Dental Consultant | Do You Have Goals?

This may be easy for some dentists to answer but for some, goals are a tricky thing. I recently spoke with a client about this subject and his answer surprised me. He did not want to have anything to do with goal setting and refused to do it. After some lengthy conversation, he admitted that he had a fear of setting goals and he did not want to fail. The more I thought about this from his standpoint, the more I understood his hesitation.

As a dental student, he did not look at his grades as goals, he knew he was smart and would not have any academic trouble in dental school. This perception of not having goals continued for over 10 years until he spoke with me. I had to remind him that a goal is just a target or an objective. Goals change over time but he needs to know what he has accomplished and where he wants to be. Fear does not change the fact that he is a business owner and needs to know where he stands financially as a practice.

I wanted to honor his concerns and took things at a pace he was comfortable with. Once I started asking him specific questions, he realized he actually had goals, he just wasn’t formal with them. When we established monthly goals, he could see why they are important as a business owner and why the metrics are needed for his practice.

After leading him through the process of goal setting, his fear has greatly decreased and he looks forward to watching the metrics in his practice on a regular basis. I share this since the first ½ of the year is almost over. Where are you and your practice according to your goals?

Dental Consultant | Why Having a Monthly Team Meeting is Good for Your Practice

Last month I wrote about the importance of the morning huddle. This month, I want to go into detail about monthly team meetings and why they are important.

Just as the morning huddle is an opportunity for everyone on the team to communicate their expectations of the day, the monthly team meeting is an opportunity to communicate, brainstorm, review status/progress and resolve larger issues that have been discovered during your morning huddle. Think of an average day in your practice. You are busy from the moment you get to the office until you leave the office. There needs to be time when you and your team are not rushed and are able to sit down and discuss how things are going, review goals, any areas of concern, and what is on everyone’s mind.

I equate this to coaching basketball. After every game, I recap what we did well as a team, and where we need to work on our weakness. The same is true for a dental team. At every team meeting, you need to discuss the schedule and get everyone’s feedback. The administrative team and clinical team will have different perspectives, and all are important for everyone to function together as a cohesive unit. This is also a time to discuss how you can do things differently or brainstorm ideas. Having this time with your team is so important. It will let them know you value them and their opinion. It further demonstrates that you have built the culture that everyone on your team can feel free to share their own ideas and to listen to one another. Having this time also brings the team together in a relaxed atmosphere with one another.

It has been said that where you spend your time is what you value. By spending your time with your team, you are demonstrating to them that you care and their ideas are welcomed and valued by you, their leader.

Dental Consultant | Why Have a Morning Huddle?

Dental Office ConsultantAs a dental coach/consultant, I hear very similar complaints during my first conversation with a potential client. They typically revolve around the “team” is not on the same page. There are various reasons why this occurs, but I frequently respond with this question, “Do you have a morning huddle?” Often, the answer is no. Which leads me to discuss why a morning huddle is important.

The morning huddle is an opportunity for everyone on the team to communicate and to understand their expectations during the day. That is really it in a nutshell. There is nothing magical about it but it needs to be done the correct way so it benefits everyone and sets the tone for the day. It starts with the doctor/leader creating the culture that attendance is expected so your patients receive the best care possible. When your patients are the priority, everything falls into their proper place. Meeting is great, but there must be an agenda to follow, or else you are wasting precious time. Some offices struggle with this step of putting an agenda together. I recommend having a whiteboard or a place for everyone to note any situation that occurred during the day. Some things happen that we cannot predict and these situations are the very items that need to be on the agenda of tomorrow’s huddle.

My suggestion is always to have a system for your huddles so whoever is tasked with an item, you will be able to follow up and make sure accountability has taken place. As you know, this is an area of weakness as well. A simple word document can suffice, it doesn’t need to be fancy but it needs to work for you.

The agenda needs to contain the following each day:

  • Notes about the schedule – Any item that you need to bring to their attention such as which patients need certain paperwork or any money owed.
  • This is your opportunity for every member of the team to communicate with one another – the front office to the back and visa-versa.
  • Any situation that occurred yesterday that needs to be discussed – from the whiteboard

When you have a morning huddle, the team becomes accountable to one another since everything is discussed out in the open. No one can hide from their responsibility. The culture of the practice is also strengthened with this as well. It never ceases to amaze me that many conflicts are due to poor communication. The morning huddle alleviates a lot of potential conflicts as well. When every member of the team understands their role in the schedule that day, it will decrease the surprises that tend to catch us off guard. I think many surprises occur due to a lack of communication and having the morning huddle solves most of these issues.

Some items may be too lengthy to fully resolve during a morning huddle. When this happens, please add that item to your agenda for your next monthly team meeting. Not having those meetings? That will be the topic for a different blog post – stayed tuned.

Dental Consultant | What Happens in Your Waiting Room?

Recently, I brought my kids in for a doctor’s visit. There I witnessed a situation that occurred and wanted to share it in hopes that it helps you in your office. Lucky for me, I had brought my laptop with me so I could work, and what I observed became the subject for this blog post.

I couldn’t help but overhear how the scheduling coordinator was handling several phone calls. I sat there astonished at what was happening. When someone called to cancel their appointment, she just replied the same statement, “that’s okay, just call back when you want to make an appointment.” Are you kidding me? If was as if this individual could not care less if the patients came in for their appointment or not. There was no attempt to ask why they needed to cancel, or to even try and salvage the schedule for the day.

In my opinion, I am sure after the patient hung up the phone, rescheduling that appointment was never going to be a high priority for them. In fact, if the office didn’t care if they came or not, then why should the patient? That may sound harsh but think about it for a moment. If someone calls your office and gives the impression that it is “okay to call back to make an appointment” how does that reflect on you? As their oral physician, do you care if they get the treatment that they needed to begin with? Of course, you do!

Not only was the scheduling coordinator handling the phone improperly, but I could hear every word said between employees. They were openly discussing the treatment plan of a patient loud enough for me to overhear. It was also very evident that some conflict was happening between two of the employees. Now considering what I do for a living, you may be thinking I am being overly critical. However, let me point out something. The tension in the waiting room was palpable. So much so, that it made some patients uncomfortable. Still not sure how serious this was? Multiple HIPAA violations occurred during my time in the waiting room, as the information was spoken loud enough for everyone to hear.

I am sharing this so you can discuss it at your next team meeting. Sometimes we forget our voices carry and our patients in the waiting room can observe all kinds of things. I end this with one question for you – what kind of experience do you want your patients to have in your waiting room?

Please contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Just Keep Swimming

Have you ever found yourself somewhere at just the right time?

Last week I was given a very special opportunity. I ran into a family whose daughter I had coached basketball in the past. Her little sister was not so little anymore. Boy time really does fly.

While we were all walking in the same direction to our cars in the parking lot, her mom shared with me that Sally (the younger sister) had a really bad week. There was a lot of drama at school and she was disappointed in how she played in her last 2 basketball games. These are the kinds of discussions I miss when I am not coaching basketball. I asked if we could be left alone for a moment to see if I could help. Turns out the friend drama was not the cause of the stress but understanding how to do a certain basketball drill was really bothering her. As fate had it, she had a basketball in her parents car and I started to help her with some drills in the parking lot. After I broke down the drill into manageable steps and had her do them, she was fine. She did a great job.

After taking some time to really find out what was going on, I also addressed the bigger issue for her. Don’t give up. Her mindset was not where it needed to be. Since I know she is old enough to remember watching Finding Nemo, I used that as an example for her. If you remember, Dory never gave up on the goal of finding Nemo. Even when it looked like it was hopeless to find him, she never gave up. In fact she is remembered as saying “just keep swimming”. Well, that is what Sally needed to be reminded, just keep swimming.

Sometimes we all have moments that we feel overwhelmed and not sure what to do, we are human. I know many of my clients have felt this way before working with me. In many instances it helps for another person to help you navigate the situation you are in. I would love the opportunity to help you find solutions to the issues that you are facing in your practice.

Please contact me for a 30-minute complementary call.

Dental Office Coach | Are You an Oral Physician?

Like anyone else, we as dental professionals, can fall into a rut. I want to remind you it is all about your daily mindset. I often hear stories about how a hygienist or dentist saved someone’s life. We all know a great smile can change someone’s confidence, but I am referring to something else. What about finding that questionable spot during an oral cancer screening, or finding a lump in someone’s neck during an exam?

I am not getting political here, but think about our healthcare system. The most time a patient is seen by a healthcare professional each year is by the hygienist. If the hygienist has one hour with a patient for each visit, then two hours is spent with them each year. I know there are a lot of tasks to do during that appointment, but think about the amount of education about oral health that can be shared during this time. Most patients do not understand there is a link between the health of their mouth and their body.

The entire dental team needs to be on the same page so patients hear the same message when they come to your office. I got into this discussion a little deeper than normal with a client and his team last week. They were accepting that a routine hygiene exam was “just a cleaning”. Well, as you can imagine, I spent a lot of time going into detail why the hygiene exam is not “just a cleaning”. First, if your focus and understanding is like mine that the dentist is an oral physician, then the hygiene visit is a checkup, not just a cleaning. Having this shift in understanding could really benefit your team and your patients. Scheduling a “checkup” is better verbiage for your team to use since it truly represents what is happening every 6 months. Using this verbiage will also get more of your patients to show up for their “checkup” versus “for their cleaning”.

It has been my experience that many dental practices need to be reminded of this. I hope you are starting your 2017 off with a renewed understanding that you are oral physicians and so much more takes place in your hygiene department than “just a cleaning”.

Dental Consultant | Discussions After a Dental Study Club Meeting

I had the opportunity recently to share my trademark pending presentation, ETC. Encourage, Teach, Challenge with a great group of dentists in the Portsmouth/Suffolk, Virginia area. There were some very thoughtful discussions afterwards that I wanted to share with you.

Among the discussions, one was around the demands on dentists, that sometimes are so consuming, it is hard to see the forest for the trees. After many years of coaching basketball and dental practices across the country, it all starts with the vision/goals of the coach. I enjoy sharing how coaching a team is very similar between basketball and dental teams. Think of it this way, the demands that are placed on them are very numerous. They run a business with everything that entails, they are the clinical provider of services and must keep up on continuing education and all the changes and improvements that take place in dentistry. Not to mention the subject of leadership and management. These are areas that were not covered in dental school. It is trial by fire for most dentists that own their own practice. The comments that were shared with me after my presentation confirmed my experiences with some of my clients.

Also, it was nice to see few aha moments during the presentation. It was easier for some attendees to understand the similarities of coaching a sports team and coaching a dental team. The first step is having a team working for you and not employees. To be successful, you must start with a strong foundation and a team. Another moment was understanding the importance of having the correct mindset. When I discuss mindset, I am describing your outlook on things. We all have a choice to make if you view things from a positive or negative standpoint. Choosing a positive standpoint as a business owner will really help you make better decisions.

The last topic that was shared with me was understanding you do not need to feel like you are alone with these struggles. No one wants to feel like they are the only ones going through a rough time. Many dentists took advantage of signing up for my complementary 30-minute consultation so we could discuss things further. If the pressures of running your practice is overwhelming to you or if you have an area of your business you need help with, please reach out to me so we can schedule some time to discuss those issues.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations. Looking forward to a fantastic 2017!

Dental Office Consultant | Count Your Blessings

Dental CoachThis time of year, we often think about that for which we are thankful. I like to rephrase that as counting your blessings. For the most part, my clients and colleagues all have their needs taken care of, and most of their wants. We do not stress ourselves over making our house payment, or wondering if we are going to be able to pay for our groceries.

The same thing cannot be said about some of our patients or other people living in our communities. I have seen so many of my clients give of themselves and their practice. It never ceases to amaze me the love and caring nature of the dental community.

I want to thank you for your compassion and love for others. I have truly seen lives change due to the generosity of our profession. Most people will never know how much production is given away since it is done out of love, and not being boastful.

Thank you for taking your time to read my blogs, newsletters and connecting with me. May you and your family have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Lynne Leggett
Victory Dental Management, LLC

Business Management Coach | Are You Complacent?

Next month will start the beginning of the high school basketball season and I recently had the opportunity to help a player get ready for tryouts. She had played in middle school, but she knew if she wanted to make her high school team, she would really need to up her game, so to speak. As I was preparing for our first session together, I realized something that is pertinent to my business and what I love to do. I am a problem solver. I really do enjoy solving problems that occur in dental practices. But this student realized something that a lot of doctors might be hesitant to do. She asked for help.

She had a goal, and knew she needed help to achieve that goal. She did her research, and contacted me about how I could help her. After our initial call, I devised a plan and started working with her. I put her in situations that stretched her so she could grow. Not only increase her basketball skills, but also her understanding of the game, and how to anticipate the next step. But most of all, she needed to increase her confidence level. The same thing can be said for practice owners. Once you can ask for help and find the right person to help, then your growth will occur.

Not only should doctors grow, but also your team. I know the clinical staff is required to complete a certain amount of continuing education each year but what are you providing for your administrative team? Those members of your team also need to grow. Invest in them so they, in turn, can invest more in your practice.

As a practice owner, you must continue to grow, or you risk not being relevant for your patients and may not be able to solve their problems as you have done in the past. Complacency happens when you stop growing. Are you complacent? Is the dentist down the street complacent?

Please contact me today for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

Lynne Leggett
Victory Dental Management, LLC

Dental Business Consultant | Be the Translator for Your Patients

Dental CoachHave you ever received a phone call from a patient upset about the amount their insurance has paid on their claim? I know it may not seem fair, but our patients expect us to know about their insurance plans and what is covered. After all, aren’t we the experts in understanding dental terminology? There are so many advantages to our practice if we take the time necessary to make sure our patients understand their insurance benefits and make them a priority.

Why is it important to understand your patients’ insurance benefits? It is very important for several reasons. As providers, you know the language that insurance companies use. Some of our patients cannot afford the dental treatment that they need without the benefit that insurance provides. You have the opportunity to be the translator for your patients so they understand what to expect financially. Understanding benefits and coverage can be a huge barrier to patients getting the treatment they need. Being able to explain their insurance benefits enables you to partner with them to make sure they understand their coverage and out of pocket expenses. No one likes financial surprises. We know their human resources department may have chosen the plan for them, but what a great opportunity to show you care. By translating this verbiage for them, you gain their trust on the financial end of treatment in your office. You will look like the hero taking the time to explain to them what they can expect.

Being the translator for your patients also allows you some added advantages for your patients. Taking the time to be the advocate for your patients allows you the opportunity to make sure they use all of the benefits their company has chosen for them. Your patients will truly understand that you are there for them, and want to help them navigate the financial aspect of getting the care they need. By taking this time, it also gives your practice a competitive advantage. Doing this for our patients can be a time consuming endeavor. However, when you use this to make sure the patient is getting the most out of their benefits, the relationship you are building just gets stronger. Most practices will not take the time and it will allow you to be the insurance hero. The concern you are showing to your patients is something that will be discussed with others and that is a fantastic referral source. Making the patient the priority will help grow your practice. Also, this helps your insurance coordinator feel they are a crucial member of your dental team. It is so rewarding to be able to tell your patients that you have an insurance guru that will assist them to get the most out of their benefits as possible.

Another area that is a win/win for all involved; the patient, the practice, and human resource departments, is to meet with employers in your area. We all know human resources do not understand dental codes, but we are the translators. Our knowledge can assist everyone in this process. Meeting with targeted employers, you are able to help the company navigate and choose preferred plans which offer more value to your patients. What an advantage it would be for your practice if you invested the time to do this! Can you imagine the positive things that would be shared by this word of mouth marketing? Not to mention, the increased profitability by targeting the insurance plans you want to work with.

Now that it is September, this is a great time to get in touch with your patients that have not used all of their insurance benefits to complete treatment before the New Year. It is not too early to think about this now so your patients can complete treatment plans that were created during the year and use all of their benefits for 2016. By doing this, your patients will feel like they are important to your practice and you are trying to help them by using all of the benefits before they disappear at the end of the year. It’s time to be the hero!
Does your practice have a translator?

If I can assist in helping your practice implement the details it takes to be successful, contact me today.

Lynne Leggett
Victory Dental Management, LLC