The a.m. huddle -- dentistry's secret weapon for success!

April 1, 2013
In every sports category, the "huddle" is the key to winning and great performance. It sets the team on the right path, assists in overcoming obstacles, and is integral in determining the next move.

by Lois Banta

In every sports category, the "huddle" is the key to winning and great performance. It sets the team on the right path, assists in overcoming obstacles, and is integral in determining the next move. The huddle is similar in dentistry and helps set the tone to deliver high quality care. The huddle is one of the most important events in a dental office. A good huddle reviews the previous day and current schedule, identifies potential hiccups, and determines courses of action for the unexpected. On any given day, many surprises can happen in a practice, which can create frustration and stress.

This article outlines key elements for the a.m. huddle that will lead to efficiency and performance in a dental office. The doctor must be present for the entire huddle. The doctor is the leader in the practice and thus can set the tone for the entire day. Positive attitude and a can-do work ethic are essential to a successful huddle. Body language can also play a key role. Everyone must participate and issues must be resolved before the day can begin. The a.m. huddle should not take any longer than 10 minutes. Each team member should review his or her responsibilities for the a.m. huddle prior to the meeting. If the practice day starts at 8 a.m., the huddle should start about 7:45. It should end at least five minutes before the first patient appointment.


1. Rate and review the previous day. This can be something as simple as "rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning "I quit!" and 10 meaning "I can't believe I get to work here and you pay me to do this job!" Another way to address the previous day is to ask "What went right?" and "What could we have done better?" Each team member should respond for no longer than 10 seconds. If it takes any longer, team members can write in their action plans for discussion at a future team meeting.

2. Discuss details of today's schedule.
a. Administrative
i. What are the changes for today's schedule?
ii. What new patients are on the schedule and what are the details about these patients?
iii. Is there any pertinent and/or personal information regarding any patients on today's schedule? (Examples: upcoming marriages, birthdays, illnesses, celebrations, etc.)
iv. When is our next available production block? (This helps identify patients on the schedule who need dentistry when unexpected changes happen in the schedule.)

b. Clinical – assisting
i. Where on the schedule do we want to put emergencies?
ii. Have all lab cases for today been checked in?
iii. Are there any problem areas anticipated on today's schedule?
iv. Are any patients overdue for hygiene?
v. Are any photos needed on any patients?

c. Hygiene
i. Any patients on today's schedule with undone dentistry?
ii. Any other family members due for hygiene?
iii. Any patients diagnosed with perio SRP not scheduled?

3. Marketing
a. Referrals asked for
b. Missed opportunities
c. Reviews received on website
d. Referral sources on today's schedule

4. Numbers
a. Where are we for the month? The formula is -- Production for month + Amount scheduled for rest of month = Total anticipated for month compared to goal. What percent are we at for the month? Hint -- If you start your month with more than 50% already scheduled on the books, you are on track to make goal.
b. Any collection concerns for today's patients?
c. Financial arrangements that need to be finalized for today

5. Leadership statement
a. The doctor should give the leadership statement at the end of huddle except for one day during the week when a team member gives the leadership statement. This team member would also facilitate the huddle each day during the week. This would be rotated once a week among the team.

CORRECTION from February: The correct equation for determining 50% overhead is a 1 to 2 ratio, not a 1-1/2 ratio. Example: If overhead is $300,000, then production needs to be $600,000 to keep overhead at 50%.

Lois Banta of Banta Consulting, Inc., is the owner of the Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in all aspects of dental practice management, with over 37 years of dental experience. To contact Lois for a personal consultation or to invite her to speak, call 816-847-2055 or email [email protected]. Visit her website at

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