Archive for Dental Office Staff Management


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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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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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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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.


Who Are You Noticing?

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Dental CEO’s, who are you noticing? For many years, bosses thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to encourage employees. Research over past 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.
Dental practice work life balance

Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done or for meeting a performance goal are not a luxury.

It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice. Praise packs power! Numerous studies have shown that a sincere thank you or a word of praise often means more than a pay raise or a gift. The power comes from the fact that you took the time to NOTICE and to ACKNOWLEDGE a team member’s actions. It makes them feel special; and everyone, whether they voice it or not, wants to feel special.

Dr. Gerald Graham, a specialist in employee motivation, found that personalized, instant recognition from the team leader made the highest impact on positive and sustained employee performance. Team members respond the best when the leader/doctor:

• Personally congratulates individuals who do a good job.

• Writes personal notes about specific performance.

• Publicly recognizes individuals or the team for good performance.

• Holds morale-building events to celebrate successes.

And this type of recognition costs nothing!

Coaching ACTION ITEM: “metaphorically” or really, why not plan to create “Bobble Head” experiences for your team as you design your 2015 recognition program? Watch your customer/patient service experiences skyrocket! How you treat your team members dictates how your customers are treated.

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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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The Top 10 Ways to Empower Your Employees

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The word empower is often over-used. Many employers talk about empowering their employees but often employees feel dis-empowered.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things you can do that will really empower your employees, according to employees, not employers!

dental staff accountability

1. Allow employees to actively participate in team and company goals. Look for every opportunity to include employees at every level of the organization, in being active participants. Employees often report getting one-way directives instead.

2. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees’ comments. Employees often report that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.

3. Provide positive reinforcement. Always listen and acknowledge your employees. Employees often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative.

4. Clearly delegate responsibility and give the employees authority along with the responsibility. Do you give inconsistent messages? Do you ask the employee to handle a problem or project and then give them negative feedback or give them an assignment and then say “never-mind?” Employees often report that they are given tasks and then told they did it wrong.

5. Be clear in your communication. When you express goals or explain projects, be sure the employees really understand what you are asking for. Employees often report that the goals are unclear and that they are not sure what they are being asked to do.

6. Show you have trust in your employees. Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really ok to make mistakes. Let them know you really support their decisions. Employees often report that someone is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do things right.

7. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you do most of the talking? Employees often report that conversations are one way, comprised mostly of their ideas being criticized. They don’t feel they are heard.

8. Be interested in the employees’ career development. Meet with employees and discover their goals and their wants. Employees often report that their goals are not viewed as important in the organization.

9. Let the employees help you achieve success. Are you doing it all yourself? Employees often report that their managers do all the tasks and that they have no way to make contributions outside their job descriptions. Look for opportunities to delegate and enhance the employees’ career development at the same time.

10. Be a coach. The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees often report feeling like children rather than being on the same team with their bosses.

Be their coach and lead the team to success!

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Creating a Dental Office Where People Want To Come To Work

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In their book, How Full Is Your Bucket?, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton provide the student of practice management with a powerful lesson in understanding human potential and motivation. The metaphor in this book suggests that each person carries an invisible bucket of emotions, along with a dipper, which he or she can use to either add to other people’s buckets or to dip from them. In the end, research shows that filling someone else’s bucket benefits both parties — the person who gave the praise and the person who received it.

dental staff accountabilityThe Gallup Organization surveyed almost 4 million workers on the topics of recognition and praise. Some of the startling results:

• 65% of people reported receiving no recognition on the job last year,
• an estimated 22 million workers are “actively disengaged,” or extremely negative in their workplace.

Those practices smart enough to recognize the impact of employee satisfaction and have begun offering recognition and praise report see the following results:

• increased individual productivity—higher income to the practice and team
• better safety records/fewer accidents on the job—reduced costs to the practice
• employees stay with the practice longer—HUGE cost savings to the practice
• higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers—positively impacts the bottom line with increased revenues to the practice.

Consider the following strategies, adapted from the Gallup organization, that you can take now. The many small interactions or moments that make up your day — approximately 20,000 moments by one study’s count — weigh in on either the positive or negative side. These moments influence who we are, how we feel, and how we perform.

Here are five strategies for reducing the negativity in your culture:

1. Prevent “Bucket Dipping.” Increase your own awareness of how often your comments are negative. Work toward a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative.

2. Shine a Light on What Is Right. Try focusing on what employees or peers do right rather than where they need improvement, and discover the power of reinforcing good behaviors.

3. Make Good Friends. People with good friends at work have better safety records, receive higher customer satisfaction scores, and increase workplace productivity.

4. Give Unexpectedly. A recent poll showed that the vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.

5. Modify the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. Instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you should “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Individualization is key when filling others’ buckets.

Talk to your team; rid yourself of “stinkin-thinkin”; and by all means put yourself in charge of your morale. If you allow attitudes in your office go sour, your employees will be mentally down and out. Create higher expectations; take charge of filling people’s buckets; Act upbeat, and you and your team will feel better, perform better, and……… will create a dental office where people will want to come to work.

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Who in your business can you ROMANCE?

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Now, before you get your shorts in a knot and presume that I mean “really romance,” what I really mean is what are the possibilities that there are team members, patients, or vendors that you can or need to acknowledge and recognize in some fun, easy, simple way?

Imagine if you took the time to “catch people doing things RIGHT” in your business. Imagine acknowledging people for taking great care of your patients, customers, or clients. Imagine receiving multiple referrals from those you serve. How can you “METAPHORICALLY” romance these important people?

Dental practice work life balanceHere are a few ideas for your consideration:

  • Tell team members why they are important. People who understand that their efforts make a difference to the success of the team want to make sure their team “wins.” Let everyone know how important they are – everyday!
  • Include your patients, vendors, and anyone who enters your practice. Let the world know about the achievements of your team. Another certification? Brag about it. Going the extra mile? Brag about it. Tell everyone about your great team!
  • Include your community. Let your local and professional communities know about the great things your team has accomplished. Put their picture in the paper or in a wall display in the waiting area.
  • Remember important dates. Birthdays are expected, but do you remember when each person joined the team? Make a note on your calendar or in the computer. When their anniversary pops up, write a short note, give them a gift certificate, or a special mug. They will appreciate you remembering their special day.
  • End team meetings with a round of acknowledging STAR actions.
  • Leave notes of appreciation throughout the office in unexpected places (i.e., the refrigerator or by the time clock).
  • Give an ABCD Award. Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
  • Holiday shopping and wrapping can be tiring. Hire a personal shopper to help with the shopping and wrapping for one week.
  • Energizer Bunny® Award. Use a pink bunny to recognize the achievement of specific goals that required someone to keep going, and going…

Who in your business will you ROMANCE this week?

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What’s it like in your Dental Office: Real Service or Crappy Service?

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At EVERY point of contact you have with your patient, guest, or client, are you and your team delivering Real Service?

Without an honest inventory, we will not know what we don’t know! For practices that feel like they are struggling, I suggest they wake up and re-evaluate your direction and vision. Real Service is the distinctive competency that will separate you from all the others. Period! From my experience, less than 5% of those business owners will take the information I share around service and service excellence and apply it. That means 95% of those who have heard, read and have been trained in delivering Real Service won’t take advantage of this remarkable practice and life-builder.

how to hold your dental staff accountable for customer experienceWhere does that leave you? In a “sweet-spot!” Do what the 3-5% of those who implement do and set yourself apart from the rest. Don’t be fooled by a slick speaker or some “institute” to think that having the latest and greatest technology trumps Real Service.

Here is an exercise I invite you to do with your team at your next Monthly Gathering. Ask the following questions with the team and record the responses. Answer honestly. Don’t be afraid to identify any blind spots, as this is your opportunity to correct them. Then prioritize your list of ideas and identify a Champion (leader) for that initiative. Empower them with both the responsibility and the authority to take the task to completion, all with a time-line, budget and measurables.

  1. Customer expectations are always changing and today are at an all-time high…and rising! How are we keeping up with these expectations? Provide 5 examples from the past month.
  2. “There is only one boss, the customer, and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” ~ Sam Walton. What is our “attrition” rate in this business? How much is going out the back door and for what reasons?
  3. You can say what you want about who you (think) are, but people believe what they experience. What is the “experience” our guests receive at every point of contact with our business (phone, marketing, face-to-face, hand-offs from one team member to another, financial discussions, personal contact, follow-up, etc.)?
  4. We want our standards to be what our competition considers above and beyond. What are our minimum standards? How do we define above and beyond? How do we differ from other service providers?
  5. “Different is not always better, but better is always different.” ~ Dale Dauten. How are we better? How do we know it?
  6. A recession is a terrible thing to waste. What are we doing to, not only survive, but thrive as we come out of the most current recession. Remember, in the majority of the cases, it’s NOT the economy!
  7. “In the end…there is only one point of view that matters, there is only one perspective that matters and there is only one perception that matters – the customer’s.” ~ Jeffrey Gitomer. Do we know, really know our customer’s perception? How do we know? How often do we check?
  8. Why is it so hard for many businesses to understand the need to focus on the way their customers look at them?

Be honest with yourself. Let me know how it goes.

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