Finding your 'internal giggle,' the secret to practice success

Nov. 25, 2013
Have you ever been in a professional setting and sensed no one was having any fun? The same thing holds true in a dental environment.

By Lois Banta

Have you ever been in a professional setting and sensed no one was having any fun? The same thing holds true in a dental environment. The minute patients walk through the door, they judge whether or not they are going to have a positive experience by what they see. Negative body language can equate, in the patient's mind, to low quality dental care. This is why having "professional fun" and finding your "internal giggle" is an important element in a dental practice.

There are many ways to have professional fun and find your internal giggle in a dental practice.

  • Hire for attitude. Negative attitudes will infect 100% of the practice. It goes without saying that a positive attitude will also infect 100% of the practice. Skills can be trained but positive attitudes cannot.
  • When offering patient care, it is "showtime" for a patient. Patients should never have to endure the team or doctor's bad day. They deserve the best from the team and doctor. Reminding yourself each morning in the daily huddle to maintain a positive attitude will help you maintain a positive attitude.
  • Find your "internal giggle." I say this often in my seminars and teach this in my dental coaching. Each and every system in a practice can bring challenges. These happen when dental benefit plans don't pay as anticipated, when patients call to cancel their appointments, and when financial arrangements fall through. A great way to alleviate some of the stress is to positively reinforce the guidelines, take a deep breath, and find your internal giggle! As an example -- one great way to retrain a patient to accommodate the practice guidelines is to never ask yes or no questions, and to always offer two options. Also, when a patient cancels an appointment, do not make it too convenient to reschedule by offering the next available appointment. Instead, offer an appointment four to six weeks out, and offer to put the person on the priority list if a change in schedule becomes available sooner. It helps a patient respect the appointment guidelines while also creating a great priority list for short notice changes in the schedule. Ahhh … internal giggle.
  • Make a plan and stick to it. This is the best opportunity to keep up a positive environment. Having written standard operating procedures, or SOPs, is a surefire way of sticking to a plan. It creates an environment of consistency and success. It also allows the practice to flex, which leads to more professional fun.
  • Team meetings should never be gripe sessions. It has been said many times that one of the main reasons dental practices don't have regular and consistent team meetings is they tend to turn into gripe sessions. One thing I've discovered is that when an action plan is created with four focuses, an opportunity is created to complete ongoing projects. To create a good action plan, pay close attention to four things:

– Identify the project needing completion.
– Have the facilitator or project coordinator ensure the project is completed successfully.
– Identify a target date to complete the project.
– This is your celebration. Pay close attention to this because this is where you can identify opportunities to have professional fun, and this is crucial.

  • Celebrate your success. Of all the things listed here, I feel this is the most important. Set goals to celebrate your successes. Creating a positive environment does not need to be a complicated process. Address challenges early, and set your sails for success.

Lois Banta is CEO and founder of Banta Consulting, and the owner and CEO of the Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in all aspects of dental practice management. With over 37 years of dental experience, Lois recently published a book, "Secrets to Practice Success." Contact her for a preorder form, or reserve your copy via [email protected]. Visit her website at

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