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Outstanding dental office managers have these seven qualities/

7 qualities of a great dental office manager

July 1, 2024
Becoming a successful and confident dental office manager takes drive. You'll be surprised at how confident you can become, and how your team will follow your lead.

To be a leader in dental office management, you must develop strong leadership skills. Each dental office manager I speak with in the dental office managers community has a unique story about how they found their way into dental and how they acquired their skills. During my 22 years of meeting with dental office managers from throughout the US, I’ve identified seven characteristics of strong dental office managers and what it takes to become a dental office manager.

You’ve got to have drive

Most dental office managers started somewhere, often at the bottom, and rose to the top as a dental office manager. They often share that they started in an entry level front office position, and in some cases cross trained from dental assistant to front office. They’re eager to learn from a mentor so they can work their way up to dental office manager, and they have a drive to learn so ask for more tasks. This helps the dentist recognized them as a leader and shows their drive and passion to become more essential to the dental practice, which propels them to their desired position: dental office manager.

You have to be motivated 

Every successful dental office manager I connect with has a key characteristic: motivation. To achieve great things in a dental practice, you must have the motivation to do more and to develop momentum not just for your team, but also for your patients. Motivation stems from wanting to achieve more, to earn more money, or wanting to be selfless and help others. In whatever way you find your motivation, it’s an essential part of being a dental office manager. 

Communication is key

If you ask a dental office manager about their day, most of them light up and are more than happy to share how their day went. What's unique is that their story doesn't end. They have so much to share about their relationships with patients, their team, and the dentist. The ability to communicate comes easily to a seasoned dental office manager, and it’s something that can be developed over time. You just need to be in a position to communicate frequently, such as during case presentations where you’ll interact with patients one on one. And don’t worry if you’re not a sociable person. Over time you’ll develop this skill and become a master communicator.

Let’s hear it for team spirit 

Every dental office manager I meet has dental spirit, something unique to this field. Over time, dental office managers develop a passion for the spirit of dentistry. Somehow dentistry becomes their way of life. They strive to help people in their personal life, and they offer advice about dental health care based on their knowledge and experience. They show their active involvement in the dental community by sharing patient success stories. They’re not afraid to own their profession and show off their dental spirit. They’re proud to show off dental swag such as tooth shaped earrings, dental quote t-shirts, tooth themed pens, and more. Each person shows they not only love their profession but embrace it and share their passion for dentistry with others.

Be part of the team mentality 

Just about every dental office manager I speak with has a team mentality. They know the team is essential to building a successful dental practice. A successful dental practice cannot be built alone. A dental office manager must be able to guide the team to help with every task the dentist throws their way. They learn to delegate and automate tasks that need to be done on a daily basis. The team works together to build the vision and meet goals, and the office succeeds in its daily flow. Most dental office managers immerse themselves in every task or aspect related to the front office at one time or another and so it developing that team mentality comes easily over time.

Organization makes you shine

Dental office managers are organized. Organization is not just about placing things where they belong, but about managing time effectively and efficiently. Office managers are also able to organize their team's strengths and then apply those strengths throughout the office. Over time you’ll become a more organized and higher performing team, which increases productivity throughout the dental practice. Being organized shows that you have self-control and the ability to manage.

Share the confidence

If there’s one characteristic that defines a dental office manager, it’s confidence. I’m a dental office manager, and I struggled in the early days to build my confidence. To be confident you must know your strengths and weaknesses, but overall, you must turn your weaknesses into strengths. Immersing yourself into every aspect of the dental office will help you to master confidence. The more you take on and fine tune, with practice and repetition, the more you’ll develop self-confidence. This is an essential characteristic of any dental office manager and can be mastered over time. 

A person does not need to have a college degree to become a dental office manager. In fact, most certifications that exist today are not recognized by dentists and do not hold much value when it comes to being an effective dental office manager. The qualities that will propel you to the position of dental office manager are drive, motivation, communication, spirit, team mentality, organization, and confidence. Most of these characteristics must be acquired through experience, which leads to personal development and growth. If you can do it, you can achieve it. I hope this inspires you to propel yourself to great heights.

About the Author

Kyle L. Summerford

With more than 22 years of experience in dental, Kyle L. Summerford has a unique approach to case presentation and patient acceptance. As an OM and financial dental consultant, he leverages his knowledge to assist new and struggling dental practices. Through his education programs, Kyle empowers staff members with effective patient education skills and persuasion techniques. He has lectured at CE events and academic institutions. His expertise is further recognized through his column, Dental Coding with Kyle. He’s the founder of the Dental Office Managers Community. Visit his website at kylesummerford.com.