Make Time to Reward Team Members

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Dental CEO’s, how can YOU take the time to care for your team members?

What are you willing to do to acknowledge others? For many years, bosses thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to motivate workers. Research over the past two decades, however, confirms something else.

The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.

Here is a Coaching suggestion – Establish Guidelines For Rewarding Team Members

ideas for dental team recognition1. Match the reward to the person. We are all different, so notice that what serves as a reward for one person may not work for another. Get to know your people so you know what turns them on. Pay attention to non-verbal reactions when you reward people. Ask team members what they think would make great rewards.

2. Match the reward to the event. Give small rewards for small actions; larger rewards for more important achievements. Remember the power of a simple “Thank You” to acknowledge a team member.

3. Be specific. When you witness a behavior that you want to reinforce, describe exactly what you noticed. For example, “Pat, I noticed that you were able to calm Mr. Rocker’s nerves about the new root canal procedure. The procedure went much smoother because you took the time to soothe his fears. Thanks.”

4. When you see it, say it. Don’t wait. The time is right when you notice the action or event that helpedGift the team or a patient. Waiting dulls memories and expectations.

5. Build in flexibility. Develop a fixed reward system that allows everyone to participate in receiving recognition. Then, introduce a second system that allows for “on the spot” rewards. This can be something as simple as a certificate for lunch at a local fast-food eatery or a silver dollar. Fixed rewards inspire team members to set individual goals, while a flexible reward system allows for “creative actions” – yours and theirs.

6. Package rewards like gifts. A box with fancy wrapping is more exciting than a ho-hum plain brown envelope. Create a “pretty package” around your words when recognizing an achievement.

7. Allow for spontaneity. Add some zest to your reward system. Single out individuals for a special reward one time; at another time, reward the entire team. Keep it fresh by doing something different each time. Team members will be challenged to stay on their toes, and will be excited when they are rewarded.

Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done, or for meeting a performance goal is not a luxury. It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice.

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Dental CEO’s How Different are You? (Part 2)

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While the analogy is not as stark as the one I described last week, it seems to me that in the “sea-of-sameness” and mediocrity, we must be strategizing our business model in ways that allow us to distinguish ourselves from others.

how to make your dental practice stand outSo how are you different from “the other doctor’s offices” in your community?

Below are some suggested questions to either ask yourself and/or your entire team at a monthly meeting. I believe you will discover the answers are more challenging to come by than you might think.

  • What do you do or how do you behave that sets you apart from the others?
  • How do your patients/guests make the distinction between you and the others?
  • What in your 15-second elevator speech attracts a prospect to you?
  • Describe what is uniquely YOU in your marketing materials and marketing initiatives?
  • Where do you educate your team to be “different?”
  • When will you devote at least 50% of your CE budget to “soft skill” training?

How Different Are You?

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Dental CEO’s how Different are You?

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Two Different Doctor’s Offices

Boy, if this doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does!

differentiate-a-dental-practiceTwo patients limp into two different medical clinics with the same complaint.

Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement.

The FIRST patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

The SECOND patient sees his family doctor after waiting 3 weeks for an appointment, then waits 8 weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn’t reviewed for another week. And finally has his surgery scheduled for 6 months from then.

Why the different treatment for the two patients?

The FIRST is a Golden Retriever.

The SECOND is a Senior Citizen.

What differentiates your dental practice from the next?

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Top 5 Tips to Avoiding Employee Churn

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Dental CEO’s, if you want to avoid employee churn, stop rushing the hiring process.

An ongoing challenge for many dentists is staffing. How to find them; what to do to retain them; how to make them an integral part of the practice? There is a long-term labor crisis brewing. The Kiplinger Letter reports that over this decade, the labor force will increase by about 12 % while the number of jobs, including seasonal, part-time, and second jobs, will grow 15%. Likely to be in short supply: dental employees of all types.

Dental office receptionist new patientsMy dental clients all over the country are frustrated by a double threat:

  1. A lack of employees. It is getting harder and harder to find applicants for many of their open positions.
  2. There is a skilled-worker shortage. Dentists are even more challenged to find candidates with acceptable qualifications.

Therefore, it is even more critical to create a hiring plan that will increase your chances of hiring the “right” people and then retain them.

The following 5 Tips will help you inspire employees who must work harder to woo new business to your practice plus do the work once handled by larger staffs.

1. Embrace the philosophy: “If I take care of my employees, they will take care of my patients.” This doesn’t mean you have to go overboard or be some snively, touchy-type person that you aren’t. You simply need to take care of them so that they feel valued and appreciated. When they feel special, they will treat your customer in the same way. Read the book The Customer Comes Second by Hal Rosenbluth to learn this technique. He grosses over 2 billion taking care of his people.

2. View your employees as an asset and not a liability as they appear on your Income Statement. Successful businesses behave in a way that demonstrates that they believe their people are their most important asset. Remember they represent you in all facets of the business. They are the ones your patients will be dealing with, both when you are present and not. How do you treat your other investments? With care, skill, and judgment? Do the same with and for your team.

3. Don’t wait until it’s a CRISIS. Like my brother, Dr. Scott says, “I never think about this hiring stuff until someone quits or I have to fire them. Then it’s a crisis because I don’t know where to begin.” Stop taking the hiring process lightly. Put a simple plan in place in advance. At least have ads for each position pre-written; keep your compensation package updated; have a list of general open-ended questions written up in advance; and be prepared to screen applicants initially by phone. If you wait until you are desperate for help, you will lower your hiring standards and subsequently the quality of your team.

4. Know what you’re looking for. Create an “Ideal Employee Profile.” Not a physical description…rather a list of the qualities, characteristics, and traits you are looking for in your employees. Some examples might include: communicates well; detail oriented; prompt; collaborates; willing to go the extra mile; or positive in time of crisis. By compiling this list it will help you know if and when this person is sitting in front of you. Create your profile and share with your current team and your patients asking them to help you find this person.

5. Share your values. Let all new prospects know what your Core Values are and how you apply them to your practice and the treatment of your team. These governing principals provide the direction to all the members of your team, including you, on how to behave and interact in your practice. People are looking for direction, safety, and a sense of what’s right in the workplace. Your values provide this beacon and you need to look for people who have the same sense of values.

How you treat employees, your best and most expensive asset, will set the tone for their satisfaction and the success of your business.

Take the steps listed above to create your plan and mindset for that time when you least expect it…when you need to hire a new member of your dental family. Set a time line of 30 days, involve your current team, and finalize at one of your monthly staff meetings. You will then have a much better chance of hiring RIGHT.

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Expanding Your Dental Practice Through Referrals

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Where does most of your business come from? Most dentists will answer with “by word-of-mouth.” However, very few dentists have a strategy for increasing word-of-mouth business.

Many simply “pray” for referrals. Unfortunately, that’s not enough.

growth strategy for dentists

Referrals are to the dental practice are what base hits are to baseball players.

What’s your batting average? Are you getting your share of hits?

How good are you and your team at generating new patient referrals?

Take this free assessment, and come back here to rate yourself at how well you do.

How well did you do? Successful doctors find that the higher they rate as a referral collector, the higher their production and subsequently the higher their practice income.

Scoring: Add up the number of YES answers that you checked off above. A score of:
• 12 to 13 is off the chart fantastic—your practice is likely generating plenty of New Patients. You and your team have a strategy in place. Take a bow.
• 10 to 11 is very good—not bad. You’re doing better than most dentists in generating New Patients through your referral efforts.
• 9 is good—just a little more effort and you have the potential to elevate your practice to levels of profitability and satisfaction.
• 8 is average—how important is it to be mediocre?
• Below 8 is a red flag. To continue growing your practice and your income you may want to take steps immediately to improve your referral strategies.

Never confuse motion with action. Frequently, many of us have wonderful intentions to move forward on a project or an idea and then get “bogged down” in a lot of activity without making progress towards the completion of our goal.

Set aside time with your team to create the strategies, to develop the scripts and the communication skills that will increase your practice referrals. Following this approach will assure you that the actions you take will produce the results you want…more new patients, a happier office, and increased income.

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Top 10 Insights to Open Book Management: Part 2

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Last time, I gave you five methods of introducing Open-Book Management into your practice. What is Open-Book Management?

Setting Dental Staff AccountabilityIt’s a system of educating your employees on the basics of business income and expenses, like how to read a financial statement, and then applying that knowledge to your practice. That means as the leader of the practice, you must understand these numbers so you can educate your team. It means teaching your employees to think like business owners and giving them a personal financial stake in the profitability of your practice. The results? A more motivated staff, better profitability, happier patients, and less stress.

Take the time to read the rest of these tips and implement these ideas, and you WILL see results.


Read The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack or Open-Book Management: The Coming Business Revolution, by John Case.


Give them the WHY as well as the HOW, then follow up with feedback. Be sure they understand all of the why’s: why the practice is in its current position; why they need to know how the business runs; why you are sharing this information. Then show them how this new Open-Book Management will work for and benefit them. Make sure you provide regular, ongoing coaching and feedback – real-time learning.


Every industry (including dentistry) has benchmarks against which companies measure their performance; production, collections, remakes, and patient complaints are among the key statistics we track in dentistry. What gets measured, gets done. When employees begin tracking these critical benchmarks, they begin to see opportunities for improvement. They start to provide solutions and feel ownership over the results.

Your stress is lowered, because you are no longer required to have all the answers.

Share financial information with employees. Teach them how to read the numbers…they send a powerful message.


Inc. Magazine suggests that Americans know very little about business. Many believe the word “business” equals success and money. They have little or no idea about routine business expenses, what percentage of profit is healthy, or the distinction between profit and income. Develop a program in-house that teaches business basics, like how to read a financial statement, or even how to balance a checkbook.

Start with employees’ personal finances and apply their new understanding to your business.

Compare personal income statements and balance sheets with those of the business to get them to start speaking the language of business and deepen their understanding of business basics.


Profit and loss are strong motivators. Make sure every employee shares directly in the business success and in the risk of failure. When employees trust and understand management, profit and loss will motivate employees to get clear on what they are working for each year. When they have the opportunity to be rewarded like an owner, the will think like owners.

Open-Book Management, according to Mark Miller of Chick-fil-A’s, is a system to create a business of business people. By teaching the business of business, providing tools to measure performance and supporting employee growth, Open Book Management has the potential to reduce employee discontent, improve decisions and increase profits. Business can be fun if everyone understands the game!

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Your customer EXPERIENCE is your “Competitive Advantage”!

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Buying a bunch of “technology” for your practice, while important for the delivery of your care, has much less impact on your patient’s desire to continue care with you and your team. It’s the “experience” your patients experience.

Bonuses will never get the wrong person to do the right things. It’s the “experience” your team members get to feel. The easiest way to create a memorable event…provide lousy service. When you customize a service delivery you automatically create an “experience” (Hazelnut coffee with the patients favorite flavored creamer prepared for them). Teach the team to “stage” the “experience” like it is theatre (singing Happy Birthday while delivering a card or balloons at the end of their appointment).

grow dental practiceIf your business disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice?

World-class is expecting the unexpected. Consider creating the position of Vice President of Memory Making; offer your team a Secret Service Allowance from $25-$100 per month per team member to be used at their discretion (consistent with your practice Core Values) and to be fully spent every month. The design of these ideas is to encourage your team to create “experiences” that your guests will never forget.

Coaching Action: devote a section of your monthly team meeting to “turning ordinary into extraordinary”. Come up with ways to make your guests visits a true “experience”.

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Top 10 Insights to Open Book Management: Part 1

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Open Book Management is an approach to operating a business (and dentistry is a business) that helps everyone focus on making the business profitable. By promoting a better understanding of the financial side of your practice, you give your employees the tools they need to make more well-rounded, business-savvy decisions during their day-to-day routines.

Dental office receptionist new patientsHow well do your employees know your dental business? I mean, really KNOW your business?

Are they educated on the basics of how to make money for the business? Do they know the reasons they are being asked to reduce costs, increase productivity, and serve the customer with excellence?

I can feel some of you cringing, but don’t worry – increasing your focus on the profitibaility of your practice does NOT mean neglecting your patients or exposing your entire financial picture.

On the contrary, it means taking an even closer look at what your patients really want and delivering it in a consistent, efficient, cost-effective manner. You do this by demonstrating to your team the economics of delivering quality care.

1. Be Open To New Ways of Solving Old Problems

If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always gotten! If your business simply manages to “scrape” by, if your overhead continues to consume a higher and higher percentage of gross income, or if patient satisfaction is declining, you need to rethink your approach to solving these problems. Open-Book Management provides an avenue to better manage costs, which ripples out to many other areas of your practice.

2. There Is No One “Right” Way

Just as there are several solutions to every problem, there are different ways to implement Open-Book Management. The key word however, is open. The attitude of leadership, the characteristics of the employees, and the current practice profitability will help form your open-book style.

3. Let Go

One of our greatest fears is losing control. Another is that once our employees see the financial statements, they will use them against us. They may even figure out how much money we make. You may even fear that your patients or your competition will about your practice operation. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Risk-takers earn their rewards. There is no reason to operate in the dark any longer. Your employees and those you serve WANT you to be successful. Your competitors are too worried about themselves to worry about you.

4. Quit Solving People’s Problems For Them

When an employee approaches you with a complaint about your lousy pay program, you probably either become defensive or set out to solve the problem. Instead, give your employee the information she needs to develop alternatives that serve her interests AND those of the practice. Once she sees the whole financial picture, she will have a better perspective on her salary and more information on which to develop an alternative pay program.

5. Show Employees That They Have A Direct Stake In The Business’s Success

The objective of the business is to make a profit. All employees need to be a part of that process. Teach employees that they are business-people and not just workers. If the practice is profitable, they get a piece of the action. If there is no profit, they don’t.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, and five more tips on implementing Open-Book Management, but don’t wait until then to get started! Use what you’ve learned in this article to start making changes now.

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Core Values and Vision: Business Jargon or Real Direction? (Part 2)

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As we talked about last month, the best and most essential way to create a positive, interactive dental workplace is by creating two critically important documents. The first is a value-centered set of guiding principles and the second is a clear vision statement.

Dental Business VisionCore Values Guide Your Actions.

• What you will or will you not do?
• What is a right or wrong action?
• What are the rules you live by?
• What are your principles or boundaries?
• What will you take a stand for? (If nothing, are all actions acceptable?)
• What do you ask of others?

It is important to work with a team of people whose core values reflect your own. Your business philosophy comes from a basic respect for each employee’s unique needs and talents…including your own.

Once your Core Values are in writing the next step is articulating your Vision Statement. Again, the doctor must be the one to identify the vision for the practice. This is not a group effort. While some “guru’s” would have you believe that the team needs to be involved, to participate, to get many perspectives, to be one with the universe. However, the reality is, over many years the doctor is often the only sustaining team member.

Staff members come and go but the doctor is often the only remaining constant. This vision is the real direction of the practice. Now that doesn’t mean that others may have an input, it simply means that the final direction is the responsibility of the CEO.

“Vision, like self-confidence, isn’t achieved by taking a pill or reading a book. A sense of vision
grows out of a set of values, experiences, individual reflections, and organizational wisdom and direction. If we see how our work supports and contributes to the larger vision, our work will seem more meaningful and can be more directed. ~ Jerry Moskus

Similar question: what is a Vision, how do I identify it, how do I make it compelling, and how does it impact my team and my office?

Your Vision is a colorful description of how the future of your business will be. It must capture the imagination so that your employees are prepared to devote themselves to transforming that vision into a reality. A compelling vision enables employees to feel that the end results are worthwhile; it gives a sense of direction; and it provides criteria so that employees can judge what is important or irrelevant.

Your task: to write, in not more than fifty words, a compelling vision for your business. Imagine this will be presented to every employee at a special team meeting.

Use these questions to give you focus as you write your Vision:

1. What is your practice especially good at doing?
2. How are you doing competitively?
3. What changes do you expect to see in the demand for your services over the next 3-5 years?
4. What other organizations do you consider ahead of you?
5. What do these more successful businesses have that you do not have?
6. What do you use to judge success and how well are you satisfied that you are measuring important criteria?
7. What books or resources can I “tap” to galvanize my thoughts?

In addition, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to help you to clarify, articulate, and “see” your Vision.

1. What do I want my life to be like?
2. What do I want my practice to be like?
3. What type of patients do I want?
4. What behaviors from staff and patients do I want?
5. What kind of dental care do my patients require and expect?
6. What kind of facility do I want?
7. What impact will my team have on my success?
8. How can I identify and support all my stakeholders?
9. What are my feelings about profitability and financial success?
10. How would I want to interact with my team and our patients?
11. What would my patients tell me and others about my practice?
12. What would I say about my Dream Practice every morning when I walk in the office?
13. How would my patients feel about coming to my practice?
14. What else do I need to address or include that will inspire my team?

So, your Vision, supported by your Core Values serves as a compass. It lets you know where you are and what direction to go in when faced with several options. It is generally a lofty, inspiring statement of the ultimate destination of your practice. Ultimately it will enable you to: 1) Identify the very best destination. Do not settle for the second best option. 2) Support the highest principles that will guide your actions. 3) Describe the “big picture.” And 4) Identify outcomes you hope/intend to achieve.

Then utilize those documents to reinforce the values and goals of the practice. It is important that all team members own the core values and vision of the practice.

Every communication in the practice (e.g. all documents and policies) should be crafted around and support the values and vision. After creating the values and vision, team meetings and workshops need to be held on a regular basis to discuss progress in applying the shared values.

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Have you ever played Whack-a-Mole at your office?

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You’ve planned and are looking forward to having a remarkably productive first month of the year to set the stage for an amazing 2015 and…

contingency planning for dental ceo

  1. Monday morning your Chairside Assistant calls in sick 20 minutes before your first patient who is scheduled with you for a three-hour appointment!
  2. You have your most productive and interesting day of the month going smoothly until 10:45 a.m. when your air compressor craps out! The repairman can’t get to you until tomorrow.
  3. You have Mrs. Smith sitting in the chair at 8:00 am to seat six anterior veneers, and two minutes into your welcoming conversation with her, you’re informed that the veneers are not here!
  4. You’ve seated the denture yesterday and Mr. Brown was delighted with the fit, feel and appearance. You patted yourself on the back because it was a challenging case. It’s now 4:50 p.m. and your Appointment Coordinator advises you that Mr. Brown is coming in right now because his wife hates the color of his teeth and the dentures makes him look hideous!

If you have never experienced any or all or some permutation of these, you obviously have just graduated from dental school and have not had the opportunity to experience “life”.

It happens to all of us…that Whack-a-Mole process where by we think we have taken care of that ornery mole and then he pops his head up again in some other place. Just when we think we have everything under control, he pops his head up again! Uggggh!

Click here to read more about Whack-a-Mole Dentistry.