People — our greatest asset!

May 1, 2003
We live in a world of uncertainty. The war in Iraq, the sluggish economy, the job market, terrorist activities, the orange alert, and the list goes on.

By Joe Blaes

We live in a world of uncertainty. The war in Iraq, the sluggish economy, the job market, terrorist activities, the orange alert, and the list goes on. The airlines keep cutting back on flights and still are not profitable. Many people I talk to are amazed that I am still flying in these uncertain times. Many are simply afraid to fly.

I cancelled a trip to Cologne for the IDS meeting because my family was uncomfortable with my traveling when the war had just started. I did not think the trip would present any problems in terms of security, but I could also understand the concerns of my family. The ultimate decision was to stay home and accept a week that I did not know I had.

The airlines are laying off a tremendous number of very talented people. American Airlines announced another large layoff of flight attendants in the St. Louis area. Other airlines are doing the same thing. I was talking to a flight attendant the other day, and it turned out that she was on her last flight. She had been laid off. She had worked for the airline company for 20 years. It was the only job she ever had, since she started working for TWA when she was 19 years old. She became part of American with the buy-out. When I inquired about her plans, she said she did not have any!

Maybe there is an opportunity here!

Dental offices always are looking for people who are customer- service oriented. Here is a ready supply of them. Most of the flight attendants that I have encountered serve the public quite well. They have great people skills, they are responsible, they are quick to learn, they are used to wearing uniforms, and I think they would be very loyal. Perhaps this is a group of people you should look at if you are in the process of hiring a new staff member.

I am continually amazed at how well dentists handle what we loosely refer to as "dental practice management." With little or no training in running a business, dentists seem to function very well. They learn to monitor the numbers in the practice and quickly learn to watch for trends.

Dentists wear so many hats in the dental practice. We are the chief executive officer, the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, and the major producer in the practice. We are the leaders of our practices. We are in charge of the human resources department in the office. We are the "every day" manager of the practice's greatest assets, its people.

One of the major problems that I see facing dental offices is communication. So many times we don't even understand how to talk with each other in the office without hurting feelings. I would encourage every office to seek out help in this area. There are many teachers out there just waiting to help. If you need more information, just drop me an email and I can make some suggestions.

Once we learn to talk to each other, it is easy to apply the same principles to communicating with our patients. Someone in the practice needs to be establishing relationships with these people who we call patients. I truly believe that no significant dentistry will be done until the patient has a trust relationship with at least one person in the practice. What a great place this world would be if we could just learn to communicate!

Under our technology hat, we are expected to keep up with all the advancements in dental treatment through our continuing-education courses. Most of us spend a tremendous amount of time away from our practices and away from our families to take these courses. Hopefully, we can implement all that we have learned, as well as use the training to better the lives of our patients.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e-mail: [email protected]
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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