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5 Tips to Reduce Cell Phone Use at Your Dental Practice and Improve Performance

Over the last twenty years, we’ve watched as cell phones begin to permeate every aspect of our work and life. While this piece of technology is meant to improve our communication and productivity, it can often bring us more problems than it solves.

Smartphones can negatively affect your performance at work, diminish your ability to concentrate, reduce the quality of your sleep, and even cause you to lose empathy and the ability to find real connections with others. This can be damaging if you are trying to run a patient-focused business.

Though it seems excessive, preventing cell phone overuse in the office will actually improve the mood and performance of your staff.

Setting cell phone use ground rules in the office can improve productivity and communication within your practice.

Here are 5 tips to reduce cell phone use at your dental practice.

  1. Keep your phone out of reach

This seems like an obvious tip but making an effort to highlight this to your staff really makes a difference. The reality is that reaching for our phones is usually a conditioned reflex, which means when we have any spare time we’ll go ahead and do so.

What started out as just us checking the time quickly turns into us checking social media and emails, and before we know it work has been left at the wayside.

  1. Place your phone on silent and turn off wifi

One way to solve that constant need to reach for a phone to check social media is to simply put it on silent and turn off wifi. Doing this does require a degree of willpower, so you may want to introduce rules and repercussions for those staff members who fail to do so.

  1. Block social media during work hours

There are a number of free and paid apps for smartphones that allow you to make sure you aren’t able to check social media between certain hours. Though you can’t force your employees to have such things on their phones, you can lead by example and encourage them to do so.

  1. Ask why?

It’s important for everyone to bring a little awareness to the experience of habitually checking our cell phones. Think about why you’re constantly using your phone? Is it boredom? Maybe anxiety? Or simply procrastination? Often just realizing that it’s not for a decent reason will reduce use.

  1. Set windows for usage

This can be hard if, for example, your administration uses cell phones to organize appointments. In this case, it’s recommended that you buy a basic phone with apps disabled so that only relevant calls and texts can be made.

We hope these tips offer some value, and that you and your staff can begin to reduce smartphone use in the office.


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4 Key Tips for Effective Dental Office Design

Redesigning a dental office can be a complicated task. Generally, a dental office redesign requires a significant amount of planning and thought to pull it off successfully. And if you’re looking to sell in the near future, an upgrade is a great way to increase the value of your practice.

What follows are some tips that can help you design a practice that attracts and retains more clients, and creates a more comfortable and productive environment for your team.

  1. Define project objectives

Before beginning an office redesign project, consider the goals you’d like to achieve. What exactly are you looking to get out of this project?

In other words, what is the vision? Maybe you want a friendlier, more calming atmosphere for your customers, or maybe you want to bring newer and more advanced technologies to your office?

Before you start any project determine the size of the changes you want to make. Is this just a small change, or are you looking for a complete overhaul?

  1. Determine a budget

One problem a lot of practices run into is that they have trouble with costs because they haven’t defined a budget. When redesigning an office, consider the overhead costs before embarking on any kind of renovation. Builders’ risk insurance, for example, protects against fire and theft and is one often-overlooked expense.

  1. Think about colors

A dental office needs to be clean and well-organized, from the waiting room to the dental chair. Soothing colors can be a great way to help establish your practice as modern, relaxing and technologically up-to-date. Consider your demographic, is it mostly children and parents? Are a lot of your patients young professionals? Keep in mind that warm colors and shades of blue are often effective in medical environments, contributing to a calm and relaxing space.

  1. Don’t rely too heavily on any one criteria

There are a few things you’ll want to consider when embarking on a redesign or upgrade. Here are three important criteria to think about:

Architectural design. You want an office that looks modern, inviting and has good natural light.

Function. The layout of the office needs to be practical. Consider creating a space that enables direct communication and flow between you, your office administration and your patients.

Ergonomics. Back issues are a very common problem plaguing dentists. Make sure that the practice is set up in a way that allows staff to move around frequently and maintain good posture.

Updating or redesigning your dental office can help to calm nervous patients and add value to your practice.


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How to Keep Staff Morale Up When Preparing to Sell Your Dental Practice

Planning a dental practice transition is stressful, particularly for any staff members who are employed by the practice. A functional and stable team is a crucial component of a successful dental practice transition, and it’s important that your staff convey a positive message to the world outside your practice walls.

These tips will help your staff make your practice transition a little easier.

Never Underestimate the Power of Preparation

The more notice you can give your staff, the better. Time helps people come to terms with change. Provide your staff with a basic overview of the transition timeline and schedule time to discuss any questions and concerns with your employees.

Also remember that different people adapt to change differently and in different ways. Consider enough time for the slowest adaptors to come to terms with the shift.

Communicate About What is Happening

If you decide to have your practice valued, let your staff know that you are considering selling your practice. You don’t have to divulge every small detail, but your transparency and willingness to discuss your future plans will have a direct bearing on the comfort levels of your staff.

Your staff members want to know where they stand with you, so tell them. Speak about the stuff that matters. Will working hours change? Can you secure the employee’s next raise before your departure?

Manage Your Own Stress Levels

If you find the transition stressful, it’s likely that your staff will sense it. Prepare yourself and make informed choices to cope with the pressures of the transition. If you are on top of things, your team will experience less stress about the process.

Treat Each Staff Member as an Individual

When it is time to make an official announcement, communicate with each team member on a personal level. It is important to acknowledge the individual contributions of each staff member in question.

Take time to discuss the staff member’s job security. Explain how important it is that the practice gets their support during this time of transition. Ask each staff member to support the new practice owner and reassure your employees that the new owner has been properly vetted. Your staff members have trusted your judgment for this long. Now is a good time to speak to that and request its continuation.

Promote the Team Approach

Explain how you have sought out professional support for the transition, and that you have the services of a transition expert, accountant, lawyer, and mentor to assist you.


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Get to Know Your New Staff After Purchasing an Established Dental Practice

It’s common for current employees to feel scared, insecure, or intimidated by the transition process so building those interpersonal connections is of the utmost importance. Here are some ways you can do that.

An Honest One-On-One Meeting

The biggest sources of employees’ negative feelings will involve the potential changes that you, as the new practice owner, may introduce. The changes that could evoke negative emotions are the things that affect the employee directly: benefits, working hours, roles and responsibilities, or even keeping their jobs at all. Have a private discussion with each staff member to address these issues directly and as they relate to the employee in question.

Tell each staff member what is expected of him or her, and what your practice philosophy will be. In the event that certain decisions have not yet been made, let the employee know when the decision will be reached. Transparency and honesty form a great foundation for an effective working relationship.

Schedule Individual Training Sessions

Perhaps you worked with a super efficient receptionist in the past, or an extremely diligent nurse who ran your previous practice like clockwork. Whatever the circumstance, you may want to introduce some changes to processes and behaviors.

Hold individual training sessions with each staff member to explain your expectations within each person’s designated role. Don’t expect people to change their habits or behaviors overnight.

Note Feedback

The employees who have been with the practice the longest are likely to have a good rapport with the patients. They will also have witnessed a different management style, so when you are building a new culture, it is worth taking feedback from the staff.

Check Employee Files

Have a look at each employee’s record. If the previous practice owner was well organized you should be able to tell a fair amount about each person. This is a good time to ensure all paperwork is up to date and compliant.

Ask for 360 Degree Feedback

Ask the outgoing practice owner to write character profiles on the staff. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Ask how well they function within a team. Ask staff members to evaluate different members of the team.

Don’t worry about timing. Transitions can go slowly and when people are involved moving slowly has more long term benefit than rushing ahead.


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What Makes an Effective Dental Treatment Coordinator?

A treatment coordinator, whether hired as a primary or secondary role, is employed to ensure that a patient’s cycle of care from diagnosis to treatment runs smoothly.

This includes education, scheduling, and payment, and many dental practices often rush this process. In doing so many are missing out on crucial opportunities to close sales, comfort clients and offer quality service.

Payment shouldn’t be offloaded to a front office staff member when there is a more knowledgeable treatment coordinator available.

Here is what you need to look for if you are considering hiring a dental treatment coordinator:

Someone who is knowledgeable about dentistry

After you, the treatment coordinator is the main figure that will reinforce the professionalism of your dental practice. They should be knowledgeable about dentistry and able to answer any and all questions a patient may have about procedures, general dental health, and industry practices.

Someone who can explain the value of dental treatment

Often when patients initially see the cost of a procedure, they may be a little shocked. Most people are completely unaware of what dentists charge, and if they see upwards of $1000 for a crown, they may not know how to react. A good treatment coordinator will be empathetic and compassionate, and explain things in a clear and simple way.

They will be able to connect on an individual level and are good storytellers who can convey in emotional terms, why it is important to invest in the procedure – which they should do before they show any figures to a patient.

Someone who can motivate and sell

 Dealing with large numbers is difficult, you should find someone who doesn’t shy aware from sharing the figures with your clients and is not afraid to ask for a commitment. Ideally, they should have some background in sales.

It’s also important to find someone who is professional and detail-oriented. This means that they know how to communicate any credit card payment plans and are meticulous when it comes to formalizing and signing contracts.

If you are looking to add value to your practice, a professional treatment coordinator is a great place to start. Make sure, if you are looking to hire something, that you consider the above tips and find the best person possible for the role.


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The Importance of Client Testimonials and How to Use them to Grow Your Practice

Client testimonials can be one of the most important components of your marketing strategy. Many patients looking for dentists rely on word-of-mouth marketing – testimonials from friends and those they trust. Studies show that customer feedback can have a greater impact on your marketing results than other marketing avenues.

 

Testimonials for your dental practice can be collected in a variety of ways and can be used across multiple marketing channels.

 

Here are some tips on how to easily get testimonials and how to best use them:

 

  1. Ask for testimonials.  Most patients are happy to share their positive experiences with others and may not realize how much you value those testimonials if you don’t ask for them.
  2. Make it easy for them. Have postcards available at the checkout counter for patients to fill out as they checkout, send an email with a short survey (no more than 3 questions), or even ask if you can quote them if they share in their conversation how wonderful their experience was.
  3. Provide prompts. Prompts help develop the kind of testimonial you need. Ask leading questions that guide them. For example, you can ask them to list their concerns before their visit, how you addressed those concerns, and where you exceeded their expectations. Even something as simple as “Would you recommend us to a friend?” can be the start of a great testimonial.
  4. Think outside the box. A video testimonial of a happy patient is great to load on your Facebook page and can be a quick and easy way to grab a testimonial from a patient. Make sure you have them sign any appropriate release forms before putting their videos online.
  5. Use the power of social media. Let your patients know through your marketing materials that they can leave reviews on social media sites. Facebook make this very easy for users.
  6. Share patient testimonials in all of your marketing materials. When patients see others testimonials it reminds them how much you value their feedback and can prompt them to provide you with their own testimonial.

Dental practice transitions can be a great time to assess your testimonials and determine if you need to improve your methods for collecting them. Regardless of where you are in a transition or if you’re just beginning to grow your practice these tips will help you easily improve your marketing strategies.


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The Best Images for Your Dental Practice Website

Whether you’re preparing for a dental transition or just trying to grow your practice, images on your website make a difference. High-quality images have the power to educate patients and give them confidence in your practice’s ability to provide outstanding service. They are also an important part of developing your visual brand. Great images make your site more attractive overall, giving your practice a more professional and polished image.

As you select images for your website, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Only use professional photos and images. Photos used should always be of the highest quality. Save your smartphone photos for your social media pages. Website photos need to be high quality and professional. It’s worth it to hire an experienced photographer to take images of what goes on inside your practice.
  2. Include photos of your practice. Pictures of the reception area, exam areas, and staff allow those viewing your website to feel like they know what to expect before they walk into your practice. This provides patients with an increased sense of comfort and confidence and can be helpful for those patients with dental anxiety.
  3. Include pictures of patients when possible. Try to get pictures of patients and shots of the staff interacting with them. These extra steps provide authenticity, warmth, and character to your website.
  4. Details matter. Emphasize the atmosphere of your office and waiting areas by focusing on the small details. Many people seek out practices that have a more homey feel to them, as opposed to a clinical looking office. Make sure you have some well-placed flowers or plants, reading materials, and nice décor and that these small touches are captured in your images. Do you provide TV’s for the patients to watch while they have procedures done? If so, capture that in your photographs.
  5. Keep stock photos to a minimum. Stock photos are best utilized for images that show diagrams of dental procedures or professional/medical details. When picking stock photos use unique images and avoid those that you see in other dentists marketing material.
  6. Consider a before and after patient photo gallery. These are essentially pictorial testimonials and can boost business. Make sure the photos are all taken in the same place so that the backgrounds are consistent and always the same size. Have the patient smile naturally to show the before and after images best.
  7. Try to get photographs in both horizontal and vertical settings. This allows them to be placed where most needed on the website.

Images are an important element to draw people to your website and  into your practice. If you’re selling a dental practice your website and the images you include can make the difference in attracting potential buyers, as well as new patients.


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4 Ways to Offer Improved Productivity in Your Dental Practice

Whether you have a new practice or are have been settled for years, improving the productivity in your dental practice will increase the practice value.

If you are stuck for fresh ideas to do so, we’ve come up with four simple ways you can increase the output of your practice.

  1. Offer new services

Many dentists fall into the habit of providing the same services for years and years, simply because they are creatures of habit. However, as the demographics of the area in which you work may change, and you may be leaving lots of money on the table simply by not offering certain services.

Don’t hesitate to invest in new equipment, and more importantly in yourself, by learning new skills and adding variety to your practice. You may also find in this process that as you embrace novel challenges, your passion for dentistry is renewed.

  1. Focus on customer service

When it comes to improving your production, one thing that dental practices often miss is the human aspect of their business.

Building rapport ensures mutual trust and respect between you and your patients. A strong connection with patients will allow you to have consistent appointments. It will also limit the number of missed appointments and other operational inefficiencies that can put a strain on your practice.

  1. Hire a treatment coordinator

A treatment coordinator can help your patients understand exactly why they need the services you are offering. Even just a small amount of time spent explaining the value of certain procedures can be the difference between a patient being dissuaded by the cost – the average patient has very little idea as to how much dentistry costs and may be shocked when they see four figures on their dental bills. Educating patients as to the importance of oral hygiene will also ensure that they (and their families) schedule regular visits.

  1. Offer flexible payment options

Often patients won’t commit to your services simply because they can’t afford it. If you are able to offer more flexible payment options this can widen the reach you have over certain demographics, bring in more patients and ultimately, improve production.

Whether you are looking to increase the value of the practice for a sale, or simply get through a difficult period, increasing your production is often a matter of being willing to try new strategies.


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How to Improve Scheduling in Your Dental Practice

Scheduling is a key a part of any successful dental practice.

If your practice were a vehicle, your schedule would be the oil that lubricates the engine and keeps things running smoothly.

Because an organized schedule is fundamental, making improvements to streamline your processes should be the first thing you consider before investing in any new technology, continuing education, or clinical skills.

The effectiveness of the scheduling system that you have in place is based on a clinical team that is organized and self-aware. Remember, a well-managed clinic is a valuable clinic, particularly if you are looking to sell.

Here are some tips to improve the scheduling system in your dental practice.

Track your workdays

Although it may be easier to simply estimate how much time you spend on daily activities, tracking your time accurately can save time and money in the long run. Most dentists will find that after they track their days, they have completely underestimated or overestimated how long it’s taken to do certain tasks.

Spend a couple of weeks encouraging your employees to keep a journal of how many hours they worked and what tasks they worked on within this time frame.

From the responses you get, you can then begin to project production relative to annual goals that you set.

Make use of bunching

Bunching means organizing your schedule so similar tasks can be done around the same time. This ensures that you don’t have to completely change a room for one procedure, only to change it back for another later on in the day.

Make sure your administrative staff is aware of the most effective way to group appointments for your practice.

Promote and track hygiene appointments

Many dentists simply use hygiene appointments as last minute a way to fill in gaps in their schedule.

A more effective way to use them is to reach out to your clients directly, promoting hygiene appointments and organizing them well ahead of time so you know that you don’t have to generate leads at the last minute.

Prevent empty appointments

Empty appointments are one of the most frustrating parts of a dental schedule, and when they are frequent, they can be terrible for your profits.

Here are three quick ways to limit the number of empty appointments.

  • Ensure a 48 hours notice and broken appointment fee
  • Make it easy for clients to reschedule
  • Send a friendly message to clients when someone cancels. Something like “our schedule has recently changed and we immediately thought you might be interested in pushing your appointment forward.”

How have you improved the schedule of your dental practice?


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The Importance of Ongoing Patient Communication

With advertisements coming through the mail weekly for free dental exams or discounts from other area dentists, it’s important that you stay present in your patients’ minds through a variety of communication methods. This ensures that they’ll consider you and your practice first.

Here are four great ways to keep the lines of communication open with your dental patients.

  1. Send regular email newsletters – Once a month email newsletters that include an informational article, a coupon (either for a dental service or manufacturer coupons for dental products) are perfect to remain in your patient’s minds.
  2. Maintain an active Facebook page –  All dental practices should have a Facebook page. It’s important to keep the status updates on that page active in order for your followers to see it in their newsfeed. If you can get your patients to interact with you through questions or surveys on the page that’s even better. Another advantage of a Facebook page is that you can use it to give “behind the scenes” peeks to patients. This makes them feel like an insider and will go far in building relationships with your clients.
  3. Focus on quarterly direct mail campaigns – This could be quarterly or even just a couple of times a year. Again the reasoning is to keep your name in front of your patients and prospective patients. Your mailer could be a simple postcard with “Happy Holidays,” a seasonal message, or even a coupon for 10% off their next cleaning.
  4. Remember patient’s birthdays– You have all of your patients’ birthdays with their records. Taking the extra time to send birthday cards really makes an impression on your patients. Have your office staff or a designated person take one day a month to sign and address the cards and send them out. There are services available where you can input the information into an online database and a card with a handwritten font will go to your patients. These hand-addressed envelopes look more personal than one with a computer generated label and are less likely to get thrown away.

Whether you’re a new dentist or one that has been in practice for decades, keep your patients coming back by building strong relationships. These methods of increasing your communication are some of the most effective ways to maintain a successful dental practice.


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