Establish your Dental Philosophy
There are many kinds of dental professionals around the world, running their practice differently than the next. Before you can start building a high-performing dental practice with a powerful team, you have to first look inside yourself as a healthcare professional. What philosophy are you going to practice as a dentist?
Ask yourself what you will stand for and who you will serve during your career. If you want to establish trust with your patients and team members, you have to be honest and ethical in everything you do. Keeping the Hippocratic oath and promise of ethical standards in the back of your mind will help you provide the best type of care you can for your patients.
1. Carefully select your dream team and empower them
To carefully select your dream team, you need to focus on each step of your hiring process. A key phrase I always try and remember when I’m building a team is from a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins. The phrase says, “Get the right people on the bus, in the right seat.”
Every member of your team-the dental hygienists, dental assistants, and the front office needs to be carefully selected. Once they are selected, they need to be placed in the right spot to be the most effective. This will ensure the right people are doing the correct job and your team can perform at a high level.
There are 3 parts to the hiring process that have become my best practices for building a dream team:
- Screen the candidate & hold a basic interview about attitudes and goals for their career.
- Bring them into the practice and have them spend a day assisting the team and experiencing a normal workday.
- Have the team take the candidate out to lunch and spend time with them away from the office. If the team concurs, then HIRE THEM!
The importance of these steps underlines a fundamental principle of building your Dream Team; as a dentist, you shouldn’t have the only say in who gets hired. Your team will be working with this candidate 24/7 and should get to spend some time with them as well. Your team might be able to pick up on subtle nuances easier than you can and their input should be highly valued. You can learn more about the importance of employee value here.
This hiring strategy will build trust in your team and remind them that they can be successful when they work together. The times I have felt the pressure to cut corners in the hiring process due to a staffing gap are the times I have regretted it. Don’t cut corners and do it right. This is the first step in building a high-performing team.
Communication is a critical component of building a high-performing team. This starts with the meetings you hold in and out of the office and the way you structure your workday.
Daily Morning Meeting
My best practices for communication start with a daily morning meeting. This is a simple way to greet and chat with every member of your team before you get busy and this meeting sets the tone for the day. A vital component of this is to hold your morning meeting at the same time every morning without fail.
This will establish clear communication and your team will begin to count on those morning chats to prepare themselves for the day. This is also a suitable place to go over the appointments for the day and how the workday will be structured.
Lunch Meetings with your Team
One thing I did while running my practice was to establish lunch meetings with specific members of my team. For example, every first Monday of the month I would treat all of my dental hygienists to lunch. The second Monday was for the CDA’s, the third for the business team, and then the fourth Monday was a two-hour full team lunch and team meeting.
This was a great way to develop relationships and build trust with my team. Oftentimes, team members will have more insight into your practice and the way things are running than you can. This is because they are on the front lines and are spending more one-on-one time with patients. Taking them to lunch is a great way to spend some time listening to their thoughts and input.
Many people might claim that investing in executive training and coaching for your team is expensive and my response is always, “compared to what”? You have to weigh each variable in your practice and determine the costs vs the value it brings. Every four months, I had a Jameson Consultant come in and do coaching, along with monthly Leadership calls and weekly marketing coaching calls.
I wanted my team to have the insight and tools to be the most effective at their job. Investing in this made them feel more confident, reduced turnover, and created a better patient experience. If your team doesn’t feel confident in their role, they are more likely to resign. High staff turnover will be more expensive in the long run than it would be to invest in executive training and coaching. You can learn more about the current state of staffing shortages here.
Appreciation is a huge part of communication. When was the last time you took a moment to thank one of your team members for doing a good job? Nowadays, it feels like very few teammates feel appreciated. Try to establish a corporate culture of engagement, and gratitude and create a pattern of appreciation within your team.
Reinforce the positives and make it a point to highlight what your team is doing right. In a basketball game, the player who makes the basket usually gets the credit, however, they had the help of an assist or pass to get the ball to that point. The same principle is true with your wins as a dentist. Your team might not make the final slam dunk, but their efforts have set you up for success and they deserve appreciation. You can learn more about dental office bonus systems and ideas to keep your team happy, by clicking here.
3. Invest in technology to create a better experience
Technology is your friend, not your enemy when it comes to running your dental practice successfully. During my dental career, I had a plethora of technological advancements that helped me give my patients the best care possible. A few of the most critical were high-quality digital cameras, DigiDoc intraoral cameras in each room, Isolite Bite Blocks, Onset Buffering of the local anesthesia, and patient engagement software to help with scheduling, appointment reminders, and billing.
I invested in Weave, a patient engagement software to create simplicity and automation within my practice. Because Weave was doing the heavy lifting in the background, it freed my team up for at least an extra hour to focus on other business team duties. My patients also enjoyed how simple it was to schedule/cancel an appointment and pay their bills through texting and it showed them that my practice cared about their convenience. Click here, to learn more about what Weave can do for your dental practice.
Before you begin taking bitewings and probing, sit down with each of your patients and ask them some questions about their dental goals for their health, teeth, and smile. Many people come to a dentist before a big event like a wedding or graduation and want to look their best. Continue building their trust and thank them for visiting your practice.
Quality relationship time with your patients and using efficient technology is an investment of money and time. However, the trade-off is having satisfied patients leave your practice, pay with appreciation, send their friends, and give your business a Five Star review. Reviews say a lot about you and your practice and 95% of people still check reviews before doing business and making a purchase.
4. Continuing education
Continuing education is like lighting a fire; the more you build and tend your education, the stronger and brighter it becomes. Even while I was busy running my dental practice, I took time to further my team’s and my education. We did monthly lunches and learns, read motivational books together, and set educational goals, committing to at least 100 hours of continuing education every year. I further invested in the team for their personal and professional growth through the Dale Carnegie Organization.
One place where I spent many hours gaining valuable education is the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, Florida. The Pankey Institute is one of the top dental education institutes in the world and provides high-level education for dentists and teams who want to further their knowledge concerning dentistry.
This is just one example of how I continued my educational pursuits after building my practice so I could provide the best care possible. This technique extends to your team as well and you should always be looking for opportunities to provide more training and coaching to your team.
5. Level of Patient Care
While I was receiving additional education at the Pankey Institute, I learned about the Institute’s philosophy. A Pankey-trained dentist is one that focuses on balance in your life and helping patients value and seek optimal, comprehensive care. This philosophy stems from Dr. L.D.Pankey, whom the institute honors his efforts to teach about the importance of creating a patient-centered level of care.
But what does it mean to create a patient-centered care level? It means providing care that is in your patient’s best interest. Your professional actions and the way you run your practice should be focused on your patient’s well-being and their dental health. It might be tempting to cut corners or save money in certain areas but this can be at the expense of your patient.
This idea goes back to my first secret of building a high-performing team; establish your dental philosophy. Your patients don’t know how to fix their dental health and are coming to you with trust and concern. Building a high-performing team means ensuring your patients are taken care of and business is built on trust.
If you’re just beginning your journey as a dentist and you’re unsure of where to start, begin by investing in tools to run your office more smoothly and give your team a better way to communicate with one another and your patients. Weave’s all-in-one communication platform can save your team time during the day. To check out a free Weave demo, click here.
These five secrets to building a high-performing team have carried me through my dental career and given me meaningful relationships and years of success. As a dental expert, you will have to determine what type of practice you want to run and what type of dentist you want to be. A high-performing dental team will not only relieve stress from your plate and attract new customers, but it will create a better experience that your patients will want to come back to time and time again.