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Coach’s Corner | Hiring the Right Team Member

I received such a great response to last month’s Coach’s Corner that I wanted to go further into the hiring process. Specifically, what to look for when hiring the right team member for your practice. Let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page. Last month I discussed the difference between having employees and having a true team work with you. The leader of the team is the doctor, and you will need to create your own game plan for your practice. Part of that game plan is writing down your mission, your vision, and your culture of the practice.

When looking for a new team member, hiring just anyone to fill the vacancy is not good enough. I’ve often said, “hire for character and teach the skill”. There are many new hires in the dental industry that have no past work experience in the field, obviously these are for non-clinical roles in your practice. I believe the personality that you are looking for as well as the character of the individual is more important than their skill set. When looking for additional team members, remember you have the ability to teach how you want things to be done. If they show the initiative and have the self-discipline needed to work in your dental practice, then that is what you should be looking for. Again, focusing on someone’s character and then teaching them the skill. All new team members will need to be onboarded correctly in your practice regardless of their past dental experience. Until someone has worked with you, they do not know how things are done in your practice and all of that needs to be taught. If you find yourself needing to hire new team members, then please start writing out an onboarding plan for every role in your practice. This plan will help you set up all new team members for success in your practice.

After you have found an applicant that has the character you are looking for, then you will need to make sure they align with the culture you are creating or have created in your practice. Last month’s Coach’s Corner I refer to culture as what is acceptable or not acceptable. I believe culture or defining culture is something that we really make harder than we need to. It’s that simple – what’s acceptable or not acceptable in your practice. In other words, what behaviors are acceptable or not acceptable in your practice.

In addition to culture, you will want to share your philosophy of dentistry. Your philosophy is something that should be covered in your mission statement. This needs to be shared with a potential candidate to make sure that everyone is in alignment. If they do not share the same viewpoint then please do not try to fit a square peg in a round hole; it will not work. I want you to be set up for success right from the beginning so that is why I’m mentioning all of these things. Next to share is your vision statement which is forward thinking. The manner in which I create vision statements with my clients is so encompassing, that it becomes part of your business plan. To make sure everyone is on the same page, please share these items with your potential hires.

All of these previously mentioned items are necessary to put your practice in the most honest and relevant light with new hires. It has been my experience that new hires are looking for most of these things: a dental family that focuses on patient care, want to be a true team member, and want a healthy, non-toxic culture. Having the right culture and doing the work to have a mission, vision, and culture written down is really a competitive advantage for your practice. Practices that want to be the best will invest their time in creating all of these things because of the importance to the team and the practice. The most important is all of this is done to make patient care the priority. Bringing like-minded individuals together on a team is the first step to make sure that you and your practice are as successful as they can be.

If you need help creating your plan or you have questions, please contact me lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com

How to Manage Difficult Employees and Reduce Office Conflict | Dental Consultant Near Me

Dental Practice Consulting

Running and managing a dental practice is no easy task. One of the most common shared concerns is  the challenge of managing people. In both small and  large practices, even one difficult employee can cause enough problems to interrupt business and potentially impact profits. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for addressing staff issues that occur when an employee refuses to comply with office rules and directions.  Adopting a process and tailoring it to fit your needs can help you potentially avoid unwanted confrontations that lead to even larger business concerns. Learn how to handle difficult employees now so you and your whole team can get back on the path to success. Here are some tips from our dental consultants to help you do just that.

Speak to Them Privately and Listen

Open communication with staff members can help solve and sometimes avoid issues with employees as soon as they arise. If a member of your team consistently fails to take direction, sit down with them privately and have an open discussion. Share your concerns with your employees using clear language and simple, open-ended questions. Making sure to truly listen to their  responses during these conversations is also important. Once your employee responds, restate what they said back to them to avoid communication breakdowns, e.g., “So what I heard you say is that you didn’t follow our customer service procedure because you did not understand what was expected of you, is that right?”

Monitor and Document Progress

Once clear communication has occurred between you and your employee, make sure to document and monitor the situation and its progress consistently. Employees can sometimes feel their needs fall on deaf ears, and in these instances, they will go right back to the same way of doing things. Showing that management cares and is working towards a solution can lead to a behavioral shift sooner rather than later. On the flip side, if progress is not seen consistently or at all, it may be time to consider a more formal disciplinary approach.

Taking Disciplinary Action

Addressing a difficult employee using disciplinary action (formal write up, demotion, or employment termination) is never easy. As a business owner, it is unfortunately something you will likely have to deal with at some point. Remember, the goal of early disciplinary action is to help improve the behavior and keep the employee/employer relationship moving in a positive direction. Having clear, well-defined policies that you can refer back to is essential so that you can deal with the potential legal and team morale issues that may arise, should the situation lead to termination of employment.

If you are dealing with a difficult employee or would like to consult on other areas of your practice, contact our dental business coach today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Can Your Practice Benefit From an In-Office Dental Plan? | Dental Business Coach

Dental Practice Consulting

It can be difficult as a business owner and dental professional to see a patient leave your practice without receiving treatment simply because they don’t have dental insurance. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, roughly 23%, or 74 million Americans, have no dental coverage. Maybe yours is a fee for service practice and you don’t accept a patient’s insurance. These are just two of the many reasons shared by our dental business coach that an increasing number of dental practices are adopting their own in-office dental plans as an alternative.

What is an In-Office Dental Plan?
In-office dental plans are designed to help patients afford preventive and restorative dental care. Patients pay a monthly or annual fee directly to the practice to help pay for treatment when it’s needed. An in-office dental plan is administered directly by the practice or contracted partner, making it unnecessary to submit insurance claims.

Benefits of an In-Office Dental Plan
One of the main benefits of incorporating an in-office dental plan is that it can be customized for your practice. Offering different plans or membership tiers can help make dental care affordable and financially convenient for patients and make cash flow more consistent for the practice.

Other Considerations for In-Office Dental Plans

It is important to verify your specific state’s laws and statutes before implementing an in-office membership plan. Our expert dental consultants can guide you through the process and ensure that your plan follows your state’s guidelines while offering your patients an affordable way to say yes to the treatment you recommend.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Coach’s Corner | Team Retention

One of the recurring themes I heard in 2021 was the struggle to find team members. Sadly, I do not think those struggles are going to be going away anytime soon in 2022. For those of you who have participated in my Coach’s Corner for a while, you know I do not view the world from a negative perspective. I choose to view things from a positive standpoint which is why I will use this month’s Coach’s Corner to discuss how to retain your team. 

Let me back up for a moment and say there is a huge difference between having employees and having a true team work with you.  I define employees as 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. 

The doctor, whether they want to or not, is the leader of the team. Your leadership plan will dictate how your team will accomplish the goals you have set for your practice. The problem arises when the doctor does not have a clear plan or no plan at all. It is impossible for a true team to work together and accomplish goals if there is not clarity and understanding on how they are to do it. That is what your leadership plan is about. 

I have worked with hundreds of practices across the country and that is the number one thing most practices are missing. The most basic is your mission which brings everyone together on the same page. Next, your leadership plan, or as I like to call it your gameplan, is paramount to getting your team to work as a team – that is foundational to your practice. There are many segments that need to be present in your gameplan. The next segment is your vision. I have a unique way of putting that together in such detail it will become a part of your business plan. Your culture is the next segment that needs to be addressed. In a nutshell, I define culture as what is or is not acceptable. 

As you can see, your gameplan needs to be set up in a particular way, just like you would set up for a dental procedure in a particular manner. I make analogies all the time about how a process is needed for clinical work as much as process is needed to lead your team. Discipline is needed for both. The difference is one you have studied for many years in dental school and the other, leadership, requires you to learn to make your practice successful. Leadership is even more challenging since you are working with people or human behavior.  

You can see why having all of these critical segments in your leadership gameplan is a necessity. By spending the appropriate time in creating your leadership gameplan, this will help you not only retain the team members you currently have but will also help you hire the correct team members with the appropriate skill set.  

I know from working with my clients that the struggle is real right now. Let me help you by organizing your leadership gameplan. You can reach me either on my website, www.victorydentalmanagement.com or email  lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com 

Common Characteristics of High Performing Teams | Dental Team Coaching

Dental Business Coach

Teamwork makes the dream work, or so the saying goes. With a team of rockstars behind you, your business can truly soar into the success that you envisioned when you first started your own company. However, creating that amazing team can be more difficult than you may have thought. Even if you have the right people, there may be something that is holding them back from reaching their full potential. Look at this list of common characteristics of high performing teams. Which ones are your team performing well on? Which do they lack? By comparing this list to your own, it may just give you the insight you need to reach the next step.

No Individual Member is More Important than the Team:

In any business, there are going to be some members of the team that are in positions of power. However, this should not make them more or less important than any other member on the team. When your team knows that they are all equals working to accomplish the same goal of success for your business, it can help create a team that relies on the necessary people to get the job accomplished.

Each Person Carries Their Own Weight:

It’s important for every team member to be performing optimally in their own role. When one person is falling behind, the rest of your team can struggle to pick up the slack while maintaining their own work. Ultimately, what this characteristic boils down to is mutual respect. If you have a team that respects each other, they’ll be working to ensure everyone has what they need in order to do their job as best they can. Without that respect, it’s likely that people will be performing the bare minimum in their role. Our dental management consultant can help each member of your team reach their full potential.

Trust:

As important as mutual respect is the level of trust your employees have in each other. When you have a team that trusts one another, it allows for strong cohesion, conflict management and natural agreement when issues arise. Cohesion built upon trust means that every member of your staff is working towards the same goals, knows how to work together, and can make the right judgement calls when problems arise.

Understanding Limitations:

Some of the best teams know when it’s time to ask for outside help. Whether it’s a task that your team may not have the experience or knowledge to fully complete, or the workload seems to be simply more than they can handle, outside assistance or perspectives are nothing to be ashamed about and can help your team succeed at a higher level.

If you and your team require help with any of the functions of your business, our consultants are here to help. Whether you need improvements in your systems, organization, team cohesion, or anything else, we can provide you with the help you need to succeed at a higher level. Call or contact our dental business coach today to get started. 

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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The Power of Feedback in Improving Workplace Performance | Dental Management Consultant

Dental Business Coach

The exchange of feedback between leaders and their teams is an almost non-stop process. Official, or not, good leaders are as willing to listen to feedback as they are giving it out. Feedback is one of the most important aspects of improving performance, and yet it can be one of the most difficult things to hear. Very few people enjoy viewing themselves in a critical light. Below, our dental management consultant will outline some of the best ways to not only get constructive feedback, but also how to handle feedback for optimal benefit when it comes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It:

People will often assume that if something is wrong, they’ll be told and corrected. While in a perfect world, this may be the case, it is unfortunately not the reality. When you directly ask for feedback, you give your employees and your leaders the opportunity to give you valuable insights into the operations of your business. Without asking, you may be missing out on mistakes being made, or innovations that have changed business for the better.

Even if this feedback is not received in an official setting (such as a brief “on the fly” direction) it can give you the ability to bolster your systems and improve business. Make sure you ask for that chance as frequently as possible.

Don’t just React – Listen and Digest:

When feedback comes to us, it can sometimes be difficult to not feel personally attacked – especially if the feedback is critical. The worst thing you can do in this type of situation, would be to react without really considering what the other person is saying. Make sure you hear what them out and think about why they feel the way they do.

Do your best to stay clear headed and ask clarifying questions to help you fully understand the other person’s view point. Sometimes, the most positive and helpful feedback can be misinterpreted and turned into a destructive situation. If you need to take the time to digest, think about asking for time to do so. It never hurts to come back and be able to discuss feedback in more detail and from a different perspective. Taking whatever space and time you need will ultimately help you deal with feedback in a more constructive way and help you to understand your business and your leadership style better.

Reflection is a Form of Feedback:

A conversation with a manager or employee is not the only way to get feedback. You can also learn a lot about your strengths and potential limitations by reviewing the successes and failures you have had in your position. Is the same failure happening over and over again? It may be time to figure out the root cause of the issue and create a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Criticism, constructive or not, can be difficult to hear. Ultimately however, that brief time of difficulty will turn in to large dividends for both you, your team, and the business as a whole. If you’re looking for constructive feedback from an outside perspective that can help your business grow, contact our dental business coach. We’ll be able to analyze your strengths and areas for improvement in order to help you bring your business to the next level.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Data Security Best Practices | Dental Management Consultant

Dental Business Coach

Though most of the attacks making headlines are those aimed at large organizations or political groups, roughly a third of all data security breaches in the last few years have occurred in the health care industry. Of these, employee error caused three times as many breaches as external attacks. In addition, more than half of the businesses who experience a security breach have fewer than 1,000 employees.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all health care providers to take steps to protect the private information of their patients from hackers, thieves, and staff. While no data security system is foolproof, there are some best practices that can help to decrease your risk of an information breach, especially from employee error. Here are some of the best practices from our dental practice consultant you should be enforcing:

  • All computers should be placed where screens are not visible to patients or visitors.
  • Every computer should have an encrypted password for access.
  • All passwords should contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and/or symbols and should be changed regularly.
  • Passwords should never be written down in any place accessible by the public. It is preferable that they not be written down at all.
  • Every staff member must be fully educated about the importance of data security practices, their responsibility to follow these practices, and the potential repercussions for failing to comply.
  • Office computers and internet should not be used to check personal email or visit non-work-related websites.
  • Ensure all firewalls, software, and operating systems are kept up to date.
  • Wireless networks should be shielded from public view.
  • Every computer should have antivirus software installed and kept up to date.
  • Do not access office data remotely from a shared computer or unknown WiFi network.
  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops that have access to any work systems or emails should be password protected in case lost or stolen.
  • All hard copies of patient data should be shredded.
  • All transmitted data should be encrypted.
  • Sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial data, or other private information, should never be sent through email or instant messaging services.
  • Consider purchasing cyber insurance protection.
  • If a breach does occur, take appropriate action immediately. Contact your legal counsel for advice.

Your first and best defense against the theft of sensitive patient information is the integration of data security best practices into your practice policies. Meet with your team to discuss any changes you need to make and your expectations of compliance. Protect yourself, your team, and your patients by working to protect the integrity of your systems. Contact our dental business coach for more information.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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4 Simple Ways to Make Stress Work for You | Dental Business Coach

Dental Consultant Near Me

Stress is an inescapable part of life. Whether you’ve just opened your business or have begun planning for retirement, you have experienced some amount of stress along the way. Doctors, scientists, and media outlets have spent many years warning about the dangers of stress. Too much stress too often can cause negative effects on our physical and mental health. However, before giving in to chronic tension and depression, consider a few ways from our dental consultant you can make stress work for you.

  1. Focus on the positive side of stress. In small, sporadic doses, stress can increase brain function for gains in creativity and problem solving ability. It can boost your immune response and provide the motivation you need to engage your issue. Over time, small amounts of stress will even enhance your resiliency for managing future difficulties.
  2. Change your self-talk. Instead of stumbling and dwelling on the negatives of your current predicament, start incorporating the idea of “yet.” The phrase “I can’t…” has an entirely different tone than “I can’t…yet.” Once you have reset your self-talk to allow for the possibility of change, you will find yourself ready to brainstorm creative strategies for moving forward.
  3. Tackle problems one at a time. Select one specific aspect of your life that is causing you too much stress. Focus on the root cause of your stress and decide on a plan of action. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to delegate tasks to a member of your team. New habits take time and training, but can create real change to improve your life. Continue working your plan, refining as needed, until the stress is no longer a factor. Choose another challenge and start again.
  4. Embrace levity every day. Celebrate birthdays, small victories, and changes in the weather. Add laughter to your workday. These will cut tension in the office and refresh you and your team. Your patients, your team, and you will enjoy the more cheerful and relaxed atmosphere this creates.

By embracing the motivating influence of stress without allowing it to drive you down into anxiety, you can generate positivity, creativity, and effective change. However, if you have chronic stress that is substantially affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. To best help others, you must first care for yourself. Contact our dental business coach for more information.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Coach’s Corner | Spirit of Thankfulness

This week I hope you are taking a break and celebrating Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones. 

For my family, there will be a seat missing this year. Last month, my Nana, who was over 100 years old, passed away. She lived such a long life and taught me so much. It is in her honor that I dedicate this Coach’s Corner to her, discussing what she taught me, and how this can relate to your dental office. 

To say her generation understood hard work is an understatement. As a small child, she grew up on a farm and knew hard work equaled the amount of food on the table. Living through the Great Depression, she watched her family learn the hard way about how to save money. Growing up in this ever-changing environment also taught her what self-discipline looked like on a practical level. 

When she married my grandfather, she worked outside the home, which was rare in those days. I can recall the stories both of them shared with me about life during WWII. They both worked during the day in their respective jobs, and when they got off work, they worked again at a gas station/grill that they owned. I took for granted their entrepreneurial skills which I have in my blood. My Nana was so proud of me owning my own company.  My grandparents would share how soldiers were passing through town and sometimes they just needed some help. They gave away so much to others because it was the right thing to do in that situation. It was given in the spirit of loving others. 

I think you can see how these examples relate very easily to your dental practice. Getting into dental school takes a lot of discipline to study to obtain the appropriate grades. Working hard and having perfect clinical skills is not suggested- it is expected as a dental student. After doing all of the hard work and graduating with your degree, then you make the decision about how you are going to practice dentistry. Will you join a practice as an associate, or will you start one from scratch? This is where your entrepreneurial skills come into focus. For those of you who have the flexibility, you will give away some of your dentistry for free since it is the right thing to do in certain situations. Every dentist I have met has a giving heart. 

It is in that spirit of thankfulness that I hope you are surrounded by your loved ones and enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please get in touch with me at lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com

Visit my website: https://victorydentalmanagement.com/

Things to Consider Before Buying New Dental Equipment | Dental Team Coaching

Dental Business Coach

Dental Business Coach

No matter how well-equipped your office is initially, time, wear, and changes in technology will at some point require you to purchase additional or replacement equipment. There are a few points you may wish to keep in mind before making your final decision on a major equipment purchase for your practice.

First, take your time. Like with any other major purchase, rushing into a decision can be costly. Instead, spend several weeks in preparation for this choice. Meet with your Dental CPA about any tax implications and ask if there is an optimal time to make such a purchase. Consider carefully the following factors to be sure you are choosing the right piece of equipment for your needs:

  • What is the main purpose of this equipment?
  • What features do you want/need it to have?
  • Are you and your team going to need extensive training to use it?
  • How often is this equipment going to be used?
  • Will it fit the space available?
  • Will you have to make changes to the space to use this equipment (ie, wiring, utility connections, etc)?
  • Is the manufacturer reliable?
  • Does the manufacturer provide good service for their equipment?
  • How long should this equipment last?
  • What is the expected benefit of this upgrade?
  • When do you plan to have it installed and in use?
  • If this equipment is to allow new services, is there a demand for those services in your practice/community?
  • Will your pricing for your services offset the investment cost and still be competitive in your market?
  • If the equipment you are buying is used, have you obtained an independent opinion on its condition?
  • How does the cost compare to other models? Other manufacturers?
  • Can you purchase directly from the manufacturer to save on cost?
  • Have you compared pricing from a variety of sources online?

While not all of these may apply to your equipment purchase in every circumstance, it should be clear that major dental office equipment should never be bought on impulse or without thorough consideration and research. Recommendations from other dentists or your dental CPA can also be helpful in narrowing your search.

Your dental equipment plays a vital role in the quality of care you are able to provide to your patients. When it is time to add or replace a piece of that equipment, make sure you take plenty of time to research, refine, and select the right piece for your practice. This will help you be certain that your investment will bring value to your practice for years to come.

To learn more, contact our dental management consultant today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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