A beacon of light

May 1, 2002
Did you know that a dental office can be a community's beacon of light? Many patients enjoy a trusting relationship with you and your staff.

Did you know that a dental office can be a community's beacon of light? Many patients enjoy a trusting relationship with you and your staff.

When world and economic situations are unsettled, they may want to open up to you. At that time, you have a choice:

  • Air your concerns, commiserate, and add to their fears
  • Be a good listener and keep your opinions to yourself

To achieve a positive atmosphere, first determine why you and your team come to work every day. Discuss what you are trying to achieve with your patients: excellence, relationships, fun, results, teamwork, accountability, continued success, etc. Examining these intents will open the door to optimism, rather than allowing patients to remain victims of fear.

Your job is to start each day with enthusiasm and a focus, and maintain that attitude all day. As a leader, your energy sets the pace.

You can be a safe haven of optimism by agreeing not to bring problems and concerns to the job. Be a well-informed citizen, but do not use the dental setting as a soapbox. Your patients do not care about your stock market woes; the only opinion that counts is theirs. Be a purveyor of enthusiasm and optimism.

Communication is key in teamwork. Begin each day with a morning meeting 15 minutes before the first appointment. These few minutes set the tone for the whole day. Rotate responsibility for sharing an inspirational quote, good joke, or Bible verse. During the meeting, focus on today's guests and their desires - not your blind date last night or the dog running away. Staff members need to share what, specifically, they are looking forward to achieving today. Discuss each patient who is scheduled. Which patients have something special to celebrate? How can you contribute to that special time? End the meeting on a high note.

At the end of the day, host a five-minute evening meeting to celebrate the completion of jobs well-done. Each person can share what went well that day. This is not a gripe session, but an opportunity for doctor and staff to bring closure to the day and return to their families, focusing 100 percent on them.

Give each staff member a copy of tomorrow's schedule. If something today did not go well, say so: "Today in hygiene, I had two cancellations. My plan is to try to speak directly with patients when confirming appointments, rather than leaving messages."

Make it a point to notice when your staff does something right, and then mention it specifically in front of others. This will perpetuate your "beacon of optimism."

Your positive attitude will get a real boost if you call your patients in the evening. These "well-being calls" will generate compliments to you and your team that you can share in your morning meeting. Send a short note to guests whose conversations were meaningful.

In changing times, try to create a local connection. Local police and fire departments have wish lists of items and services they would like to deliver. Create a gift-giving campaign for a specific item and give your patients the opportunity to participate. Call the Red Cross and lead a blood drive at a church or school near you.

Today, people are rethinking their priorities, and dentistry may not even be on the list. Our job is to create value so that dental health remains a priority. A positive environment will attract people who desire calm surroundings, and you will tend to be more positive about your life too. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Be a force of nature instead of a feverish clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

Dr. Bill Blatchford is one of the strongest voices for fee-for-service dental practices in America. He is president of Blatchford Solutions. His coaching program focuses on results in profitability, leadership, and case acceptance. Dr. Blatchford has an acclaimed monthly audio newsletter, The Blatchford FILES, which role-plays scripting, communication, vision, leadership, and attitude. He speaks worldwide at most of the major dental meetings. Dr. Blatchford can be reached at (800) 578-9155, [email protected], or visit www.blatchford.com.

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