Who is really running your Dental Practice?
There should be a simple answer for this question, the Dentist or the Office Manager. The reality is, probably no one. For example, you have people in place to “run” the practice and you are involved in making the decisions. That is what is takes, right? Not exactly.
Many dental practices are businesses that are run by patients, staff or chaos, not the owner doctor. Dentists and their teams come to work daily to serve the patients that come to see them, treating them to the best of their ability and then they check out and let them leave. Seems like that is running a successful business. However, there is so much more that needs to be done!
Here is a list of suggested items that MUST be done for a successful practice.
-Planning: A dental practice should plan eight to twelve months in advance, at minimum. Yes, that far. This means vacations, team meetings and trainings, special events and holiday schedules. The worst thing you can do is have a full schedule day and then cancel it or the whole week for vacation. Your patient’s time is valuable and needs to be respected.
-Team Meetings and Training: There needs to be a systematic way to communicate with your team. Having one person in charge to “spread the word” is not the best form of communication. Lack of communication is the biggest issue in most dental practices. Add that, with lack of training, and you have a recipe for disaster. Telling isn’t teaching! Most practices think that if they “tell” someone how to do something, they trained them. The problem is most people learn by doing. You need hands on, effective team trainings in your practice. Shut down for an afternoon a month or come in on a day off. This is important to team unity and success in your practice.
-Structure: Have team members in leadership roles in your practice. The number of these leaders depends on the size. There needs to be an effective chain of command and everyone needs to understand it. Due to overhead issues, dental practices try to have team members wear multiple hats in the office. The result is nothing getting accomplished, because one or two people have way too much on their plate.
-Systems: Have documented systems in place for all aspects of your office. Most of the time, systems are re-invented every time there is a staff change. In some practices, that is multiple times a year. Having solid systems means that no matter what staffing situation is going on in your practice, the work is getting done. Too often, time management or overload is an issue and things slip through the cracks. What is the biggest thing to slip through the cracks? Accounts Receivable and Insurance Tracking, which is your income, revenue and overhead.
-Leadership Training: Any person, including the dentist(s) need to have leadership training. Learning how to effectively motivate your team is crucial to success. Many times, someone is promoted in the office, but not trained how to be effective at the position. This leads to animosity within the team and toxic behaviors begin.
These areas are the tip of the iceberg, but are the solid foundation of every successful dental practice. How do you put all of this in place? Have a plan and work it daily. It is very easy when you are in the “thick of your day” to slip into old habits. Change is hard and if there is not a person monitoring that change is happening, your efforts are for nothing. Then you end up right back where you started. Speak with your team about ideas for implementing changes in your practice. Many of them have great ideas, but never get the chance to be heard. If you need more help, look for outside consulting/coaching. We can help you with that!