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
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There is the good, the bad and the ugly of dental practice management, but many dentists will still tell you the probability is your dental consulting will work if you and your consultant are on the same page. It stands to reason that if a dental consultant had little value, worth or benefit that consultant could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. A veteran dental consultant is also a "personal coach" who shold bring management wisdom based on "in the trenches" experience along with systems and protocols to that have been successfully implemented in other practices. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what systems work and don't across many dental practices.
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What gets monitored, gets managed. It is as simple as that. 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 for re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee.
What most practice owners are lack in knowledge is not how to book an appointment, but rather how to be an effective leader. 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.
Questions To 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.
Top Dental Practice Mangement Consultant
My name is Kevin Tighe. I am Cambridge's CEO and Senior Consultant. Before joining the Cambridge team I was in charge of setting up workshops for large nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from several world-class business consultants, including a dental practice management guru, which led to a position at Cambridge as their seminar organizer. In time, I began crisscrossing the country delivering seminars myself for the better part of a decade. Subsequently, I moved up to senior consultant and eventually owner. Contributing writer to Dental Economics/DIQ, JADA, AGD Impact and Dental Town Magazine.
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