Effective staff management for dentists and dental teams: Part I

While secure in their area of expertise, dentists may not feel up to the challenges of hiring, training, and retaining top-notch personnel, who are essential to attracting and keeping patients.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 03 Dental Team Management 1

Staff management: A challenge for small business owners

Successful business owners are competent at what they do and confident in their abilities. They know what needs to be done, and they get results. But when it comes to their business’s most important resources, their human resources, and to the task of hiring and managing staff, many business owners do not demonstrate the same high level of self-assurance.

This situation is particularly acute in small businesses headed by professionals who do not have a business background, such as dental service providers. While secure in their area of expertise, they may not feel up to the challenges of hiring, training, and retaining top-notch personnel, who are essential to attracting and keeping patients.

In some cases, running the business becomes so difficult that the owner considers giving up. Scott Scharf, DDS, who heads a dental practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, found himself in this predicament. “I was disenchanted with dentistry,” he recalls. “Since my staff didn’t grasp what they were really supposed to do, a significant number of patients weren’t accepting the treatment I knew they needed. I had high staff turnover, not much income to pay off student debt, and little to no family life. I was so frustrated I just wanted to sell my business and get out of dentistry.”

But instead of throwing in the towel, Dr. Scharf opted to seek advice on the top-down management skills necessary to keep operations running smoothly, employees fully engaged, and clients satisfied. He learned how to:

Identify and address situations involving unproductive staff members through personnel testing, which enabled him to find and hire good staff, including a competent associate and office manager.
Understand what motivates staff members. Formulating a goal-based production program and exerting a little pressure on the staff to reach the goal put him back in control of the practice.
Establish an effective reward system. By implementing a monthly production goal for the practice, staff became motivated to reach the goal and achieve the offered bonuses.

ALSO BY KEVIN WILSON:Dental practices continue to undercharge for services: What you can do to change that
What’s plaguing the dental industry? High costs of personnel

When Dr. Scharf started, annual collections were $400,000 per year. Last year they were almost $3 million. Even better is the freedom he’s gained. Because his associates and staff are caring and competent, he can be away from his practice for weeks or even months at a time due to growing practice without being chained to it.

“Today I have two doctors working for me,” he said. “My staff know, love, and do their jobs with excellence. I have little to no turnover problems, and the business produces eight times what it did before. I work three days a week and I can take time off whenever I want to. I love my job and don’t see myself ever retiring.”

By focusing on three aspects of staff management—judicious hiring, employee motivation, and effective reward systems—business owners of all backgrounds will find the keys to organizational success.

Kevin Wilson is CEO of Sterling, an award-winning management consulting firm that has twice appeared on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest growing, privately held companies. Founded in 1983, the firm has delivered more than 500,000 hours of business consulting and completed more than 135,000 training sessions among 175,000 business professionals from 1,700 cities throughout the United States. Wilson is the author of Personnel: Your Most Valuable Resource or Greatest Burden (2010), available at Amazon. He can be reached at kw@sterling.us.

Wilson, Kevin. "Hiring Breakthrough." Personnel: Your Most Valuable Resource or Greatest Burden – based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard. Sterling Management, 2013. Amazon, 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2016.

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