Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Reflections of Dentistry 2018

Closing out a year of business is like approaching the finish line in a race or scoring a goal. Most of the NJ/NY dental healthcare community has finished up. Now take a deep breath because January 1st it starts all over again.

This is the time when we look back on the past year and reevaluate procedure and protocol. It’s time to take ownership of all the successes and failures as an organization and fix the things that don’t work while enhancing the ones that do. Let’s start with the single most important asset, the team.

The Team … In this ever evolving healthcare market an investment in personnel and infrastructure is absolutely necessary. When I walk into a dental practice and hear an owner or manager say “we just can’t find good help” or “I can’t find a good assistant”  I know they don’t understand team management. Team members are not there to “help” or “assist” you, they are there to support their own lives. A team leader’s job is to get everyone to do what they don’t want to do and enjoy doing it, that is not easy. The best way to accomplish this is to “Show them the Money”.

Show Them the Money … Let’s face it, pay peanuts & get monkeys. But, you can’t keep giving raises for two main reasons. First, you can’t afford it and second, it is not healthy for the team. If you continue to give raises you will eventually price your team out of the market and when the day comes that you can’t give anymore dysfunction begins. If you want people to help you make money, you have to let them make money. So, why not give them the opportunity to put some skin in the game.

Put Some Skin in the Game … Every growing business needs quality team members and programs to keep them happy and loyal. Bonus based on production is the most popular because it is a transparent and can be set-up on a quarterly basis. These programs almost always have a positive effect on the bottom line. There may be several revenue generating projects you have such as Sleep Medicine, Clear Aligners, Internal Marketing, etc. Have one separate team members focus on each and production will grow. Project leaders will also feel good about their successes. The real golden handcuffs that retain quality personnel are added benefits.

Golden Handcuffs … The unseen value that the millennial workforce is looking for. Healthcare and 401k plans are important for a smooth functioning team. I see practices everyday that offer benefits and others that don’t and there is a difference. Top line talent want a career with opportunities. Years ago I was offered a great position with a well respected company and I turned it down. The reason was that I didn’t see any younger management being offered long term opportunity and that limited company growth. Trained talent moved on to competitors for a better package.

The Package … The package is everything. When you combine a competitive wage with benefits and bonus on production that is tied to a 401k you are not only showing your team you are investing in them, but you are asking them to be part of the future. Now you have a team that has a reason to preform and be accountable for their failures and successes. Now it is time to lead.

Team Leader … You must be involved with every phases of your practice. You don’t have to know how to do everything but you do know what to expect from a good team.

December 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Is MBWA? Maybe a New Year’s Resolution …


You would not believe the complaints I hear from dental team members in 90% of the offices I walk into. Then I hear the concerns of the practice owner (s). Most organization have the same problems but only a few address the issues. Your team is your most important investment. Their success is yours. MBWA!

What is MBWA? … Back in the 1980’s the acronym was coined by IBM, it stood for “Management by Walking Around”. The concept was to get management to interact with their team by getting up from their desk and walking around and asking if anyone needed any help with anything or if they had any ideas or suggestions. Several years later Disney picked it up and renamed it “Management by Wondering Around”, I like that one better.

Management by Wandering Around … Disney’s reasoning for changing the word was simple and effective. Team members (especially lower level) will be reluctant to voice any problems to superiors, it’s human nature. But when you “Wander” you are walking slow with your hands in your pockets, you are now “Approachable”. I did it, it works!! How do you approach your team?

Approach Your Team … The key to beginning any negotiation is to understand what the other side of the table wants. You may not agree with it but you have to understand their reasons. Most practicing dentists do not understand the day by day issues and frustrations that team members deal with. Sit in the chair and see what the job is all about. In American Football your team would be playing on both sides of the ball, often at the same time. Try the front desk for one week!

The Front Desk … Dealing with patients wouldn’t be that hard if it wasn’t piled on top of scheduling, collections, re-care, insurance companies, email requests, and the clinical team. In smaller offices that person may also be involved with treatment planning. With a daily plate full of problem solving issues it is reasonable to assume that some things will slip between the cracks. And then you want to know why they couldn’t fill the schedule. Try asking your front desk what is the one thing that would make their job easier and explore the suggestion, you may be surprised at the end results. You just wondered into their world and the moral will instantly rise and productivity will improve as long as you follow through. Now what about your assistant?

The Dental Assistant … Did you know that your patients ask your assistant for their opinion when you walk out of the room? Patients even ask if you are good at what you do. You are a dentist and that means you are creative and artistic, you enjoy reconstructing the oral cavity. Your assistant gets to listen to the patients complain, the doc complain, the Hygienist complain, and then clean up the mess. Look at what they have to do between patients while following all regulations. Anything that would help speed up the room turn around time is worth looking at. What is your turn-around work flow? What would make the job faster and easier? Wonder into their world and grow your practice by wondering outside your comfort zone.

The Comfort Zone … If it works don’t fix it. That is so true when it comes to your equipment, but your practice flow and team harmony are what the patient sees and feels when they are in the office. Team harmony and moral must be an everyday concern. Team discovery meetings are always available free of charge and please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.

December 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment