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Strategic Thinking; It’s Time to Start Your Strategic Planning Meeting

October 24, 2018

When was the last time you lead a strategic planning session about the growth and goals of your dental office?  If you find yourself resisting being strategic because it sounds like the fast track to irrelevance you are probably not alone.   We survive in the day to day activities of our dental office and our tendency is to deal with what is right in front of us because it always seems more urgent and concrete.  Unfortunately, if we get stuck in that habit we can put our office’s success at risk.  While we concentrate on the navigation of our daily business we can miss excellent opportunities that will propel us to the future.

 

We are entering the fall months and summer is behind us.  Now is the time to start thinking and planning for our strategic sessions that will set the tone for the future of the office.  The first step to your planning for the future session is to look at the past. Key data you will want to gather is your expenses and overhead from the previous year. You will also need to know where you are now, have you been tracking your KPI’s to get as much data on your business as possible? And the next step is to investigate your future. After reviewing your expenses from the previous year, project your expenses for the next year. Will you be adding new team members, new technology? Having statistics from your past, present and future will help you map out where you have been, where you are going and how you will get there.

 

Next, start planning your meeting. Who will attend? We recommend your entire team is present and involved. When you involve your team in setting goals, they have buy in and are more prone to ensure your success. Where will you have your meeting? We recommend having it off-site, no distractions will make the meeting run smoother and keep everyone interested. And next, when will you have your meeting, all day, at the end of the day? We have found a 4-hour strategic planning session is a great length and you can still see patients in the am, (meet your production for the day) and have a successful meeting in the afternoon. And be sure to have brain food, plenty of hydration, tools for learning and fun!

 

If you are still unsure how to plan your agenda and keep the team moving in the right direction, do some research on strategy and planning. There is no shortage of books on this subject out there.  One of our favorites is “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renne Mauborgne.  The book discusses the competitive marketplace and the difference between a red ocean and a blue ocean.  In a red ocean environment, you compete for the same patients and you’re a battling with other offices for the same set of patients.  Too many sharks in the water if you will.  If you find and develop a blue ocean strategy you’re competing in an untapped space with unique offerings that set, you apart.  Finding these opportunities in your community for your practice is what will set you apart and open your pool of patients.

 

Now is the perfect time of year to start your strategic thinking. Gather your data and have your research ready. Set a date, find a location and it is Strategic Planning Session Time!

As always, if we can help we are just a phone call or email away. Strategic team meetings are one of our specialties. We would love to share our ideas with you and your team!

Team Huddle: How To Strengthen Your Office Game Plan

October 9, 2018

ANY GOOD EXPERIENCE is indebted to the dedication of a good team. We think this is especially true of creating a positive experience for your valued patients!

Each team has a unique method of planning how to provide their patients with the most enjoyable experience possible during their visit. Today, we’d like to share a few ideas to incorporate into your team huddles to create a fun experience for you in your office and grow closer as a team.

Try These Ideas In Your Team Huddle!

First, have an agenda. You do not have to be strict and follow it to the tee every day. However, we all know we need a plan in place to finish out the game with a win. And isn’t the Huddle supposed to start our day with a plan? Your huddle should be all about communication and the entire team starting their day on the same page. Your agenda can be as simple as

  1. How was yesterday? How does today look? Any problems?
  2. Where do we put emergencies?
  3. New Patients
  4. Any outstanding balances due? Insurance benefits maxed out?
  5. Same day opportunities with hygiene or Dr
  6. Special patients (great referrals, birthdays, long time patient)
  7. Finish up with something fun (leadership quotes, music, fun video)

As you can see, this agenda is short yet there are multiple items that must be addressed with the entire team for efficiency.

Second in your game plan, consistency. Make sure all team members can attend and the meeting happens each day. If there are time restraints in the morning, have your huddle at the end of the day for the following schedule. Each team member should play an important role in the meeting; the business team with schedule changes and finances, the clinical team with Dr appointment key elements, the hygiene team for their schedules and patients and of course the Doctor with spearheading and finalizing the huddle.

Next up, timing. Remember this meeting is a brief communication about what to expect during our day. We should be meeting for no more than 10 minutes. This is not a complaint session or a meeting to address issues in the office.

And finally, the big finale. Each huddle should end on a high note with inspiration for your team to have a great and productive day. You can finish with a leadership quote, a fun song to get your blood pumping or even perhaps a funny video.

Remember, your team huddle is designed to start your day with communication. Have a simple yet effective agenda on hand. The entire team should be present and prepared for their portion of the meeting. The meeting should be brief and effective and don’t’ forget to send the team out onto the playing field on a high note. Ensuring your day goes well must start with a productive team huddle.

We’re Lucky To Have Such Great Clients

We love seeing your bright smiles each time we visit your office, and we want to ensure you can help your patients keep smiling throughout their day! It all starts with a good team huddle and we have great strategies for your team to get the most out of your meetings. If you would like a Practice Dynamics Huddle Agenda, just reach out, we would be happy to share!

Thank you for being our valued clients and friends!

The 4 C’s of Team Building~

September 26, 2018

Key tips to keeping a productive, engaged dental team

The difference between success and failure is an engaged team.

No matter how smart, talented, driven, or passionate you are, your success as a dental entrepreneur depends on your ability to build and inspire a team. A successful leader is one who can inspire his or her team to work better together toward a common vision and goals.

All dental practices face the time crunch and as the practice owner, main producer, and emotional leader the practice of team building can get left out of the equation.  Adding team building back into the equation can increase a practice’s productivity, uplift morale and ultimately lower stress.

Here are a few key areas to concentrate on to bring team building back into focus.

#1 Clear Expectations

Every team member needs to understand what their role is, where they are going and how they will get there.  Take the time to educate your team on your vision for the practice and where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and even 5 years from now.  Lay down the plan of how you envision the practice reaching those goals.  Define each individuals role in that plan and what is expected.  And finally clearly define how progress will be monitored and who will be accountable for each piece of the success plan.

#2 Communicate

Constant communication is key in any relationship and your dental team is no different.  Remain vigilant of your over vision and hold regular meetings to stay focused on your goals.  Don’t let time or the lack of getting in your way of regular meetings as a team.

Hold daily morning huddles with a focus on making sure the day stays as stress-free and productive as possible.   Once a month set aside a few hours to hold a team building meeting that lets the group participate and engage in both fun and productive session.  Adding activities to these meeting can help bring out new ideas, excitement and a renewed sense of community.  Don’t be afraid to have a little fun once in a while.

#3 Continued Educational Growth

Invest in training on an annual basis and give your team opportunities to learn and grow.  Solid systems and good technology tools to run those systems make for a productive stress-free day.  Look for learning opportunities in your dental community that meet the objectives of your vision for the practice.  Online learning can be an effective way to give the team the opportunity to learn a new skill or increase their software knowledge.

Good systems in a dental practice can predict a steady outcome but do the team members that execute those systems have a backup?  Are the systems documented in a clear format? Take opportunities at meetings to have team members teach each other so that each system has a solid backup in place.

#4 Consistent Leadership

Every team needs a good leader/coach.  You set the tone for the practice and it will your consistent message and actions that guide the team to success.  If you believe that team building is important to the success of your practice then your team will too.  Keep them engaged, keep them focused and keep excited to be a part of the practice’s success.

Practice Dynamics understands the essential role that teams play in the overall success of dental practices.  We have built our coaching around achieving balance driven success through systems, teams, and technology.  We encourage you to infuse new excitement into your practices through a solid focus on teams.

 

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” 

–Peter Drucker

Anything I Can Do, WE Can Do Better

September 11, 2018

If you have children or if you were a child, you have heard and probably used the phrase “I can do it myself!” As young children, we are taught to get things for ourselves and to do things for ourselves with the idea we will be responsible for ourselves someday. Then youth activities and youth groups begin, and we must learn to be part of a team. We must learn to work together and share responsibilities. By being a part of that team, we help others grow, learn, and maximize on individual talents to accomplish one main set of goals.

When we are young our keywords are I and me. Have you ever noticed how many times a day you say I? For the next few days, keep a tally on your words. What is your ratio of I to We? Now, make a concentrated effort to change your words, because once you join a team the I becomes We. The simplest change, the effect we are looking for, can come by using words based around Us. By taking the I out of your sentences, you start to take the I out of your mindset. This is where the magic begins to happen. Suddenly you are not thinking of you, you automatically start to consider yourself as the We. It starts as a conscientious decision to change, and before you know it, you have become a part of the We.

Let’s look at two powerful words, team and work. Individually these words have great definitions. One of Wikipedia’s descriptions for a team; “A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.” The dictionary defines work as “something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking.” Now put these two together. All coaches will have almost the same definition of teamwork. What is different is the vision for how the goal is reached and what success looks like. Everyone must work as an individual within the team, the common factor is the end game, and how We accomplish it. Who is your team and what is your end goal? Do you have a common goal, or are you more of an individual working within a team?

Every team has individual components; but the whole, the effect you can make happen, comes from the team effort, the We. We is such a nicer word. People feel better when you use we, they feel included and like they are a part of something, part of a team. And isn’t that what most of us want, to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves? Schedule a team meeting today and review your end goal, what you as a team consider a success. During your meeting, make sure you have the tools you need to compete and to succeed. And remember to watch your words.

Now, you are no longer the I taking on the world alone. You are a part of the We making true changes every day. It starts with one simple word, but you will soon discover, “Anything I can do, We can do better!”

Customer Service: What Does It Mean To You?

August 22, 2018

Everyone has been a customer or patient.  In these roles, what are a few defining experiences that set companies or offices apart in your stories?  What was the core reason for making that a good or bad experience?  These are great questions and can lead the way to a productive discussion with your team.

When we think about customer service and best in class service we think about brands like Starbucks, Disney or Southwest Airlines.  We know there are many people that don’t care for SWA, but we have become raving fans.  This loyalty is built from our own experiences and from many stories from others.  Here is just one experience.

 

Southwest Airlines Proudly Sponsors Honor Flight Network

Southwest donated more than $20,000 in air travel for nearly 50 Lone Eagle Veterans and their guardians to participate in a special Honor Flight and V.E. Day 70th Anniversary commemoration events in Washington, D.C. and visit the memorials that honor their fellow soldiers who lost their lives in battle.  They didn’t stop with the monetary donation they did so much more.  I was lucky enough to be in the Baltimore airport when one of these honor flights was due to land.  Southwest agents throughout the terminal announced the arrival and asked anyone who had the time to join them at the gate to show our appreciation for their service and sacrifice.  As the plane land and proceeded to the gate two fire trucks created a water arch for the plane to drive under.  As the Veterans came off the plane they were greeted with cheers, flags and many heartfelt thank you messages.  It was an experience I was honored to be a part of and one of the many reasons I love Southwest airlines.

 

In our dental offices we strive to emulate experiences that reflect our core mission and values and deliver a patient experience we can be proud of.  But what does that mean and what does that consist of?  It may be different for every office and it may have different unique touches that truly reflect who they are as a dental office.  There are many key areas to evaluate and polish when you are working on your patient’s customer experience.  Here are our top 10:

  1. Marketing: Your marketing, no matter the vehicle, reflects your office brand and sometimes the first impression for a new patient.  Make sure it reflects the office and delivers a consistent message about your practice.
  2. New Patient Phone Call: The quality of this interaction can make or break a new patient experience.  Teams should be prepared and have clear expectations set on how every new patient call should be handled and the proper verbiage to use.
  3. Non-Verbal Communications: When is the last time you really looked through all the non-verbal communication that your office uses?  Review every written communication piece that leaves your office along with all the signs and written statements found throughout the practice on a regular basis and make sure they are on target.
  4. New Patient Visit: This sets the tone for your future relationship with this patient.  Make sure the office and the entire team is well prepared and ready for this visit.  This is your chance to connect and bond with this new patient and to build trust, all important elements in any relationship.
  5. Handoffs: When a patient visits the practice and interacts with each team member; are the exchanges reflective of your office?  Make sure key information is exchanged properly in front of the patient, never make the patient repeat and pay attention to body language of the patient and team member.
  6. Office Aesthetics: Your office aesthetics play an important part in the overall experience.  With a fresh set of eyes walk through your entrance as a patient.  What do you see?  What catches your attention?
  7. Technology Efficiency: We love technology, but technology should enhance your patient experience.  It should never get in the way or hinder the importance of human interaction.  Make sure your office systems are efficient and supportive.
  8. Team Dynamics: The dental team is an extension of the practitioner.   They need to be engaged and understand the mission and vision of the practice.  Continual education and regular communication is key to everyone delivery the same experience.
  9. Focus on Service: It sounds simple but how often do you discuss or train on the importance of customer service in your practice.  Make it a priority and keep the conversation going.
  10. The “It” Factor: What sets you apart?  What are those memorable items that stay with patients when they leave your practice?

The things to evaluate and look at are simple. What’s not simple is the consistent application of the behaviors. Excelling in best in class customer service takes thought and effort. But, once you make them habit you can go just about anywhere.

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