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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Explaining the Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Patients

In the last ten years, the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

One argument against these devices is that although they were created with the intention of weaning smokers off cigarettes, they may now have the adverse effect of introducing teenagers to smoking, acting as a kind of ‘gateway drug.’

Various studies have recently emerged to suggest that e-cigarettes may have negative impacts on our dental health too.

As a dentist, you need to offer your patients value. This means providing them advice on how to maintain dental hygiene both inside and outside of the office.

E-cigarettes may be better than traditional cigarettes if you compare overall dental health outcomes, however, educating your patients as to the real risks of e-cigarettes is a responsibility that you have as a dentist.

Here are some of the findings that you need to know.

  1. They cause damage to gum tissue

A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center found that e-cigarettes can damage gum tissue just like conventional cigarettes.

“We showed that when the vapor from an e-cigarette is burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” said Irfan Rahman, lead author of the study.

  1. They inhibit the body’s ability to produce saliva

One symptom that e-cigarettes appear to share with traditional cigarettes is that the nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva. The result is that you can become susceptible to bacteria and build up, as well as other negative outcomes such as dry mouth and tooth decay.

  1. They lower immune defense and alter gene expression

One study out of the University of North Carolina found that e-cigarette use altered hundreds of genes, some of which were the same ones that are suppressed by smoking.

“We honestly do no yet know what long-term effects e-cigarettes might have on health,” said Ilona Jaspers, lead author of the study. “I suspect that the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking,” she continued.

  1. They may be harmful to lung health

Research out of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) found that e-cigarette use was related to a range of respiratory symptoms. Included among these was the exacerbation of asthma.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice for a while or sell in the near future, educating your patients on dangers of e-cigarettes adds value to your practice and is always worth the extra effort.

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4 Dentistry Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2017

As the dramatic year that was 2016 comes to an end, it’s important to look towards the future.

While it’s difficult to predict exactly how the economy will change in 2017, we can take measures to ensure our small businesses have the best chance of thriving.

Adopting an effective marketing strategy can boost business and establish you as an expert in your field. An innovative marketing campaign can generate consistent leads in addition to adding value to your dental practice.

Here are 4 Dentistry marketing trends to look out for in 2017.

  1. Storytelling and Interactive Digital Ad Campaigns

In the digital age, audiences have become immune to the barrage of traditional image-based digital advertising, which may lead to an increase in video marketing.

Video-based digital advertising campaigns target potential customers in your area and allow you to tell a story that has the power to increase patient trust. Posting videos of your practice across social media channels highlighting your service offerings keeps you on the radar of your current (and potential) clients.

  1. Increasing Interest in Automation

Traditional sales funnels lead customers from awareness of your brand to interest, decision and finally action. This outbound strategy can be both slow and costly for your dental office.

Creating an automated marketing funnel allows a symbiotic relationship between your marketing and sales, and is vital for dentists who want to maximize leads and minimize time and energy. The most obvious way to capitalize on this is through an email marketing campaign. Once you have captured the email address of your prospect, send them a series of emails that offer value and lead towards a sale. Campaigns can also target customers you already have, so they are periodically reminded of your services and remain repeat customers.

  1. Continuing Importance of Customer-Service Orientated Dentistry

Dentistry has become an increasingly cosmetic-focused industry in recent years, with younger patients looking to dentists to ensure picture perfect smiles. However, there is still a fight against old stigmas that prevent many from going to the dentist’s office.

With the rise of platforms like Yelp and Trip Advisor, which facilitate customer reviews, it’s increasingly important to ensure that your patient feels satisfied with the services you provide. Encourage happy clients to write a review of your services online, and make sure to address any negative reviews directly and in a professional and timely manner.

  1. Personalized Dentistry

Ensuring your clients have a personalized experience is an important part of quality customer service.

You and your staff need to make an extra effort to personally remember patients’ names and details and that any points of contact you have with them can reinforce that knowledge.

People have become tired of the impersonal relationship they have with corporations and big businesses. Sending out holiday and birthday cards, or even simple text messages and updates can break down the barrier between the business and consumer. Taking the time to personally interact with your patients will introduce a familiarity that people want with the services they need.

Even if you are looking to sell your practice in the future, it’s important to ensure that you have effective and current marketing tactics in place. A strong marketing campaign will notably increase the value of your practice.

What marketing trends are you anticipating in 2017? How are you looking to incorporate these new trends into your business strategy? Let us know in the comments!

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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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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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5 Simple Tips to Help Dental Patients Cut Down On Sugar

Routine check-ups can provide a consistent income for many dental practices, however, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, most dentists entered the industry out of a real care for the oral hygiene of their patients.

It’s therefore in their best interest when dealing with clients, to educate them as to the hazardous nature of sugar in their diets.

When explaining anything to the general public, however, it’s vital that you break things down into small, actionable steps if you want to make real change.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice or hold onto it for many years to come, educating patients is important for the entire dental community, so don’t hesitate to offer advice when people come in for a check-up.

Here are 5 simple tips for dental patients to help them cut down on sugar.

  1. Look for the secret sugars

Most people think of sugar as something that they only find in sweets or junk food. It’s important to let people know that even fruits can have high doses of sugar and therefore too much fruit (or fruit juice) isn’t always a good thing.

Also, when buying groceries, advise patients to look out for the other names under which ‘sugar’ may be presented, such as sucrose, maltose, molasses, glucose, fructose, corn syrup and many others.

  1. Eliminate sugared breakfast cereals

Another important point is to watch for sugar in breakfast cereals. Most will have upwards of 10 grams of sugar per serving, equivalent to a tablespoon of sugar, (and many of us may have 2-3 recommended servings of cereal).

Tell your patients to try a sugar-free alternative such as porridge or oats and to add their own sweetening in the form of Stevia or Xylitol.

  1. Start small

Remember that if your patients are heavily reliant on sugar they may even have withdrawals, their palate may be too accustomed to sugared foods. In this case, switching them completely off sugar could make them associate low-sugar foods with poor taste.

Instead, advise beginning with small changes such as switching from dark chocolate to milk chocolate at dessert time and putting honey in your coffee as opposed to standard, processed sugars.

  1. Educate patients on sugar alternatives

A lot of the time patients may be completely unaware that they are choosing the unhealthy option.

If you can educate them as to alternatives that have less sugar in them, it will go a long way to cutting down their sugar intake.

  1. Always brush after eating sugar

While consuming sugar is one problem, letting it sit in your mouth all day is another. Try to encourage patients to always brush after consuming sugar, or at least each some sugar-free gum to try and remove as much of it as possible.

The more value you can offer you dental patients, the more likely they are to come back to you. So make sure you take every opportunity you can to offer them useful information.

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5 Quick Tips to Improve the Ambiance of Your Practice And Reduce Patient Anxiety

Tell me you didn’t have this experience when you were a child.

You’d find out you were going to the dentist, maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t. Either way, your parents would drag you along for a check-up, and when you walked in, you felt a sudden surge of anxiety.

The lighting reminded you of an old horror movie, the sounds and smells quickly brought back memories of the drill, and suddenly the dentist’s office was the last place you wanted to be.

Though it’s probable that with your own practice, the associations you have with the dental office have changed, it’s important to remember that this could be happening inside the mind’s of your patients.

This is why when it comes to increasing the value of your dental practice and attracting patients in a competitive market, the atmosphere of your office plays a huge part in your patients’ experience.

Here are 5 ways to improve the ambiance of your dental office and helped reduce any anxiety that your patients may experience.

  1. Don’t try too hard to be a dental office.

Most dentists will try and mimic the competition and create a ‘nice dental office’, but remember that you want to distance yourself from any preconceptions that your patients may have.

Smell is the most primitive sense, and the one most attached to memory, so if it feels like a waiting room or smells particularly like a dental office, it can remind patients of childhood fears. Remember to maintain a professional environment but try something different like a calming aromatherapy diffuser filled with lavender or chamomile scented essential oils.

  1. Look at your lighting.

Natural light reminds people of open space and the outdoors and reduces any feelings of claustrophobia. Make sure your practice is well lit but also that it is not too bright and doesn’t have any lights pointing directly in the eyes of your patients.

  1. Give patients something to do.

The last thing people want to do in your waiting room is sit in silence and think about the dental procedure they’re about to have.

Make sure to keep interesting fine art on the walls, magazines and books to read, toys for children to play with – pretty much anything to divert their attention from any anxiety they might have.

  1. Take some tips from spas.

A trip to the dentist doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, if you take some tips from the business model that spas use, it can even be relaxing.

You may want to introduce things like heated and scented towels, offer patients hot tea or water while they wait, and provide eye masks for those sitting in your waiting room. These small details can help relax and calm jittery nerves and can contribute to a patient’s positive dental experience.

  1. Consider your colors.

Changing the colors of the paint in your dental office is a quick and inexpensive way to help your patients feels more comfortable. Consider light shades, as opposed to dark, striking tones. Colors such as beige, light blue or sage green can all be particularly effective.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice or stay with it for years to come, it’s important to improve the atmosphere of the practice if you want to keep your patients satisfied.

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