So which came first, the chicken or the egg? I'd argue that you can’t have one without the other. It’s the same in health care. You can’t have happy patients without a happy, empowered team. As an office administrator, I know just how busy a practice can be. So busy, in fact, it’s easy to focus on the little things and deprioritize the most important functions that drive business success. Of course, clinical production is critical to the practice, as is new patient acquisition, patient retention, and referrals. But without happy patients and a happy, empowered team, all those goals become harder to achieve. An investment in the team is an investment in patients’ health and practice success. All it takes is prioritization, organization, and imagination.
Cast a wider net
Hiring talented people has been a challenge for small businesses lately, including dental practices. Because the team often has more interaction with patients than the doctors do, hiring the right people is critical. A health-care practice can often be a multi-million-dollar business. So it’s important to hire the right people.
- Difficulties recruiting for dental hygiene, assistant roles: Peak may be reached, but woes persist
- From boomers to gen Z: Is your office ready to hire some “zoomers”?
- The dental staffing crisis: It’s here and it’s real
In addition to traditional help wanted ads, consider your own network of peers and patients. Let everyone know you’re looking for that special person who can deliver an exceptional patient experience. Yes, it's easier if the candidate has worked in dentistry before. Or even health care. But don’t limit yourself. Look outside health care into key service industries from food service to banking.
Service with a smile
Health care is not for everyone because it is truly a service industry; a great health-care team is one who enjoys serving and wants to make an impact in patients’ lives. Serving requires a specific type of attitude. It’s not an easy job—ask any food server or hospitality professional. Attitude matters, because your team members have to “serve with a smile” even when a patient is stressed and having a bad day.
You can teach technology and dentistry. In fact, the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) and others offer a lot of training courses online that can help educate new hires, and there are a lot of industry partners who can help new hires succeed. We rely on our CareCredit representative to help our new hires understand the critical role of financing in our practice.
It’s also important to hire people who know—and are comfortable with—money and business. And to hire people who are looking for a career, not a job (as long as you’re willing to provide them a career path, not just a job description). Together those attributes make a unique combination. Investing in attracting and hiring these types of individuals is crucial because they impact success.
Show off the "home" team
When you have a strong candidate, it’s important to realize you may be competing with other companies for their attention and, ultimately, their acceptance of a job offer. That’s where your “home team” can help. The truth is, we often spend more time with our colleagues than we do our families, so the idea of creating a team who all think of their workplace as a second home is a good one. One of my most important job responsibilities as the office administrator is to create an environment that people love to work in and be in; one they consider their home. When they do, it’s easy to motivate, empower, and manage them, because they want to be here, want to make a difference, and want to be part of the team. Just like plants, people grow best in the right environment (which, again, begins during the hiring process).
During the interview process, make sure the applicant has the opportunity to get a feel for your practice culture. Encourage your team to engage with the applicant and share their perspective of why your practice makes a great work home. Of course, it’s important that you also invest financially in new hires (and the team as well) by providing great compensation and benefits commensurate to their value and contribution to the practice’s success.
With everything an office manager or administrator has to do, helping you team fill in while you’re trying to fill an open position can be challenging. That’s why every day I write down what I need to do that’s most important to the success of the business. And consistently at the top of that list is creating a work environment staff and patients love. Sometimes I sit in my office with the door open (as it always is) and just listen to the laughter and the interactions between the team and patients. It’s magical when a potential candidate hears the joy we find in serving with a smile.
Editor's note: CareCredit is a financial supporter of DentistryIQ.
Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and is offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.