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Why your front desk team is your most important hire

Oct. 26, 2016
When you look at your team's organization chart, I assume you have yourself at the top, associates (if you have them) below you, then your office manager, hygienists, and assistants.
Jay Geier, Founder, Scheduling Institute

Jay Geier

When you look at your team's organization chart, I assume you have yourself at the top, associates (if you have them) below you, then your office manager, hygienists, and assistants. Rounding out the bottom is your front desk team. But what if I told you the bottom of your chart is the most important hire in your office? More important than a revenue-making associate, you ask? Yep! Stay with me. I'll explain.

You may get tired of hearing me say this, but it's the truth: New patients are the lifeblood of your practice. The people with the greatest responsibility of getting your new patients in the door are the people answering your phones at the front desk. While they may not be revenue-making machines the way associates or hygienists are, what they say on the phones and how they present themselves as the face of your practice have an enormous impact on your revenue-making ability.

Think about it-the front desk person determines your new patients, your growth, and your patient experience. These directly affect your bottom line. In fact, you could say every missed new patient opportunity on the phone is about $1,500 to $2,000 removed from your bank account. Multiply that by a conservative five missed opportunities a month, and you're looking at $7,500 to $10,000 in lost revenue each month. That means the people answering phones have a huge responsibility. You want to be sure that these positions more than any are filled by the right people.

I know this isn't easy. I've worked with tens of thousands of dentists over the last two decades. I know hiring is a challenge for most of you. Many of you won't fire someone who is basically stealing from your company just because you don't want to go through the process of hiring a replacement! Sounds crazy, but I'm telling you it happens all of the time.

So how do you determine the right person for this critical front desk responsibility? Here are a few tips to help you zone in on the right candidate.

Hire up

Don't be afraid to hire overqualified people. Hire people with talent. You can train them for the position you are filling. For the front desk team, hire people with exceptional interpersonal and customer service skills. These people set the tone and standard for your patient experience.

Test them

Before you hire someone, test that person. When I say test, I mean that during an interview you should provide the job candidate with a challenge. The challenge should give you insight into how the candidate thinks on their feet. It doesn't have to be related to front desk responsibilities. I have clients who send applicants to Subway with a complicated order. It's a great way to predict the attitude the candidates will bring to the office each day. If they roll their eyes or look put out by your request, they aren't for you.

Conduct a phone interview

This is critical for someone who is going to fill a front desk position. After an initial meeting, ask if you can follow up with the applicant by phone. Schedule a time that may not be convenient (another test). This is your opportunity to hear firsthand how this person handles themselves on the phone. Look for high energy and enthusiasm.

These are just a few tips on how to find the right front desk team, but there is so much more to filling your practice with the kind of team you've been dreaming of. Join me in Atlanta in December where we will uncover the secrets to building a great team. For more information or to register, go to jaygeierevents.com.

Jay Geier is an entrepreneur, educational speaker, business coach, and philanthropist. He is best known as the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute, the largest company in the world offering office training and practice consulting. He is finally revealing his secret for record-setting results-600+ patients in one week. Visit schedulinginstitute.com/DE to find out how he did it.

About the Author

Jay Geier | Founder, Scheduling Institute

Jay Geier is a world authority on growing independent practices. He is the founder and CEO of Scheduling Institute, a firm that specializes in training and development and coaching doctors on how to transform their private practices into thriving businesses they can keep for a lifetime of revenue or sell for maximum dollar. To hear more, subscribe to Jay’s Private Practice Playbook podcast at podcastfordoctors.com/dentec.

Updated February 15, 2023

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