Chapter 10: The Handoff

Study Guide and Resources
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Ask Yourself

  • Do you feel confident about the bigger picture in your office?
  • What do you plan to do next, now that you have more control over your business?
  • Does your team help you achieve your purpose?

Ask Your Staff

  • What can each of us do differently each day to make this a successful office?
  • What can each of do better each day to make this a successful office?
  • Do you feel prepared and trained to do your job each day?

Take Action

  • Commit to a strong training program within your four walls.
  • Maintain open communication among doctors, front office and back office.
  • Be willing to make adjustments along the way – when things aren’t working look closely and make modifications.
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Success for Your Dental Office: How to Take Control

I travel around the country and talk to a ton of dentists and dental teams. I hear so much about how things are so hard, why things are not going right.

Success for your dental office imageToo much competition.

My staff can’t sell.

Patients don’t have money.

Everyone is insurance-driven.

The economy stinks.

I am not denying that some of these things are real and true, but what can you do about that? Can you fix the economy? Can you move to where there is not as much competition? Can you help your patients make more money? Of course, the answer is no, or at least not easily. So, if you put your focus on that, you will just have to wait it out until those things change. That makes for a feeling of being out of control. But it also has a reassuring effect. Many times, when we rely on these reasons, we feel like we can say, it isn’t anything I have done, or my staff has done. Things are just hard out there.

My suggestion to you is, stop focusing on what you can’t do much about, and start thinking about choosing a new focus. Why do I say that? If you are looking to improve something and your attention is on these external factors that you can’t fix, then you don’t take time to find areas that you can improve. What you can control is what is going on within your four walls. You might argue that any internal changes you make won’t have a huge impact. However, if you make enough incremental changes within your four walls, eventually they do start to make a cumulative impact.


Implementing great customer service training with your staff to help your patients see a value in spending money in your office.

Think about the last time you visited a store to buy something you wanted, and the staff was so rude you almost did not want to purchase the product. Reverse engineer this process for your dental office. They don’t want to spend time and money in a dental office. That’s the truth. But, If you can offer staff that engage with your patients on a personal level and make them feel welcome, they will enjoy their visit to the office and see more value in it.

Writing and implementing policies and procedures in your office that will help increase productivity in your daily activities.

Again, reverse engineer your goals. You want X amount of revenue a year, break this down into monthly goals, then again into daily goals. How many patients do you need to see a day to hit this goal. If you’re struggling to figure out how to build an effective schedule we recommend you watch our video on time blocking your schedule. From this point, it is up to the Dentist and Office Manager to create procedures that explain the step by step process to get patients in the door and how each appointment will flow, or you can use some of the pre-built policies Front Office Rocks has created for you.

Getting your staff training to help them become better at what they do on a daily basis.

You’re treating patients and focusing on dental health, but you need your staff to bring those patients in and make sure all aspects of their visit are pleasant, so the patient comes back. Ask a friend to come into your office and experience your service first hand and give you honest feedback. Was your receptionist knowledgeable? Did they and listen to your patient’s concerns? Was the patient greeted right away? You can have rock star dentists, but if patients are not impressed with great customer service from your front office staff, left to wait unattended, leave before they understand the treatment plan, or don’t understand their financial obligations, your office needs help. This is what Front Office Rocks specializes in.

If you are always looking externally to explain why your office is not doing so well, or why you’re not growing, then you will always be limited by those external factors that are out of your control. By looking within the four walls of your dental office, you begin to take responsibility for your own success, and that is the first step in the right direction.

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Difference Between Training & Consulting

I am a dental office manager and a dental trainer, both of which I just love. I can’t believe I get to do what I love, which doesn’t make it feel like work but more like a hobby every single day.

Did I always know this is what I wanted to do? No! I was lucky enough to marry my husband a year before he went to dental school and to watch him grow into the amazing dentist that he is today. There is no question that his four years of education prepared him to be an excellent dentist. However, in his entire four years of dental school, no one taught him how to manage a business, hire and fire, market for new patients, handle staff drama, train staff at their jobs, etc. They taught him all he needed to know to be a great dental clinician, not a private practice owner, and at graduation, they patted him on the back and wished him well. Sound familiar to any other dentists out there reading this?

Laura Hatch ImageNow that being said, this article is not about trying to convince the dental schools that they need to add business training to their curriculum, though I am all for that. This article addresses the missing link with most dental offices.

The typical office is run by an owner who (more than likely) has not had business and management training. That’s why many dentists and practice managers reach out for advice and guidance to help their offices grow.

Let me explain. I am a trainer at heart, and I honestly feel that most dental offices do not have good, well-structured training programs, especially at the front
desk. I also feel that I am one of the first real front office trainers out there that specifically focus on training and does not have any interest in consulting.

That is where this article originated from— many years of people asking me to be a consultant and my having to explain that I am not a consultant and that my passion and focus is training. Having said that, I think that there is an enormous value in consulting and think that dentists should incorporate consulting in their mix, if it will help them reach their goals.

Dentists look to consultants for help in leadership, team management, staying aligned with the mission of the practice, and zeroing in on areas of needed growth. There’s a huge value in that. I know tons of great consultants in our industry who work wonders with dentists and teams across the country, helping them get systems in place and achieve the goals that they are trying to reach.

So, how is training different than consulting?

Consulting takes a big picture view of your practice, while training is task-focused. Training focuses on making improvements on a job-duty level. Many times, dentists or practice managers tell an employee to make something happen, such as filling tomorrow’s schedule.

The problem is that when the dentist tells the employee to do that task, the dentist may not necessarily understand how to accomplish it and therefore cannot show the employee how to do it. The employee might have the best intention while trying to accomplish the task but may not be successful in getting it done correctly. This is where training comes in.

Training is the action of teaching a person how to do the task, so they can accomplish the goal. It is the step-by-step “how to” of what needs to be done, the reason why it is important, and the outcome of what is expected when it is finished.

In some cases, training is important even when your office is using a consultant. The consultant looks from the high level, big picture view and helps the doctor and team to become the best they can. However, the consultant is not there 24/7. This is where training comes into play. Training helps the employees on an individual level learn how to do day-to-day tasks and job duties so that they can help accomplish the big picture goals.Constantly learning image

The thing is, just providing training isn’t enough. The right type of training is vital to make sure that the employee and team are working at the highest level possible. Many times, training happens where one employee shows the new employee how to do things, based off their experiences and knowledge, not necessarily based off policy or procedure.

It’s like that adage, “We do it this way because it always has been done this way.” Plus, each employee tends to evolve their processes of how things are done over time, and sometimes that evolution leads to an off-track variation of what was taught to them in the beginning.

And here’s the other problem with allowing new employees to be trained by existing staff; you’re going to see something get half-done, in this case, because it’s impossible for someone to provide thorough training while also performing their job duties effectively. Either the new employee will be half-trained because the existing staff was distracted by present job duties, or the existing staff will be meeting the bare minimum in daily job duties because of placing so much attention on training the new employee.

The other issue is that just because someone is good at doing their job does not always make them a good trainer. It takes a certain kind of personality to train well, and not everyone on the team may have those skills.

Having a structured training plan will help with this. When everyone is taught from day one the same way, there is a consistency of what everyone learns as they join an organization. This allows the new employee to learn the right way from the start and be able to implement their duties correctly from the beginning.

In conclusion, there is a value in both consulting and training, but they are very different. As a manager or business owner, you need to clearly distinguish what needs to be accomplished. When you are trying to get employees up to speed and effective in their duties, having a strong consistent training program is the way to go.

Good training will help your organization grow and achieve goals by empowering your team to be the best they can be.