Archive for Dental Team Training
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.
How 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.
Early on in my practice, I found myself being the first one into the office and the last one out. All the employees were waving goodbye to go home and I was “stuck” in my office for a couple more hours – dealing with piles of charts to review, return calls to make, prescriptions to call in, unmounted casts sitting on my desk…it felt never-ending.
First thing in the morning, they’d line up asking me to “fix” this and that. I was going nuts. I felt like I was on a gerbil wheel. Near exhaustion, I realized that I was ENABLING my team members to be DEPENDENT on me and I was not encouraging them to do things for themselves or to think on their own.
- They didn’t have to be accountable for their actions.
- They didn’t have to take initiative.
- They didn’t have to think on their own.
- They didn’t have to worry about being wrong or taking risks.
- Hell, they just asked me what to do and I told them!
- BIG mistake!
To resolve this situation, I learned I needed to EMPOWER them
I had to learn to invite and train them to take the lead on decisions that directly impacted them, to assume responsibility to share suggestions and ideas about their work and how we can distribute the load. I needed to give them permission to think, behave, take action, to control their work and environment, and to do it autonomously. They needed to think on their own and not come to me for every “nit-picky” thing.
It took a lot of time and training…for me as well as them. However, when I made this commitment, my life changed. I delegated everything I could, explained expectations better with measurables, got home to my family for dinner, our practice grew, and the doctor was a much happier camper!
What can you empower, or train your dental team to do today? Please share your successes with me here, or on facebook.
How likely is it that you can remember everything all the time? What would be the value of checklists for your business?
A client was upset with her chairside assistant because, routinely, something was missing from the set up and during the majority of procedures the assistant had to get up, leave the room and retrieve an instrument or supply item. The doctor was going crazy! I coached the doctor to work in concert with her chairside to create a checklist that would assure that the necessary items were ready and available. Problem solved! Click here for example protocol.
I had another client whose team members contacted me very upset about the haphazard way their Morning Huddles were conducted. No structure, no direction, and no one really never knew what was to be accomplished in this early meeting time and they were directionless during the day. I coached this team to develop a checklist-type of Morning Huddle agenda with specific measurables and identify a Huddle Cop that would lead and orchestrate the checklist process. Problem solved! Click here for an example.
I welcome any ideas you have for additional checklists you have used successfully in your practice. Please share in the comments below, or post to my Facebook page.
What is the lesson from my last blog post about Roselle and Sean that we can apply to our businesses?
Every member of our team must be trained to be a DETECTIVE. That is, to be looking for opportunities to discover ways to deliver above-and-beyond service to your guests. Unfortunately, many of our employees (and the CEO’s as well) have little or no clue about the opportunities to WOW a guest. Because of this, almost all opportunities will go right over the head of employees who haven’t been properly trained to see them. When this happens, a business/practice misses the chance to build emotional capital with that guest.
We don’t want above-and-beyond acts to happen by chance; if possible, we want a high percentage of the opportunities to be executed.
Steps to consider in training your team to be DETECTIVES and find opportunities to truly WOW your guests:
- Create a Guest Experience Manual.
- Invest at least 50% of your training time and money to “soft-skills”.
- Reinforce service philosophies.
- Create awareness of recent above-and-beyond stories to encourage more employees to recognize similar opportunities.
- Make these positive stories part of your morning huddle.
- Recognize and reward great DETECTIVE work by your team members.
- Create an annual above-and-beyond reward.
What are you willing to do and by when to set your business apart from all the others?
Everyone can be successful, but not everyone is willing to pay the price!
In my last blog post I shared my philosophy for coaching around the belief that if we invest in ourselves, we must give our patients the opportunity to invest in themselves. Ask yourself and your dental team the following questions to start uncovering new opportunities:
- What are you and your team doing to arouse curiosity, interest and desire in your current patients and potential guests to your practice?
- What training have you provided your team to help them with their limiting beliefs around money and how this is discussed with your patients and guests?
- How often are you practicing how to communicate with your patients and help your team understand the impact of what you say and how you say it?
Given the opportunity, I believe most people will make the “right” choice for themselves at the right time for them. Comprehensive care may take several years to complete, yet, think of how your practice will look and feel if you believe it is important to give your patients the opportunity to invest in themselves.
Here are a few tips guaranteed to help you open up your patients to invest in themselves:
- Truly discover the wants and needs of your patient.
- Listen way more than you speak.
- Ask open-ended questions…avoid “yes” and “no” questions like the plague.
- Direct your voice with direct eye contact.
- Exude positive energy as problems are opportunities for your patients to invest in themselves.
“Making one person smile can change the world – maybe not the whole world, but their world.” – unknown
When is the last time you disrespected someone? Maybe it was by accident or maybe you were having a bad day. It happens. Is that how you want your team members to feel towards you, the Dental CEO or any co-workers? Absolutely NOT!
Respect breeds respect. And when you, as the leader, fail to show respect to even one individual, you lose respect from all your team members. As THE DENTAL COACH©, I ask you to add this to your Core Values: Show utmost dignity and respect for each person you encounter and in all situations.
Here are my top 3 action steps to ensure that you are a remarkable Dental CEO who has integrity and respect in your dental practice:
- Use the Publishing Test: Ask yourself: “Would I want my behavior/this incident to be posted on Facebook tomorrow morning?” If not, put a stop to it now.
- Follow the Platinum Rule: You show even more respect when you “Treat others as they would like to be treated.”
- Encourage open conflict: When you ask your team to voice their opinion at your Morning Huddle or other meetings, disagreements will probably ensue. That’s okay. Address them in an open and positive manner. Conflict – when managed properly — often leads to better, more reasoned decisions.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” ~ H. Norman Schwarzkopf
A knowledgeable, caring staff attracts new patients and sustains relationships with current ones. Your staff keeps the dental office moving like a well-oiled machine. I bet they take care of most problems before the problem even reaches you!
Thus, the smartest investment you can make in your dental practice is: training.
Technical training is important, but I want you to focus on the non-technical training as well: customer service. What opportunities can you find? Look for ones that enable your team to be:
- Savvy communicators
- Experts are handling difficult patients
- Excellent at interpersonal skills
- Able to manage change quickly
Coach Ron’s Hint: 25-50% of your training hours should be spent in “soft skills.”
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” ~ Confucius
In my last post, I talked about hiring ambassadors. What about the staff you currently have?
Here are some action steps:
- Review job descriptions and team member competencies. Note technical proficiencies and areas where attitude impacts patient satisfaction. Identify incongruent areas and meet with individual team members to give feedback. Determine next steps and ask the team members to sign off on it.
- Create a list of questions that will help you determine attitude: Do exercises with your team to improve their attitude and patient service. Ask questions like, Tell me about the most difficult patient you have ever dealt with? Coach the team member through it.
- Accentuate the positive. Ask your team to make a list of what they like about their job and what they do not. Think about the things you like and then talk about them in a team meeting.
“How we think shows through in how we act. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind. They reflect thinking.” ~ David J. Schwartz
How much have you shared with your team regarding your practice numbers? What do they know about your financial and operating statements? When did you last discuss the profitability of your business?
Too many dental practices operate under the philosophy that these numbers are a secret to be held only by the doctor. Failure to share key financial information misses a huge opportunity to get everyone involved in growing a profitable business and dental practice.
The best way to ensure the success of your dental practice is to teach everyone from your Appointment Coordinator to Chairside Assistant how to read the company’s financial statements and discover how their individual function contributes to the profitability of the dental practice. Educate your team to what each line item means and how it impacts the practice profitability.
Why do this?
- This provides employees an opportunity to make better decisions and can lead to explosive growth.
- It implies that you trust your team, you believe they are capable of understanding the “business of business” and that you have faith in their commitment to the success of the practice.
“Hey boss, what kind of a job do you think I’m doing? What do you mean my performance is subpar? I’ve been busting my hump for the past several months and thought I was doing a great job!”
Surprise, surprise! It doesn’t have to be this way.
Team members want to know how they are doing. Take time to identify individual strengths, as well as areas that can be improved.
In most cases, team members improve and grow.
At least twice a year, deliver Success Conferences, a revolutionary approach outlined in one of my previous blog posts: Ditch the Performance Review.
The result: team members know that you care and appreciate what they do.