December 10, 2012
On running an excellent dental office
Though there are many aspects involved in the making of a successful dental practice, communication is by far the most important. I try to lay the groundwork for effective communication in my office by being open with team members so they can come to me with serious issues. After all, I need to know what’s working and what isn’t. We organize weekly meetings to talk about the way the office is running. These are good opportunities to catch up with the team, make sure everyone is on the same page, and address any issues that need attention.
With good communication, your staff will be more satisfied with their jobs. They’ll feel they’re being heard, and there won’t be any confusion between what you, as an office manager, expect and what your team members attempt to do. Trust me when I say that your patients can feel the attitude in your office. When you have a happy staff, you have happy patients, and happy patients bring referrals. Communication in the office is a win-win situation for everyone.
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a leader, your team looks to you for an example. You lead in everything you do — your attitude, your work ethic, your knowledge base, and your relationships. As office manager, I know that I have to lead by example. I can give my team instructions and communicate expectations, but unless I demonstrate them myself, my team won’t see a proper example. Encourage and motivate by example. Think of the great leaders in your life — do you follow what they said, or what they did?
The effectiveness of your team comes from many different areas. Your leadership must be in place along with excellent communication standards, but one of the most important aspects of the team’s role is having a good relationship with everyone. The doctor must walk the line between having a friendly relationship with the staff, while at the same time being respectful and professional. At our office, we do things together both professionally (such as CE courses) and socially (such as dinner). We are able to maintain a healthy balance and work on our relationships through these activities. That same balance of friendly and professional is something the team and doctor should have with patients. Emulate good, positive relationships, and you’ll keep patients happy.
Having a great team is crucial. Many factors come into play, such as communication and relationships, but you can’t forget about proper continuous training and education. There is always room for improvement. Are you moving forward? Are you staying ahead of the curve? There should be a unified vision — shared by the team, office manager, and doctor — about where you want the practice to be regarding its identity and feeling. Without a vision, a goal, you will remain stagnant and eventually fall apart.
I’ve been in the dental field for 15 years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t do it alone. You need a team to help you. You can accomplish great things together. Although it takes a special person to be an office manager — a person with excellent multitasking skills (sometimes referred to as a “schizophrenic octopus”) — you can’t get very far without the help of a wonderful team who shares your goals and vision. With help, you can do your job to the best of your ability.
creating a great dental experience
It’s extremely important to make your patients feel welcome from the minute they call your office. Our office strives to achieve exceptional customer service at all times, and we do this in a unique way. When patients come through our front door, they are greeted with a smiling face. We offer them coffee or water while they wait, and we have relaxing music in the waiting area. Being punctual is something our entire team is dedicated to — patients are generally taken back within five minutes of arrival and are never left unattended. Their time is precious, and they appreciate that we are mindful of that. We offer patients a warm neck pillow upon entering the operatory. For long procedures patients may watch a movie with noise-canceling headphones, and for short visits they may listen to Pandora radio. Patients always leave with a smile on their face, and we never forget to ask for word-of-mouth referrals!
Danielle has been the office manager for Kathryn Ehmann, DDS & Associates for just over a year and has a total of 15 years experience in the dental industry. She gained fellowship with the American Association of Dental Office Managersin 2010 and has been a lifetime member since 2006. In her free time, Danielle enjoys spending quality time with her husband Kenny and their two children, Andrew and Shane.