Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Office Culture? What’s That?

Your business culture is so important to your success that it will break you if not controlled and directed from the top. As most of my clients know I am a big fan of the Disney culture. I read their blog and have attended a program on Team Management that was offered by the “Disney Institute”. When I joined Henry Schein eleven years ago I was impressed at the way they had developed a similar culture and emphasized the team approach. The Disney Institute is a real place in the Magic Kingdom, but it is not for kids. You have a vision of what you want and now you have to learn how to energize your team and get them to believe.

Believe in the Dream … Leadership is getting your team to understand your vision and adopt it as theirs. Leadership is getting people to do what they don’t want to do (work) and enjoy doing it. All of my clients have a vision and they all follow their dreams in different ways, but how you speak to your team on a daily basis will define the organizations culture. Where most leaders fail is when they forget how to encourage and your patients sense it.

Encourage don’t Discourage … People are different and their personalities will effect their job performance. Understanding personalities and focusing on the positives is essential for a quality business culture. Encourage the positives, train the negatives and keep an open door to suggestions and ideas, manage by walking around.

Management by Walking Around (MWA) … The phrase was created by IBM back in the 1980’s. The concept was based on the idea that a department manager would get up from their desk and walk around the department so they could interact with their team and develop a winning culture. Disney changed the phrase to “Management by Wandering Around” because when you wander you are relaxed and approachable. At the time I attended the institute’s program I owned a small company that employed around 45 people. The first day back I tried the Disney version of MWA and was amazed at the instant results. My team entire team responded in a very positive way and an enhanced team work culture began to develop. Throughout my career I have seen all types of business owners. Some are respected and some are feared. The real culture killer that will hurt your business and breeds discontent is a strict regiment and fear.

The Regiment … I believe that people get up in the morning for one of three reasons, fortune, glory, or the betterment of humanity. For most of us, fortune comes first. Your team members show up every morning because they need to support their lives. Your office is not where they want to be, it is where they have to be so management has to develop a culture of growth, advancement and achievement. Your team needs direction and continuity or you will have team turnover and that puts the breaks on any organization. In a recent email I saw, a manager use the word “punish”, wrong, wrong, wrong. By “cracking a whip” you are not fostering the vision. You need a blend of empathy and accountability.

The Vision … It is hard to develop, implement, and travel the path through your career. The first question to ask yourself (being realistic) is what exactly do you want. I asked that question to a young dentist after a practice acquisition. The answer was “I want it all, the houses, cars and boats, how do I get there?” I like to think that my job is to help my clients chart their path so their dreams come true. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.


July 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Your Consultant a “Dutch Uncle”? Do You Have One?

  I know it may not sound politically correct, but it is a term of endearment and love. My dad used to say to me “let me talk to you like a Dutch Uncle and tell you what you don’t want to hear”.

A quality dental business consultant tells their clients where their weak points are. It’s not being just another yes man or woman.

The Yes People … All is good in the world when you hear from a consultant what you want to hear, it’s human nature. However, what if your trusted consults always agreed with you? Think about it, did they ever bring up negative situations that you were not aware of? Have they criticized any of your systems, procedures and protocols? What do they cost you in real time? Or are you lucky and have a Dutch Uncle?

A Dutch Uncle … It is politically correct, it is a term of endearment. My dad was my 1st Dutch Uncle. He always told me what I was doing wrong and why. It’s the “why” that makes it good. Throughout your career you may have several confidants specializing in different areas of your business and life. You don’t know everything and if you think you do your just fooling yourself. The most successful people listen and seek information. As one of our great past president said “When I am not an expert on something and don’t know what I don’t know, I ask the people who do and I listen”. When I hear a dentist client is taking advise from another dentist it’s time for me to become the Dutch Uncle, what works for someone else most probably won’t work for you. Consulting with other dentists on clinical procedures and treatment planning is a good thing because that it what they do everyday, but every dental practice (business) is different and a good professional will customize the management.

Customized Management … The very first question any quality consultant should ask is “what do you want”. That is not asking what do you want me to help you with, it’s asking “what do you want your life to look like”. Then all future plans are built around that vision. I have had the fortune to meet and associate with a lot of very smart people. I have learned a lot and continue to. Professional guidance in running a business is essential for success especially in today’s competitive market. As a business owner you do not have time to reinvent the wheel, the systems are there but you need to invest some time and money to put them in place. You were trained in clinical dentistry and not business management. You can’t survive if you think like a general consumer.

A General Consumer … Once again I will go to the 80/20 rule. 80% of the dental professionals I work with run their business like they run their home, as a general consumer. The remaining 20% develop very successful practices that address the competitive market in all areas of the organization because they listen to “experienced” professional consultants.

Professional Dental Practice Consultants … There are so many to choose from. All claim to be the best and they all teach you how to dot the “I’s” and cross the “T’s” but each has it unique method in establishing the business culture. Culture is so important when dealing with patients and especially team members. There are offices I walk into that you can feel the tension. We’ll discus culture in the next issue of Cliff’s Notes.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

O.S.H.A. / HIPAA … It’s A Lot More Than Just Training!

You did your due diligence and the entire team has received their annual updated on OSHA & HIPAA and all is good in the world. Or is it?

Most dental offices that I walk into are not in compliance with federal regulations that are required by law. Sure, most have had OSHA updates for the team, but what about the facility? What about software? What about sign-in sheets?

Sign-In Sheets … I can’t tell you how many offices still use sign-in sheets. If you are exposing a patient’s first and last name in a public forum, you are in violation. If a patient’s information or name is visible on a chart or computer screen, you are in violation. These things are easy to fix but the biggest concern today may be your software.

Software … If you are using any of the popular email servers such as AOL or Yahoo, you may be in violation by not having your data encrypted. A number of specialty practices now supply encrypted portals for their referring offices to use. The recent outbreak in cyber invasion has put software and on-line security on the front page. This is an area that a dental office needs professional support and your brother-in-law’s 2nd cousin is not the answer. You need certified a IT group with a lot of resources. Your software security also needs to address your emails so you comply with the HIPAA Omnibus Rule.

The HIPAA Omnibus Rule … This requirement was an amendment to existing HIPAA regulations. It was added several years ago but not many dental offices adhere to it, know about it, or understand it. To sum it up, you are responsible for your patient’s personal information throughout the entire treatment process. You are required to insure HIPAA compliance form every professional or organization that comes in contact with the treatment plan. Specialists, labs, and insurance companies are all part of the part of the healthcare chain and you have a shared responsibility should any of their systems be breached. Your HIPAA liability is on the patient side of your business and the employee side is OSHA compliance.

OSHA Compliance … I have not found one dental office that is 100% OSHA compliant. Although it is almost impossible to fully comply, many of my clients don’t put forward enough effort to look good. OK, your team is trained but what about the facility? Do you have MSD sheets available at a moments notice? Do you have a chemical inventory list? Are all of your product labels filled out and correctly displayed? OSHA inspections can be requested by anyone. In dentistry the most common complaint comes from former employees and OSHA is obligated to investigate. The inspectors tend to understand the nature of the complaint and as long as you showing effort to comply they will work with you. However, if you are overly relaxed about compliance the fines can be big. The best defense is to have a complete office inspection along with team training. For an office inspection, free of charge, please contact me at any time.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment