POWERED BY THE DENTISTRY NETWORK

100 tips from 100 practice management experts in 100 words or less

August 1, 2012

We contacted 100 dental practice experts to find out what the most important elements are in running a dental practice. Though we got a wide array of tips, there were some consistent topics: leadership, communication, and teamwork. But do you know how to spot fraud when it's happening in your practice, or how to hire the right person for your office? Read on to find out what the experts say about success and growth in your dental practice.

Click here to see our updated list: 100 more tips

Hygiene

Time is key for co-diagnosing and profitability in hygiene. Make that your hygiene appointment mantra! Here are three ways to accomplish that:

  1. Take time to review your current hygiene appointment time. The norm is 60 minutes.
  2. Give ultrasonic, hand instrumentation and polishing 30 minutes for preventive care. This leaves    you with 30 minutes of value!
  3. Write down what screenings are currently offered in your practice or screenings/products you are preparing to integrate.

Add five minute increments for each item listed. This is a quick and realistic strategy to determine if your hygiene time reflects your best results!
-Anastasia L. Turchetta, youtube.com/user/Anastasiardh

Practice management consultants all agree: the hygiene department is the backbone of the practice. As a clinical hygiene consultant, I believe you cannot build a profitable, high quality hygiene department without consistent six-point periodontal charting on every adult patient. Committing to six-point periodontal charting will significantly increase the amount of non-surgical periodontal therapy and transform the hygiene department from a loss leader, producing under $1,000 daily, to a production leader, achieving well over $2,500! Start doing consistent periodontal charting and watch your hygiene department transform into indispensable channels of quality and profitability.
-Colleen Rutledge, Perio-Therapeutics and Beyond, perioandbeyond.com

An important part of every successful dental office is having a profitable dental hygiene department. Dental hygienists must provide appropriate, timely assessments, which provide diagnosis of mandatory and adjunctive services. A systematic approach to reactivating overdue hygiene patients must be in place. Effective communication for treatment planning and explaining the importance of frequent preventive care appointments is imperative. Profitability of your dental hygiene department must include specific systems such as assessments, the doctor/hygiene exam process, valuable menu of services/products you provide patients and a systematic approach to patient continuing care. Getting beyond “just a cleaning” is your message for success in today’s dentistry!
-Debra Seidel-Bittke, Dental Practice Solutions, dentalpracticesolutions.com

2013 Dental Hygienist Salary Survey Articles

Dental Hygiene Salary Survey, part 1: Reduced hours? Maybe not

Regardless of generation, dental hygienists agree about job market

Hygienists strongly believe there are too many hygiene schools, too few jobs

Some final thoughts about the fairness of pay raises awarded to dental hygienists

Job benefits survey, part 4: The 'duh' factor

Pay raises in dental hygiene: A national overview

2013 Dental Hygienist Job Benefits Survey - Part 3

Job benefits for dental hygienists: Part 2

Survey: Dental hygienists scramble for health insurance

Communication

Get dentistry out of the chart and into the mouth. At the morning huddle, team members should review patient records. In addition to scheduled clinical treatment, the team should identify patients with incomplete dentistry and unscheduled family members. Fill openings in the hygiene schedule with a patient that already has an appointment with the doctor and is due for their hygiene appointment. Fill all openings in the doctor’s schedule by offering the patient the opportunity to save a trip, and combine their hygiene appointment with seeing the dentist. Advise the patient of remaining dental benefits that will expire.
-Annette Ashley Linder, Annette Linder & Associates, annettelinder.com

We believe that proper communication is perhaps the key to any dental practice. Our studies have shown that the practice of dentistry is 90 percent communication and 10 percent clinical, and we are by no means minimizing the importance of your clinical skills. Simply put, the offices that never stop working on giving the best possible answers to the questions patients ask are by far the most successful. Our advice is to have frequent team meetings that emphasize a warm and caring environment every step of the way, and you will soon notice a significant increase in your practice.
-Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow, The Madow Brothers, madow.com

I got my first practice management training around age three. That’s when my mom advised me, repeatedly, to stop talking so much. Even now, I remind myself of that lesson daily. Every dental patient has a story they want to tell – let them tell it before you start telling them about periodontal pockets and crowns. Ask your patients what their biggest concerns are with dental care. Then, stop talking and listen – really listen – to what they say. Then you will find out what you have to do to make it as easy as possible for your patients to benefit from your care.
-Dr. Timothy Donley, doctortimdonley.com  

We tend to think of disturbances in life as being bad things – obstacles that keep us from achieving what we want. But many significant accomplishments begin with a disturbance that motivates you toward lasting change. A disturbance that creates tension between your current reality and what you know is possible is a good thing. That’s true for you and the team in the practice. It’s also true for your patients. Communicate their possibilities in an exciting way and they will feel that motivating disturbance every time they look in the mirror.
-Imtiaz Manji, Spear Education, speareducation.com

Your dental office needs to have a written financial policy. It should be presented to and signed by all patients. Keep a copy of that signed document. This policy is the rule by which all financial arrangements are made. There are three things to remember when setting your financial policy: 

  1. Make all payment options transparent and stick to it
  2. Offer incentives so patients will pay early
  3. Don’t see any patients until everyone knows what the payment arrangements are

Your financial policy will be determined by the dynamics of your office. Whatever your financial policy is, be consistent when presenting it.
-Janice Janssen, Janssen Consulting, LLC., janssenconsultingllc.com

Think “rise” to remember the four-step process to successfully implement and sustain any new idea, system or protocol. Review: have a team meeting to discuss what you are currently doing and what's in it for the patients and practice if you implement the new idea. Introduce/Implement: clearly define the process, system, or protocol to the entire team and establish as standard operating procedure. Sustain: be precise, consistent and realistic with routines and repetitions to make it a habit – expect five out of five! Evaluate: schedule regular check-ups to diagnose what’s working and what’s not.
-Judy Kay Mausolf, Practice Solutions, Inc., practicesolutionsinc.net

“Hi, how are you?” is an insincere greeting at best. I recommend that each team member have a different greeting. The person at the front desk can say, “Welcome. It’s nice to meet you.” The assistant can say, “Welcome back!” or “We’re glad you’re here.” The dentist should know the initial concern or remember something about the patient and say, “Welcome. I know you’re here because you are in pain. We are going to do something about that.” or “How was your vacation this summer?” See how often you say, “Hi, how are you?” You’ll understand the value of this tip within a day.
-Laura Jamison, Jamison Consulting, jamisonconsulting.com

These phrases say it all: “When the front office hums, the back office dances,” “It's what’s up front that counts,” and last but not least, “When everyone does everything, no one’s accountable for anything.” Defining duties at the desk is the key to efficiency. The scheduling coordinator’s three main duties are answering the telephone, greeting patients who walk in and engineering the schedule. The financial coordinator is responsible for presenting the fees, posting payments and handling all insurance. Cross training is good for two hours per day while each administrative team member works on behind-the-scenes chores, such as filling the schedule and reducing accounts receivable.
-Linda Miles, Miles Global, milesglobal.net

The Achilles’ heel of practice building is often the front desk telephone. Anyone picking up an outbound line must answer in a courteous, professional and unhurried manner. Callers should not feel like they're calling a pizzeria on Super Bowl Sunday. The practice name must be clearly stated as well as the name of the person answering the phone. I know a successful cosmetic dentist who has his team say, "I can help you," instead of "How can I help you?" I love this courteous and confident touch. Remember, your best marketing efforts are simply wasted if your phone is not answered properly.
-Michael Ventriello, dentalflak.com

Keep the conversation in the practice focused on patient education. As I consult and observe, I generally find the practice conversation to be 75 percent social and 25 percent patient education. There is a very small window of time to educate patients regarding their needs and the services offered by the practice. When the conversation is reversed so it is 75 percent patient education and 25 percent social, treatment acceptance increases significantly. It is important also to be enthusiastic about the dentistry, as patients are only as enthusiastic about desiring the dentistry as the doctor and team are about the dentistry the practice offers.
-Susan Kulakowski, Dental Consultant Connection, dentalconsultantconnection.com

Your Team

As your team grows and it is time to hire – or you need to replace a team member – do your homework. Take time to prepare yourself and your team prior to promoting the position. Have a clear picture of the type of person you want to hire, their level of experience, personality style and complimentary values. Develop behavioral-based questions for the doctor and each team member to ask during the group interview. Score each candidate based on their responses to your requirements. Bring back the high-scoring candidates for a skills assessment, then create a detailed training plan for their success!
-Adele Reische, Synergy Practice Management, reische@sbcglobal.net

Dental practices succeed and flourish when they have efficient communications meetings. The practices can strategically plan to maintain their standards and quality, keeping their systems functioning (or changing them if necessary), implementing new technology, making service changes, etc. Morning huddle and regular team meetings, along with defined job descriptions, task lists with ultimate responsibilities explained, performance evaluations and merit raise reviews are critical for effective communication. Practices will have a thriving business if they nurture team members to go further than they imagined and create a well-functioning team that works cohesively toward a common set of goals. Consider “team” an acronym: Together Everyone Achieves More.
-Cindy J. Ishimoto, Jameson Management Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

Dental offices are service organizations, and service organizations improve the bottom line by having satisfied staff. Our patients see themselves through the prism of our staff, including the doctor. The level of satisfaction that they see is reflected back to them. If they see happy, satisfied staff, then they’re likely to be happy, satisfied patients. How do we create, and then consistently nurture, our staff so that every patient feels satisfaction every time they visit our office? I suggest regular, disciplined, and productive staff meetings. Staff meetings are the context that teams use to learn, grow, and engage and stimulate each other. Nothing works better.
-Dr. Alan Goldstein, Laser Dental Care, alangoldsteindentist.com

One of the most important aspects of running a successful practice, or any business, is to work with excellent people. I believe more of the doctor’s efforts and energies should be directed towards building a great team than towards some of the things that many dentists have as priorities. A doctor needs to have a goal with their employees, just as they do with their patients, and that is to win over their staff. You will get much more out of your team once you get genuinely interested in them and treat them with respect and actual friendship instead of maintaining the traditional employee-to-employer relationship.
-Dr. Joe Steven, Jr., Riverside Dental, drjoesteven.com

You and your entire team need to stay focused and positive. Learn and stay fresh, but don’t jump from course to course hoping to find that one that brings the big windfall; the diamonds are in your backyard. Select the services you like to provide and offer them. Don’t over-treat, but don’t diagnose and under-recommend. Tell patients what they need and what you can do, then let them decide. Expect acceptance. In my opinion, that’s our ethical duty. Extend compassion and care to yourself, your team and your clients. Following this advice costs you nothing, but will bring you success.
-Dr. Michael A. Miyasaki, Bishou Dentistry, bishoudentistry.weebly.com

There are a myriad of systems, policies, strategies, philosophies and actions necessary for operating the most efficient dental practice possible. They are all important, as are teamwork, communication and keeping up to date, among others. There is, however, one element that supersedes all the others and is necessary to the implementation of any system, policy or strategy. That critical element is commitment. The central feature of commitment is that it is on an individual basis. Each team member must be committed to the success of the office by providing the best dentistry possible. Without commitment, practice optimization cannot occur.
-Dr. Richard H. Nagelberg, drrichardnagelberg.com

Hiring new staff members can be a daunting process, and the consequences of making a mistake are costly. Increase your chances of hiring the right person the first time by following 5 simple, yet often overlooked, steps:

  1. Have a clear picture in your head of the skills and core values you are looking for
  2. Have a clearly written job description
  3. Make sure the ad you place is well-written and representative of your needs
  4. Include your staff in the hiring decision
  5. Provide the new hire with an orientation and training plan that helps them successfully integrate into your practice

-Jan Keller, Jan Keller & Associates, jankellerassoc.com

Humor has a unique way of bonding team members and patients alike. I’ve been in a lot of practices where tension existed. While not visible, it certainly erected barriers. Some of the most successful practices I’ve been in know how to work hard and play hard. If your patients hear laughter echoing from the hallways amidst the sound of drills and ultrasonics – and, better yet, bring jokes to share – chances are good they will refer friends and family. Chances are also good team members will contribute to a culture where humor and even practical jokes are as common as perfect-fitting crowns.
-Karen Davis, Cutting Edge Concepts, karendavis.net

Love your team! Staffing decisions are tough. Hire for fantastic attitude and great work ethic. Then train for skills. Delegate authority along with responsibility.  Spend time together. Schedule leisure, fun activities as a team to offset work pressures. Share the vision and listen to one another. Build action plans in which everyone takes a part to accomplish a goal. Require individual accountability. Teach all your team effective confrontation to reduce conflicts. Counsel and correct swiftly and privately. Celebrate victories. Reward exceptional practice contributions. Share the profit. Enjoy the unique personality of and contribution from each member of the team.
-Kathleen O’Donnell, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

Have a consistent message. Your entire team must be on the same page, delivering the same message to patients. A message becomes valuable when patients hear it reinforced consistently. That’s when educating a patient to make the right decisions about their dental health becomes real. Passing the baton from one to another – effectively relaying crucial information so the next person in the line of care picks up the same message to deliver – creates many benefits. Patients and colleagues understand your team is working together for your patients’ good, inspiring loyalty and unity.
-Phylis Ficks, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

It’s imperative to look at the stresses and frustrations in your practice as opportunities for learning, growth and coaching. All too often doctors and teams get so caught up in the emotional side of daily challenges that they lose sight of how to strategically create better flow. When things don’t work as well as you want them to, consider, as a team, what policies and systems could be clarified or refined in order to become more effective. The clearer you are as a team about expectations, the greater the chance that your days will be less stressful and more rewarding.
-Sheri Kay, ACT Dental Practice Coaching, actdental.com

As you await the return of a healthy economy, this is the ideal time to cross-train your team! You may have time now that you won’t have later. Brainstorm with your team the functions that will be easiest and fastest to cross train. Consider the functions that frequently experience the greatest needs. As team members support each other, the office will run more smoothly and you’ll manage future bumps in the road more capably. Take small steps at first to increase cross-training success and to maintain the enthusiasm of team members. These efforts can lead to greater team cohesion and higher levels of functioning.
-Suzanne Boswell, Boswell Presentations, boswellpresentations.com

Using Statistics to Improve Your Business

In today’s challenging economy, it is essential to be proactive in strategically planning for new levels of success. With advances in technology, any dentist can walk into the office, press a few buttons on the computer and get bar graphs, comparatives and systems reports that reveal everything about the practice! Yet, most dentists who are concerned about their challenges never bother to test their assumptions by analyzing statistics. If they do look, they don’t act. The secret to feeling in control of your business is to manage by statistics – not judgment or perception, and not fall victim to analysis paralysis!
-Amy Morgan, Pride Institute, prideinstitute.com

Take this to the bank: regardless of economic conditions, your people will always be your best competitive advantage. Compensation and benefits are set to attract and retain the most talented team members. It must work in that order. Rewards cannot make an average player a superstar, so enticing the average with more and better is a costly exercise in frustration for everyone involved. The bonus pay will soon become the expected and any behavioral changes will be short lived. Your people can drive your practice’s success or be the speed bumps that slow you down. Choose them carefully, and train them well.
-Ginny Hegarty, Dental Practice Development, Inc., ginnyhegarty.com 

Leadership

There are three key steps for today’s world. Own it: take personal responsibility. Don’t get caught in the trap of blaming and complaining about anything. Negative mindsets create negative results. Own what is happening. Victimization gets a person nowhere. Continually ask, “What can I do?” Search for answers and then do it. Lead it: transform your practice staff into a genuine team to lighten the owner’s load while improving the patient experience. Exceptional results come from exceptional leadership and teambuilding. Perfect it: relentlessly pursue perfection on the fundamentals of exceptional patient care with particular focus on effective patient and team communication.   
-Bob Spiel, Spiel Consulting, spielconsulting.com

Ask. Listen. Provide. Follow the Platinum Rule: "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them."
-Dan Marut, QDPDentist.com

The doctor must be a subjective leader – passionate and committed about his or her work. As a leader, the doctor must have a vision of the preferred future of the practice, and the design systems and management to meet those objectives. The doctor needs to retain someone who is responsible for the day-to-day objectivity of office operations while he or she works their passion. In line with that, the fine line between employer and employee must be maintained. Being a leader and role model means caring for each member of the team, while remembering that an employee is an employee and making the distinction clear.
-Debra Engelhardt-Nash, The Nash Institute, thenashinstitute.com

As a consultant to dental practices across the country, it is my observation that the most successful practices have a leader who understands the value of money, knows how to save, and does not spend excessively; understands that the most valuable practice asset is the staff group and invests in their continual development; believes every patient is important; has a life outside of the practice; is balanced physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually; and is willing to accept advice from knowledgeable counselors related to any of the above.
-Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, Professional Dental Management, professionaldentalmgmt.com

Balance! Begin with a mission and vision. Then, communicate! Get a mentor (http://www.jamesonmanagement.com/team/)and 100 hours CE/yr. Be noble/humble; never greedy/impatient. Master procedures, systems and the new patient experience. Document appropriately. Maximize hygiene programs. Educate patients so you don't have to “sell.” Brand and market yourself and your practice. BALANCE! Lead and motivate people instead of managing. Hold productive meetings. Monitor overhead and practice finances. Manage your managed care. Schedule effectively. Give back. Save early -- 15 percent. Have hobbies. Travel. Take a chance. Maintain health, family relationships, friendships and spirit. Be the happiest, best dentist you know. Smile.
-Dr. Brad Guyton, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

Never forget that dentistry is 51 percent dental health care and 49 percent business. Failure to establish strong growth in your understanding of both these areas means that you are ignoring half of your responsibility. Strive for clinical excellence. Invest in yourself by learning from the best. That’s easy – for most of us, it comes naturally. Paying attention to business education is harder, so you must do it with intent. Get the basics from your consultant while you’re learning, and open your ears to your coach once you’ve become a champion. Ignore the 49, and you won’t get to pick the 51.
-Dr. Gary M. DeWood, Spear Education, speareducation.com

Imagine the ideal practice, then set goals to create it. Develop a winning game plan to gain success and profitability. Implement well-defined systems to eliminate chaos and reduce stress. Select and retain a winning team by paying and treating them well. Develop communication skills. Make firm financial agreements. Patient education and treatment planning are keys to successful patient acceptance. Establish an efficient patient recall system. Make hygiene the cornerstone of your dental care system. Manage your time to schedule the perfect day: productive and profitable. Continually market the practice. Work with a coach to overcome what you didn’t learn in dental school about business.
-Dr. Hugh F. Doherty, Doctor’s Financial Network, hughdoherty.com

Early in my career, I was advised to extend hours into evenings and weekends and to offer as many services as I could. Basically, to try to be attractive to as many people as possible. I got burned out and hated my job. It was either quit, or change my practice. I slowed down, chose to do only the procedures that I liked and was good at, and limited my hours. I didn’t try to be all things for everybody. Dare to dream about what a fun day would be like, and offer it to nice, appreciative clients only. Be patient – they really will come.
-Dr. James Fondriest, Lake Forest Dental Arts, lakeforestdentalarts.com

In general, we as dental care professionals know our jobs and we understand what patients should do to have optimal dental health. But the success in running a dental practice is having the patients realize that we care about them as individuals, not just “sets of teeth.” It is well said: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The art, science, and business of dentistry is a balance: beautiful dentistry, based on good science, while keeping business in mind. Unless the patient believes that you truly care about them, you will not have a successful practice.
-Dr. Jeffrey C. Hoos, Brush & Floss Dental Center, bettersmile.com

Primary to any successful dental practice is the leadership of the dentist/practice owner. Leadership, as viewed by the example set by the dentist, is evidenced by a few distinct practice characteristics. Do the dental staff and dentist: Communicate well and manage patient expectations? Listen and hear the wants and needs of their patients? Present treatment options in a clear and straightforward manner? If you can honestly answer positively to each of these questions, then you are poised to succeed. These tenets build trustworthiness in your compassion, credibility, services and systems.
-Dr. Lee J. Harris, Harris Dental Solutions, leeinla915@gmail.com

You need to honor your word, come face-to-face with things you’d rather avoid, and have crucial conversations. You need a good team: hire the right people, in the right places, to do the right things. Leave them inspired and empowered. Share with them after you handle all your expenses, retirement and debt. Shift from fixing problems to taking charge of the patient’s complete health. Start with the end in mind and break metrics down annually, monthly, daily and by position. Remember the 3 Ms of management: measuring, monitoring and making things right. You, your patients, your team: more than making a living – making a life.
-Gary Kadi, NextLevel Practice, garykadi.com

Effective leadership is the key to practice success. Any action missed will hold profits back. Do not hit your profitability wall!

  • Assume leadership role and lead by example
  • Ask how things can be done better
  • Define your vision and share it
  • Work with excellent advisors and mentors
  • Create a yearly business plan that defines goals and budget
  • Monitor practice vital signs monthly and expenses quarterly
  • Hold regular morning, team and department meetings
  • Understand each employee’s strengths and motivators
  • Consistently hold employees accountable for appropriate behavior and job performance
  • Coach to success
  • Hold performance reviews annually
  • Praise, appreciate and recognize employees regularly

-Julie Weir, julieweir.com

Dentistry is a behavioral art first and a clinical science second. Consequently, strong interpersonal skills and humanitarian sensitivity are essential. Your practice is only as great as your team’s attitude and performance. Therefore, fine-tune your team strengths and cultivate an environment for personal excellence and communication! Establish business protocol and be consistent in balancing your tasks and people skills. Remember, management by statistics works. Set your daily goals, work your numbers, and schedule for productivity and efficiency. Utilize expanded duties to lesson stress and ensure productivity. Maximize dental codes and don’t give dentistry away – make hygiene a profit center.
-Larry Wintersteen, Wintersteen & Associates, wintersteen.com

Learn leadership from the masters: Stephen Covey, John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, Jim Collins, Michael Gerber and Patrick Lencioni. Learn to listen to your patients and your team before you speak your wisdom. Study human psychology and communication skills. Share your vision and goals regularly. Know how to hire, hold staff accountable and let go when it is time. Show up on time and ready to work to set an example to start every day. Don't believe every speaker you hear. Some of what is said from the podium is ego speaking and won't work in your practice.
-Linda Drevenstedt, Drevenstedt Consulting, drevenstedt.com

“If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re only taking a walk!” On the other hand, walking the walk as an inspirational leader is the most valuable role you can play in building your team and motivating them to make your practice exceptional. Doctors, you have the power to set the tone for the whole practice, every single day. You can enhance your brand through your work habits, appearance, and demeanor. By consciously radiating enthusiasm, warmth, compassion, integrity and passion you can energize your team to provide a level of care beyond your dreams. Inspire, nurture and support your team – and lead by example!
-Mark E. Hyman, tarheeldentist.com

The best business owners express what we call “vim and vigor,” energy, enthusiasm and strength of force. The phrase is a combination of the following elements, each of which is essential to building successful organizations. VIM – Vision: casting a compelling vision for staff and patients is the most important first step for every business owner. Intuition: being able to make decisions with incomplete information is essential to keeping a business moving on a consistent basis. Mission: knowing that a business is only as good as the promise it makes and keeps is the key to defining and delivering on a purposeful mission statement.
-Olivia Straine, Straine Consulting, straine.com

The very best business owners express what we call “vim and vigor,” energy, enthusiasm and strength of force. VIGOR – Values: adhering to a set of principles founded on authenticity, consistency and transparency communicates that you have integrity and establishes trust. Inspiration: getting people to do what you want is a function of inspiration, not incentives or intimidation. Gravitas: a practice should be created with the same professional standards and methodologies as a Fortune 500 public company. Optimism: expecting the best outcome creates good vibes throughout the organization, influencing the right attitude and action daily. Realistic: looking at the world accurately is the key to resilience.
-Kerry Straine, Straine Consulting, straine.com

Develop intentional leadership skills. You are always the boss: your every word, action, and expression is scrutinized. Walk your talk. Understand the power of a healthy business: formally systemize, continually improve, monitor measurements, establish clear expectations and accountability, maximize technology, celebrate victories, and participate in community service. Be patient oriented: deliver a remarkable dental experience, stay on schedule, offer financial options, listen to your patients and employees, deliberately develop systems to build patient trust, and engage your patients in treatment planning. Enjoy what you do, who you do it with, and who you do it on. Show sincere appreciation to them all. 
-Sandy Baird, Baird Concepts, bairdconcepts.com

Trying to grow, but feeling stretched? Businesses grow in proportion to leadership. Limited leadership produces limited growth. When can dentists actively lead? A minute here, two minutes there? Another hour-long team meeting each month? Multiply the leaders in your office. Provide leadership growth opportunities for each member of your team. Gathering more followers only stretches you thinner. To catapult growth, invest in leaders. Cast your vision and empower team members to soar like eagles. Develop others who can lead while you’re doing a root canal. Since it all rises and falls on leadership – make it rise exponentially higher than yourself.
-Steve Cartin, Cartin Coaching & Management, cartincoaching.com

Public Relations, Social Media and Your Online Presence

Don’t neglect the tried and true when it comes to promoting your practice: public relations, focusing on community newspapers and websites. Even with the waning influence of traditional media, local media – approached from a public relations or editorial perspective – is still a good value for your practice. Dentists can often access a number of free local media websites and upload their own news releases and pictures. The Patch (run by AOL) encourages local businesspeople to blog on its site too. All of these efforts pay off in an enhanced reputation, improved SEO and added content and links for your social media sites too.
-Chris Martin, CMPR, Inc., addcmpr.com

Be sure to manage your online presence! A majority of potential patients will be looking for a dentist on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Try some of the following tips for success:

  1. Claim your free listing on Google and ensure all information is correct
  2. Add your practice information to directory sites like Yelp and Citysearch
  3. Encourage your patients to leave reviews for you on these sites
  4. Create signs in the office to direct them to your online listings
  5. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate once they find you

-Dr. Jason Lipscomb, socialmediadentist.com

In today’s competitive and challenging economic environment, the success of your practice depends on your ability to be discovered by new patients (in addition to staying connected with existing patients) in ways you may not have previously considered. Your practice now requires an effective online communication strategy to encompass the complete patient life cycle, from acquiring new patients to treatment completion and referral creation. These core elements include providing an optimized website, social media, and online patient login functionality. Combined, these tools afford your practice a 360˚ connection to your existing and potential patient population.
-Dr. Lou Shuman, Pride Institute, loushuman.com

The best time to start protecting and enhancing your online reputation is today. There are several proven things you can do to help increase positive reviews, including asking patients while they’re in your office to make an online review, mailing letters requesting feedback, or using digital tools (like surveys or emails that push results to review sites). If this sounds like a lot of work, consider the benefits: not only will online testimonials help minimize any potential negative word of mouth, they can also give you a competitive advantage as a result of all your positive reviews.
-Rita Zamora, ritazamora.com

Treatment

Dental practices can operate like a wellness center. Commitment to the overall health of the patient means a practice not only stands out from the crowd, it makes that practice a key player in the healthcare arena, working alongside physicians supporting the general health and wellbeing of patients. Dental practices can learn to look at and treat our patients as more than just mouths. Dentists and team members can learn the signs and symptoms that point to systemic disease, and can become more proactive in referring patients to their primary care physicians when they suspect an underlying medical condition.
-Christine Taxin, Links2Success, links2success.biz

Know your percentage of case acceptance. This should be tracked, along with the reason why treatment is declined. Without this information, it is challenging to know how to increase your income or raise the level of health your patients are choosing. When you know the “why,” you are on the road to greater profits and healthier patients! A patient saying “yes” is only partial case acceptance. You also need signed financial arrangements and a scheduled appointment. Without all three of these in place, you only have a patient that is interested in their treatment, not committed.
-Kristin Pelletier, KP Consulting, kristinpelletier.com

Technology & Systems

Automation is a key ingredient for increasing productivity and profitability in the dental practice. When the front desk team is not tied to the monotonous tasks they do every day such as printing, folding, stuffing, stamping and mailing postcards, billing statements and insurance claims, it will open up the time to so many possibilities. The front desk team can use this newly found time building stronger relationships with patients, which will increase case acceptance or work on the office's marketing efforts to attract more new patients. 
-Dayna Johnson, Rae Dental Management, raedentalmanagement.com

Monitoring 12 critical factors will point to the greatest strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on first things first. Those priorities will result in constant improvements on the 25 systems for your entire practicing life. Besides that, I often tell doctors how glad I am that I invested in technology and disability insurance. No matter how strong your 25 systems, appropriate training for your team on outstanding practice management software is crucial to your success. Staying in the lead on technology is fun. The security of appropriate insurance for me and my practice gave me great peace of mind.
-Dr. John H. Jameson, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

The magic behind the digital revolution is that a computer is a single device that can be set up to do many tasks that all required separate systems in the past. Just like a smart phone is not just a phone but a camera, GPS, game boy, web browser, and just about anything else we can find in the app store, a computer can now be used for charting, X-rays, photos, diagnoses, recall, billing, impressions and much more. Your practice’s computer system is not just a computer but it is the core of the practice – and everything in the future will be dependent upon it.
-Dr. Larry Emmott, Emmott on Technology, dr.larryemmott.com

The most important aspect of practice management today is for practices to focus on continually increasing production by implementing effective systems. According to the Levin Group Data Center™, 75 percent of all U.S. practices have declined in the last three years. This downward trend can only be combated by implementing step-by-step, documented systems that allow the team to reach their highest level of potential. Levin Group has identified 24 key targets that are critical for increasing production and profitability while maintaining excellent clinical care. Targets and systems give teams the tools to improve performance and exceed patient expectations every time.
-Dr. Roger P. Levin, Levin Group Inc., levingroup.com

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Many dental practices are moving into the 21st century by adding some great new technologies, such as 3D imaging, CAD-CAM, digital impressions, digital X-rays, and a host of other new toys. Where many practices run into trouble, however, is forgetting that they need to invest in the infrastructure first. They may not be all that sexy, but having adequate computers throughout the office, a stable network, modern practice management software, and – most critically – a good disaster recovery system, will have the most effect on whether your experience with new technology is a success.
-Lorne Lavine, Dental Technology Consultants, thedigitaldentist.com

A very important part of managing the dental office is the practice management software and its proper use. This means actual training from the manufacturer, as opposed to someone teaching the new person in their spare time. Many systems now have training capabilities with videos, as well as online chat or real voice communication using remote access. Help has also been made easier with internet-enabled support centers when questions arise even for experienced users. When updates or changes are made, everyone should be made aware of them at staff meetings or other communications the office has decided upon.
-Dr. Paul Feuerstein, computersindentistry.com,  drpaul@toothfairy.com

Clean data could be the most valuable asset of your practice. Doctors, managers and consultants rely on reports to assess a practice’s health, but what if the data isn’t trustworthy? New team members can make innocent mistakes without proper training. I’ve seen new insurance coordinators routinely write off remaining balances because they were unsure how to read an explanation of benefits (EOB). Would you like to know if your current marketing dollars are effective? If your administrative team isn’t tracking referral sources then you can’t make smart decisions. Spot check your data entry systems now, and avoid the headaches later!
-Teresa Duncan, Odyssey Management Inc., odysseymgmt.com

Managing Your Time

The most valuable commodity we have is time. Here’s a list of our top 10 favorite time savers:

  1. Delegate - let others help you
  2. Make lists - for today, tomorrow, etc.
  3. Don't procrastinate - that makes you stressed 
  4. Clear the clutter - stay focused
  5. Do errands online - avoid lines
  6. Batch things - make a path as you do your errands
  7. Avoid time wasters like the internet
  8. Answer all emails at once, instead of throughout the day
  9. Focus on one thing at a time
  10. Avoid meetings - they are often time stealers

-Denise Ciardello, Global Team Solutions, LLC, tagteamgurus.com

"Those who rule the practice schedule, rule the practice." I have found this statement to be true in every practice with which I’ve worked. Does your front office team know what is expected of them when scheduling appointments? Are you overbooked some days, and don’t have enough patients on others? The remedy to this is showing your team what your ideal schedule looks like. Always be sure to allow room for emergencies and keep a list of patients that are on stand-by so you can fill those last minute cancellations. This helps everyone in the office stay productive.
-Lisa M. Spradley, TCB Dental Consulting, tcbdentalconsulting.com

I have found that when you are a part of the administrative team you can get caught up with all of the everyday duties and may have to put off tasks for another day. This is where uninterrupted time must be scheduled into your day. Set aside one hour a day to take care of the tasks that require your undivided attention such as insurance calls, collection calls, posting regularly on your Facebook page, marketing, etc. With adding a small amount of uninterrupted time to your day you will find that more things actually get done!
-Tina Brown, hoytdentistry.com

Having a Vision

Develop the role of treatment coordinator in your practice and explore success strategies for the aesthetic practice. Most practices have a talented person on the team who would be motivated by the challenge to help boost retention, communicate with patients who haven’t accepted proposed treatment yet, increase production and profit for the practice, follow through on aesthetic care beyond the initially accepted restorative/preventive care. Responsibilities span new patient experience, treatment presentations/consultation appointments, financial coordination and more. Work together to reignite a passion among your patients to consider aesthetic options and follow through to your ultimate vision for a dream practice.
-Dr. Cathy Jameson, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

No successful company can function for any significant amount of time without a clearly defined plan of how they will function. I would strongly suggest that every dentist, no matter how successful, consider creating a written plan of where they want their practice to be and how they expect to take it there. There’s an old saying: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can take you there.” Working on things like case acceptance, better treatment planning, expanded services or even leadership are a waste of time unless the practice has a plan for long-term success.
-Dr. Glenn D. Krieger, Krieger Aesthetic & Reconstructive Dentistry, kriegerdental.com

“It is not in the knowing. It is in the doing.” As I visit practices, one thing stands out that separates many from the pack. Practices that have clarity about the big picture, put great systems in place to fulfill that vision, and have great people to run those systems are the practices that thrive. It is more than just having an idea: it is important to be clear on why and have the pieces in place so that implementation can occur. Systems run your practice. People run your systems. It all starts with clarity of the big picture.
-Dr. Michael C. Fling, Fling Seminars, flingseminars.com

Create a culture of trust. There is no better way to ensure staff satisfaction and patient enthusiasm. Stephen Covey documents the financial benefits of trust in a safe environment in his book “Smart Trust.” We’re more efficient, have more prosperity and more joy when we work with people we truly trust. Think about it: how quickly does a system get implemented when you are asked by someone you trust? How long and tedious is a staff meeting discussing systems when you don’t trust or respect the person who is asking for the change? It’s not just a nice idea – it will make you money.
-Janice Hurley-Trailor, janicehurleytrailor.com

The most important thing in running a dental office is for the leader to have clarity on what his vision is. Most practitioners just wander along with no clear sense of direction. What is it we really do? What is our real focus and dream? Having that kind of clarity makes it much easier to assemble a team capable of accomplishing the vision. Most consultants advise practices to start with a vision or mission statement. More important than an agreed-upon sentence by committee is for every team member to have the clarity to own the mission. That clarity starts with the leader.
-Dr. Kim Kutsch, Kutsch & Renyer Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, kandrsmiles.com

Make sure your best years are always in front of you. The single greatest compensation you can give yourself as a dentist is just to be excited about your future. This is a critical discipline to be successful in life and business. Your best years can never be behind you – they always have to be in front of you. If you can consistently believe this concept, you will always find yourself in an amazing place with even more amazing people, loving this journey in dentistry.
-Kirk Behrendt, ACT Dental Practice Coaching, actdental.com

Look at the change in the world. It’s not top down. It’s inside out – feminine energy. Trends show that more women are entering dentistry, and the majority of young dentists replacing retiring dentists are female. We get caught up in the “traditional” way of practice management and leading a team, yet why not design your business and your life with your values and purpose? Don’t hold yourself back – realize you are a leader and a woman of influence! And if you are still trying to fit your practice or team into an old model, listen to yourself and define your own success.  
-Kristine A. Hodsdon, Dental Influencers, dentalinfluencers.com

Relationships

In my years of dental practice management, treatment planning, and lecturing to dentists both nationally and internationally, I have found that the first step in enrolling people in listening to what you have to say is to establish a relationship with them. Once the thread of commonality is established in a genuine and honest way, a matrix forms where trust can find a home. Genuine listening, both actively and passively, play a huge role in the process. I have found that people respond so much better when they are allowed to express themselves and understanding becomes bilateral.
-Dr. George E. Bambara, Gentle Dental Smiles, gentledentalsmiles.com

The most important thing a dental office can do is to respect the patient as an individual. Each patient is an individual and each patient should be treated as if they are a family member. To show patients you care is to call a patient in the evening after an extensive procedure, i.e. surgery, just to see how the patient is doing. It is amazing the results you get from this small show of caring.
-Dr. Jack Saxonhouse, Practice Transition Specialists, drjgums@aol.com

“It’s all about relationships.” The way to communicate comprehensive dentistry to a patient begins by establishing a relationship of trust which is based on the doctor’s innate understanding of how the mouth works. By owning the ability to make a diagnosis, the doctor can focus on the patient’s concerns and serve them well. The result we are seeking is for the patient to know they have been heard and are in good hands. This relationship of trust needs to be continually strengthened through congruent office policies, systems and personnel that put the patient first.
-Dr. James R. Benson, Obi Foundation for Bioesthetic Dentistry, obifoundation.org

Passion is of utmost importance in running a dental practice. You must have a passion for dentistry! I always tell people I have not worked a day in my life. Have a passion for people. Know your client, build relationships, listen, understand and be understood. Think before you speak. Lead by example. Share the wealth. Say thank you. Make excellence your passion. Do your best, keep learning, and have an open mind. Try new things. Share knowledge. Set goals and make every effort to attain them. Make your vision your reality. Make time for yourself and others, and soar in all you do!
-Dr. Mark D. Hackbarth, Elmbrook General Dentistry, elmbrookgeneraldentistry.com

The practices that set themselves apart from others are not the ones with all of the bells and whistles – they are the practices that focus on the relationship aspect of the patients to the practice. The active patient and new patient numbers are higher and are easily attainable. Without a strong patient base, it may be hard for a new owner to replicate the same revenues. Their staffs have the training in customer service and the ability to help secure the patient base in the future. This relates to a higher goodwill value and an overall smoother transition of the practice assets.
-Susan A. Spear, SAS Transitions Dental Practice Brokers, sastransitions.com

Patient Referrals

Patient referrals are an important aspect needed to build the practice of your dreams. Ask a patient who appreciates you at the conclusion of comprehensive care. I call it a “celebration appointment.” Bring the patient in for the important follow-up – when you are most happy with each other. Discuss the “celebration strategy” with your team:

  • Review pictures and casts
  • Ask about any questions or concerns
  • Review the patient’s responsibilities
  • Ask if the patient would like to help someone receive the same kind of care
  • Tell them you will make sure the new referral will get a special welcome
  • Remind them how much you’ve enjoyed working with them

-Dr. Irwin Becker, Irwin Becker Initiatives, irwinbeckerinitiatives.com

“How do I increase my new patient referrals?” Start with your team! Your team can make or break a referral program. Patients refer for three reasons:

  • If they receive good care from the doctor
  • If they are treated well by the team
  • If there is a great referral rewards program

The care you give patients is solid and you worked hard to find the right team. So, treat them like the winners they are and that will carry over to your patients. How? Team meetings, trainings outside of the office, bonuses, and the number one thing they want – recognition.
-Melanie Cooper-Duncan, Results Unlimited Dental Consulting, rudental.com 

Growth & Development

Design the strategies for growth and development using CPR: conversion, penetration and retention. By developing appropriate measurements, you can monitor and manage the behaviors that drive results in your practice. Retention of existing patients is most important. Teams often say they need more new patients than they do because so many are leaving out the back door. Penetration comes next. By helping clients want what we know they need (and understand their insurance), we can help more patients have healthier mouths. Conversion and referral of new patients comes naturally when satisfied patients stay with your practice and accept treatment.
-Dr. Mark Murphy, DTI Dental Technologies, dtidental.com 

In order to have a successful practice long term, it is important for dentists to establish and nurture a culture that focuses on continuous growth. A successful practice is a journey, not a destination. Dentists who focus on recruiting and retaining employees with a positive attitude, initiative and a spirit of learning will excel. Business owners must be more committed to protecting their culture than to pleasing an individual employee. With the right team, patient-centered service, and an understanding of what it takes to make a practice profitable, a practice can be unstoppable.
-Penny Limoli, Reed Limoli Group, reedlimolidentalconsultants.com  

Profitability

If you have an operatory that is often vacant, you may be sitting on a gold mine without realizing it. Oftentimes, extra space in the dental office becomes a repository for supplies and other junk, rather than a source of revenue. Don’t let your facility sit idle – make use of that operatory and increase your productivity. The old rule of thumb is that you need to bring in $400 per square foot of space to cover expenses of the facility. If that’s true, you really can’t afford to have any square footage that isn’t making money!
-Dr. William W. Oakes, Excellence in Dentistry, theprofitabledentist.com

Use the power of your dental practice to achieve your financial goals by meeting with your dental CPA or wealth manager to determine your financial needs. Add that amount (after-taxes) to your net income. Determine what expenses might change in order to achieve that number (variable costs like supplies, lab and wages). Add the increased expenses to your total income (revenue). To achieve the net income you need to meet your financial goals, include patient refunds and fee adjustments in the necessary bottom line production number.
-Haden Werhan, Thomas Wirig Doll, twdadvisors.com

Be insurance aware; not insurance driven. More dentists are becoming involved with PPO plans and expanding the number of plans with which they are affiliated because they view it as a way to attract new patients and keep existing patients whose employers have switched to a PPO dental plan. While it is true that not participating on PPO plans is becoming more difficult to do, the practice still needs to be monitoring the portion of the practice that is PPO. Don’t get caught in a situation where costs, reimbursement and overhead control you. Be strategic about insurance management.
-Julie Hanson, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

Medical plans can be accessed by anyone performing a medically covered procedure. The dentist must speak the medical billing "language" and be familiar with the medical claim form and specific documentation requirements. Procedures performed by dentists and covered routinely by medical plans include the following: any procedure regarding traumatic injury to the mouth; exams/consultations; emergency treatment; diagnostic, radiographic, and surgical stents; radiographs for screening/diagnostic purposes; biopsies and excisions; extraction of impacted teeth, also any extractions recommended by an MD prior to surgery, transplant, chemo/radiation, or due medical condition; surgical procedures not associated with traumatic injury; prosthetics; and appliances.
-Dr. Olya Zahrebelny, The Z Group, LLC, thezgroupllc.com

Accurate coding can only occur through diagnosis, treatment, and documentation. Diagnose based upon documented findings, then treat based upon the diagnosis and patient response, and then bill and code for exactly what was performed. Your narrative report and supplemental information falls into place because it is based upon your clinical diagnosis, as well as treatment documentations. It sounds simple, but if the business team is not coding and billing for exactly what was performed by the clinical team, we have the beginning of a treacherous downward spiral that will manifest itself into lost revenue, wasted time, and unnecessary stress on the dental office and doctor.
-Tom Limoli, Limoli & Associates, limoli.com

Set yourself up for success! Make decisions ahead of time about the parameters of the payment arrangements you will offer to your patients. Considerations:

  • Third-party financing options
  • Expectation of payment for emergency new patients
  • Adjustments of any payment in full before taxes
  • Dental benefits and when patient portion is paid
  • Will in-house financing be offered?

Every team member, not just the financial coordinator, needs to know these options in order to provide consistency in expectations with patients. Making these decisions, putting them in writing as an internal reference document, and having them used as the basis for every financial transaction will ensure a win/win outcome!
-Virginia Moore, The Practice Source, doctorasceo.com

Booking

Unless it’s a patient you want to “fire,” never let a patient leave the office without having another appointment on the schedule. Whether it is for hygiene, treatment with the doctor or a post-op appointment, if the patient is reappointed, you can almost guarantee that you’ll see that patient again. If the patient leaves and feels as though there are no concerns for his oral health, he may not return! As long as patients are reappointing it gives your team (and you!) some job security.
-JaNetta Gibbs, Dr. Wade Kifer, DDS, nwafamilydentist.com

Curbing cancellations and no-shows begins chairside. Clinical teams must emphasize the value of dental care during every patient visit. Dentists can overlook the influence that they have on the patient’s perception of routine dental care, and unwittingly minimize the value of the professional hygiene appointment. Doctor and hygienist must be on the same page. The hygienist should explain to the doctor what has been found and discussed with that patient, which he can expand upon. If your practice is not stressing the importance of ongoing oral health care to the patient sitting in the chair, you have more broken appointments and cancellations than you should.
-Sally McKenzie, McKenzie Management, mckenziemgmt.com

Marketing

Make your marketing work for you. Marketing is a not trick. It isn’t something that can be done to meet your goals overnight. Instead, marketing is something that should be long term. It has the greatest impact when it is consistent, well thought out and repeated…multiple times. Make your messages simple, meaningful and all about the patient. Then find the appropriate avenue to distribute your message. This may be multiple avenues such as online, social media, print, direct mail, word of mouth, etc., or one place with a large presence. Whatever you choose – make it bold and make it stand out. Most importantly, make it count!
-Misty Absher Clark, Jameson Management, Inc., jamesonmanagement.com

Marketing is essential for every dental practice. It’s a substantial expense, which deserves serious consideration. It is important to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy and implement accordingly, but a wise practice owner will take a good look at the management of their practice before investing in a marketing program. Some sample questions to seriously consider: Who is your target audience? Are team members trained well and performing ideally? How are new patient visits handled? How is case acceptance? Are systems efficient? Are goals in place? Address and deal with these issues first, and you’ll experience a greater return on investment.
-Robin Morrison, RLM Healthcare Marketing, mypracticemarketer.com

Other Elements of a Successful Practice

Three in five dentists will be fraud victims in their careers. The financial and emotional costs of embezzlement are severe. Notwithstanding that there are many options for stealing from a dentist, the behavior of thieves is highly predictable. Thieves work extra hours, refuse to take vacation, show extreme territoriality, resist involvement of outside consultants, and attempt to isolate the dentist from outside communication. Published studies suggest that more than 2/3 of embezzlement is uncovered by behavioral (versus financial) clues. Dentists need be aware of this problem and collect, process and respond decisively to the behavioral indicia of embezzlement.
-David Harris, Prosperident, prosperident.com

There are two elements to having a successful practice: your team and your brand. I encourage team members to voice opinions that may improve the practice. When a team member has a suggestion or constructive criticism, you should listen. You’ll gain respect by respecting your team member – part of being respectful is listening. The other element is to have a practice brand. What makes your practice different from practices that you compete with? Your office hours, your whitening smiles program, your laser dentistry? You must decide on your practice brand and let your patients know what it is that makes your practice special.
-Dr. Fred S. Margolis, Institute for Advanced Dental Education, Ltd., fredmargolis.com

Clinical efficiency is one of the quickest and easiest ways to lower your office overhead. You can have all the practice management systems in the world, but if the dentist cannot produce an excellent clinical result for the patient efficiently, then the office will have high overhead and low production. Our general dental offices in Cleveland, Ohio, have had a 45 percent overhead for nearly 30 years for one reason – we will invest in any dental material, technology, product, or practice management system if it does three things for us: makes the dentistry faster, easier, and ultimately better for the patient.
-Dr. Louis Malcmacher Common Sense Dentistry, commonsensedentistry.com; American Academy of Facial Esthetics  facialesthetics.org

Maintenance of credentials is the most important task dentists need to stay on top of. Dentists can be disciplined for lapses in their own and their staff’s credentials. Dentists have a dental license, a state prescription authority, a DEA registration, CPR, ACLS, Medicare/ Medicaid credentials and more. Set up a redundant reminder system to ensure that neither your own nor your staff’s credentials are allowed to lapse. Also, dentists who administer or dispense controlled drugs at more than one location must have separate DEA registrations for each location. Each credential has a separate expiration.
-Duane Tinker, Dental Compliance Specialists, dentalcompliance.com  

There are two types of practices: ones that are growing and ones that are not. In our changing economy, there are a few elements to a strong practice: a smart, experienced team, a focus on quality care, and an ability to communicate. Commit to excellence and the highest standard of care. There will always be those who will shop for ‘best price’ dentistry. You need to seriously ask yourself, “Is this the market I wish to capture?” Excellence in professional relationships and the quality of the service you provide not only sustains a practice, but creates an energizing environment.
-Jo-Anne Jones, RDH Connection, Inc., rdhconnection.com

During these economic times, it is wise to see how to improve practice productivity and efficiency. Here are some examples: offer flexible financial plans, add Google optimization, provide a small gift to patients who refer, maintain a budget of six to seven percent for supplies, look into refinancing your practice loan, reduce disability insurance costs by extending the elimination periods, try to renegotiate a better lease rate on your current space, call patients after appointments, and review how you are doing in these areas:

  1. Friendly staff
  2. Prompt appointments
  3. Clearly explained costs
  4. Sufficient appointment reminders
  5. A clean office
  6. Painless anesthesia

-Larry M. Chatterley and Marie E. Chatterley, CTC Associates, ctc-associates.com

Who’s in charge of infection control? Accidents and infection transmission can occur in a dental office, jeopardizing patients, practice and team. Dentists must foster a culture of safety among employees. First, appoint an “infection control coordinator” to make sure the practice is current with CDC infection control guidelines, state board regulations, and OSHA. The IC coordinator can make sure that hand hygiene is performed correctly, personal protective attire is worn, and disinfection and sterilization procedures are followed. Create employee “buy in” to a culture of safety by attending infection control courses, providing annual OSHA training, and rewarding safe work practices.
-Leslie Canham, Leslie Canham & Associates, lesliecanham.com

Be successful by design, not by accident. Every professional is looking for a way to make their practice work better. When you are deliberate about taking action on what matters, real success and happiness can be yours. Consistency trumps commitment. Identify and make a commitment to repeat those strategies and activities in all areas of your world, including financial, selling, marketing, health and fun – on a monthly basis. When you identify those actions and activities that you can repeat on a regular basis, you will create a foundation for focus, momentum, success and happiness. Never underestimate the power of a simple strategy or step, repeated.
-Mark LeBlanc, Small Business Success, smallbusinesssuccess.com  

If you’re remodeling, you need to answer these questions: “Will this space meet my needs? How much will this space cost to build out?” Have the space reviewed by an experienced dental office designer and a qualified contractor. When designing a dental office, make sure that your project has complete plans and specifications. Most sources of frustration are due to incomplete project documents. Complete, “permit ready” plans include an architect’s seal. Never rely upon a “cost per square foot” number for your renovations. These guesses, while well intentioned, are not accurate enough to make such a large financial commitment.
-Patrick Crowley, Design Star Ventures, Ltd., dentalofficedesignbook.com

There must be a strong leader and solid ethical team with a great attitude. They must be organized and have systems that give predictability. The office runs like a well-oiled machine with few hiccups, because they have a plan. The doctor and team are good communicators, which with good systems will grow the practice, retain patients and help control patient upsets. They run to upset patients instead of away from them. The doctor enjoys being a dentist, including running a business. The successful dental office doesn't have pack leaders. There is positive energy in successful practices. Negative energy works against success.
-Sandy Pardue, Classic Practice Resources, classicpractice.com

My favorite practice management tip is to help dentists and dental teams simplify photography. It can be fast and easy. I highly recommend that one team member, and ultimately all, be trained to take photos on every patient. You’ve heard the saying – “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Pictures allow patients to see what the dentist and dental team sees. Photography also allows the dentist to see beyond the teeth and look at the big picture. Photography can be used for documentation, treatment planning, patient education, and marketing. So start taking photos and start helping patients say “yes.”
-Tanya Brown, The Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry, tccrd.com

If you are interested in learning more, please visit any of the contributors' websites above - or send them an email.

Lauren Burns is the editor of Proofs magazine and the email newsletters RDH Graduate and Proofs. She is currently based out of New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @ellekeid.

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