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4 reasons why you need to incentivize your team

Aug. 25, 2016
I saw a sign the other day that read: To all employees: New incentive plan-work . . . or get fired! 

I saw a sign the other day that read: To all employees: New incentive plan. Work . . . or get fired! Simple enough, right? For many of you, that may be about as much thought as you've ever put into creating an incentive plan for your team. After all, shouldn't the idea of losing your job be motivation enough to work hard?

I've been in plenty of dental offices (thousands, actually) to know that staff coming in just to keep their job and collect a paycheck does nothing to benefit the business. The staff has no desire to help a practice reach its goals and no motivation to develop their skills. With that kind of attitude, it's no wonder these practices' new patient numbers were stagnant!

Trust me. Good incentive plans can play a pivotal role in the growth and ultimate success of your practice. They are designed to excite and leverage your staff (your best asset, by the way) to a higher level of production. What's more, the trickle-down effects significantly benefit your practice—and make you a lot of money.

To break it down further, let's look at these four reasons why you need to incentivize your team.

Sound Investment

How often do you make an investment so solid that you don't have to pay until you get the desired result? We'd be pretty rich if we could buy stocks based on a guaranteed outcome, right? Well, there is absolutely no financial risk in incentives.

Here's how they work using new patient numbers as an example: You establish a goal slightly above your average. If you average 20 new patients a month, you set a baseline goal of 24. At the 24th new patient, begin to pay out the incentives (say $5 or $10 per new patient scheduled). The more new patients scheduled, the more money your team earns, and, of course, the more your practice grows. It's an undeniable win-win.

Reveals Strengths

We have found that the brightest and most talented people in the industry are really attracted to opportunity. Since incentives create opportunity, this system allows your top performers to rise to their full potential.

For example, Diane T. of Aspen Dental-Cherry Creek in Denver, Colorado, told us this: "I'm an ultra-competitor, so the staff incentive was awesome for me. I wanted to be at the top [. . .] and my bonus to be the best—so it was huge! It's a great opportunity for us to make more money." Talented people like Diane love the challenges (and rewards!) incentives bring.

Exposes Weaknesses

On the other hand, incentives also help you weed out your weakest players. These are the team members who complain about the new system not being fair. But incentives aren't designed to be fair and equitable—they are designed to pay for performance. They will expose the employees who are unwilling to make changes for themselves or the practice, despite the financial and professional benefits. With an incentive plan in place, these people likely won't (or shouldn't) stick around.

Increases Engagement

Incentives are a great way for your team to participate in your successes, and we've found that providing incentives really steps up team engagement in the practice. Michael Tillery, DDS, of Indianapolis, Indiana, learned firsthand how incentives reignited his team's interest in the success of the practice. "Before incentives, the staff was just showing up to work and drawing a paycheck," he said. "Incentives motivated them to get on board. They started doing a lot more work and they got excited about getting the incentives."

The best part is this: When you have an engaged team and you all are doing well, your patients ultimately benefit by receiving better service. Let's face it: It's a lot more fun to visit an office where people are engaged in their work.

Isn't it time to find out what your team is truly capable of? Get started by signing up for our 5-Star Challenge at We will conduct a mystery call and see where there is hidden potential in your team.

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 dental office training and practice consulting. He created the world-renowned five-star telephone training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. He is finally revealing his secret for record-setting results, 600+ new patients in one week. Visit to learn how he did it.

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