Running a dental office is no small feat, requiring a unique blend of skills and attributes. In a panel webinar featuring office managers Debbie Evans, Practice Administrator, and Vice President of Wainwright and Russell DDS, and Teresa Spence, Practice Administrator for Amelia Dental Group, the focus was on identifying the key skills needed for dental office managers to thrive in the dynamic and fast-changing environment of 2023. As this office manager discussion unfolded, several crucial skills emerged, underlining the importance of effective communication, organizational prowess, patient experience, and time management.
Office Manager Skill #1: Effective Communication
The Heart of the Operation
Both Debbie and Teresa emphasized the pivotal role of effective communication. “One of the biggest skills office managers need is effective communication,” Teresa noted. Clear and empathetic communication with both the dental team and patients is vital for success. Office managers must convey the practice’s values, understand patients’ needs, and maintain open channels of communication, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Debbie echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of making patients feel welcome and valued. “We want them as lifelong patients,” she emphasized, emphasizing that each patient’s worth goes beyond a single visit – in fact, her office values each patient at $50,000 over the course of their care. This focus on personalized communication fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty, making patients more likely to recommend the practice to others.
Office Manager Skill #2: Organizational Mastery
Keeping the Ship on Course
Another crucial skill emphasized by both panelists was organizational ability. Office managers must be masters of organization, meticulously planning each day’s tasks to keep the office running smoothly. Debbie shared her daily ritual of creating a task list, dividing it into manageable increments, and ensuring nothing is overlooked.
Teresa added that having systems in place is a game-changer. Systems and processes help ensure that routine tasks are handled efficiently, allowing the office manager to focus on critical aspects of patient care and practice management. Teresa stressed the importance of simple and effective systems that work both for you and for the team.
Office Manager Skill #3: Creating a Great Patient Experience
The Roots of a Great Office
The patient experience is a central concern for dental office managers. As Debbie pointed out, the office manager is at the heart of the practice, responsible for creating a positive experience not only internally but externally as well. “We want our patients to feel like they’re walking home,” she shared, emphasizing that building a personal connection through gestures like greeting patients by name makes a significant impact, creating roots of how the patient thinks about your office.
Teresa underscored the importance of focusing on one patient at a time, giving them undivided attention, and creating an atmosphere akin to Nordstrom or the Ritz-Carlton. A personal touch, combined with effective communication, sets the stage for a remarkable patient experience.
Office Manager Skill #4: Time Management
The Art of Balancing Tasks
As Debbie jokes, if you want something done, give it to someone busy. Office Managers need to learn how to be effective and manage their time well. Balancing the myriad tasks of a dental office manager can be daunting, especially when working with a small team or handling multiple roles. Both panelists shared valuable insights into effective time management. Teresa advised using systems and processes to automate tasks, allowing more time for patient interaction. She highlighted the use of technology, such as Weave’s software, which helps streamline processes like appointment confirmations, freeing up time for more essential activities.
Debbie added that setting aside dedicated periods for specific tasks can improve productivity. She suggested leveraging quiet moments, like staying late when the office is closed, to tackle paperwork or catch up on tasks without interruptions.
Office Manager Skill #5: Weave
Empowering Office Managers
Weave’s software emerged as a valuable tool for dental office managers, streamlining tasks and eliminating tedious manual work. Features such as text messaging for patient communication, text-to-pay functionality, and softphones for remote staff enable office managers to be more efficient and effective. By automating routine processes, Weave’s software empowers office managers to focus on what truly matters—the patient experience.
In conclusion, the skills and attributes discussed by Debbie Evans and Teresa Spence—effective communication, organizational prowess, patient experience, and time management—are the cornerstones of successful dental office management in 2023. By embracing these skills and leveraging advanced tools like Weave’s software, dental office managers can not only survive but thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of modern dentistry.
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