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The effective dental practice huddle

Jan. 15, 2020
This 10- to 15-minute gathering for all team members should be productive and get everyone prepared for the day ahead. This isn't always as easy as it sounds. Kevin Tighe provides some guidelines and a form that will keep your huddles on track.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Consulting

The huddle

The three purposes of the huddle are to a) create a bridge for staff transitioning from their day-to-day lives to the business day, b) solve anticipated problems in advance of the current day, and c) know where the practice stands in relation to monthly goals. Then the team can work together to come up with solutions to get back on goal when needed. (Note: Not all practice owners choose to set daily and monthly goals. I recommend doing so, but each practice owner decides.)

Huddle report form

We have provided a customizable huddle form here. This form should be reviewed at each huddle. It includes a section for monthly and daily goals. If your practice chooses not to track goals, delete this section and you can always add it later. You can also add or subtract items from the form as necessary.


If you choose to include monthly and daily goals, I recommend setting goals for each provider as well as for your overall collections and new patients. You will need to choose which statistic to use for monthly and daily goals. Do you want to set production, adjusted production, or collections? What works best varies from practice to practice. Once you decide whether to use production, adjusted production, or collections, determine what the monthly and daily goals are for the practice and each provider. 

Setting monthly goals

Do this by averaging both the practice’s and each provider’s production (or adjusted production or collections) for the past three months. Do the same for new patients. The goals set should be at least 5% to 10% higher than the averages. The new-patient goal may or may not need to be targeted higher than the past three-month average. You may set higher goals as long as they are realistic. 

Set daily goal

Divide the monthly goal for the practice by the number of working days for the current month. Ditto for each provider based on the person’s number of working days. 


1. The huddle is typically done in the morning before seeing patients.
2. Once you smooth out the wrinkles, the huddle should be done in 10 to 15 minutes provided all the needed data is ready prior to starting the huddle. Data is usually done by someone who works at the front desk.
3. The schedule and all charts need to be available for the huddle. Assistants and hygienists typically bring the following patient info: pending treatment, premedication info or any other pertinent medical info such as allergies, and patients needing additional x-rays.
4. If you are tracking daily goals, each provider should provide his or her previous day’s stats for entry on the form.
5. If you are tracking overall collections and new patients, an assigned front office employee will report total daily collections and new patients.
6. The huddle is never run by the practice owner, but the owner needs to be present as he or she may have vital data needed for the huddle. If the practice owner does not attend, it sets a bad example and diminishes the importance of the huddle.
7. The huddle is usually run by the office manager. If there is no office manager, a staff member may run it each week, including assistants, hygienists and associates, but never the practice owner. Rotate weekly through all staff consecutively. This can be done to increase responsibility among all staff members. I recommend having each employee run the huddle. If it’s done this way, the owner or office manager can act as a “traffic cop” to keep the huddle moving along. Whoever runs the huddle fills in the form.
8. It is important that you not allow office “issues” to be discussed in the huddle. The huddle is a no-gripes-no-complaints zone. You will never get through the huddle in 10 to 15 minutes if gripes are allowed. The huddle will become a downer, and everyone will dread it. 

A well-run huddle is not just about goals, targets, and collections. It’s about working together to provide superior customer service.

Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants CEO, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a seminarist in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at [email protected].