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What Are You Doing to WOW Your Staff Members?

What Are You Doing to WOW Your Staff Members?

It can be easy to take them for granted, especially if you’ve been working together for a while. But don’t make that mistake. Sure, there should be a comfort level, but you don’t want that to turn into complacency. Because if you as the practice owner are going through the motions, your team will likely do the same.

Staff members, no matter how long they’ve been with the practice, want to be inspired about what they do. Here are five ways to motivate your team and yourself

1. Be the Example

Your team is looking to you for cues on how to act while at work. If you talk badly about patients or display a negative attitude or regularly come in late, you’re telling your team by your actions they can do the same.

Being the example literally means being the example. Sit down and make a list of the five most important traits you would like to see in your team. Then display those traits every single day. Think of it as a self-improvement checklist. You may even want to rate yourself in each category at the end of the day. It’s a technique I’ve used to help myself improve in targeted areas.

2. Display a Positive Attitude at All Times

Admittedly, that’s not always easy. You could have a ton of stuff going on at home––a child having trouble at school, a parent in the hospital, marital issues, etc., but you’ve got to leave all that behind and put your best face forward.

Every morning find a way to get into a positive frame of mind––even if you have to fake it sometimes. A positive attitude is one of the most powerful ways to reach your own potential and motivate the people around you. People like consistent leaders and they love someone who displays positivity day in day out. They know they can count on it regardless of what’s happening in the rest of their lives.

3. Appreciate the Team for Doing Normal Things

In business and sports, people are often publicly rewarded for exceptional performance… the Most Valuable Player, Most Improved, Highest Scorer, etc.  In real life, leadership is about showing the team gratitude and appreciation for the things they routinely do every day. The more  recognition and compliments you give out, the more motivated people will be.

4. Demonstrate High Energy Every Day

Not everyone is a cheerleader or a rah-rah person. I’m not suggesting you should run around your practice like some over-caffeinated infomercial spokesperson, but I am suggesting that displaying energy is powerful. When you have high energy, it’s contagious. You can walk into most dental practices and feel the energy level––good or bad. People with high energy are more likable, more influential and more productive.

5. Have an Open Door Policy

Approachable leaders are powerful leaders. When team members feel they can talk to the doctor about anything, they are comfortable, looking to improve and often ask questions to enhance performance. When you are accessible to your team on a regular basis, they will appreciate it, admire you and want to perform better.

Conclusion

Even the best teams can underperform at times. Use these five techniques to keep your team focused and inspired!

 


Additional Resources

Read “3 Habits of Happy Dentists.

Check out Dr. Levin’s e-book “What Dentists Can Learn from Top CEOs.” Save 25% with code TOD25.

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Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Every dental practice is unique and should be able to identify a number of distinctive selling points. The following list can help you get started:

  • Doctor and Staff (schools attended, family, interests, charitable activities, etc.)
  • Location (easy to reach, free parking, near major shopping areas, etc.)
  • Environment (furnishings, refreshments, wi-fi, reading materials, etc.)
  • Technology/Services (the best, the latest, the fastest, etc.)
  • Financial (insurance accepted, financing options, free services)
  • Praise from other patients (testimonials)
  • Educational (home care instructions, advice on dental issues, etc.)
  • Scheduling (special hours, staying on schedule, etc.)

It makes sense to involve the whole team in identifying possible differentiators and then selecting those which are likely to be most appealing.

Getting the Word Out

Once your practice has determined what sets it apart from others, come up with a marketing plan that will effectively communicate your differentiators. The strategies you choose will depend, in part, on your differentiators. For example, to promote your practice’s engagement in the community, attend local health fairs and other events, submit dental health articles to local papers and websites, etc.

Many differentiators relate to customer service. Patients who experience them first-hand can then be encouraged to refer family members, friends, neighbors, fellow workers and others to your practice. This kind of word-of-mouth advertising could prove to be the most effective element in your marketing plan.

 


Additional Resources

Read “Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator.

Learn more about Levin Group’s marketing consulting program.

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Dental Practice Myth #4: Excellent Care = Automatic Success

Dental Practice Myth #4: Excellent Care = Automatic Success

If that were only true, but sad to say, it’s not. From dental school onward, dentists are taught that providing excellent dentistry––which is our obligation––will automatically lead to practice success. While this appeared to be true for many years, because most practices were successful, it had little to do with the excellence of the dentistry and more with simple supply and demand. There were fewer dental practices back then, combined with more patients seeking care. Neither one is true any longer.

Today, practice success depends on the ability to compete effectively in a crowded market. You need to implement the best systems, promote your office continuously and effectively, provide incredible customer service, and find new ways to grow your practice.

Moreover, most patients have absolutely no idea about how to measure the quality of clinical care they’re receiving. In fact, patients are judging your practice more by the level of customer service they experience than the actual dental treatment. People will remember the smile and kind words they received from the front desk more so than your skills at filling a cavity.

Don’t get me wrong. Excellent clinical skills still matter greatly, but they also need to be supported by excellent business skills. You can be the top clinician in the world, but it won’t matter if your schedule is half-empty every day.

Solution: Get the business and leadership skills you need to become an excellent CEO for your practice. When you supplement your clinical knowledge with business savvy, it’s a powerful combination!


Additional Resources

For more myths, check out Dr. Levin’s book, 81 Obstacles to Practice Growth. Save 25% with code TOD25.

Learn more about Levin Group’s management consulting program.

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Old Systems & High Stress – A Deadly Combination

Old Systems & High Stress – A Deadly Combination

When I ask dentists why they and their team are feeling stress, they usually attribute it to patients or staff problems. While it’s true that losing a dental assistant, for example, can elevate stress temporarily, our research shows that long-term stress actually comes directly from system inefficiencies.

Systems that no longer work properly frustrate the team members who use them. They make even simple, routine tasks troublesome, forcing everyone in the office to grapple with bottlenecks every day. The most capable and dedicated staff members usually suffer the most because, no matter how hard they strive to excel, poor systems undermine their efforts. Doctors also feel more stress because the practice—their practice—is falling short of its business potential.

All systems, no matter how good they are, have an expiration date. Systems that once facilitated practice growth inevitably become obsolete. When they do, they stop helping and start hurting, pushing practices toward financial decline and leaving potential income on the table every day.

The Obvious Solution

The good news is that replacing inadequate systems can solve both stress and production problems. If you have older systems, the schedule is often the best place to start. It affects nearly every operation in the practice. When the schedule continually breaks down, patients get upset causing team members to get stressed. A new, high-performance schedule can often trigger a practice turnaround, especially if a commitment is made to replace other outdated systems.

In the new dental economy, the practices that thrive will be those that transform themselves into real-world businesses by upgrading their management systems. Conversely, dentists who continue doing “business as usual” will continue to experience lower production and higher stress.


Additional Resources

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “Increasing Production with the Right Systems.

Read “Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems.

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How to Create a Happier Team in 4 Easy Steps

How to Create a Happier Team in 4 Easy Steps

Team dynamics have a profound impact on practice success. If your team is miserable, you’re probably going to be miserable, too.

Over the years, I’ve met more than a few dentists who had an adversarial relationship with their staff. Some doctors resent the whole idea of having a team, and that resentment shines through in their interactions with staff members, many of whom eventually leave. Those who stay are disgruntled, which makes the dentist resent them even more. Eventually, everyone in the practice gets pulled into an endless vortex of negativity.

Fortunately, most dental practices don’t suffer from that kind of toxic culture. But, on the other hand, many dental teams aren’t operating at optimal levels either.

There are always opportunities to improve the environment in your practice. What can you do as the practice leader to build a better team and a better workplace? Here are some suggestions:

1) Listen More

Your team is largely running the practice. They see what’s working and what can be improved upon. Their ideas can be the catalysts for positive change. Not every suggestion is going to be a home run, but listening to their input shows that you value their opinions. People are more engaged in their jobs when they believe they can make a difference.

2) Empower Your Team

If a team member has a suggestion for improving the practice and it’s a project that you agree with, give the employee the authority to make it happen. Saying “yes” is a powerful tool for gaining “buy-in” from staff members. Obviously, you can’t say “yes” to every idea, but when you can, you should.

3) Share the Vision

Do you have a practice vision? It’s a written document that is your projection of where the practice will be in 3–5 years. If you have one, share it with the team. This will inspire them to move the practice forward and achieve challenging goals. It also helps turn a group of individuals into a cohesive team. If you don’t have a practice vision, it’s time to create one.

4) Surprise Them

Predictability can be good. Everybody knows what to expect and things run smoothly. Yet if the days are too similar, people can become bored. Lead the fight against complacency by surprising your team every now and then. Once a quarter, take your team out to lunch… throw a party… hand out gift cards to a local eatery. Do something out of the ordinary that makes working in your practice a little more fun.

Conclusion

Building a good team is difficult, but keeping them together is even harder. Use these four steps to engage, empower, inspire and surprise your staff!

 


Additional Resources

Read “3 Strategies for Hiring the Right People. 

New Seminar: Learn more team-building strategies at Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminar “The Mid-Career Plateau: How to Avoid It, Overcome It, Get Out of It” on Oct. 6 in Indianapolis.

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The CEO Mindset – Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

The CEO Mindset – Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

CEOs in real-world businesses manage and lead by taking risks. You always have to be looking for ways to innovate. What can be improved? What new service or product can be introduced that will generate new revenue?

Dentists should be thinking along these same lines. How can I make the practice better? What services will patients want in the next year or five years? How can I ensure my practice will continue to grow?

As in business, creating a growing practice also requires a certain willingness to take risks. You can’t just sit back and expect your practice to grow simply because it has in the past.

Many dentists are micromanagers who fear making any mistakes. Due in large part to your clinical training, you may find the idea of making mistakes seems nothing short of terrible. However, the pathway to increased success is often built by appropriate risk-taking.

No CEOs have grown and developed in their roles without making mistakes. Many dentists struggle with this concept because they can’t make a conscious distinction between clinical mistakes and practice management mistakes. As much as the former are to be avoided, the latter must be accepted as part of the job.

Smart dentists look at mistakes as learning opportunities. They recognize that errors are part of owning and operating a dental business. Nobody gets everything right the first time. Those who are willing to innovate, take risks and learn from their mistakes have the potential for tremendous growth and development.


Additional Resources

If you liked this rule from Dr. Levin’s e-book, 43 Rules to Increase Practice Production, read another excerpt here. 

Read “3 Habits of Happy Dentists.

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6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

Your scheduling system is the core of your practice. It drives production. If you create an excellent schedule, you’ll be able to focus your resources more effectively… and grow practice income.

Revamping your scheduling system takes quite a bit of planning. Following are several basic guidelines that will ensure the best results:

  1. Conduct procedural time studies. Conditions in any dental practice change over time, such as the experience levels of you and your clinical staff, new technologies, new governmental regulations, etc. For this reason, you should measure how long it takes to perform various procedures and tasks. The timing process is relatively simple, and it can make a huge difference in how patients are scheduled.
  2. Use 10-minute increments. Most practices have already shifted from 15-minute units to the more precise 10-minute increments for planning appointments. If you haven’t done so yet, you can easily make the switch when you have the results of the time studies in hand.
  3. Structure an “ideal day” template. What’s your idea of a perfect daily schedule? The only way to make it happen is to define it, explain it to your team and train your scheduling coordinator with scripts that guide patients into the ideal schedule openings.
  4. Use scripting to control all aspects of scheduling. You can’t put together an efficient daily schedule without patient compliance. Write scripts to ensure that most practice-patient interactions about scheduling achieve the desired results.
  5. Schedule new patients within 7–10 days. In today’s more competitive dental market, you can’t afford to keep patients waiting for their first visit to your practice… because they might change their minds.
  6. Update your confirmation process. Modern communications technologies offer better ways to confirm appointments than the old postcards-and-phone-calls approach. Review the various techniques and services now available to dental offices and put together a more effective methodology.

Conclusion

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to creating a scheduling system that will decrease stress, reduce rushing and downtime, and enable you to increase production without working longer hours.


Additional Resources

For a more in-depth discussion of revamping your schedule, check out Dr. Levin’s popular how-to book, Power Cell Scheduling.

Learn more about our training course on Scheduling by going here.

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4 Lessons from Star Wars

4 Lessons from Star Wars

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Stars Wars film, A New Hope, and life hasn’t been the same since. That one movie kick-started a billion-dollar industry of movies, merchandise, books, comic books and games. It’s estimated that Star Wars has generated $42 billion and counting in revenue.

I don’t consider myself a Star Wars geek, but even after four decades, that first movie still resonates. Populated with such iconic characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, A New Hope was not only a thrilling sci-fi adventure story, but it was also the best film ever made about dentistry. Just kidding. As you know, there’s not a dental mention in the entire movie, though Jabba the Hutt could definitely benefit from a couple of implant-retained dentures.

Still, there’s plenty of wisdom in A New Hope for dentists. Here are four Star Wars quotes to guide your practice by:

1) “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.´– Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi

Your practice can seem to be doing well. There can be a general sense of busyness, which gives the impression that your office is growing. But you can’t gauge performance by appearances alone.

Look at your practice’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Your office could be super-busy, but if you’re not collecting enough, then you got a problem. Your schedule could be poorly constructed, making it seem that you’re busier than you are, even though production is declining.

As a practice owner, you need to use a variety of tools to monitor performance––not just your eyes and your gut, but also the numbers.

2) “Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy!” – Han Solo

With Imperial warships bearing down on the Millennium Falcon, Han is trying to set the coordinates for the jump to hyperspace while dodging enemy fire. The inexperienced Luke offers some unsolicited advice when Han snaps back with this salty retort.

The point here is that there’s experience and then there’s experience. All the dental school training in the world can’t prepare you for everything you will face as a practice owner. It helps a lot, but there are some things that you won’t find in any textbook. Fortunately, other resources are available, including study clubs, seminars, books and articles, training courses and consulting programs.

3) “Stay on target.” – Gold Five

A squadron of rebel X-wing Starfighters attacks the Death Star. Their mission is to blow up this powerful enemy ship. Their goal… an exhaust vent that leads to the ship’s reactor core. If they hit this target just right with a torpedo, the massive Death Star will implode.

Hopefully, nothing that dramatic is going on in your practice. But staying on target is critical as we enter the last four months of the year. Stay focused on hitting your annual targets. Watch out for the obstacles and the distractions. If you run into performance issues, make adjustments to get back on track.

4) “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Empire Strikes Back

I cheated a little on this one. The first three quotes are from the original movie. But how can you talk about Star Wars quotes without referencing Yoda, the master of twisted grammar and the wizard of nonsensical wisdom, who doesn’t appear until the second film?

Over the years, I’ve met too many dentists who said they were in the process of doing something––renovating their office, implementing new systems, adding new services, etc.––but little, if any, work had been done on these projects. If you’re gonna do something, you eventually have to get to it. But I understand, too. Big projects take time, planning, and resources, including money. Still, if you’re not happy with how things are, find a way to make changes––even incremental ones––can have a huge impact over time.

Conclusion

That first Star Wars movie was about trying to make the universe a better place. That’s one of the reasons George Lucas titled the film, A New Hope. Use these four quotes as inspiration to do the same for your practice.


Additional Resources

Read “Where Are You Going? And How Will You Get There?” 

Need help with your epic practice journey? Check out consulting resources here.

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Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Systems, systems, systems! Either you got good ones or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble!

Here’s the problem: most dentists think they have good systems when, in fact, they don’t. Sure, at one time, the systems were effective and efficient, but that was years ago. Management and marketing systems have a shelf life of about three years when they’re operating at peak efficiency.

After that, things slow down. As the practice continues to evolve, the old systems can’t keep up and they begin breaking down more and more frequently.

Doctors and team members will get out “the duct tape” to keep the systems running, but bottlenecks continue to multiply, forcing the staff to improvise work-a-rounds and other fixes that, of course, create additional problems. Before long, those once sleek, simple, super-efficient systems have transmogrified into a Rube Goldbergian nightmare. It takes more and more effort to get less and less done. Not a good situation for you, your team or your patients.

Yet dentists insist on holding onto outdated, production-killing, morale-destroying systems. Why? Here are the top four excuses dentists make for keeping bad systems:

1. It’s going to take too much time to replace the systems

You can’t expect to snap your fingers and have new systems like that. A better way to look at it is that new systems are an investment in your practice… in your sanity… and your financial well-being.

If your outdated systems aren’t working well now, what will they be like a year from now? How high will he stress be in your practice? How long will your team agree to keep working under such conditions… before they start looking for opportunities elsewhere?

2. It won’t be worth it

Can you remember what was it like when your current systems were new? How the days seemed to fly by with few problems? Patients weren’t backed up in the reception area. Stress was low or nearly nonexistent. And you weren’t putting in extra time in the office and at home, thinking about the practice 24/7.

You can’t go back to those easier, stress-free days with your current systems. But if you could get a better practice and a better life with new systems, would it be worth it?

3. We fixed systems before and nothing happened

Fixing systems isn’t replacing them. And that’s what you’ve got to do when systems become outdated. Your practice is continually evolving, and new systems can absorb only so many changes before they start to flounder. Think of all the changes that have occurred in your practice in the past three years regarding technology, supplies, personnel, protocols, equipment, etc.

I bet it’s a pretty substantial list, yet you’re operating with basically the same systems before any of those changes happened. It’s like running new software on an old computer. It either won’t work or it runs so slowly that you finally throw your hands up in frustration.

4. My team doesn’t want to change

It happens. Teams get comfortable with the status quo. But if your practice isn’t performing to your satisfaction, then it’s up to you to change it.

After all, you want to get the most out of your career. You don’t want to settle for lower income and lower profitability… just because your team is happy with the way things are.

Sure, you want your team’s input on how to improve the practice, but keeping everything the same shouldn’t be an option.

Conclusion

Your practice is a Ferrari. You can’t expect it to operate at peak performance if there’s a lawnmower engine under the hood. That’s what happens with old systems––they prevent you from reaching your practice’s full potential. Who wants to be puttering down the road when you could be flying full speed ahead into a much brighter future?


Additional Resources

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Where Are You Going? And How Will You Get There?

Where Are You Going? And How Will You Get There?

If you could just focus on the dentistry, life would be great, wouldn’t it?

But you have a business to run, specifically a healthcare business, which has its own special rules and considerations. And it’s not easy being both a dentist and a practice owner. You went to school for dentistry and have taken tons of clinical CE courses, so that part of the job is generally a piece of cake. It’s the business side where things get a little hairy. All things considered, you’ve done a pretty good job, but you don’t have an MBA. In fact, you’re mostly winging it. Sure, you talk to your colleagues, read blogs and articles, and try your best to keep up, but it just keeps getting more complex. And, face it, you don’t have time to play catch-up.

Yet, you know something’s got to change. You’re looking at your numbers for referrals, overhead, case acceptance and production, and while they’re not terrible, you know they could and should be a whole lot better.

You don’t want to end up like one of those first-round draft picks who had an amazing college career but flamed out once they joined pros.

So, what’s your next move?

1. Keep On Doing What You’ve Been Doing

It’s safe and easy but you’ve been on this road awhile and you know where it leads––the same just-OK results. But you can feel a storm coming on the horizon. You may not be exactly sure what it will be or when it will happen, but you know it’s only a matter of time before it hits… it might be a team member (or two) leaving… a DSO moving down the street… a couple of patients raging on social media about wait times… or maybe all of the above. You know if you don’t make a change sometime soon that things could get a lot worse in a hurry!

2. Make Some DIY Repairs and Hope for the Best

You’ve tried some do-it-yourself solutions in the past with little luck. You’ve come back from the latest practice management seminar or watched a couple of webinars all ready to revamp your systems. You hurry up and make a couple of changes, but as the weeks go by, you lose that initial motivation. Quicker than you can say “amalgam,” you’re back to the same basic systems you had before with a new tweak or two. You know you need to make positive changes especially changes that have staying power

3. Get Help

That’s never been your style, yet many dentists have success working with consultants. In fact, more than a third of practice owners (34%) used a practice management consultant in 2016, according to the latest Dental Economics – Levin Group Annual Survey.

Think of it this way… do people who work with a personal trainer improve their conditioning, strength and cardio? The answer is yes, if they stick with it. The trainer guides, encourages, teaches and holds the client accountable. That’s what we do for dentists and specialists. We make you better as a businessperson, leader and practice owner. We show you how to increase your practice’s performance by implementing high-powered systems that enable you to move closer to your full potential.

Is it easy? Of course not. It takes work to make significant positive changes, but we’re with you every step of the way.

Conclusion

Every dentist comes to a fork in the road. Which direction gives you the best chance of getting better and getting the most out of your skills and education? You can continue down the familiar path getting the same ol’ results… or you could choose a different path. It’s up to you.


Additional Resources

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