03 Jan Take Your Practice From Average to Excellent
It isn’t easy to be a truly excellent dental practice. It’s something I’m sure your dental team strives for every day, whether it’s in the care you provide for your patients or the overall experience you create, but unless it’s really a focus in your practice, chances are you’re falling a bit short. Not to worry. If achieving excellence is truly the goal, there are changes you can make to get there. But that’s the thing. You have to be willing to change.
This is difficult for many practices. Team members and dentists often become set in their ways. Many are comfortable with their routines, and find it difficult to make the necessary adjustments. It starts at the top As nice as it would be, marketing your dental practice as excellent doesn’t make it so. You really need to put in the work, and that means embracing change—which starts with the dentist.
The dentist is the practice CEO and the one the rest of the team turns to for guidance. If the dentist is resistant to change, the rest of the team will be as well. If dentists don’t lead by example, they’ll continue to run an average practice and never truly reach their goals. Now don’t get me wrong. The team has to be involved in the process as well. The more employees on board and committed to making positive change from the beginning, the sooner the practice will truly achieve excellence. Dentists should talk with team members about practice goals and changes they’d like to implement. Team members are an important part of the equation, and should feel comfortable talking with their boss about any ideas they have for improvement.
Develop a plan This has to happen before change can take place. Not sure how to get started? Ask these questions to set the foundation: -What is the practice vision? -What do excellent practices do differently and how can we get there as a team? -How can we get the most out of our marketing efforts? Get your patients involved Once you have your plan in place, take some time to conduct market research. What do I mean by that? Ask patients about their experience with the practice. What areas do they think you can improve in? Remember not to take any of their responses personally. Their feedback is valuable, and you should use it to grow your practice. Take it seriously, and keep in mind if one patient has a complaint, others likely do too—they just didn’t bother to tell you. Thank patients for their responses and use them to make the necessary improvements.
Take a close look at your systems This is the time to really get a feel for how every system is performing and how they all fit into the practice vision. To do that, it’s time to ask a few more questions:
-How can we as a team improve the new patient experience and set ourselves apart from other practices in the community?
-How do patients feel when they call or visit a practice that’s committed to excellence? -How is the team involved in changing the practice culture and achieving excellence?
During this exercise, it’s important to take an honest look at how team members handle the systems they’re accountable for. What do they do well? What can they do to improve their system? Once issues are identified and a plan implemented to fix those issues, these systems will improve significantly. Put a focus on customer service. A practice can’t be excellent if the dentist and the team aren’t focused on creating an exceptional patient experience.
How can you do that, you ask? Start by greeting every patient with a friendly smile. Show them the team is there to help, and will do what they can to put them at ease. Offer them coffee or water as they wait in a comfortable reception area. Help them fill out forms and answer any questions they have.
Let them know you have their best interests at heart. This is how you create connections and grow into a truly excellent practice. Make the commitment!
Creating an excellent practice isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. The team has to be willing to make a culture shift, and to embrace change. Once that happens, you’ll enjoy many benefits, from a more loyal patient base to a healthier bottom line.
Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at email@example.com.
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