The DUMB files: I'm dumb, and here’s why . . .

June 26, 2017
Dr. Chris Salierno says making mistakes in your dental practice are OK. The important thing is to learn from them.
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

We’ve all made some pretty dumb decisions as practice owners. Lord knows I’ve made several dozen every year my office doors have been open. And that’s okay. We shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes, we should be afraid of not learning from them.

I’d like to introduce you to a new occasional feature, “The DUMB Files.” D.U.M.B. is my acronym for “Didn’t Understand My Business.” I’ll be sharing tales and tidbits from my own personal dumb mistakes running my office. For my first installment, I’d like to talk about my first office manager.

In 2010, my business partner and I started our own practice. It was a de novo, a total start up. We had two dentists, one full-time assistant, and one front desk person. We hired someone for the front desk and gave her the title of “office manager.” Does an office that small and with zero patients even need an office manager? There’s only one other employee in the whole practice! We had paid a lot for someone with office managerial experience to just sit and stare at a phone that wasn’t ringing.

Sometimes dentists get stuck with traditional employee titles like “office manager” and “receptionist,” when their own particular needs don’t require those positions. A better approach is to use titles like “finance manager” or “schedule coordinator” to better delineate responsibilities. Each position should have a written job description that evolves as the office grows. In my case, I should have just hired a receptionist. As the office became busier I could have hired an additional person and then created new job titles to fit the needs of the practice.

I’ll share more tales from the DUMB files in the future. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out the Dental Economics Principles of Practice Management conference coming up next month. It’s in Charlotte, July 20-21, and you can register here.


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This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management enewsletter. Subscribe to the twice monthly newsletter here.