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Dental Consultant Advice: Your Huddle
The two purposes of a dental office morning huddle are
Problem solve anticipated problems in advance of the current day.
The team knowing where the practice stands in relationship to monthly goals and working together to come up with solutions to get on goal when needed.
Not all practice owners want to set daily and monthly goals. I recommend doing so but, the practice owner decides.
The huddle also acts as a bridge for staff transitioning from their day to day lives to the business day.
Huddle Report Form: A customizable huddle form will be supplied to you. The form is gone through at each huddle. It includes a section for monthly and daily goals. If you choose not to track goals, you can delete that section. You can always add in at a later date. You can also add or subtract items from the form as you choose to.
Goals: If you chose to include monthly and daily goals I recommend setting goals for each provider as well as for your overall collections and new patients. You will need to choose which stat to use to set monthly and daily goals: Production? Adjusted Production? Collections? What works best varies practice to practice. Once you decide whether to use production, adjusted production or collections you need to determine what the Monthly and Daily Goals are for the practice and each provider.
Setting Monthly Goals: Do this by averaging out both the practice’s and each provider’s production (or adjusted production or collections) for the past three months. The same for new patients. The goals set should be at least 5%-10% higher than the averages. The new patient goal may or may not need to be targeted higher than the past three-month average. Set higher goals if you like as long as they are realistic.
Set Daily Goal: Divide the monthly goal for the practice by the numbers of working days for the current month. Ditto for each provider based on their number of working days.
Do not allow “office issues” to be taken up in the huddle. The huddle is a No Gripes-No Complaints Zone. You will never get through the huddle in 10- 15 minutes if you allow gripes. The huddle will also be a downer, hated by all and fail.
- The huddle is typically done, in the morning, before seeing any patients.
- Once you smooth out the wrinkles, the huddle can and should be done in 10-15 minutes provided all needed data is ready priorto starting the huddle. Someone from the front desk must have all needed front desk data ready priorto the huddle.
- The schedule and all charts need to be available for the huddle. Typically, DAs and hygienists bring the following patient info:
Pre-medication info or any other pertinent medical info such as allergies, etc.
Patients needing additional X-rays.
- If you are tracking daily goals, each provider provides their previous day’s stat for entry on the form.
- If you are tracking overall collections and new patients, the office manager or an assigned front office employee reports total daily collections and new patients.
- The huddle is never run by the practice owner but, the practice needs to be present as he or she may have vital data needed for the huddle. Non-attendance by the practice owner sets a bad example and diminishes the importance of the huddle.
- The huddle is run by the office manager or if no office manager an individual staff member runs it each week, including assistants, hygienists and associates but, again, never the practice owner. Rotate weekly through all staff consecutively. This option can be done even if you have an office manager in order to increase responsibility among all staff. I recommend having each employee run as described. If you run the huddle that way, the practice owner or the office manager can act as a “traffic cop” to keep the huddle moving along as needed. The office manager or staff member running the huddle fills in the form.
A well-run huddle is not just about goals, targets, collections, etc. It is about providing superior Customer Service.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at
What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?
Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.
Marketing & New Patients
Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background.
Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists
Dental Office Systems
Key systems dental consultants implement:
- New Patient Phone Call
- Insurance Processing
- New Patient Experience and Patient Education
- Financial Arrangements
- Unscheduled Treatment Followup
- Stat Monitoring
- Daily and Weekly Checklists
- General Policy Manual
You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.
What gets monitored gets done.
The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?
The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals
It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.
What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance. Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline:
- Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
- Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
- Set a good example.
- Always be learning.
- Take care of yourself.
- Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.
$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice.
Questions You Should Ask
- Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
- Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
- If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
- The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.