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Dental office managers: The CEOs of the dental world

Nov. 15, 2019
As the chief executive officers of their dental practices, dental office managers play a crucial role in the practice. Michael Cruz says that just like big company execs, office managers should guide and understand the team and practice.

Have you ever thought of yourself as the CEO of your dental practice? Have you ever pictured yourself hanging out with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Why not? Don’t think you’ve got what it takes?

Investopedia.com defines a chief executive officer as, “The highest ranking executive in a company whose main responsibilities include developing and implementing high-level strategies, making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, and acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors and the corporate operations.”

Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we do? We should be the Steve Jobs of our practices, but instead we spend our days worrying about minute details of the day-to-day operations of our Apple store, wondering why our practice is stuck in the mud. So, how do we get out of this rut? Here’s a few things to help you think like a CEO.

Focus on the future

No matter what your practice’s current lifecycle, always look ahead. Keep an eye on future trends in dentistry when it comes to technology, insurance, systems, and laws, and figure out how to effectively implement this into your practice. Staying current or ahead of the curve helps you grow quickly, and if you’re looking to sell the practice, it can increase the sale value of the business.

Also, making difficult or complex decisions is easier when you view situations with a long-term perspective. From large equipment purchases to hiring and firing, thinking about how a situation can hurt or benefit the practice in the long run will help you make better choices.

Establish goals and metrics 

Every practice has different goals. Whatever your goal is, figure out a way to track the effectiveness of your program so you can make adjustments. Allot the proper amount of time to gather usable data, then react on evidence-based analysis, not gut feelings. 

Build relationships 

Strong leaders surround themselves with knowledgeable advisors. Relationships with vendors, sales reps, and other dental professionals are crucial for growth. Great partners take the time to understand the specific needs of your practice and make recommendations for products or services that can fill those needs effectively.

Also, becoming involved in local AADOM study clubs will put you in touch with others in your area who can relate to your situation. I recently attended a seminar presented by motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and he often mentioned speaking to groups of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. If CEOs of multibillion-dollar corporations still get together to share ideas, why shouldn’t we?

Involve the team

Great companies understand what their employees are thinking, demonstrate honest appreciation for hard work, support career development, and build an intentional culture. As you share your vision for the future of the practice, engage team members by showing what success means to them personally. Reward them for helping you hit growth targets, encourage their development with continuing education, and empower them to make decisions for the practice. 

Understand your expenses

Dental practices are notorious for the shotgun approach to spending by throwing money in many different directions without really understanding the target. Many of the things being sold to you, such as marketing services, are sold by making you think it’s more complicated than it really is. If you don’t know how social media works, ask your kids to explain it to you, then ask them if it’s worth paying someone $250 per month to do your Facebook posts. Take a little time to learn about what you’re investing in so that you’re better equipped to determine whether an investment is worthwhile or not.

Emulate the best

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Apple is rarely the first company to launch a new product category. Instead, they take the time to analyze the market and figure out how to take something that already exists and make it better. How can you do that for your practice?

Give back

The success of your practice largely depends on the community and patient word of mouth, so take some time every now and then to give back. Volunteering or donating services is great for team building and is simply a rewarding feeling overall.

So now that you’ve got your key to the executive lounge, start thinking big picture and planning for an amazing 2020!

Michael Cruz is the head zookeeper at Dee for Dentist, a premier digital dental practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a lifetime member of AADOM since winning a Patterson scholarship in 2014, as well as a founding member and president of AADOM’s southern Nevada Chapter. A graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Michael has a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations.