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Archive for category: Team Building

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

That’s an easy one––don’t listen to them. People find it infuriating when they’re ignored especially by the person they’re talking to. In a dental practice, this happens when staff members fail to give patients their undivided attention by multi-tasking, answering phones, texting, talking to their colleagues, looking at their computers, etc.

Active listening is a physical activity. It takes focus and energy to listen to someone and not do anything else. Even routine requests require active listening. If patients feel that the practice doesn’t value their time, there’s a good chance they won’t be back.

The Impact of Not Listening

I recently spoke to a dentist who was upset because his front desk coordinator had cost the practice a patient and her family. The mother was trying to schedule her three children for appointments. She told the staff member that she needed to leave quickly to pick up one of her kids. The front desk coordinator kept stopping to answer the phone and talking with callers before returning to the waiting patient. After the third call, the mother canceled all of our appointments and stormed out of the office. It’s obvious that the mother felt that customer service was less than satisfactory, but she also felt she wasn’t being heard.

Scenarios like this happen every day in dental practices. During interactions with dentists and staff, patients want to feel they are your #1 priority. They don’t want to repeat things two or three times, be put on hold endlessly, or be left in the treatment room unattended for 10 minutes. All of these are great ways to lose patients quickly.

How do you actively listen? Here are a few key tips:

  1. Always look directly at patients when they are speaking. This will keep you from multi-tasking and reassure them that you are focused on them.
  2. Repeat and summarize what they said. For example start the sentence with “So what I hear you saying is ….”
  3. Ask questions if clarification is needed. For example, “So you would prefer a Tuesday afternoon over a Thursday morning?”
  4. Nod and smile at patients when they are speaking. Even leaning forward creates a positive energy and a sense of listening.

Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper Stage III Customer Service by clicking here.

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Why Does My Staff Hate Me?

Why Does My Staff Hate Me?

It ain’t easy being the boss. You’re going to be unpopular at times. You’re going to make difficult decisions that don’t please everybody. You’re going to assign employees tasks they don’t like. And when their performance is lagging, you’re going to be the one who holds them accountable.

Yet many practice owners engage in destructive behaviors that fuel employee resentment and undermine their own ability to lead. If you’re exhibiting any of the following negative qualities, it’s time to rethink your leadership approach.

  1. You’re Wildly Inconsistent One minute you want to be the world’s greatest cosmetic dentist, the next you think promoting whitening is a waste of time. As soon as the team jumps on board to support your latest passion project, you move on to the next shiny object. After this happens a few times, your team can no longer muster any excitement for your current infatuation. They feign enthusiasm until something else catches your fancy. They know it’s not worth their time and energy to become invested in any of your initiatives because you never follow anything through to completion.
  2. You Have a Bad Temper When staff members make mistakes, you yell at them… often in front of their colleagues. When something goes wrong, you’re quick to lash out and blame others. The team is afraid to tell you about problems… because they’re afraid you’ll go off. They’re afraid to solve issues on their own… because if they fail, you will only chastise them for their failure. And then you wonder why the practice has such high employee turnover?
  3. You Take People for Granted Your team is with you in the trenches, day-in day-out. Yet when they manage to win over an unhappy patient, your attitude is that’s what they’re supposed to do. When they persuade a patient to say “yes” to big case, your reaction is that’s I pay them for. When it comes to recognition and rewarding team members, your feeling is that they should be happy to have a job.

Conclusion

Nobody’s perfect. Even the best leader can get better. If you exhibit any of the above behaviors––even occasionally––think about ways you can improve. For example, if you have a temper, be aware of your “anger triggers.” Once you’re aware of them, then you can devise ways to think and act differently. Improving these and other bad behaviors will make it easier for you to lead and your staff to follow.


Additional Resource

Want to be a better leader? Check out Dr. Levin’s whitepaper “Level IV Leadership” by clicking here.

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3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Team

3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Team

Words matter. What you say to your team can inspire them or demoralize them… encourage them or infuriate them… empower them or repulse them.

Of course, no one’s perfect. You may occasionally miscommunicate. If you say the wrong thing, find a way to correct the situation as soon as you can.

However, there are some phrases no dentist should ever utter. Here are three of them:

1. We don’t need to double-check Thelma. I trust her with our finances.

Embezzlement can happen to any practice… even your practice. No matter how trustworthy your financial coordinator is, you never want to give one employee sole control over all the money matters in your practice. It’s always better to have several staff members handling practice finances. In addition, use an outside accounting firm to conduct unscheduled audits. A series of checks and balances––with the appropriate in-house and outside oversight––can help prevent any financial impropriety.

2. Just shut up and do your job.

It’s not easy being the boss some days. You and your staff members aren’t always going to see eye to eye, but you never want to lose your temper and utter such a comment. It’s verbal abuse, pure and simple.

If you and a staff member are having a disagreement, ask to see that person in private. Listen to her concerns objectively. If you disagree, state your points dispassionately. Focus on the higher goal, such as what’s in the best interest of patients or the entire team. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

3. Let’s go on a date.

Big mistake. You’re asking for a whole lot of trouble, especially if one or both of you are already in a relationship. Even if you’re both single, your language could be perceived as coercive or harassing, which opens the practice to legal action. No matter how friendly you are with your team, do not cross this line.

I’ve met too many dentists who destroyed their marriages, damaged their practices and wreaked havoc on their finances by engaging in a romantic relationship with a staff member. It’s not worth it. End of story.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book Essential Scripts for Patients Communication by clicking here and then hitting the Read an Excerpt button.

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Let Your Team Do What You Hired Them to Do

Let Your Team Do What You Hired Them to Do

Dentists are often perfectionists. That’s a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have high standards, but many dentists feel compelled to perform non-clinical tasks because they like things done a certain way. Unfortunately, putting too much on your plate is a sure recipe for high stress and endless frustration.

If you feel overworked and overstressed, try this… As you go through your day doing what you what you normally do, ask yourself, “Who else could be doing this task?”

It’s amazing how many non-clinical and administrative duties dentists take on. Maybe when first entering practice, dentists had to pitch in here and there because their team was small and overworked.

But there comes a point when you have to give away all those non-clinical activities that are eating up your time. That’s what your team is for, and that’s why you rely on experts, whether they are accountants, payroll companies, consultants, etc.

You went to dental school to be a dentist, not a phone operator, scheduler or cashier. Don’t get caught up doing your staff’s jobs. Your time in the office is better spent taking care of patients and running the practice as a CEO. Anything else is just a distraction.


Additional Resource

Ready to Manage like a CEO? Learn more about our management consulting program by clicking here.
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Stop Kidding Yourself

Stop Kidding Yourself

At my seminars and other speaking engagements around the country, I talk with hundreds of dentists every year.  Knowing that I’m not only a fellow dentist but also the CEO of the top live training and consulting firm in dentistry, most of these doctors have questions for me. The most frequently asked is, “Dr. Levin, where do I find great staff?”

Sometimes, I feel like saying, “Are you kidding? You don’t find them… you create them!”

Dentists have a fantasy that, if only they could learn the secret to successful hiring, they could find people who would be perfect employees on the first day. But it doesn’t work that way. Like all other businesses, practices need to find people with great potential and then develop them.

The formula is simple:

  1. Implement excellent, documented, step-by-step systems. Without the right systems, no practice can get anywhere close to its true potential, no matter how good the team is. Production will actually decline, and doctors will end up working many more years than they planned.
  2. Hire people for personality and potential. Don’t settle for one interview with promising candidates. Get to know them through several meetings… looking for a great attitude, strong work ethic, desire to learn and excel, etc. Pay new team members well. Provide comprehensive training. Give them performance targets. They’ll take personal responsibility for achieving excellent results for your practice.
  3. Learn to be an excellent leader. At Levin Group, we include leadership training with every management consulting program because it’s absolutely essential. While systems and smart hiring will carry the practice a long way toward success, leadership will take it over the goal line. Leading a team may be hard, but learning how to do it is easy.

Many dentists say they love their team, and some even think of them as family. But if you don’t want it to be a dysfunctional family, you have to follow the three steps I just outlined. Otherwise, you’re just kidding yourself.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, watch “Team Training – Another Thing to Consider” by clicking here.

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Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

People are complex and motivated by different things. One team member might be motivated by money while another may thrive on the prestige of working in a healthcare environment. Others may be intent on keeping a job simply because they need a paycheck to pay their bills. Regardless of the reason, it is the office manager’s responsibility to discover each staff members motivation and use it to build morale.

The Levin Group Data Center indicates that 96% of dental office managers have no management background. As a dentist, I understand that we often promote people we trust or who’ve been with us for a long time. Most staff members can be trained to be efficient office managers, but management is complex… and establishing a high level of morale stands out as one of the most challenging areas. Many office managers kill office morale… and dentists don’t realize that it’s happening.

On a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the best, how would you rate your office manager?

In a recent survey, the Levin Group Data Center determined that, on average, doctors rank their office managers at 8, while most staff members rank their office managers at about 4. The important takeaway from this isn’t which rating is more accurate… it’s the fact that there’s such a huge discrepancy. It’s also worth noting that, as soon as an office manager learns to use motivational psychology to increase morale, the ranking by staff members goes up. This is clear evidence that proper training for your office manager will result in higher team morale.

Staff members want to like their office manager.

Even though the office manager has authority over staff members, they want to like her personally… and be liked in return. This means they’ll try to please her and constantly observe her for signs of where they stand. This makes it relatively easy for the office manager to boost morale… in theory.

In fact, lacking management training, an office manager may not appreciate the fact that she’s being watched closely, every minute of every day. Just being herself… saying what she really thinks, acting in a way that causes anxiety, showing favoritism… can lead to problems.

One of an office manager’s most important responsibilities is building morale, but she can inadvertently end up killing it. To keep this from limiting the success of your practice, provide the expert training she needs to keep your team happy and productive.


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, download Dr. Levin’s whitepaper “What’s Holding You Back?” Use code SUCCESS during checkout to receive your free download. Click here.

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3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

Over the years, Levin Group has been fortunate enough to work with a number of extremely successful dentists and specialists. That might be surprising to some, who think that consulting is only for practices struggling with poor performance and low production.

Like superstar athletes, high-achieving dentists want to continue to get better. They’re not satisfied with where they are, because they know that with the right amount of effort, learning and training they can improve their practices and achieve even more.

Here are three things all millionaire dentists do…

1. They Do Their Job––Not Other People’s

Time is valuable, and they don’t want to waste doctor time on performing administrative activities. That’s a poor use of a very limited resource. They believe they should be spending nearly all of their day providing patient care.

No doctor should be scheduling patients, handling billing issues or performing hygiene. That’s why you have a team. The best use of your time is caring for patients.

Of course, there are important non-clinical activities that the doctor must be involved in, such as meeting with referring doctors and reviewing the practice’s financial performance. But these aren’t everyday events and should take up only a small amount of a doctor’s time.

2. They Let the Systems Run the Practice

For this to happen, you must have good systems, and your team must be trained on the systems. Without these two things, your practice will be in a state of chaos.

Top dentists have figured this out. They put in high-performance systems, make sure their staff is fully trained, and then they get out of the way. They spend their days moving from operatory to operatory, treating patients and being productive.

Unfortunately, too many dentists are losing uncounted hours every year, dealing with substandard systems… searching for workarounds to bottlenecks… and stressing about what’s going to go wrong next. That’s a difficult way to make a living at dentistry.

3. They Take Time Off

I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve met who said they haven’t had a vacation in years… which is absolutely crazy to me. Dentistry is supposed to be an enjoyable career, not a prison sentence.

How can you renew when you’re in the practice every day? How can you see the big picture if you’re always immersed in the day-to-day? Without time off, dentistry turns into drudgery. What kind of care can you give to patients if you dread going into the office?

Successful dentists understand that being the best at what they do requires time away from dentistry and the office. As a practice owner, you’re under a lot of stress, but often you don’t realize how much stress you’re experiencing, because you’re used to it. Many stressors are under the surface, applying constant pressure… but you don’t know that they’re there until you take a break from the practice.

Every dentist needs at least one vacation a year. You deserve it, and so does your family. You don’t even have to go far. Do a series of day trips. Most of us live close to parks and museums that we rarely visit. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There’s a lot you can do within a few hours’ driving distance.

Conclusion

If you want a better practice and a better life, do the three things all millionaire dentists do.

They’re not specific to someone who runs a boutique cosmetic practice in Beverly Hills or owns a lucrative small group practice with 11 offices. In fact, the sooner you start acting like a millionaire dentist, the sooner you can become one.


Additional Resource

 To grow your practice, attend one of Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminars in 2017. Click here to see his schedule.

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Mayhem in the Break Room: How to Resolve Employee Conflicts

Mayhem in the Break Room: How to Resolve Employee Conflicts

There are times when the staff room in the practice can seem like a war zone. Okay… maybe it’s not that extreme, but serious conflict does occur. People aren’t getting along, not even speaking to each other. And, all too often, such situations are ignored in the hope that they’ll just go away.

Bad move.

The key to resolving conflict is to deal with it quickly, because the longer it continues, the worse it will get… until it’s beyond repair. The doctor or office manager should play a neutral role, sitting down with each party to understand the situation and then seek a resolution. Most office conflicts are interpersonal issues that don’t pose ethical or legal questions. The message has to be that the staff must function together in the office… that it’s a requirement of the job and that personal feelings have to be resolved, in the interest of providing outstanding customer service to patients. You must make it clear that ongoing conflict cannot and will not be tolerated.

Dentists have a hard time delivering this message. Most dentists fall into the passive-aggressive category (“I’ll ignore this and say nothing until I get annoyed enough to lash out.”) The problem with this approach is that you wait too long. In most cases, addressing conflict early and sending a strong message will let the staff members involved know that they need to settle down and get back to focusing on patients. Avoiding involvement also usually has a negative impact on other team members, who begin to take sides. Most of this can be avoided by dealing with conflict head on and without delay.

Dentists and office managers aren’t usually sitting in the staff room when conflict occurs, but you inevitably hear about it or at least feel that something isn’t right. Check in, ask questions and take a proactive approach. Make it clear that customer service is the number one priority and anything that detracts from it has to be resolved.


Additional Resource

Watch Dr. Levin’s video “Interpersonal Relations – Get Along with Everyone,” by clicking here.

 

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Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Many dentists are micro-managers. It’s true. Perhaps you could blame it in part on dental school. As clinicians, we are taught to make sure everything is right or the treatment could potentially fail. That “it all depends on me” attitude often carries over to running a practice and leading a team.

Another culprit is the lack of systems. Without documented systems, there’s an element of uncertainty that permeates the practice culture. As business owners, we feel it’s our duty to check, double-check, and hover over employees to make sure things are getting done the right way.

At the end of the day, the cause really doesn’t matter as much as recognizing the behavior and finding a way to change it… because, ultimately, micro-managing is costing you big time––probably tens of thousands of dollars in lost production every year. On top of that, it wastes a great deal of doctor time, discourages employee growth and undermines the staff’s confidence to act independently.

So here’s the question––are you a micro-manager? Take our quiz to find out.

  1. Do you go up to the front desk area to give instructions, check up on tasks or monitor employee activity at least once an hour? Yes or No
  2. Does the team run all minor decisions by you before acting? Yes or No
  3. Do you get frustrated when team members don’t do things “your way?” Yes or No
  4. Do you believe that you are the best one in the practice to handle any administrative task? Yes or No
  5. Do you perform non-clinical tasks that could be delegated to team members? Yes or No
  6. Do team members have authority to solve patient problems and issues (versus checking with doctor)? Yes or No
  7. Have you ever corrected a staff member for performing an administrative task differently than you would have, even though the result was the same? Yes or No

Rate Yourself

Based on your total number of “yes” answers…

1 – Recovering Micromanager

2–3 – Passive-Aggressive Micromanager

4–5 – Heavy Micromanager

6–7 – Extreme Micromanager

They say great leaders are born, not made. Fortunately, they’re WRONG! You can easily learn how to eliminate the stress you feel trying to keep track of every single detail in your practice. More importantly, proper delegation gives your team the chance to shine in their jobs. And it will have a huge positive impact on your bottom line and free you up to do more dentistry in less time. A perfect combination.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Level IV Leadership,” by clicking here.

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Three Things You Can Learn From United States Presidents

Three Things You Can Learn From United States Presidents

Regardless of their political party, all presidents follow a playbook… one that dentists can also follow to be better practice leaders.

The first thing every president does (even before getting elected) is lay out a vision… a statement of where the president wants to take the country. Dentists should do the same thing to galvanize and inspire their staff about achieving a brighter future.

Second, every president lays out goals for the American public… and dentists should do the same for their staffs. Each year, select 10 key goals, share them with your staff and review progress monthly.

Third, presidents often recognize the positive accomplishments of the people who work for them and for the American people. Dentists should likewise spend time acknowledging the hard work of team members in order to create confidence, trust and self-esteem.

Additional Resource

For more insight from Dr. Levin about what it takes to lead your practice to greater success, check out his whitepaper, “Create a Powerful Vision.

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