Create an Effective One Sheet to Increase Practice Referrals

A One Sheet is a powerful marketing tool for any dental practice, serving as a concise and visually appealing overview of what you offer and why referral partners should choose you. Craft a One Sheet that not only highlights the unique aspects of your practice and providers but also effectively attracts your ideal patients. Make it easy for practices to refer to you.

The layout should be clean and engaging. Use professional graphics, your practice’s color scheme, and high-quality images of your team and office. A One Sheet should not only inform but invite referring practices to visually understand the atmosphere and professionalism of your business.

Begin by showcasing the areas of expertise that distinguish your practice from others. This could be advanced technology you use, specialized services like cosmetic dentistry or orthodontic care, or a unique approach to patient comfort. It’s important to clearly articulate these strengths to resonate with referring offices so they can identify who would benefit from seeing you.

Include notable achievements, certifications, or accolades that your providers have received. This could range from community awards, special certifications in dental specialties, or even high ratings on review sites. Achievements help build trust and credibility with prospective referring offices. As a provider, spotlight one or two standout abilities that set you apart from the competition.

The backside of your One Sheet should focus on your ideal patient. Who benefits most from your services? Specify what type of patients you are looking for based on your practice’s expertise and patient care philosophy. This ensures referrals align well with both practices, leading to improved quality and quantity. For example, if you specialize in pediatric dentistry, your ideal patients are children and their care providers. Describe the characteristics of these patients to ensure that your message reaches the right audience

Testimonials are a powerful tool for building trust and appealing directly to potential referring offices. Choose testimonials that speak to the strengths and benefits in your One Sheet. This not only adds authenticity to your claims but also personalizes the experience for prospective referrals

Examine your business reviews, using AI, and pick three standout comments, especially those that highlight what patients love about your service. This might include your friendly staff, your efficient procedures, or your state-of-the-art facilities. These reviews should reflect the sentiments that are important to your current patients.

Transform these positive comments into an eye-catching infographic. This visual should be easy to read and attractively designed, featuring quotes with star ratings. Place this infographic prominently on your One Sheet to catch the eye of prospective referral practices.

The final product should be a compelling One Sheet that serves as both a promotional and informational tool for your practice. It should effectively communicate the unique qualities of your practice, directly reveal your ideal patient, and leverage positive feedback to attract new referrals. By following this structured approach, your practice can enhance its visibility, attract more ideal patients, and grow in a competitive market.

Once created, distribute the One Sheet to your existing and potential referring practices, on your website, and through social media channels. The goal is to make sure that whenever someone thinks of a specific dental service, your practice comes to mind first.

If you are interested in crafting a practice one-sheet for boosting referrals.

Securing Dental Talent in Turbulent Times: Strategies from Leaders

Position Your Practice for Long-term Success

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent in the dental industry has become more challenging than ever. As we navigate the “Great Resignation,” it’s crucial for dental practices to rethink their approach to talent management. Drawing inspiration from industry leaders like Chick-fil-A, we can uncover valuable strategies to create a positive workplace culture, hire the right team members, invest in employee growth, and provide exceptional customer service.

Your Employee Experience Is Your Employment Brand

In 2018, Gallup’s workplace analytics team emphasized the importance of the employee experience as the cornerstone of your employment brand. While many companies prioritize business strategy and financial aspects, it’s essential to remember that culture often outranks strategy in shaping your organization’s success. Culture encompasses the tangible actions and beliefs of your team, serving as the pulse of your practice. It’s what happens when the leader (not just the boss) leaves the room, and it continues to gain momentum by inspiring your people to conform to it. A strong culture unites everyone across different departments.

Empower Your Team with Problem-Solving Skills

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Encourage team members to develop SOPs as guides for handling specific situations such as team member conflicts, difficult patients, HIPAA compliance, and OSHA requirements. Assign a leader responsible for updating these guidelines to ensure everyone stays informed.

  1. Diverse Problem-Solving Skills: While it’s impossible to anticipate every issue, you can prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills. These skills are invaluable when facing unexpected situations, fostering adaptability and resilience.

Build a Team-Centric Culture

  1. Continuous Education: Prioritize team attendance at Continuing Education (CE) courses, whether live or virtual, throughout the year. Set goals for attending conferences and encourage knowledge sharing in team meetings.
  2. Software Updates and Training: Stay up-to-date with software and technology advancements relevant to your practice. Ensure that your team receives the necessary training to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Wellness Officer: Appoint a volunteer “wellness officer” responsible for checking in on employee health and monitoring the practice’s overall well-being. This role helps maintain a healthy work environment and strengthens team bonds.

Be Empathetic, Flexible, and Transparent

Times are stressful, impacting morale, health, wellness, and performance. Being empathetic, flexible, and practicing active listening can alleviate these challenges and strengthen team cohesion.
Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust and fostering a positive work environment. Keep your team informed about the state of the business, the COVID-19 situation, and emotional well-being.

Borrowing Ideas from Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A consistently ranks as a top-rated company for customer service. Their success is built on four strategic pillars that dentistry can adapt:

  1. Positive Culture
    • Your leadership should embody your practice’s core values and mission statement.
    • Ensure that your values influence your hiring decisions.
  2. Hiring Team Members That Fit Your Culture
    • During the hiring process, emphasize your practice’s core values to potential candidates.
    • Avoid hiring just to fill a void, as one negative team member can affect the entire office.
  3. Invest in Growing Team Member’s Skills
    • Provide comprehensive training for new team members, which pays off when they handle their responsibilities confidently.
    • Show your team members that they are valued, offer opportunities for growth, and invest in their development.
  4. Employees Comprehensively Trained in Customer Service
    • Focus on creating a positive work environment and nurturing relationships within your team.
    • Trust and empower your employees to handle customer service situations effectively.

Conclusion

By implementing these strategies, dental practices can not only attract but also retain exceptional talent during the challenging times of the “Great Resignation.” Building a positive culture, hiring the right fit, investing in growth, and prioritizing customer service will not only help you navigate the current talent shortage but also position your practice for long-term success. Your leadership will be the key determinant in achieving a better and more satisfying outcome for your team and your patients alike.

Resources

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

Unlocking the Enigma of Generation Z: Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Exploring the Unique Qualities of Gen Z Allows Us to Navigate Generational Dynamics

In a Newsweek article, journalist Adam Piore unveiled some intriguing insights into Generation Z, often perceived as idealists and dreamers. However, Gen Z distinguishes itself through a blend of global and local concerns that set them apart from previous generations.

Breaking the Stereotypes

Before delving into Gen Z’s distinctive characteristics, it’s worth noting that Newsweek has featured cover stories about every generation. Frequently, these stories touch upon familiar themes such as entitlement and work ethics. But Gen Z is challenging these stereotypes in unexpected ways.

Gen Z’s Top Concerns

Contrary to the image of carefree youth, Generation Z has its sights firmly set on the future, with specific concerns dominating their thoughts. Gen Z’s worries are highly practical and include money (67%), securing a job (64%), and affording college education (59%). These concerns reveal a pragmatic mindset and a clear focus on personal well-being and financial stability.

Defining a Generational Cohort

What truly defines a generational cohort? According to the US Census Bureau, it’s the events they encounter during their formative years. These events, whether global, technological, economic, or social, interact with the life cycle and aging process to mold people’s worldviews. Often, these moments are accompanied by fear and uncertainty, leaving an indelible emotional impact.

Generational Experiences: Shaping Perspectives

For instance, consider the Vietnam War era, a defining event for the Baby Boomer generation. During this period, older adults felt fear and worry, having experienced the horrors of World War II. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, exhibited mixed emotions—fear coupled with a sense of excitement, as they anticipated sharing this experience with friends. For Generation X, like me, it was the stress of living through this uncertain time.

The Generational Lens

This generational lens allows researchers to explore not only how older adults felt about a particular issue in their youth but also how views evolve across generations. It helps us understand how events shape the way we perceive the world and how these perceptions transcend age boundaries.

Gen Z: The Emerging Giant

Gen Z, the cohort succeeding the Millennials (aka Gen Y), comprises an astonishing 25% of the US population, making them the largest generation yet, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. But it’s not just birth years that define a generation; geography also plays a substantial role. Additionally, Cuspers, individuals born within three to five years of the beginning or end of a generation, offer unique insights. They straddle two generations, making them exceptionally empathetic and adept at understanding the generational “DNA.”

Generational Context: Different Experiences, Different Impact

Generational context is vital in comprehending how different generations react to the same events. Events can impact generations differently, leaving a lasting imprint on their collective consciousness.

Audience Check-In: Do You Know What Cohort You Are?

Now, let’s see where you fall. Raise your hand if you identify as a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennial), or Gen Z. The more you understand about yourself and how you are perceived, the easier it is to adapt to other generations.

Gen Z’s Workplace Revolution

When it comes to being employees, Gen Z is poised to revolutionize the workplace. They seek more than just superficial alignment with company brands. Their expectation is that companies and brands will transcend marketing buzzwords and make tangible, measurable differences in society. This pragmatic approach resonates not only in their expectations of employers but also in their personal concerns, reflecting a generation that values real-world impact.

Conclusion

Generation Z, the largest cohort yet, defies stereotypes with their forward-looking, pragmatic mindset. They are defined not only by their birth years but also by the unique experiences that shape their worldview. Cuspers, those straddling two generations, offer a special perspective, making them invaluable bridges between age groups. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of generational dynamics, understanding the distinct qualities and concerns of each cohort is crucial for fostering empathy and building a more inclusive society.

To deepen your comprehension of generational cohorts and enhance collaborative efforts across age groups, I invite you to arrange a discovery call with me. This session will provide an opportunity for us to delve into the intricacies and investigate the specific aspects that pique your interest.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

5 Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience in Your Dental Practice

The patient experience is a critical factor in the success of any dental practice. Patients who have positive experiences are more likely to return for future appointments, refer friends and family, and leave positive reviews.

In contrast, patients who have negative experiences may not return and can potentially harm the reputation of the practice. Here are some strategies that dental professionals can use to improve the patient experience in their practice.

1. Focus On Communication

Clear and effective communication is key to ensuring a positive patient experience. Dental professionals should take the time to listen to their patient’s concerns and explain procedures and treatments in a way that patients can understand. Providing patients with clear instructions after treatment can also help improve the patient experience.

  • Listen: Dental professionals can demonstrate active listening by repeating patients’ concerns back to them and asking intentional follow-up questions to ensure that they understand the issue.
  • Use plain language: Avoid using technical jargon that patients may not understand.
  • Provide written instructions: After a procedure or treatment, provide patients with written or text instructions on what to expect and how to continue care at home.

2. Improve The Welcome/Reception Experience

Waiting rooms can be a source of anxiety for patients, so it’s important to make them as comfortable and welcoming as possible. A Reception Area is a much more appealing name. Offer amenities such as video loops, relaxing music, magazines, comfortable seating, complimentary beverages, and fresh flowers (be careful of strong scents), and diverse artwork.

Keeping patients informed about wait times and updating them on any delays can also help reduce anxiety. Use technology such as text messaging or a digital display to keep patients informed.

Smile, be personable, and check in frequently to keep the patient in the know.

3. Personalize The Experience

Every patient is unique and has different needs and preferences. Dental professionals can improve the patient experience by taking the time to build relationships with their patients and tailor their care accordingly.

  • Offer sedation for anxious patients or provide special accommodations for patients with disabilities.
  • For patients with disabilities, provide accommodations such as a wheelchair ramp, accessible restroom, or sign language interpreter.
  • Ask patients about their preferences and needs, such as whether they prefer a certain type of music or would like a blanket during treatment.

4. Use Technology To Enhance The Patient Experience

Technology can be a powerful tool for improving the patient journey. For example, online appointment scheduling can make it easier for patients to book appointments at their convenience, and digital patient portals can allow patients to access and update their health information and communicate with their dental team.

  • Allowing patients to schedule appointments online at their convenience means you’ll never miss an opportunity.
  • Offering patients a secure digital portal helps keep patient records and information secure and up to date.

5. Solicit Feedback From Patients

The best way to understand the patient experience is to ask patients directly. Dental professionals can use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to gather input from patients and identify areas where they can improve.

  • Send patients a survey after their appointment to gather feedback on their experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Invite patients to participate in focus groups where they can share their experiences and provide feedback on how the practice can improve.
  • Always reply to ALL patient comments. The interaction provides one more touchpoint to keep your practice top of mind.

Improving the patient journey requires a commitment to ongoing communication, personalization, and continuous improvement. By focusing on these 5 strategies, dental professionals can create a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages patients to prioritize their oral health and return for future appointments.

Bonus:  Watch 4 Tips to Improve the Patient Journey

Patient Retention vs. Acquiring New Patients

Don’t get me wrong, new patients are important for practice growth, but retaining existing patients has a greater practice impact.

They know the drill…pun intended.

• Maintain practice loyalty
• Keep appointments
• Show up regularly
• Accept treatment
• Book next appointments

What Should You Do to Retain Your Loyal Patients?

Patients are looking at healthcare providers and practices differently. 

Prosites, a dental marketing company, outlined 25 ways to Get Patients to Love Your Dental Practice. By implementing some of these ideas into your marketing strategy, you will attract and retain more patients and experience faster practice growth.

  • Demonstrate Honesty, particularly when   relating to insurance acceptance
  • Offer Financial Assistance
  • Provide Flexible Scheduling
  • Deliver Same-Day Dentistry
  • Maintain 5-star Online Reviews
  • Recognize / Appreciate Patient Testimonials
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Incentivize Patient Referral
  • Run On-Time
  • Friendly Team

Solutions

Times have changed and patients are not as dedicated to our practices.  They are looking for an uber-customized experience.  If we are not providing that, they will look elsewhere.

How can we adapt?

  • Customize communication software to meet specific needs, generationally for example.
  • Engage the team in creating videos and messages. Use humor to increase patient engagement
  • Personalize texts
  • Always reschedule a broken appointment
  • Wellness calls work! Pick up the phone and chat!
  • Improve the patient experience at every opportunity

Cancellations and No-Show Solutions

This is a common theme for dental practices lately.

Communication: verbal, written, and virtual with continual reinforcement of the importance and value of the services our practice provides is essential. Creating a script, together as a team, with verbal skills that everyone uses regularly improves patient loyalty.

Try a few of these ideas to reverse the problem:

  • Rate your patients, A, B, and C based on reliability and payment status.
  • No-shows, cancellations, and outstanding balances should be lower-tier patients.
  • Create a  scheduling template for every provider and stick to it! It makes scheduling and filling holes much easier for everyone! Plus, it helps with practitioner efficiency. Such as three hygienists waiting for an exam at the top of the hour 5-6 times a day.
  • Allow one ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ pass for any scheduled procedure the patient cancels within 24 hours. Explain that the practice is busy, and patients are wait-listed to be scheduled. Respecting your practice time is appreciated.
  • Charge the patient a % of the scheduled procedure each time they cancel
  • Allow time in the schedule to provide same-day treatment. Your practice revenue will increase significantly.
  • “All hands-on deck”! Be persistent and consistent once you create a policy.

Dental practices are facing many challenges over the past few years with team shortages, turnover and a decrease in patient scheduling.  Doing the same thing we have always done will not change the way things are going.  A commitment to change is necessary to keep the boat from sinking and get all the entire team rowing in the right direction. It all starts with  communication and systems.

Bonus:  Watch Attracting and Retaining Dental Patients

Principles of Building Team Wellness and Patient Relationships

Relationships are the bridges that lead us to success, build trust, and loyalty. Practice high-quality communication first, followed by our technical excellence for patients to understand their needs. Communication consistency is the key.

Unclear communication impacts relationships among team members, referring doctors, and vendors that we interact with regularly. By building communication bridges we grow our practice.  If we customize our language, and how we speak to our patients and each other, we will encounter fewer misunderstandings, less stress, and improve productivity. Customizing our language is achieved by standardizing and practicing scripts and guidelines collaboratively developed by the team.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many practices deliver information the same way to every patient. This can lead to confusion and/or resistance. I frequently challenge teams to customize their language to meet the patients’ expectations. 99% of the time they have never thought of changing their delivery style.

Clarify with each patient their communication preferences.

Consider adding questions to your health history template, such as:

  • “What is your preferred method of communication?  
  • “Would you like me to text, email, or call you?”

A more senior generational patient will want a phone call because they enjoy speaking to people and they may not have advanced knowledge of technology. Gen X is all about efficiency and generally prefer texting. Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z demand texting. They do not look at their email or check their voicemail. If you’re sending appointment reminders via email, you’re probably not getting a good response from younger generations. Nor is it creating a positive experience for them. For more generational guidelines click here.

Putting It All Into Practice

Building relationships is step one in educating and training the entire team.

When referring to the entire team, that includes the dentist. Too often, dentists send their team to an educational event, and they don’t participate. “The entire team” is all-inclusive.

All-team collaboration and learning builds a stable foundation that leads to increased engagement, productivity, and team wellness.

Each team member is responsible for understanding all of the procedures that your practice provides. We should be comfortable explaining and supporting every treatment opportunity we offer to our patients. Each department typically learns its own processes and procedures but doesn’t have an overall view of the practice menu of services. By developing guidelines for speaking the same language to patients, in reference to procedures, we will maximize the treatment case acceptance.

At your Morning Stand-up or Huddle, before you start seeing patients for the day, recognize specific needs of the scheduled patients. For example, “ Mr. Rogers is coming in at 11 am. We will need room #3 for treatment because he uses a wheelchair. He usually requires one or two bathroom breaks and has some special needs which are highlighted in his chart” Meeting the patient where they are and speaking the right generational language will positively impact their dental journey experience. Remember, relationships are the bridges that lead us to success.

Communication Consistency Is Key

Everybody should answer questions the same way all day, every day. That goes back to having guidelines. We know most of the questions the patients are going to ask:

  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How much does my insurance cover?
  • What are my other options?
  • Do you have payment options?
  • Is this treatment really necessary?
  • Can I wait to start the treatment?

As a team, we can come up with many different communications that we use regularly. Add onto this list at an all-team meeting and fabricate team answers for each question to guide the conversation. These scripts allow us to provide consistent information to our patients.  They are less likely to misunderstand or ‘test’ the team. If they ask a hygienist the same question that they ask an administrative assistant and get different answers, you’ve lost the patient’s trust. They probably will not schedule their next appointment until they understand the treatment better.

My Concern for You

If we don’t establish a relationship with the patient, they will not move forward with accepting the treatment plan. They may not refer patients because they aren’t as comfortable as they’d like to be in your practice. They don’t market your practice. They don’t contribute to your business growth or production.

If the patient says “NO”, the team should investigate why they are hesitant to commit to our practice and procedure recommendations.

  • What went wrong?
  • What was the first impression this patient had of us?
  • Did the patient have a negative experience?

Ask intentional questions and practice active listening to move the patient from “NO” to “YES”.

Want more communication tips?

Watch the short video below.

Are You Asking Intentional Questions?

Asking intentional questions takes preparation and planning. The good news is we become more skilled at it as we practice.

An intentional question should be thought evoking and create a pause that generates curiosity. To ask an intentional question, we start by actively listening. Then, ask yourself, are you clear with the statement/question? Next, move to ask clarifying questions to enhance communications and relationships.

For example:

  • I am curious what you mean by…
  • Tell me more about that…
  • Help me understand what that looks like…

Clinical Application

Take time to observe and understand the patients’ behavioral styles.

“Katie mentioned you shared with her that you were a little nervous about today’s appointment. Tell me more about that so we can address your concerns and increase your comfort today.”

Delivering a patient’s ideal dental experience starts by addressing concerns and fears, and then discuss the best approach to providing the dental work needed. Acknowledging the patient’s fear and discussing the approach is psychologically comforting. By involving them in the solutions we build trust and provide a safe, comfortable environment.

Types of Questions

Distinct types of questions have their place in a conversation

Closed-ended question start with:  Will, Do /Does, Is, and Are

Open-ended question allow for conversation, increased knowledge, and information gathering. They begin with: What, How, and Why

Clinical Application

A clinical example of a closed-ended question looks like this.

  • Do you have any changes in your health or medications that we need to update?

Most people will say no so you can move on!

An open-ended question could be structured this way.

  • What medications, including OTC, vitamins, and supplements, you are currently taking?

When we use the right language, we get the information we need and more. This allows us to ask intentional questions, practice active listening, and guide the conversation to positively influence the patient’s dental journey in our practice.

Using Verbal Softeners

Clarifying questions should also include cooperative communication techniques. They are used both to prevent escalation and to defuse emotional situations.

Consider the way we say things to each other or your patients.

People don’t respond well to absolute, authoritarian, or harsh language.

Try using a sales training technique of inserting verbal softeners.

  • Phrases and words like “sometimes”, “it could be”, and “perhaps” state things in a less abrasive way.
  • Other softeners include “it’s possible,” and “occasionally.”

My favorite verbal softener is “perhaps.” 

  • “Perhaps we have had miscommunicated. Tell me more about your interpretation or expectations of the treatment plan we discussed last week.” 

Verbal softeners are valuable tools in helping you appear more cooperative and likable to prevent conflict.

Two actions you can clinically implement today are:

  1. Add an open-ended question to your health history requesting updated medications like above.
  2. Select a verbal softener and practice using it with patients during a conversation. It will become a habit very quickly.

16 Ways to Retain Dental Team Members

The time is now to pivot to what employees genuinely want in this employee-driven workforce. 

This chart summarizes ideas to consider that will influence your hiring and staying power.

The ultimate goal/outcome is to hire and continually engage a happy, healthy, and permanent team.

Benefits and Perks

Are only part of the equation to attract and retain team members. Retention requires having people-centric leaders. Influential leaders are experts in serving others and building a successful culture.

Most employees are looking for fair pay. You may think you fall into that category, but the best way to know is to look at the data. DentalPost released the 2022 Salary Survey. A deep dive into all team positions and salaries nationwide. If you want to know where your practice falls as far as wages, download the publication.

Diversifying benefits and customizing packages to meet the generations where they are at is particularly important, especially with the Gen Y and Z, the younger generations. They may want assistance with day/doggy care, flexible hours/days, and morning or evening revolving shifts. Administrative positions may request to work from home a day or two a week. Dentistry can and should adopt flexibility, but you need to know what potential and existing team members are looking for before you make a plan.

Educational growth is equally important. Whether it is CEU or institutional learning, give your team an opportunity to gain experience and apply new knowledge and skill within your practice.

Provide Career Opportunities and Growth

Empowering growth that aligns with their skills, interests, and goals will create more engagement and loyalty. Rethink the traditional career training and team progression. Create a mentorship program and cross-training department/function opportunities.

As employees continue to build their education be sure to award them with progressive titles, seniority recognition, and pay.

Provide More Face Time with Employees

One-on-one time with leaders is increasing in importance. Leaders should prioritize meeting with their team to discuss career path goals and growth opportunities. If you are only providing annual (or less) reviews, your employee pool will shrink quickly. Ongoing coaching and communication are critical.

Developing a visual progression plan paints a clear picture of each team members career evolution and development so they have an accurate understanding of their professional path.

Embracing and participating in team-building strategies quarterly will enhance professional and personal relationships. When team relationships thrive, the patients become loyal, and the practice grows without effort.

Communication Coaching

Every conversation has a consequence. Lack of communication is a primary cause of team disengagement and turnover.

Frequent, real-time coaching, not feedback, is necessary to keep our teams engaged. Feedback has a negative interpretation. The situation has already occurred and cannot be corrected. Coaching is ongoing with positive affirmations and collaborative solutions. Continual mentorship and coaching, by all team members, should be encouraged. It sets the office tone and creates a safe environment for all.

Want a quick recap?

Watch the video below 16 Tips to Attract and Retain Dental Team Members.

Evolution for Survival: A Dental Team Guide  

HOW DO WE ADAPT WHEN WE GET DISCOURAGING NEWS?

I learned last month that I needed a full hip replacement.

My lifetime of athletics and 30+ years of dental hygiene, pushing the chair with my left leg to pivot around the patient, caught up with me.

I knew I was heading in that direction from a diagnosis in 2018.  After denying there was a problem, classic response! I dove into researching what I could do to improve the situation. 

I devoted time to months of PT, learning exercises, which I still do daily, I made adjustments to how I get on/off my bike and changed my approach to getting up off the snow when I fall on my board. Yes, I do crash occasionally! I delayed the inevitable as long as possible.

Fast forward to 2022, the pain has increased, I can barely tie my left shoe, and it is really impacting my snowboarding and mountain biking! I now need to evolve further to maintain the lifestyle I love.  This means I have a big decision to make and an evolutionary change is in my near future.

EVOLVING TO SURVIVE is the name of the game in dentistry now. 

We can no longer continue to do things the way we always have and expect the same results.

I have heard the phrase, “The 2022 great resignation is actually the great discontent” and I believe there is truth to that statement.

Here’s what we know about our current situation related to team retention and engagement:

  1. Fair pay and benefits are only two parts of the equation to incentivize employees.
  2. Employees are feeling burnt out and undervalued.
  3. Negative team culture is spilling into employees’ home life.
  4. Teams are not being included in the strategic building of the practice.
  5. Lack of gratitude is contributing to the downward spiral of team culture.

HOW DO WE EVOLVE?

Consistency is the key when expressing gratitude. Think of it as an ala carte menu, varying the ways you engage on a regular basis.

  1. Stay competitive with market value for dental team positions.
  2. Get creative with benefits.  Younger generations (Gen Y and Z) are looking for a new spin on benefits: Day/Doggie care assistance, flexible PTO, revolving scheduling, expanded training with frequent progression,  
  3. Ask each team member what they need and want to feel safe and valued.
  4. Schedule a 10-minute pulse check meeting each week with individual team members
  5. A simple ‘Thank You’ means more than you think.

Watch the video below to learn 6 behaviors to create an emotionally safe community for your team members and patients.

Communication is Our Currency for Successful Dentistry

The lifeline of our dental practice is communication. Three pillars that conversations impact in dentistry are:

  • Patients
  • Players (Team)
  • Practice

Dentistry is in the midst of a shift from product-centricity to people-centricity. Investments in your team members and your patients are essential.

Practices pushing services rather than focusing on the wants of the patient will see their revenues dwindle over time. You must have a strong culture to be patient-centric because it requires knowing the patient and catering to their wants.

PATIENTS

According to the Beryl Institute, the total of every touchpoint before, during, and after their appointment impact the patient experience.

These are four influencers of the patient experience:

  1. Interactions of people, processes, policies, communications, actions, and environment.
  2. Culture: The vision, values, team, and community
  3. Perceptions: Everything is recognized, understood, and remembered by patients and support people.
    • Perceptions vary based on individual experiences
  4. Continuum of Care: Every interaction with a practice or provider before, during, and after delivery of care.

How we influence these four categories will optimize the patient experience and their healthcare journey. The ongoing goal is to maintain existing patients and attract new patients simultaneously. Research from Forbes indicates it costs a practice five times more to attract a new patient than it does to retain an existing one.

TEAM

When communication is not well defined or delivered, we become less impactful as a team.

A healthy practice requires Proactive Leadership. Not by one person but by each team member at any given time. Team culture is driven by “leading by example.” Culture encompasses the tangible actions and beliefs of your team.  It is the pulse of your practice! It’s about what happens when the leader (not the boss) leaves the room.

There is a communication process that needs to occur regularly to promote teamwork.

During daily, weekly, monthly, and annual meetings, a facilitator/leader in the practice (not always the DDS) is responsible for making sure each staff member brings completed reality checks, acknowledgments, and quality requests.

Understanding that leadership is Bi-Directional is the first step to creating a happy, engaged, and productive team! It links everyone together, no matter what role they play on the team and will:

  • Reduce Turnover – Individuals that feel appreciated for their knowledge support the practice
  • Improve Team Engagement – People will do more than asked if they feel valued
  • Increase Production – A team working cohesively and sharing the load will be far more productive than individuals working in silos without collaborating

To keep the momentum going throughout the year, teams are encouraged to conduct the communication process every week as part of their team meetings. I have worked with dental teams to help them focus on meeting structure and customized outcomes which can change your productivity significantly!

PRACTICE

When I ask you, what is your office brand, what do you think of?

  • High-quality dentistry, implants, orthodontics, cosmetics, children, special needs, public health?

All of those answers are correct, but your brand is much more than the high-level procedures you perform. It is systemic and it trickles down into the words we say and the communication “tools” we use. Your brand should speak the language of the patients you are trying to attract!

Language is our currency and a bridge to trust! All team members should be speaking the same language. You don’t want half the team two-stepping and the other half breakdancing!

The chart below provides examples of how we can level up our vocabulary to represent the brand we are embracing.

2022 Copyright Communicate With Influence LLC

Communication is a lot like cooking. You take all these individual ingredients and blend them to create a delicious dish.

The “ingredients” are the people we interact with:  your patients, your team, your vendors, your family.

The “spices” are the way we customize the communication or the flavor.

The result, the delicious dish, is a harmonious team and practice.

7 Ways to Influence Employee Experiences

DENTAL PRACTICE CULTURE EXISTS WHETHER YOU CREATE IT OR NOT.

Intentionally creating a “Team-Centric” culture and employee experience is the most important action you can take to ensure practice success in these stressful times.

The impact of a strong culture will trickle down into a positive patient experience. Which in turn, creates patient loyalty and retention.

There is no silver bullet to creating culture. ALL team members should be involved!

THE WINNING COMBINATION INVOLVES:

  1. COMMUNICATION

Be open, honest, and empathetic

  1. LEADERSHIP

Create opportunities for team members to lead by focusing on their super powers

  1. ONBOARDING

Take the time to hire the right people who will invest in the practice

  1. OFFBOARDING

How you let someone go is remembered by the team

  1. MENTORSHIP

Structure a support system for all employees

  1. BENEFITS

Provide digital interface, easy-to-use, benefit package options for employees

  1. MISSION STATEMENT

Created, understood, and supported by all team members

As a dental practice leader, maintaining practice health is a delicate balancing act which requires the entire team to embrace: new guidelines, compassion, active listening, and empathy.

Copyright 2020 Lisa Copeland.  All rights reserved.

PRACTICING H.O.P.E.

The world is in a very fragile state.

Every interaction should imply H.O.P.E.

Honesty

Open honest communication is always the best way to approach a fragile situation.

Options

Provide people with options: 

Patients: Would you like to reschedule your appointment for June or would you like us to call you when our office is reopened? Please keep in mind we have many patients to re-schedule. You may not get in as quickly as you would like.

Vendors:  Can we place a hold on our auto shipment until we are back in the office, or should we accept the next one and get our office supplies fully stocked.  How are other offices handling this?

People

Focus on people…not the processes. 

Everyone is feeling isolated and anxious. Take the time to actively listen to everyone you interact with.  It will benefit you in the long game.

Empathy

Empathy is a gift.

People are in different stages of dealing with this: 

Fear, Acceptance, Opportunistic

Try to recognize where that person is and realize that individuals handle stress differently.

If we can get to Acceptance, that is where we begin to move forward and become creative!

Keep in mind, some people may never be able to leave the fear / impulsive / protection stage.

Copyright 2020 Lisa Copeland. All Rights Reserved