dental front office

Plenty of forums and sites offer seemingly magic “dental office management tips” to dental professionals. Here’s the truth: there’s no “secret formula” to running a dental practice. It requires a lot of work, plenty of persistence, and a little bit of luck.

However, there are some tried and true strategies dental practices owners, managers, and even the teams they supervise can implement that will make things run smoothly. Here are nine dental office management tips that successful dental practice managers say you should add to your workflow.

1. Show up (on time).

We’ve all been there: you can’t find your keys, coffee spills on your shirt, the dog runs out the front door — it happens to the best of us. Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes running late is inevitable.

However, as a manager or dental professional, you set the standard for what’s appropriate in your practice. Do your best to reduce the lateness, and communicate anytime you think you might be running a couple of minutes behind. This will build transparency and trust, and you’ll find your staff extending you the same courtesy should they be running late.

Timeliness is one of the essential elements of office etiquette and applies to more than the patient schedule. It applies to meetings starting and ending on time. When meeting days, times, and brevity are consistent, everyone can plan accordingly, reducing stress across the office. If you are going to be late to a meeting, let your supervisor know why and when you expect to arrive so adjustments can be made. Leaving others hanging results in time wastage, and their concerns for your welfare accelerate the longer they wait. Timeliness applies to time sheets, payroll, and accounts payable. It applies to delivering reports on schedule. Build trust with the people you work with interdependently by delivering when expected.

2. Know your staff.

There’s nothing quite as frustrating as an out-of-touch boss. When a boss doesn’t show up, can’t manage practice dynamics, or misses important social events, it’s hard to build a culture of respect.

DentalPost’s 2022 Satisfaction Survey highlighted that supervisors are so busy that they are not taking time to converse about performance or socialize with their teams. 

  • 82% of the survey respondents said they had not had a conversation with their employer/supervisor in the last six months about their progress.
  • 65% said they think their employer/supervisor does not care about them as a person.

Take some time to learn about your professionals and office staff on a deeper level. It’ll help you better understand office dynamics and how your staff works best and guide you to places where staff might need extra assistance. Being present and engaged will make a big impact on team morale.

3. Keep Great Records.

Keeping organized is critically important. Not only will your business benefit from easy-to-find patient information and files, but you’ll be protecting yourself in case you’re hit with any legal issues. Consider making copies of your important documents, but follow compliance laws with sensitive patient documents.

Cybercrimes have been at an all-time high since the pandemic’s beginning, and dental practices have been impacted by ransomware and other cyber-attacks. Have your network audited by a security network for backdoors hackers can enter. Schedule an online security training session with your teams. 

The cost of having your data leaked, systems down, and computers damaged is much too high to ignore the risk. Computer breaches in dental practices have cost solo practitioners thousands of dollars in lost revenue, data reclamation, privacy fines, and computer system overhaul. 

Stay prepared by making copies of your important documents, and follow compliance laws with sensitive patient documents. If you are not already using a cloud-based PMS system with the highest cybersecurity, consider migrating to one now.

And while we are discussing important documents and fines, don’t forget the importance of updating your OSHA safety training documents, maintaining detailed employee immunization records, and documenting bloodborne pathogen or chemical exposures and all the steps taken to address these.

4. Set goals.

Avoid the dreaded “plateau panic” by setting weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. This can be both for financial and professional growth. Monitor how you are progressing to keep yourself motivated every day. Tracking steady progress will make work more enjoyable.

Oh — and be sure to celebrate those big wins along the way!

5. Modernize communication and billing.

Don’t be left in the dark. Many dental offices struggle because they can’t keep up with the digital demands of patients. Get an online appointment maker, make sure your website is up-to-date and patient-friendly, and think about ways you can make life easier for your patients and staff with new technology.

Over the last two to three years, some dental practices stepped up to consumer demand for online billing and payment convenience. Dental practices using patient payment portals for their revenue cycle management have seen a significant uptick in fast collections. 

7. Create a healthy culture.

A happy employee will work harder for you. This is a fact.

Consider ways to keep your office fun and positive, like office happy hour events or meals for the staff. Also, address concerns early and often as most issues can be solved with clear and direct communication. Handling problems as a manager will set the tone for other internal conflicts.

DentalPost has posted multiple blogs focusing on what defines a healthy workplace culture and its beneficial impact on team retention, patient retention, and case acceptance. You may want to read some of these to gather ideas you can implement in your practice:

8. Trust your employees.

You put your staff there for a reason, so trust them to do their jobs. While micromanagement may feel like it limits overall risk, it may produce more employee turnover. Losing employees is tough on morale and workflow.

Communicate effectively and hold your staff accountable for their work, and you’ll create a hardworking and transparent practice that runs like a well-oiled machine.

9. Hold morning meetings.

Holding meetings is a great way to bring the staff together, address any barriers to work, create an internal culture, and put the team’s focus on the week or weeks ahead. These can be held weekly or monthly, but they should be direct and helpful to the team.

As a practice owner or dental office manager, you’ll be in charge of setting expectations and running your staff. In your staff meetings, discuss how everyone can mindfully behave to support these tips, and then put these dental office management tips to the test!

Have you created a great office culture?

Set up a practice profile on DentalPost to find the best professionals in your area!

Updated August 2022

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