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Great Team

4 tips to guide your team to greatness

July 14, 2022
Becoming great is not achieved by having your name on the outside of a building; it’s achieved by the positive impact we have on others each and every day.

I always wanted to do something great. When I was young, I thought that to achieve greatness and make a difference I needed a title or position. What I’ve learned is that greatness isn’t achieved by having your name on the outside of a building; it’s achieved by the positive impact we have on others each and every day. I’m the practice optimizer at Spodak Dental, a 13,000-square-foot facility with 18 operatories, nine doctors, seven dental hygienists, and 43 team members. Here are a few ways I can achieve greatness.

 Treat patients like family

 When you think of patients as members of your practice family, you're in tune with their needs before they ask. This can make patients feel very special. We try to be aware and attentive to our patients’ needs and improve their treatment journey. If we sense somebody is nervous, we try to make them more comfortable. They might not say anything, but we can pick up on their subtle cues.

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Instead of focusing on the patient process—getting a patient from the waiting room, bringing them back to the treatment area, treating them, having them pay, and dismissing them—focus on their experience and connecting on a human level. That's what creates loyalty and longevity. There is so much competition these days, that patients can go anywhere. Why would they continue to choose you? Because you’ve created strong relationships through rapport and the experience you deliver. That's key to patient retention.

Address cost concerns

When it comes to finances, it's not one size fits all. As consumers, we all have different preferences regarding how we want to pay for things, what we can afford, or what we think we can afford. Patients want options and flexibility, including the opportunity to pay over a time period. It just makes sense—everything we do is broken into monthly payments—your car payment, your mortgage, your cable bill, and your electric bill. Why should dentistry be any different?

Most people don't budget for dental work. No one says, “In case I happen to break a tooth this year, I’ll set aside $1,000." We make it a point to educate patients about our payment options. We provide different options to best fit their lifestyle. They can choose to pay in full up front with a 5% courtesy. They can choose our in-house membership plan, or financing with the CareCredit credit card. It’s all about options and figuring out what works best for them.

Encourage team communication 

When we on board a new team member, I set up a meeting with the practice owner during their first couple of workweeks. He shares his vision, shares why he founded the practice, and explains what he wants to create for his patients and team. That meeting allows the new team member to start a working relationship with him. We have several leaders in the practice, each representing a different department. If it's a business team member, we'll have them meet with the team lead at least once a quarter. The purpose is to dedicate quality one-on-one time between the team lead and new team member.

The meeting can be as simple as, “I just want to check in and see how it’s going. Is there anything you see that we can do better?" We encourage open communication. Everyone has a voice and it’s one reason we’re so successful; everybody gets to speak freely about what's working well and what's not working well. In many cases, the people on the front lines can see areas of possible improvement more readily than the office manager. 

Set a good example

Two important lessons I’ve learned is never stop learning and be an example for your team. As leaders of the practice, we should set the bar. If you're expecting your team to act a certain way, you’re the prime example of what that behaviour should be. We can show the team that it's OK to change, it's OK to grow, and it's OK to be human. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have all the answers. It's OK to not have all the answers. In fact, it’s been my experience that I can build more trust with the team when I can say, “Hey, you know what? I don't have an answer for that, but I'll either find it or point you in the right direction.” 

Nobody is perfect, so don't think you have to be. The more that we invest in other people’s knowledge and skills to perform their best work, the better off we all are. I find the best leaders invest in their teams, because when we’re all great, we can all do so much more. You don’t have to look far to find purpose in your career. Bringing people up versus holding them back provides a whole new perspective on how leadership can change a team in very positive ways.