Staying connected -- Inspect what you expect

As time goes by, the most common mistake dental practices make is not staying connected. Inspect what you expect by investing in your practice systems, strategies, and leadership.

by Lois Banta

As time goes by, the most common mistake dental practices make is not staying connected. Inspect what you expect by investing in your practice systems, strategies, and leadership. Always seek out ways to challenge the status quo. Complacency is a risk when a practice matures. Growth can stagnate, and that's when a practice can get caught off guard.

It happens all the time. The practice is open four days per week, dentistry is diagnosed and treatment planned, appointments are scheduled, financial arrangements are made, and on and on and on. Just going through the motions is one way to achieve results, but it can put the practice at risk. Have you ever suddenly realized that you're feeding the beast? This happens when a practice "checks out" of the process.

  • Staying connected, fresh, and new takes work. A great way to stay connected is to address challenges early and create action plans to address concerns. Here are key ways to inspect what you expect of your practice success.
  • The morning huddle is one way to catch challenges early. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the practice is an ongoing process and a way to stay in the know.
  • Weekly team meetings are crucial to ensure the practice does not stall.
  • Using the dental software technology and updating the technology allows a practice to stay current. Seek new techniques and processes. Tap into the latest and greatest way to achieve results in your dental software.
  • Meet with team members individually to address celebrations and challenges. I call this a personal performance interview, or PPI. Checking in with the team allows them to share ideas, address concerns, and give feedback on how things are going for them. Remember that team building and positive reinforcement is a two-way street, and the secret for positive team growth is in talking with the team directly.
  • Team retreats are a valuable tool for setting practice goals and strategizing for the next year. A practice should have at least one meeting per year, offsite, where everyone determines goals, number of working days, practice barometers, and what it will take to improve the practice without challenges.
  • Leadership is one area that must be addressed, assessed, and maintained for the practice to grow forward. Leadership is shown in words and actions. When there is good owner/doctor leadership and boundaries, the team will rise to the level of the leader's expectations. So, when the leader shows positive leadership and the team is encouraged to lead, good things will follow.
  • Have a detailed written employee manual. In the manual, define the job descriptions for each team member. Also describe the function of the specific job responsibilities, including attitude, dress code, behavior, etc. Discuss the job description and responsibilities with each team member at performance evaluations. This gives the employer the opportunity to address accountability.
  • Don't make too many exceptions to the rule. Too many exceptions can become the rule, which sets a practice up for failure. As an example, if a patient wants to make payments and the guidelines don't allow for in-office monthly payments, do not change the guidelines. Offer arrangements that keep the practice from becoming "the bank." There are always creative ways to solve ongoing challenges. The one common barometer should be whatever is best for the patient and health of the practice.

Remember that consistency is crucial, to lead with intention and passion, and to inspect what you expect.

Lois Banta is CEO and founder of Banta Consulting, Inc., established in 2000. Ms. Banta is also the owner and CEO of the Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in all aspects of dental practice management. Ms. Banta has over 37 years of dental experience. For a consultation or to invite her to speak to your organization, contact Ms. Banta at 816-847-2055, 33010 NE Pink Hill Rd, Grain Valley, MO 64029, lois@bantaconsulting.com, or visit www.bantaconsulting.com.

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