From Winging It to Bringing It: How to Run a Successful, Profitable, and Less Stressed Dental Office
By: Ms. Kiera Dent
It’s no secret that running a dental practice is hard. I mean, here you are, reading this article about how to go from Winging It to Bringing It, hoping to glean some gems to help your practice thrive rather than just survive.
When I started as a dental office manager, I didn’t have management or business experience. I had been a dental assistant who became a treatment coordinator, then a scheduler, and then a biller. Later I worked at a dental college and one of the students asked me to manage her practice and be a co-owner. I was all in!
But here’s the thing . . .
I didn’t know what I was doing. Like at all. I didn’t know what KPIs to look at or what a KPI even was. I didn’t know how to run one-on-one meetings with team members; I didn’t even know how to run a meeting, period.
Despite my lack of experience, this doctor and I grew our first practice from $500,000 to $2,400,000 in nine months and opened a second location. You can say I struck the jackpot, but I was truly winging it and I felt it. Stress, depression, exhaustion and overall burnout were ticking time bombs exploding daily.
I found out the hard way how to run an elite practice. It took me a lot of time and heartache, but I have had the unique privilege of consulting for hundreds of dental offices nationwide and learning what patterns and strategies make an office exceptionally elite compared to a normal practice. I want to share four proven tactics to fast-track your way from Winging It to Bringing It.
Vision is the number one predictor of success within any office. This does not seem fun and feels almost like a flatliner. “Kiera, are you really sure having a vision is what will help me?” Absolutely yes!! Over and over again.
If the doctor has a clear vision of where the practice is going, what their core values are, and the entire team knows the why– things flow smoother since everyone is aligned. Imagine if you were to have everyone make paper airplanes and throw them in the air with nothing said other than, “1, 2, 3, throw.” It would look like pure chaos.
That is exactly how a practice without a vision that is continually and constantly communicated looks. Get the vision, and over-communicate it so every team member has the same vision and is headed in the same direction. Then sit back and watch how aligned, streamlined, and easy your practice runs. It’s no longer chaos but channeled energy, all flying in the same direction getting massive momentum and results.
Becoming a culture master is ranked number two. Offices will thrive when they are concentrated on culture. This means hiring for culture first and skills second. It’s about having open communication and working on having vulnerable trust, encouraging conflict and discussions, so true accountability is in place. Owners who take on the slow burn of culture will see increased production, less stress, longer employment, and overall happier teams. Using tools like quarterly or bi-annual anonymous surveys can be a tool to see how your culture is measuring up compared to how you think it is.
Meetings seem simple but let’s remember, I truly had no idea how to run an effective meeting nor saw the value a great meeting could bring. Elite offices are organized and drive meetings with specific outcomes, ratings, and consistency. We recommend these meeting cadences to get you started:
- Morning huddles
- Weekly doctor and OM meetings
- Weekly leadership meetings
- Monthly full team training by department and full team to ensure systems are constantly practiced and perfected
- One-on-one check-ins with team members and leadership for accountability, KPI tracking and culture assessments
- Monthly billing meetings
- Quarterly goal setting
- Annual goal-setting and vision creation
Consistently meeting, training and refining is something apparent amongst every elite practice as it is the way to organization and structure. This leads to a connected team with clear communication and overall ease in their workloads.
Last, but not least, is systemization with continual refinement. After seeing hundreds of offices, these are the top twelve systems that each elite practice must ensure everyone can follow with ease. There are twelve systems so offices can have an annual monthly “checklist” with implementation.
- January – Office Management Mastery and Leadership
- February – Doctor Optimization
- March – Billing with Ease
- April – 5-Star Patient Experience
- May – Smooth Sailing Scheduling
- June – Maximized Case Acceptance
- July – Dynamite Dental Assistants
- August – Elevated Hygiene
- September – Confident Marketing
- October – Complete Operations Manual
- November – Practice Profitability
- December – A-Team Hiring and Onboarding
When offices have these twelve systems documented, utilized, refined annually and truly are a part of the practice, they will flourish! They will be organized, elite and profitable. Being systematized isn’t hard, but it does take discipline to do the non-fun things that will ultimately drive your practice forward.
Now It’s Your Turn
There are many other tips gleaned over the years but if you even implement one of the items above, you will feel more in control, more organized and overall, more confident in your practice. It does not have to feel chaotic. It does not have to feel stressful. It can be easy, smooth, fun and profitable.
It is your life, your practice and your choice. In the famous words of Mel Robbins, “You are always one decision away from a completely different life.” Execute, become elite, and go from Winging it to Bringing it!
Ms. Kiera Dent is the founder and CEO of The Dental A Team. Her experience ranges from the front office to assistant regional manager to dental practice owner. She has worked with hundreds of dental practices, authored numerous articles and has over 40,000 monthly downloads on her Dental A Team podcast.