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Tips for Hiring New Staff Members

You’re busy, you’re stressed and now you must dedicate time to hiring new staff to fill in the gaps left during your dental practice transition. So where do you start? There may be a great temptation to hire the first person who looks like he or she might fit the bill, but if you make a mistake, it’s going to cost you.

Prepare Yourself

No matter how excited or relieved you may feel, jumping into your new recruitment exercise without any thought will just hurt you in the long run. Ask yourself these important questions before you even place your first recruitment ad:

– What role will the new hire fill in the practice?

– How much help does the practice need?

– Will this need be long term or short term?

– What salary can you afford to pay?

Focus on Strategic Recruitment

You don’t want to hire the first person who comes along, you want to hire the best recruit for your practice. But how do you find the right candidate? It might sound obvious but start in places that offer the most help. Ask other employees for referrals, you’ve got the best chance of making a quality match through your current staff.

If that doesn’t work, check reputable job boards before branching out into social media.

Take Your Time

Sure, you might have needed the help three weeks ago, but making a rushed decision could mean hiring the wrong person and upsetting the well thought-out dynamic of your practice.

Go through the right procedures to ensure you attract the right recruit: conduct first and second interviews, conduct the relevant background checks, and make sure your next recruit is in it for the long haul.

Be Ready

On-boarding a new employee takes up precious time and effort. But if you’re not ready, it will waste even more of your precious time. Make sure you can tick all the boxes on this check-list:

– Is the new hire’s work-station ready?

– Do you have a standard operating procedures document for the tasks the new hire will complete?

– Have you introduced the new person to the rest of the team?

– Have you written out the new employee’s job description?

– Have you assigned another employee to assist the new hire?

Maintain realistic expectations for your new hires, and make it as easy as possible for the new person to ease into their new role.

Don’t Be Afraid to Let Someone Go

If a new person doesn’t perform well, don’t be afraid to fire them. You can’t afford to keep someone on board if he or she is not performing. Not only that, but what you let new employees get away with will be seen by the rest of the team. If it’s not working out, don’t keep the person on.

Building a quality team in your dental practice is crucial to your success.


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Creating a Respectful Work Environment

Respect is part of the glue that holds your dental practice team together, and if your team isn’t feeling respected by their employer, it’s likely that they won’t be dishing it out, either. Let’s take a look at why respect is such an important core value in your practice and how you can cultivate it.

Respect Starts With You

Respect starts at the top, and the best way to earn an employee’s respect is to pay it forward. As a practice owner, you get to make most of the rules, as well as set the stage in terms of the conduct you want your employees to follow in your practice.

Choose your language wisely; encouraging and honest talk is more successful than implementing autocratic policies that don’t give staff members a voice. Make an open space for discussions and let your staff know that you welcome their suggestions about making the practice a more productive space. Be explicit with each staff member about what is required by them in terms of key performance areas.

Hold regular performance reviews where you give positive feedback on successes and suggestions for improvement in areas of weakness. Recognize and reward good accomplishments and encourage your staff to keep raising the bar.

Watch your mood. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stressors of running a practice or to be distracted by what the day holds. Work to stay positive and it will trickle down to your employees too. 

Respect Is Nurtured

Employees who feel respected will treat others with respect, resulting in a comfortable environment for everyone. Your management style will permeate every department, so a respectful tone will benefit and rub off on everyone who works with you.

Respecting Patients 

If your receptionist is stressed out, or your dental nurse is undervalued and overworked, your patients will feel the brunt of it. Your patients do not want to visit a practice where they feel like a number, or where making an appointment is a major effort on behalf of the receptionist. If patients are treated with respect and gratitude, they will feel the intent.

Respect for patients extends to those in the waiting room and those on the telephone, and even though the patient standing in front of the receptionist should always take priority, the way you handle your telephonic inquiries says a lot to the patients sitting in your waiting room.

Express Gratitude

Gratitude goes a long way in conveying and cultivating respect. Thank every staff member and every patient when you have the chance. You can never thank someone too much; those two words will make a major difference in the lives of everyone you meet.


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Dealing with Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office

A medical emergency is one event that dental practices should be prepared for, and the level of preparation determines whether the emergency is handled successfully or not. In this article, we will examine how to develop a plan for handling a medical emergency, and which medical emergencies are most commonly experienced in the dental office.

How Does It Start?

More often than not a medical emergency starts off like any other dental appointment. It doesn’t have to be a new patient either; it’s highly likely that an existing patient you have treated for many years may present a problem. The scenario could play out like this: you administer a dose of local anesthesia and leave the patient with your assistance. When you return he doesn’t experience any numbness so you administer another dose. The next thing you know, your patient is clutching at his chest before becoming unresponsive.

Believe it or not, this scenario has a very real chance of happening. In fact, medical emergencies are 5.8 times more likely to take place in a dental environment than a medical one.

What Are the Most Common Medical Emergencies You Can Expect?

While an emergency could arise from almost anything, statistically these are the emergencies most likely to occur:

  • Adverse reactions to drugs
  • Changed mental status
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Diabetes complications
  • Seizures
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest

Statistically, tooth extractions carry the highest element of risk, followed by pulpal extractions.

So How Do You Prepare Yourself?

The three cardinal rules involve having:

  • The right tools
  • Adequate training
  • Enough practice

The American Dental Association stipulates that dentists and all practice staff members have the right training to deal with any emergencies that may arise in the dental chair and every dental practice should have a plan to deal with medical emergencies.

Step One: Assess

In a medical situation, your first step is to assess it. Is the patient breathing and does he or she have a pulse? Once you have determined an emergency is taking place, you need to call for medical transport and begin treating the patient with the appropriate tools.

Step Two: The Tools

Your emergency medical kit needs to be pre-assembled and kept in a place where everyone in the practice may access it quickly. The essential tools are:

  • Positive pressure or supplemental oxygen
  • Epinephrine to restore cardiac rhythm
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Glucose
  • Benadryl or diphenhydramine
  • Albuterol
  • Aspirin

Optional extras for your medical emergency kit include:

  • An automated external defibrillator
  • Nitrous oxide

Medical Emergency Training Sessions

It is highly recommended that your entire team has BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training. A well-trained team has more confidence and skills available to handle any medical emergency.

Some pointers to enhance your medical training include:

– Hold training sessions in your practice.

– Practice your medical emergency response with your employees, using your own equipment.

In addition to practicing your responses every six months, you should have a written plan on hand to inform all staff members of standard operating procedures to follow during a medical emergency.


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Celebrating the Holiday Season in Your Dental Practice

December offers up many reasons to celebrate the Holidays and it doesn’t really matter what your personal beliefs are; the festive season presents a wonderful opportunity for you to engage with your patients, and attract new ones. The rule of thumb here is to tie your messaging in with seasonality, weather or holiday celebrations.

Show You’ve Got the Spirit

Brighten up your practice with some low-key decorations such as lights or snow on the windows. Perhaps hang Christmas bulbs or snowflakes from the ceiling.
If you usually play music in the practice you might want to swap it for something a little more festive.

Give the Gift of Good Dental Hygiene

The festive season offers many relevant topics you can use to inform and educate your patients—and, of course, write about topics that matter to them. While many patients will be worried about their expanding waistlines over the holiday season, it’s a good idea to remind them about the dangers of sugar to their teeth.

Offer up sugar-free alternatives to tasty festive recipes or eating and chewing tips to minimize sugar damage to the teeth. Encourage year-end appointments before your practice closes for December so your patients can have cavities addressed before the end of year binge.

Send out a holiday newsletter full of useful information so you stay top of mind while your patients are away.

To Gift or Not to Gift?

If 2016 has been a good year for business, you may want to gift your patients. Gifting is a good way to thank your patients for their support during the year, but if you decide to do this remember to keep the gifts simple and be sure to give one to everyone.

If you want to make more of an impact on your community, consider taking the money you would have used to buy gifts and support a local charity with presents or a donation.

Put a Christmas tree up in your reception and ask patients to donate any new or used toys they want to get rid of. You can donate these toys to a children’s charity and make someone’s holiday season extra special.

Communicate Your Opening and Closing Times

If you are closing at all during the festive season, November is a good time to advise your clients. This gives everyone time to plan their end-of-year check ups. Also remind your patients to use their dental benefits up before they expire.

Remember to include a backup number for emergencies. You might be taking your first vacation in a very long time because you’re always around for your patients. But, if someone does have an emergency and doesn’t know who to turn to, you could very well end up losing the patient to another dentist.

Make sure your backup dentist is reliable and prepared to be contacted by your patients.


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Top 5 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Office Manger

When recruiting an office manager, you’ll need to make sure your new hire has skills including initiative, character, experience, communication and a positive attitude. Making sure you hire based on these traits will put your dental practice and staff on the road to success.

A Healthy Attitude

When the going gets tough, it helps to have someone with a balanced and healthy attitude leading your team. When a patient has a toothache and a low pain tolerance, it’s common that his or her mood may be affected, which can lead to communication struggles between your practice and the patient. Having an office manager that can deal with difficult patients on a regular basis is the difference between a successful practice and one that lags behind the competition.

Taking Initiative Is Part of The Job

Initiative is what will move your practice forward. Sure, you need someone diligent who will dot the i’s and cross the t’s but your practice requires more. An office manager who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and do his or her job without your constant direction, can take the weight off your shoulders.

A Hardy Character

Hire a manager with a resilient character who is able to work with difficult patients and vendors.

Employ an office manager with a tough character who won’t go to pieces every time someone complains or who isn’t easily overwhelmed when the phone rings off the hook. Check out the recruits’ EQ before hiring and you’ll spare yourself many headaches in the process.

Experience is Critical

Your dental practice manager is essentially the face of your business, and if that person is inexperienced, it will show. What kind of experience are we talking about? The answer is varied experience, which ranges from your practice management software, finances, and patient records.

It All Starts with Effective Communication

A good dental practice exhibits effective communication, and before you can convey this to the patients, it has to take place internally. An effective office manager can use his or her discretion to gauge which incidents need to be conveyed to you and which can be handled without sounding the alarm.

Of course, for this decision-making to take place it helps if your new office manager is empowered and knows where they stand with you and your dental practice.

Once you’ve decided which traits are most important to you and your practice, structure your interviews so your candidates can effectively demonstrate their capabilities. Ask how they would perform in certain situations and make your hiring decisions based on their answers.


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How to Make Your Office a Positive Workplace for Your Employees

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” but how can a leader influence their environment so that it’s an optimal workspace for others? What’s important to remember is that if you cannot build a positive practice and give your patients a positive first experience, you may quickly lose them to your competitors.

A negative practice atmosphere may include a high staff turnover, personal conflict and even a higher incidence of illness. Your employees are your link to your patients and any cracks in your team will be obvious to those who visit.

However, if you can maintain a positive climate in your office, your practice is more likely to flourish. Here a few tips for keeping the atmosphere in your practice on the right track:

Encourage Career Building

There’s a big difference between having a job and building a career, and if you want your employees to be engaged in their work, helping them pave a career is a great way to keep your team moving forward. Show your team the vision you have for the business and keep them informed of any upcoming changes. By keeping your team in the loop, you give them the opportunity to align their personal goals with your expectations.

Lead by Example

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it just to be sure: be the change you want to see in your practice. Your team is an extension of you and if you lead in a positive and strong manner, your team will follow your example. The impression you make on your team is a lasting one, so make it a good one. The example you create contributes to the culture you grow in your practice.

Your company culture influences the attitudes of your staff and their behavior. It also affects the harmony of the team, the type of employees you attract, and the levels of stress present in your practice.

Involve Your Employees

One of the tenets of a positive workplace is employee engagement and involvement. For this to happen, the practice owner needs clear and direct communication channels with all employees. Yes, your dental practice staff need to know what their roles and responsibilities are, but more than that, they need to be involved in the bigger picture. They need autonomy in their jobs and the ability to make decisions based on the practice philosophy.

Show Your Appreciation

Paying a regular salary to your employees is the minimum you can do as a leader and practice owner. If you want to engage your employees and make them feel valued, you need to show your appreciation.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Give a note that says how much you appreciate the effort or extra input provided by an employee. Stop by a co-worker’s office to let him or her know how much you appreciate their input and involvement.
  1. Send a small gift to single out someone who has gone the extra mile for the practice. Be sure to let others in the practice know the reason for the gift and that they, too, can earn one. Showing favoritism is not encouraged, but having a special gift as in incentive is a good idea.
  1. Provide a structured bonus and raise plan for your employees based on their performance. Maintaining quarterly reviews for your staff allows you to engage them on a one-on-one basis.

Having a positive attitude, clear objectives, and excellent leadership skills will help you build an exemplary practice that both patients and staff will love.


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Dos and Don’ts for Blogging

Ten years ago, a dentist could have been forgiven for questioning the validity of blogging and social media. Today, however, these channels have become essential tools for any dental professional hoping to add value to their practice.

A dentist with an active online presence shows that he or she cares about educating his or her patients. Blogging also helps establish professional credibility and can improve your status as an industry leader. Maintaining a blog, with relevant keywords also has the power to boost SEO rankings and keep your website at the top of Google, which can lead to increased online visibility and in turn, more clients.

So, how do you get started blogging and what components of a blog can help or hurt your practice? Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to consider when adding a blog to your website: 

  1. DO Know Your Target Audience

Establish the type of patient you want to attract to your practice. Focusing on your specialty can help you to further understand your clientele. Once you have identified your audience, write content that speaks to their interests and needs.

  1. DO Invest Time Developing High-Quality Content

A patient could probably find a dozen articles online regarding dental implants and the importance of good dental hygiene, but what do you have to offer that is unique to your target audience and its needs?

Blogging is an effective way to circulate informative and interesting content that your audience will care about, which can lead to higher engagement and potential clients. Consider your strengths and feature content that showcases what makes you different from other dentists. We recommend offering your readers a level of information that they’d be unlikely to find elsewhere; in a language they can understand.

  1. DO Participate and Listen

Are you experiencing commonalities in the problems your patients are facing? Could a single blog post help more than one patient?

Use any feedback you receive from your patients, and let it inform the topics you cover on your blog. Let the chair-side manner you’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the years shine through in your writing. Utilize friendly language when speaking to your audience.

Listening, responding, and considering feedback is an essential component of building any great business. Make sure you follow, read, share and comment on any content written by your peers.

  1. DON’T Forget to Use Your Own Words

Don’t make use of trademarked or copyrighted information without a citation of the author’s permission.

  1. DON’T Infringe on Patient Confidentiality

While it can be effective to showcase studies and examples of your work, remember not to post anything about a patient or employee without their written consent in the form of a signed waiver. This includes photographs, radiographs and even testimonials.

  1. DON’T Post Graphic Images

While images can add to your blog posts, make sure they do not depict overly graphic material. You don’t want to scare patients away.

  1. DON’T Forget to Share Your Content on Social Media Channels

Blogging provides SEO value for your website but your articles can reach a wider audience if you share them on your social media channels too.


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Four Ways Dental Professionals Can Give Back to Their Communities

Giving back to your community is an extremely gratifying concept and something that can assist you in building your reputation as an ethical dental professional. While some professionals prefer to give monetary donations, others would rather give of their time. We have compiled a few ideas to help you with your community giving initiatives.

  1. Volunteer Your Time

Giving of your time is an extremely noble action, and there are many organizations and charities in need of physical help from passionate and qualified professionals. You could give a quick talk at a local school to parents and students about the importance of looking after your teeth from a young age, or you could consider donating time or funds to one of the following organizations:

Missions of Mercy

Missions of Mercy holds events in conjunction with America’s Dentists Care Foundation and offers dental services such as cleaning, extractions and fillings.

Donated Dental Services (DDS)

Through the DDS you can help some of the community’s neediest individuals.

Give Kids A Smile

Give Kids A Smile provides free dental care to children who come from low-income households completing important work in terms of restorative and preventive care.

  1. Hold an Open Day

Consider having an open day at your practice where you invite people to attend a talk about something you feel is important to the community and your patients. Or, consider offering free screenings for oral cancer. There are many people who can’t afford a screening but fall into the high-risk category because they smoke or chew tobacco.

  1. Donate Money or Supplies

There are many worthy causes that need donations of basic dental services and supplies to people who cannot afford it. Consider donating toothpaste samples, toothbrushes and mouth rinse  to a local shelter or one of the following organizations:

Healthy Smiles Healthy Children

This organization helps prevent the development of cavities in young children whose parents cannot afford dental care.

American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation

The AACDCF also does important work in restoring the smiles of those who are affected by domestic violence. Through their free service offering, they have also assisted thousands of people to rebuild their self-confidence.

  1. Offer Your Own Services at a Discounted Rate

There are still many people who cannot afford dental insurance. If you can’t make the time to support a charity, consider offering a discounted rate to people from low- income households, pensioners or young children.

The upcoming holidays are a great time to focus your energy on giving back to your community. Whether you choose to donate time, money, supplies or services to those in need, your efforts will be appreciated by those in your community.

The NAPB specializes in bringing dental practice buyers and sellers together. For expert advice on how your dental practice can positively impact your community, feel free to contact us.


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Preparing Your Dental Practice for Seasonal Ups and Downs

Like any other business, dental practices experience seasonal ups and downs. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself busy during the slow seasons in preparation for a successful 2017.

  1. Take A Vacation

Practicing self-care isn’t just about eating right and getting enough sleep. Allowing yourself to take some time off when dental appointments slow down can help you reduce your stress levels. Allow yourself to take a vacation when times are quiet. This is preferable to planning something over the holidays or summer break, which are typically busy months because children are out of school.

Taking a vacation will also recharge your batteries and help you prepare for a busy year ahead.

  1. Remodel or Redecorate

If you wanted to repaint the inside of your practice, have new floors put in or remodel your waiting room, the slow seasons are a great time to renovate or refresh your office. In fact, even if you don’t have plans to do any major renovations, it would be wise to give your practice a decent deep clean while business is slow.

  1. Start Canvassing for New Patients

If you have a marketing plan to get new patients for 2017, the end of 2016 is an even better time to start. Create your marketing pitch and strategy to gain new patients. What activities can you plan month-to-month to keep your practice active and visible in your marketing channels of choice?

Social media is an excellent tool for getting the word out about your services. We recommend actively utilizing any of the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) to connect with potential patients, colleagues and influencers in your community.

  1. Focus on Your Strengths

How can you differentiate yourself from your competition? What are your strengths as a dental professional? What do your patients need? What qualities does your practice have that differentiate you from your competitors?

Focus your 2017 marketing budget on the services that drive your practice and send your patients a clear message that your office out-performs the competition.

  1. Increase Bridge and Crown Production

Research shows that December, January and February are the busiest times for dental practices, in terms of bridges and crowns. This is because most people want to use up their dental insurance before the new cycle kicks in. Make sure your office is well-equipped to handle the rush of procedures that increase during the busier times of the year.


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6 Questions to Let You Know If You Are You Ready to Grow Your Dental Practice

Every small business eventually hits a plateau.

When you reach this stage, start looking to grow some aspect of your practice. Whether you choose to automate certain processes to free up some time for yourself or hire new employees in order to grow the practice substantially, you need to reconsider your current position.

This is also relevant if you’re looking to sell in the near future, as growing your practice before you do so could add significant value to the sale.

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if it’s time to expand your dental practice.

  1. Am I willing to train new people?

Growing your business and hiring new staff takes both time and money. You’ve got to be realistic about the investment you’ll have to put into training these new staff members.

Before expanding, ask yourself honestly; am I willing to spend the time training new people?

  1. Do I have enough consistent revenue to hire new employees?

If you are going to take the risk that comes along with growing your practice, it’s vital that you make sure that you have enough revenue coming in. You need to schedule at least 4 to 6 weeks out if you are considering hiring new staff.

  1. What new roles will be important to my practice?

Knowing the direction that you want to take your practice is important, and one of the things you need to ask yourself is: what roles will best compliment my business going forward?

Maybe you need to hire another dental assistant, or you need someone for scheduling or treatment coordination. Whatever the case, knowing this is essential, so make sure you’re crystal clear on which roles can best improve your operation.

  1. Do I have an untapped market available?

If you’re doing well and there is still an untapped market within your reach, this is a good sign that it’s time to grow.

  1. Have I established enough rapport with my current community?

Don’t look to grow unless you are sure that you have stability with your current market. Until you have established real relationships with your new patients, you can’t be sure that you’ll have a full schedule.

  1. What can I outsource or automate?

Outsourcing and automation can work wonders for your business growth. However, you want to understand what you can and are willing to outsource. For example, hiring a virtual assistant is a cheap and attractive idea, but it can come across as impersonal to your client base and damage your image in the long run.

Adding value to your dental practice through expansion is always something that should be in the back of your mind, however, deciding the best time to do so is important.


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