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Sometimes You Need to Focus on the Basics

Have you ever walked away from a business scratching your head? That is exactly what happened to my husband and I during a purchase at a local hardware store a few days ago. We needed some bulbs for our light fixture above our sink in the kitchen and we like to do business with this locally owned company. They always have what we are looking for and the customer experience is usually better than the big chains.  When we brought the bulbs up to check out, the cashier noticed there was no bar code to scan. Instead of asking a team member to get him the code, he looked at my husband and said, can you go back and write down the code for me? My husband was gracious about it, but as he was walking away, I looked at the cashier and said I can’t believe you think this is good customer service.  He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders like he didn’t’ know what to do, and waited on the guy behind me.  As we were walking out with our purchase, I looked at Steve and said I have my next blog article. I recount this story with the main purpose of asking you, how are your patients being walked out and checked out in your practice?

You can perform well in every area of your practice.  Your patients are greeted well, receive the best care at service level, but their experience when checking out of your office ends like mine in the hardware store, their last impression is one of incompetence.  Think about that for a moment.  At the time you are getting your patient to pay for their services, this is the time they are not treated in the best manner possible.  Better yet, ask yourself if you think this patient will tell others about their experience at your practice or post about it on social media.  Of course they will!

I believe two things would have made my experience better at the hardware store; the attitude of the cashier and making sure he was taught the skills necessary for the job. I can understand the need to check out many people at one time, (sound like a dental office?) and you may need some help from a teammate (also a dental office?). There is no need to ask a customer, or patient to do something that the business or practice should be doing. Think of it as a simple courtesy. The cashier could have used the intercom for help or could have locked his computer and gotten the information he needed for our transaction.  He clearly made the wrong choice by asking a customer to do his or another teammates job.

It is worthwhile to take a moment and review the basics with your team what should occur when there are several patients to check out at one time. How does your front office handle this when it happens? I know I am asked many times, “how do I differentiate myself from other practices?” It starts with these basic customer service skills and handling issues with simple courtesy and professionalism. The basics cannot be ignored if you want to succeed.

If you would like to review these types of things or have questions, please get in touch with me so we can make your practice the best it can be.

Millennials

Millennials – Instead of motivating different generations, bring your team together based on your core values.

Often, when working with an office that is struggling with an issue I find that sharing this experience may benefit others. With that in mind, I would like to share what has been going with one of my clients. The doctor has been trying to get his team members to work closer together. The doctor’s thought was to concentrate on individually motivating each of the multiple generations that comprise his team. He was trying to do this by thinking of what each generation cares about the most and trying to communicate his needs based on that. He was using his energy and found that he was getting more frustrated as well as confusing his team on what he wanted to improve. This was not working for him and let me share with you why, and how the issue can be corrected.

There were other things happening in his office that kept the team from being on the same page. When that is the case, you need to find a common ground to get everyone together. Common ground can be found by identifying your core values and bringing the team together around them. That is a much better, more complete way of handling this issue.

When you take the time to write down your core values as a practice, you are also determining your “why”. It is a natural progression from one to the other. By identifying your “why”, this will automatically add value from all generations to what you are trying to achieve in your practice. If you find yourself thinking this is a waste of time, think again. Anytime you can bring your team together around the core values or foundation of your practice, that is good thing. Not only for you as the owner dentist, but also for your patients you serve. You may think some of this should already be known by your team. It may be, and clear communication is never a bad thing. Either this will bring some clarity to the team or you will be creating something that brings your team together. Both, the creation or a friendly reminder, are always good when working with a group of people.

I know that was the intention of my client and I agree that communication styles will change depending on the generation you are speaking with. I think some generations get a bad/good label and are grouped together as if everyone thinks the same way depending on their birthdate. If you are having some problems with getting your team on the same page, start at the beginning with your core values. If you do not already have these identified as a team, please take the time to do so. Knowing your core values will help you with potential conflicts as well as making good hiring decisions.

At the end of the day, people are people and I think we tend to overthink things. Instead of focusing on motivating different generations, bring them together based on what counts – your core values.

I hope you find this helpful to bring your team closer together and share a stronger foundation. If I may be of assistance, please let me know.

Dental Coach | Switching Hats Between Clinician and CEO Does Not Need to Be Painful

 

I find the overwhelming complaint of dentists/practice owners, is the constant change of thinking – switching between business owner and clinician all day. For most, the energy used can be draining. Sometimes you just want to escape at the end of a grueling day and not use your business owner hat anymore. If this sounds like your struggle, I have some ideas for you to try.

As clinicians, you work “in” your business all day. What I am asking you is to set aside devoted time to work “on” your business. I know this is not the fun stuff – you would rather keep your clinician hat on all day instead of being interrupted to switch to your CEO hat. Think of it this way, you block your schedule according to the procedures you want to do in the morning versus the afternoon, the same idea applies. Block your time as the CEO.

I know you, you obviously can have laser focus on things you want to focus on. By being intentional with your focus for certain time periods, you can get a lot of things done as the CEO of your practice. Pick at least 4 hours a week to work “on” your business, breaking up your week with that focus in mind. This amount of time assumes you have someone doing your payroll, and other weekly tasks. Use this time to think and to come up with a strategy for your business. Where are you today? Where do you want to be in 6 months or a year? Answering these types of questions require focused thought, not while you are driving home from the office. Understanding where you currently are is the key to understanding where you want to be in any given future time period. I find that May is a good month to really start looking at how you are going to answer these questions since you just paid federal and state taxes and have had a recent meeting with your accountant.

Start your day by getting into the office at least 30 minutes before your morning huddle begins, and make sure you are delegating certain tasks to members of your team for your meeting. You are the CEO, they need to be accountable to you and the area they represent in your practice. For example, have your scheduling coordinator prepared to speak about any openings that day/week in the schedule. Are you able to do any same day dentistry? Where are you as team with your scheduled production vs your daily/monthly goal? You should know where to see these numbers but as the CEO, it is not your responsibility to provide them at your morning huddle. I know for my clients that do not enjoy switching clinician and CEO hats all day appreciate a designated time for their team to communicate to them. The best time is at the start of each day, during your huddle. There is no mystique about a morning huddle – it is just communication time for your team.

If you have a team and not employees, they will welcome this responsibility to share their areas of responsibility during each huddle meeting. The more you can get your team to focus their questions to you during the huddle, the less switching of hats you will have to do during your clinician time.

This process has worked so well for some of my clients that the dentist like to have a quick time together before starting in the afternoon. I realize that may not be feasible for some practices, but it is something to think about for your situation. For those offices that have an office manager, making time each day before you leave the office is important as well. There needs to be a separate, intentional time that you spend with your office manager to review any items that need your input.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail with me, please get in touch for a complimentary 30-minute call. 

 

Victory Dental Management
(804) 399-2053

Has the Weather Impacted Your Practice?

No matter what region of the country you live in, chances are your production numbers have been affected by the weather.  The question I have been asked by my clients has been the same for the past few weeks, how do I make up my missed production?

We want to take care of our patients.  It is not their fault that snow and ice fell and kept them from being seen for their scheduled appointments.  Because of these missed appointments, you have the opportunity to get creative with your schedule.   I know for some practices it is easier to remain open a few hours later each day for a couple weeks to be able to reschedule those patients.  There are others that prefer working a few Fridays to make up the time for their patients.  The important thing is to add time to your schedule, so you take care of your patients.

Discuss this with your team and create a plan of action so you are able to meet your goals. Everyone is in this together and should understand that taking care of your patients is the priority of the practice.

If I can help you, please get in touch with me.

Dental Consulting | March 2018 Goals…Start with something

I know I say this more frequently than I used to – time is flying by.  I am not sure if this is due to my daughter being in her senior year of high school, or my perception of time is changing.  Which brings me to my point for this month’s blog – As time has flown and we close the first quarter of 2018, are you on track to meet your Q1 goals?

As a business owner myself, I know working on your business can be filled with challenges.  Achieving your goals may be the last thing on your lengthy list to review.  You wear many hats at one time and must transition back and forth all day between clinician, and business owner.  Perhaps you figure if things are going well, you do not have to worry about it and spend your time on the things right in front of you demanding your more immediate attention.  That is an option, but not one that will keep your practice profitable over time.

Maybe it is difficult for you to find the time you think you need to keep track of things. I find it is easier to start by tracking a few important items. Once you determine those items, write them down and see what your results are after a few months. It is easier to start a habit with a few things versus letting yourself get overwhelmed with a bunch all at once. By looking at a few items you can effectively track and have success, then you can add more items to your list in the future. By tracking a few metrics, you will see if you are achieving your goals. Start with baby steps instead of getting overwhelmed. I have done this with clients before and it works very well. Don’t beat yourself up about the past, just start with something.

The good thing is, it is not too late. Just because the first quarter is almost over, it is amazing the change that can take place in a practice once there is clarity on the business side of the practice. If this sounds familiar to you, please get in touch with me for a complementary call. I would love to help you simplify and achieve your goals.

Dental Business Coach | Take the Time to Strengthen Your Relationships

Each year I pick a word or phrase that resonates with me to be like a theme. This year I chose the word relationships.  Due to me being a business owner, wife, mother, and basketball coach, sometimes I do not take the time and stay in touch with people like I should.  Life somehow gets in the way.  I am no different than anyone else – so much to do and so little time to do it.  This year I have intentionally decided I want to spend time staying connected with friends and colleagues much better than I have in the past.  As time goes by, I realize it is the relationships we have with others that bring joy to our lives.  Connecting with people refreshes us and give us a support system.

That was very evident to me a couple weeks ago when I met some friends in San Antonio, Texas.  All four of us live busy lives, and the love of dentistry brought us together.  We all have different roles within the dental industry, and we can call on each other like sisters.  I am sharing this as I believe you need to find other people in your lives that share your passion and can encourage you in your endeavors.

When we are under stress, some people can isolate themselves.  I do not think that is the healthiest of ways to manage.  We are meant to be around other people and truly connect and strengthen our relationship with one another.  Sometimes, life gets so busy we tend to put ourselves last.  I could have stayed at home and gotten more work done, but I remembered my word for the year.  Had I not made time for relationships, I would have missed out on some great sharing of obstacles and problem solving with each other.

Please consider this a friendly reminder to take the time to connect with others to strengthen your relationships and your support system. If I may be of assistance to you and your practice, please take a moment and get in touch with me.

Dental Business Coach | You Teach People and Train Dogs

Last month I asked the question if you have employees, or a team with whom you work. Now I would like to address a pet peeve of mine when working with a team. I have said before that the words we use matter. Not only in our personal lives, but also in our dental office. Communication is very important when we talk with one another. The way in which we communicate impacts our team members.

It has always bothered me that some refer to working with people as training people. That phrase drives me up the wall like nails on a chalkboard. You teach people, and train dogs. Think about that for a moment – it will change your perspective. Training denotes something basic, almost demeaning. We should want much more for our team that represents us in our practice. Whenever I hear that phrase, I think of when I potty trained my kids or training a dog to sit. See what I mean? What professional team member wants to be trained? As a dental student did they train you or teach you clinical skills?

Contrast that with teaching someone. Learning new things is fun. We get the opportunity to learn new information daily. Throughout our lives as students from elementary school forward, we have teachers, not trainers. On the collegiate level, they are called professors – still not trainers (whether they have tenure or not) 😊 Every office I have worked with has appreciated the difference when I explain it to them from my perspective. Ultimately, it is a respect thing.

Please understand, the words we use matter to your team. Are you skeptical? Just ask them for their opinion. Learning new things is something that should never stop – not for those that want to continue to excel. Those are the type of people I want on my team.

Dental Consultant | Do You Have Employees or a Team Working with You?

When I start working with a dentist, I ask if they have a team or employees working with them. Most of the time they respond with “I have a team.” I think they really want to believe that, but soon realize after I ask a few questions, they have employees working with them.

Have you ever had a “team member” reply it wasn’t their responsibility? Or better yet, “it wasn’t my fault.” Those are employees.  Employees are a group of people that work for an organization.  They may have a goal to accomplish but do not understand how their role and responsibility is related to the rest of the company. Employees will complete tasks that are assigned to them but will not care how that relates to anything else in the organization. They just want to check off their to-do list.

Contrast that, with what I believe, a dental team should be. A dental practice team is a group of people working together cohesively towards the clearly defined and stated goals of the doctor. There is a very high level of patient satisfaction while knowing that all members of the team are accountable to each other using their individual strengths to enhance the performance of the team. A team will sacrifice for each other. As the doctor, you will not have to ask someone to take care of something, it will already be done. A team takes responsibility for their individual actions and are accountable to one another and the doctor.

As you can see, a team is totally different than employees working for you. While we are defining some things, I also want to mention a team is not a staff either. Staff (staph) is an infection, not people. When we have the correct culture in our office, the words we use will reflect that. I think it is also about respect. We need to respect one another, and words have meaning. When you put time and effort into developing the culture you want in your practice, you should be selfish about who gets the opportunity to share and grow with you and your team. After the right people are on your team, investing money, time, and resources to fully develop them will pay off for you and your practice. By taking care of your team and putting them first, they will take care of you and the patients you serve.

Not sure how to build a true team? Please contact me so I can help.

Dental Business Coach | Gratitude

Dental CoachSometimes we just need to change our perspective and answer one simple question – what are you grateful for?  As business owners we can get into a rut of comparing ourselves to our colleagues, no matter what our profession. It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy.  When we focus on what we are lacking instead of what we are blessed with, our focus needs to be re centered.  Gratitude does not fix any of our problems, but it does bring to light our blessings.

I have been working with a client who has been concerned about a trend he has seen in his office for the last couple years of peaks and valleys from a production/collections standpoint. He has been so concerned that as a business owner, he was starting to lose his passion for dentistry. He shared with me that one question I asked brought his focus back to where it should be. My question was very simple, “what are you grateful for?”

To help him through this process, I asked him to journal at least 3 things he is grateful for each day, and to compile that in a weekly email to me. In the beginning, he was mentioning the surface things in life. By the third week however, he was grateful for deeper meaning things. I began to see a difference in how he was working in his practice.  His team also let me know how much better he looked at work each day.  They joked and said whatever I was doing was taking years off his face, and he was acting like he did 10 years ago.  I can’t ask for better results than that.  I really knew things were better when his wife wrote me a long email thanking me for helping him get his “zing” back.  All from recognizing gratitude in his life.

So, at this season of Thanksgiving, for what are your grateful?