3 easy ways to improve office culture
Every practice owner struggles with creating the dental office “dream team” and maintaining a positive dental office culture. There are many cogs in the wheel of dentistry, and it takes dedicated employees to ensure day-to-day tasks are being done efficiently. Do you often feel like you are drowning in dental billing management? Are you struggling to book patients, or experiencing frequent cancellations? Daily dental practice struggles can put a weight on office staff morale, but some of these daily struggles can be resolved by making improvements to the office culture. What if there were simple fixes you could implement in your office right away? We have outlined three easy ways to improve your office culture. Without these you’re in danger of losing money, patients, and skilled team members.
1. Be a servant leader
Take a look at your own leadership style. Are you confident and transparent? Do you willingly offer help and guidance to employees? Or would you rather take a backseat to management and focus on dentistry? If you own your dental practice, what goes on within those walls is your responsibility and that can feel overwhelming most days. If you feel as though your office culture is less than stellar, you may not know where the improvements need to start. The hard truth is, sometimes it takes a little self-reflection to get back on track. Servant leadership can help you to become a more empathetic and understanding leader for your team:
- Ask your team for suggestions on what you can personally do to improve
- Have an “open door” policy for suggestions and best practices
- Understand exactly what your team needs from you on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
Self-reflection and transparency will allow your employees to see you as an individual, not just their boss. This helps create an environment that is positive, collaborative, and exciting, with daily growth toward everyone’s personal and financial goals.
2. Reduce financial stress
Ask any member of your front office staff to list their biggest work-related stressors, and they’ll most likely have dental insurance billing at the top of their list. Hours on the phone with insurance companies isn’t a glamorous job, not to mention time on the phone means time away from patient care. If your office is truly struggling with cash flow because of outstanding insurance claims, it might be time to ask for help. Outsourcing your dental billing to professionals allows you to improve your cash flow while shifting your focus to maintaining and improving relationships with your team and patients. This also opens up time to do other tasks that grow the practice that often get left on the back-burner, such as:
- Scheduling patients efficiently
- Converting same-day treatment from hygiene patients
- Creating internal and external marketing and social media strategies
- Reviewing outstanding treatment plans and get those patients back on the schedule
As with most problem-solving tips, prevention is always the best medicine. If you feel as though you’re consistently behind and your revenue cycle management isn’t aligning with your expenses, take steps to figure out if you should outsource. Don’t kick this can down the road, because the time is now when it comes to putting profits in your pocket.
3. Appreciate your team
Speaking of profits, no one likes to work for free. Being a part of a team that is motivated towards the benefit of the practice is the real secret sauce to long-term success for everyone in the office. A little “thanks” goes a long way. You don’t need grand gestures and endless praise, but a small bit of personalized appreciation can really motivate your staff to accomplish more for your practice. Here are some ideas:
- Send an email chain to your employees on a busy day thanking them for their hard work
- Organize lunches and fun meetings to catch up on personal milestones
- Offer training options and support personal and professional growth
- Offer incentives for employees based on positive results and practice growth
By motivating staff to see the value in the work they provide as well as seeing that cashflow coming in, you’re cultivating a workplace culture that colleagues will envy. Other practice owners will be asking, “How did you do it?” You will attract and retain high performing employees, which will attract and retain amazing patients.
In the end, all of these tips work toward not only practice profitability, but employee and patient retention, and personal success. After all, everyone wants to be a part of the winning team. And patients want to be in an office where they feel valued and it is obvious that the staff loves being there.