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Invest in training before technology

Oct. 11, 2022
Five fear factors keep dental practice owners from investing in training for their team. Do any of them apply to you?
Jay Geier, Founder, Scheduling Institute

Technology that increases efficiency and production or improves patient experience is a wise investment with a positive ROI. But the latest equipment and gadgets that are just new toys for you are not money well spent, especially if it’s in lieu of training your team in ways that will grow the practice.

Just as you and your hygienists need training and ongoing continuing education to treat patients, your administrative team needs to be trained to do their job and improve through ongoing training. Their job is to work as a high-performing unit that keeps patient service and convenience top of mind, communicate and connect with patients, expertly handle phone calls and appointments, execute efficient processes, and deliver the best end-to-end service experience possible on the phone and in the office.

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Which fear factor is holding you back?

Having worked with thousands of doctors over the past 25-plus years, we’ve identified five fear factors that keep practice owners from investing in training—to the benefit of the patients, the practice, the team, and each individual.

  1. Fear that you have the wrong team

Our certified trainers have conducted in-office sessions for nearly 30,000 team members during the past 15 years. As such, we know these two outcomes to be factual:

  • Training will uncover hidden gems in your practice. With the right tools, training, and motivation, someone you think is marginal may prove to be one of your strongest and most engaged people.
  • Someone you view as a strong performer may prove unable to learn, or unwilling to accept, new and better ways of doing things, and averse to being held accountable for their performance. They might have been holding you and the rest of the team back for years.

      2. Fear that you can't afford team training

The right training done correctly—which includes accountability for improved results—pays for itself and drives growth well beyond the investment. Without the accountability piece, training is purely entertainment and you won’t see results. This is just like spending big bucks on new technology that doesn’t increase production. That’s just buying entertainment that has no bearing on the business, except that it drains financial resources that should be spent on actual growth strategies, such as training.

  1. Fear that you won’t get the promised result

If you think training won’t work, or that fear of failure will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, consciously or subconsciously, you won’t be engaged in learning. Your people will feed off that vibe and become even more skeptical and unengaged, and they may think less of you for making them commit to something you don’t believe in yourself.

No matter the type of practice, size of town, location, or caliber of team, the right training will give you the desired results if you demonstrate confidence that it will work, engage yourself and motivate your people to do the same, and then be intentional about following through and holding yourself and your team accountable.

  1. Fear that your team won't be interested

As the leader of your business, when you decide your team needs to be better trained, that’s your decision to make and they don’t get to opt out. But give your people some credit; you can’t know if they won’t be interested in training until you discuss the benefits with them. Those with the most potential will jump at the opportunity to learn new things, build their skills, and better serve patients. Those who push back will show their true colors as not being interested in achieving goals, which tells you they may not belong on the team.

  1. Fear of change

Embracing change is much easier said than done for most people. But if you want results—if you want something better for the practice, your patients, your family, and your future—you will need to make some changes. Focus on the positive outcomes as you’re going through the discomfort of change so you always have your eye on the prize.

Let your fears drive you forward

Social media makes it easy for patients to compare you to your competitors and also share complaints to countless prospective patients. The comments they share are far more about their opinion of your team and their experience overall, less about the quality of treatment, and not at all about the technology or equipment that you used.

Instead of letting any of these fear factors be an excuse for not training your people, let the fear of failure, fear of plateauing, fear of declining profits, and fear of a less-than-ideal retirement be what drives you. Effective team training is the fastest and most economical strategy for allaying those fears by boosting results—and patient opinion and thus referrals—in significant ways.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the October 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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