Archive for Dental Office Hiring and Human Resources


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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It’s Wonderful to be Noticed!

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Typically I avoid “tooting” my own horn, however something came up recently that I am proud to share. Last month I was awarded a surprise and first-of-its kind acknowledgement from The John DiJulius Group.

This group, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio is the country’s premier customer experience-consulting firm that uses the X-Commandment methodology to providing World-Class Customer experience training. I believe that the persistent and consistent delivery of exceptional, world-class customer experiences is THE key distinctive competencies that will separate you from the competition.

As a Certified Secret Service Agent, I have enthusiastically introduced this training into the dental profession. Additionally, in partnership with a fellow Certified Agent, Dr. Mario Pavicic, we presented patient experience training to faculty and preceptors at the Case School of Dental Medicine. It was met with enthusiastic reviews.

To my surprise, at the Secret Service Summit last month, Mr. Dave Murray, Senior Customer Service Consultant of The DiJulius Group announced my name and invited me up on stage in front of an audience of nearly 600 attendees to acknowledge my zeal for bringing Secret Service to the dental profession. In addition to his very kind and supportive comments, he presented me with my own “Bobble Head” replica of me! Take a look…which head looks better…the Bobble Head or my real mug? I’m taking votes.

Here is a video of the event:

I thank Mr. Murray and the entire DiJulius Team for their thoughtfulness. It has been and continues to be exciting to help my dental colleagues and their teams to implement ways to making their patients feel important, loved and well taken care of when visiting their dentist. And these service excellence techniques are LOW or NO COST to the practice, all while making price irrelevant!

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Do you have a Sourpuss in your office?

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If not, you are among the fortunate. I’ve got coaching stories that would cause you to “gasp” if you heard how some people act towards customers, team members and supervisors in professional settings. I bet you have one or two of your own. It seems that so many dental practices or businesses I interact with have at least one individual – often on the “front line” – who seem to have a chip on their shoulder or is carrying some kind of a cross that they want others to bear with them. They’re often wrong yet never in doubt!

build strong dental teamsTo determine if you have a Sourpuss in your midst, consider the following:

  • Look up, pay attention, and discover if there is anyone on your team not greeting guests like friends and family who visit your home. Anything less is a Sourpuss.
  • Anonymously survey your team and the guests you serve. Be specific and ask in your survey if there are any Sourpusses in your midst. Oh my gosh – we don’t want to be so brash and frank. Yes you do as your business success demands it! Ok, change Sourpuss to “Grumpy” or some such word.
  • Ask yourself privately this question regarding every person on your team: “When standing in front of this person and interacting with them, do I feel *more* or *less* energized and enriched for being in their presence?”

In our current economic environment, there is NO ROOM for a single Sourpuss in a successful, caring, customer-centered business!

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It can turn a business around as well.

Keep in mind…a bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t get very far until you change it. When you have to start compromising yourself and your values for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you. Herd them out of your business and your life.

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How to Hire the Right Team Members for your Dental Practice

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Setting Dental Staff AccountabilityIn my last post about a recent trip to Costco, I wrote about my experience with Trish and her shining example of service excellence. How do you find the Trish’s for your dental business? How do you get your team members to behave like Trish? Is the service “bug” in all of us?


  1. You must HIRE RIGHT which means:
    • Create and write your Service Vision and passionately live it in the presence of everyone.
    • Create an Ideal Employee Profile so you will know exactly what you are looking for in your service-oriented employee.
    • Be prepared to interview 25 candidates to find the “right” one.
  2. You MUST TRAIN them which means:
    • You define what your level of service looks like, as to one employee a five-star hotel may be a Red Roof Inn and to another, a five-star will be the Ritz.
    • You must devote at least 50% of your training time to the “soft skills” and the remainder to the technical skills.
    • You must test them on their newly learned skills with a minimum level of performance.
    • REPEAT the above annually.
  3. Not everyone has a high service DNA which means:
    • Only hire the ones who do!
    • Period.
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Recruit Your Current Employees

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Dental office receptionist new patients
There’s a joke about a man who gets to choose between Heaven and Hell. He visits Hell and finds golfing, fine food, terrific weather and paradise. In Heaven, he encounters a boring lot of harp players. He chooses Hell; but on his return is greeted with fire and round-the-clock hard labor. Bewildered, he asks for explanation. “Yesterday,” he is told, “we were recruiting you. But now– you’re just staff.”

Sound familiar? As Dental CEOs, we woo the best people we can find, then gradually take them for granted. I encourage you to pay as much attention to your tenured team members as you did when they were job candidates.

Here are my tips:

  • On a regular basis, change something to make the employment environment better – simplify a process, add a benefit or do something simple like add a plant. Each time, “market” the upgrade at your next meeting. Discussion keeps the positive at the forefront of your team member’s thinking.
  • At the end of the year, meet with every team member for a moment. Shake their hand warmly, look them straight in the eye, and say “I am really happy that you are part of our team. Your being here makes a positive difference.”
  • Sit down individually with your team members and ask “How likely are you to still be working here two years from now?” If the answer is anything but “I’ll be here!”, ask “What would change that for you?”

“There’s no limit to what can be achieved if you’re willing to share the credit.” ~ Wilson Wyatt, Sr.

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Are You Running Your Dental Practice Or Is It Running You?

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Right Hiring and Retention Manual for the Dental Team,
To grow your dental practice, you need a strong staff. To have a strong staff, there must be increasing levels of accountability and responsibility, with formal performance reviews to make sure that’s happening. Are you doing this today in your dental practice?

If not, read on….

Holding formal Performance Reviews helps you measure Performance against goals. This is a tool that you, as a Dental CEO, have to recognize your employees and determine how they can better perform their job.


  • Invest time to help team members identify their strengths, develop their talents and work on their weaknesses.
  • Develop an “IDP” – individual development plan. Schedule time to meet with each team member and outline a plan for continuing professional learning. Set times on the calendar for future check-ins.
  • Document all conversations with date and initials. Note any behavioral issues with full descriptions. Remember to evaluate observable behaviors against the IDP.
  • Begin with positive communication. Start off the conversation with something commendable. For example: “I feel you are an important member of our team.”
  • Offer incentives to develop the behaviors you need and want. If your team has not been asking for referrals, create where the individual who asks for the most referrals during the month wins a full tank of gas.

“If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” ~ Anthony Robbins

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When Constructive Criticism Turns Someone on the Defensive

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Dental Practice Communication Tips
Providing feedback to a team member is often done with the best of intentions to offer “constructive criticism.” The Dental CEO hopes a team member will appreciate the information and make appropriate changes.

Now, be honest: How often does it go that smoothly in your dental office?

It’s uncomfortable and tough. It can quickly become a negative experience. Sometimes, the team member receiving the feedback becomes defensive. Upset. Emotional.

Here are some tips to prevent negative reactions to construction criticism:

  • Don’t wait for an annual performance review. Give feedback weekly to team members—good and bad. It can be something small, like “The way you handled the young patient today to ease her fears is what makes parents continue to trust us.”
  • Mind your manners. Approach the team member by asking “May I give you some feedback?”
    Ask the team member to give themselves feedback. People are tougher on themselves than you are. They will work harder to improve areas they target. Give your opinion after they have had an opportunity to express themselves.
  • Critique the behavior, not the person. Example: “I am unhappy with your behavior in the presence of our last patient. I sensed she was irritated when you raised your voice to her.” The ego remains intact and the team member will be able to “hear” your observations.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

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Are New Employees the Black Sheep of the Family?

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New Dental Practice Patient
A new employee needs special attention to feel like “part of the family”, not like an outcast. When you bring on a new team member do the following:

  • Help them fit in and assign a mentor. Make sure your new employee has a mentor assigned every day for the first three months. This increases their comfort level in the new environment.
  • Have someone different in the office take the new employee out to lunch each day for a week: Their choice, your treat. It will foster a great relationship with co-workers. This also gives the new employee a chance to ask questions of their co-workers that they might not yet be comfortable asking the Dental CEO.
  • Take advantage of fresh eyes. New hires notice things that veterans have become numb to. At the end of 30 days, meet with new employees to ask: “What do you like so far?” and “What do you think we could be doing better?”
  • At your next team meeting, invite everyone to think about what they didn’t like about their own orientation and ask them to provide a suggestion to improve the experience for the next new hire.

“People only see what they are prepared to see.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Simple Way to Hold New Employee Orientation

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Dental Practice Staff
A new employee needs special attention and TLC to become firmly committed to your dental practice. How do you nurture a new employee relationship? Typically, a new hire gets a five step program all crammed into one 8-hour day:

  1. Paperwork
  2. Quick Office Tour… Here’s the Coffee Maker
  3. Meet-The-Team
  4. Read This
  5. Get To Work

A better approach: Do it in smaller chunks, over a longer period of time.

  • Break up all the “stuff” and cover a portion each day for a week versus the first hours. Increase the complexity of information as the new employee’s base of understanding grows. It’s a proven that they will absorb and learn better.
  • Mark your calendar to check-in with new employees several times in their first month. Create opportunities for the new employee to comfortably ask those “dumb questions”.
  • Invest time to explain the history and logic behind what you do. The learning curve on a new job is typically 6-12 months. During that time, a new employee is still “putting down roots” and can be affected more deeply by change or neglect than established team members.
  • Make it personal – Talk about your Core Values, Vision and Mission statements. Let them know why you do what you do.

By following my steps, your new hires will contribute more and you will retain them for a longer time.

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How Do I Figure Out How Much To Pay a Team Member?

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Dental office receptionist new patients
As THE DENTAL COACH©, clients come to me all of the time asking me how to figure out how much to pay their dental staff. In a previous post, I explained that top talent requires a competitive compensation package.

Here are my tips:

  1. Be creative in offering benefits. Make up your own if they serve your employees. Consider the following: medical coverage, qualified retirement plans, paid vacations, continuing education and childcare subsidy. How else can you get creative? Gym membership reimbursement or a paid day off on their birthday.
  2. If you’re stuck on benefits, survey your team to discover what non pay-related perks are most attractive to them.
  3. Create long-term partnerships with employees through pay-for-performance systems. Focus your pay efforts on measurable outcomes and performance improvement.
  4. Determine the competitive wage range for each position in your office. Call other dentists, ask business owners in other similar professions to describe their compensation package. There is a lot of wage and benefit information on sites like
  5. Analyze your current compensation package with your coach for competitiveness, attractiveness and affordability.

“You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time.” ~ Albert Einstein

When a plant is moved to a new location, it is not enough to just stick it in the dirt and say “grow!” We must water it carefully, fertilize it, watch closely for signs of transplant shock, and pay special attention for its first growing season, until it establishes new roots.

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