What Do Eating Pancakes and Shoveling Snow Have in Common?

If you had done either of these activities with my father, you would know the answer is “Systems”.

Growing up in a small suburb of Scranton PA, with a Pennsylvanian Dutch dad, we learned about systems and processes to be more effective and efficient in all of life’s tasks.

That included eating pancakes and shoveling snow.

In my opinion, the proper way to eat pancakes is to stack them up and cut a hole, my preference is square, in the center through the stack. Remove the pancake pieces from the hole and set them alongside the stack. Here’s the fun part, fill the hole with overflow syrup so it oozes down the stack. Start eating by dipping the pieces into the well of syrup. As you cut into the stack, leave the ‘syrup well’ in tack and work your way around the stack. Finally, break the syrup dam and enjoy several bites of pancake sponge! The last bite is always the best!

Snow shoveling followed a similar step-by-step process, in an organizational pattern, to finish quickly so we could play in the huge snowbanks!

Dentistry without systems is chaotic.

A successful practice is a product of the quality of your systems and the team’s ability to implement them.

Structuring systems is not an easy task. But the investment you make upfront will show in your practice productivity.

Systems should be non-negotiable, yet fluid, to allow for continual monitoring and updates. 

Get started by investigating some of your systems:

  • Practice Software:
    • Scheduling, communication tools, confirmation variety – customized to the patients preference
  • Telecommunications: 
    • Calibrated, consistent conversations
  • Lab Case Tracing
  • Referral Tracking
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Ongoing Team Communication / Systems Training
    • Consistent daily, weekly, monthly, and annual department/team meetings
    • Measure what is working, or not, and adapt accordingly

Now is the time to get more productive by revving up your systems.

This blog is dedicated to my father, who passed away recently at age 96!  

Guess all those systems paid off for a long, productive, happy life! 

Thanks for teaching me in so many ways dad. (1925-2021)

Opportunity’s Knocking… Are You Opening the Door?

After living for 20 years in Seattle, my husband and I moved to Park City. It was a huge decision, but one we were ready to make!
Working together as a team, we strategically made a plan to seize opportunities to embrace our new location and life. We joined mountain biking groups that reveal the amazing, local trails to us. When we see a neighbor walking by, we introduce ourselves. If asked to join in on an event, we say YES! And lastly, we are trying to invite new friends to dinner once a month.
In order to make this our new home, we had to initiate change.
It’s all about creating and seizing the opportunities that are available


The “O” in my iRONMAN Principles of Communication represents the abundant opportunities in any dental practice.Recognizing, then implementing, changes regularly will increase productivity in your office.

As a dental business, do you regularly observe your practice from a patient perspective…and make changes?

During your next team meeting create a field trip activity.
Start by having each team member (or partners) participate in a walk-through of the entire office.
List all the opportunities they observe in every aspect of your business: rooms, décor, departments, equipment, communication. Feel free to add categories to this list.

Here’s the challenge…instruct each team member to observe from the patients’ perspective, taking in to consideration the type of patients you want to attract to your practice.



Update carpet / furniture / wall hangings / art
When was that picture hung?
Is the furniture well-worn or difficult for a senior patient to use?

Declutter the receptionist desk to boost productivity
According to SmallBizTrends.com less desk clutter makes you more productive.

Implement new technology for scheduling, check-in, and collecting patient information
Update / implement dental software programs to attract younger clientele and also boost production.
Lighthouse is a dental program that I have seen transform practice production significantly. A few of the features to note are: bring in new patients, reactivate dormant patients, patients return regularly, and my favorite, the cancellation fill-in.


Maintain and update instruments / equipment regularly

Clear counters for easy room flip and to decrease contamination

ADA Accessible?
Can you accommodate patient / team members with disabilities?

People commonly think of the physical barriers associated with ADA, but there’s more to it… for example, the new, more inclusive logo.

Learn more here about ADA requirements for effective communication.

While I am not the expert on ADA compliance, I can relate and offer guidance in the communication aspect!


Organize the room flow to maximize the sterilization processes

Label shelves / cupboards / products and create a tag-system for re-ordering supplies
Many dental companies provide this service free of charge if you are an existing customer.

Sound-Proof or isolate the sterilization room so patients cannot see / hear the production
Every office I have worked in; the sterilization room was like the office water cooler gathering place. What we forgot about was that the patients could hear our conversations!
I don’t know any dental practice that doesn’t get behind in the sterilization process occasionally and things tend to pile up. By having an easy access barrier on the entrance, you shield the area from the patient’s vision.


My challenge to you is to level-up your practice by embracing opportunistic change.
Select a few ideas from the team field trip lists and collaborate on implementation.
Keep in mind that some of the opportunities may need to be planned for in the budget.
Small adjustments can be cost efficient and often have as much of an impact as a larger investment.
Find the balance and start this week by opening the door for opportunity.

Copyright 2019 Lisa Copeland. All rights reserved.