as “customers” a tad distasteful, that is, in fact, what they are. The reality is that dental services are competing for consumer dollars with other possible purchases like flat screen T.V.s, family vacations, and new furniture.
What’s the solution? How do you get your dental patients to say “yes”? First take a look at the current attitudes and behaviors in your clinic. When patients are reluctant to commit to treatment, do you and other dental clinic colleagues just think, “Well, that’s the end of that!”? If so, you’re passing up a rich vein to mine and leaving a sizable amount of potential income on the table. In many cases, you’re also doing a big disservice to your patients, who aren’t getting the treatment they need to maintain optimal oral health.
Let’s look at what else is preventing dental offices from leveraging this valuable opportunity. One obstacle is that dental office staff, including treatment coordinators, often feel uncomfortable pushing back against patient hesitation and objections to treatment. They see it as conflict, which, like most people, they want to avoid. That perspective needs to be re-framed as an opening to help patients get what they want and need. Staff can employ targeted strategies to overcome patient objections and propel them toward dental treatment acceptance in supportive, non-confrontational ways. Another challenge is that fostering acceptance is part of a multi-faceted, multi-pronged process, rather than one quick solution. For example, dental clinic staff need to first lay a foundation by applying specific techniques to establish solid rapport with patients. The biggest hurdle, though, is lack of training in the approaches that result in patient commitment to treatment.
“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”
Our clients have been surprised by the remarkable results from these proven strategies. They report increases in post-training treatment acceptance rates ranging from 30 to 60%. We recommend that you start collecting data on your current treatment acceptance now, so that you have an idea of your baseline. The next logical step is to provide staff training. Treatment coordinators are an obvious choice for participation. But, with the right training, dental hygienists, who typically spend more time with patients than anyone else, can also be instrumental in supporting treatment acceptance. Explore our practical, results-oriented multi-course series on promoting treatment acceptance by clicking hereRead More