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Achieving Success in the Practice of Dentistry – Part One

January 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mayer A. Levitt, DMD @ 7:51 am

As promised in my last post, I want to share what I have found to be the ten major reasons certain dental practices are more successful than others. The surprising thing to me is that only two are related to clinical excellence. So what better time than now, at the beginning of a new year – “resolution season” as they say – to decide to make some changes and improvements to the way you run your business.

I haven’t made an attempt to rank these ingredients for success, except for today’s topic. In my opinion, the number one biggest challenge in any business today, dentistry or otherwise, is to assemble and keep–over long periods of time–a dedicated, talented, business savvy, customer service oriented group of individuals who function well as a team.  Building this team has to be the number one priority if you want to be successful.

Now I know that many staff members read my blog posts, so I don’t want any of them to misunderstand or misconstrue the comments I am about to offer. They should know – unequivocally – that they will never find anyone more staff friendly than I am. In the course of my work, I interact with literally hundreds of staff personnel every month – and the large majority do a great job.

I feel quite strongly that it is the responsibility of the doctor to create an environment where staff truly love to come to work. Your patients will absolutely feel this karma. You need this kind of staff because it is impossible for a doctor to achieve success on his or her own. It is hard enough just to try to get through each clinical day. You need to surround yourself with people who can do their jobs extraordinarily well. These people in fact want to be held accountable for their performance. They do not need or want to be micromanaged.

I sometimes  see situations where one or two staff people hold back everyone else. They poison the atmosphere. I’ve had doctors tell me they hate coming to work knowing they have to deal with this toxic environment. And often these offending staff members have been employed for years and years. They feel empowered. They truly feel that the practice would crash and burn without them, when in fact, when they are let go or dismissed, a huge weight is lifted off everyone else’s back, and the practice begins to grow again.

I also see many instances of talented staff members leaving because the doctor just will not get rid of the bad apples. It is really interesting to realize–and this is one of my favorite sayings–that the way you feel about someone is usually the way that most people do. Patients, as well as staff, will vote with their feet. They may not tell you why they leave – they often just disappear –but a lot of times it is because of the behavior or attitude of a staff member. Repeatedly I will hear that when a staff member is finally let go, so many patients now say to the doctor, “why did it take you so long to take this action.”

To summarize, I feel your number one resolution as you enter 2014 is to commit to building a great team one person at a time. You should hire for attitude and train for skills. Pay them well. Compliment them often. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts, and that you couldn’t do what you do without them. This process of team building could take months, but the effort will be so incredibly worth it.


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