Are You Going To Win Your Division Playoff for Dental Practice Growth?

What to do if your team doesn’t want to play for your dental marketing plan

My mother LOVES the Toronto Blue Jays and as I write this blog it’s game 2 of their division series and they’re down 1. My 80-year-old mother has been cancelling her social activities for weeks because she hasn’t wanted to miss a game – it’s not my thing at all, but she has so much excitement for it! So when the topic for today’s blog was posed … the importance of team building … her passion triggered my title – Go Jays! (Sorry Texas clients!)

We’ve been working with dentists just like you for over 24+ years. Whatever challenges you may be facing in your dental practice are not uncommon to us, and one of the toughest is the effective management of a team. The team you have built is helping you drive business growth, keeping you in a holding pattern, or possibly even triggering a decline in business volumes. This is your responsibility.

As a business owner/leader here are a few things you can do:

1. Define your practice vision. Explore what differentiates you from your competitors. Set realistic short- and long-term goals for yourself and your staff, and follow through with effective and ongoing communication. Your team can’t read your mind – communication is imperative. Listen – no amount of communication is too much. Perhaps your practice is in stasis because your team is simply doing what they’ve been doing since they started with you, it’s what they’ve always done, what they were told to do by the person who trained them, or “it’s the way it’s done”. If your team doesn’t know what your real vision is, or why changes need to be made to get there, they will be unable to rise to the challenge. They need to know why; they need the tools to implement, and the goals to work towards. Ask yourself this, when was the last time I held a team huddle to discuss:

a. Practice vision & goals, daily/weekly goals, current challenges

b. Competitors in our area and the services/offers we’re up against

c. Marketing, offers & goals for success (perhaps operational change requirements)

d. What patients really want & how we can improve our patient experience 

e. Why our practice is awesome, key attributes & talking points to emphasize.

2. Understand today’s market. As you may have read in “Who Moved My Cheese”, change is hard, and today’s dental marketing world is changing in incredible ways, which means your practice has to change to grow. No longer can a practice be “the same as”. Everyone on your team must understand the importance of every consumer touch – from your introductory marketing campaigns that trigger interest, to the handling of the first phone call, to treatment and follow up – each one must be stellar.

Your target audience, the female head-of-household, wants to make good decisions for her family. You need to make an emotional connection with your audience and you need to be there when they have a need. With access to so much choice, if your team doesn’t STAND OUT as friendly, caring, trustworthy, and helpful when patients and prospects reach out … then those patients and prospects will be moving along to one of the other dental practices in your area. Most consumers think that all dentists offer the same thing, so your service and servicing needs to stand out at every opportunity.

3. Build a team of practice ambassadors. You are the source of motivation and accountability at your practice. It should be your mission to provide something of value with every interaction. Do you LOVE heading into work on Monday? Do you look forward to seeing the great team you have developed around you? If you don’t, then FOR SURE they don’t. Everyone needs clarity to operate at peak performance – of the practice mission, values, responsibilities, attributes, and culture. At Patient News, we have an awesome team, but we’ve worked hard from day one to be open and communicative. We implemented the Fish! Philosophy and established our Core Purpose and Values over 15 years ago. We set and track our quarterly and annual goals and we’ve had to modify the way we do things, adjust how we operate, and add new products and services, and every member of our team has a role in taking Patient News and our clients to consistently greater heights. We hold group huddles, departmental huddles, and have open communication about individual and unique challenges. We have serious goals to hit and we’re very serious about our business, but we always remember not to be too serious about ourselves. We bring fun to the workplace every day (check out our Breast Cancer Awareness post on Facebook this week)! We provide great team benefits, plus perks like lakeside views in a park-like setting, an onsite gym and trainers, and a full kitchen with supplies. We bring in healthy whole fruit each week, and staff can bring their dogs to work … we celebrate our wins and work hard together to progress … I could go on but the point is, when people visit our office, they can “feel” our energy and positivity. It’s a great place to come to work.

The bottom line for a leader is to be aware of the energy you’re bringing to the workplace. We write about it all the time in your newsletters … even faking a smile will make you and the people you interact with feel better. Be critical about how you, as a leader, can improve and how your contributions and support would be more appreciated. The fact is, as the practice owner, you don’t have a boss to give you direction. Your partners, suppliers, and team may be hesitant to give you honest feedback because of your powerful position. You’ll have to listen in different ways - heed patient feedback, read those reviews, pay attention to staff actions (because they speak louder than words), and just be brutally honest with yourself about your management and communication style … and modify it if necessary.

You will build a winning team when you operate with respect and welcome open two-way communication. When you work hard on improving everyone’s skillset, you help each person live up to their potential. I’ve seen the nicest dentists with the greatest of intentions for their practice blow it because they just couldn’t communicate with their teams about financial goals, necessary changes, or even provide constructive feedback.

Don’t be afraid! This is your life – not only is your family counting on you to deliver, but all of the people that work with and for you are counting on you to make the right decisions and be successful for them and their families.

Communicate, provide training and tools, and set achievable, measurable goals and you will build a winning World Series team. Oh, and one last thing … second chances are fine, but eventually a bad apple will spoil a bunch. Be prepared to make the tough decisions and always hire for enthusiasm and positivity and train the rest!

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