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Dental Consultant Tip: The Dr. Nice Syndrome

Dental Consultant Tip: The Dr. Nice Syndrome

Many dental practices can appear very busy, but over the years, when I have drilled down into my client's numbers (pardon the pun), I have found many were underproducing by as much as 40% or more based on their production capacity.

For a practice to produce at the highest level it is capable of, the key has everything to do with your staff and your skills in leading and managing them.

The practice owner

From a management viewpoint, the biggest problem in most dental offices is the practice owner. Why? Because most dentists want to be Dr. Nice with their staff. This translates into an avoidance in dealing with staff situations, which then fester and eventually blow up while production suffers.

The skill most practice owners need most is not how to book an appointment, verify insurance, or confirm appointments. While these and other systems are vital, what practice owners are mostly missing are the skills needed to create a team of willing and responsible staff who take initiative.

The Dr. Nice syndrome ties right into another production killer ...


Have you ever walked into a restaurant or any other business and noticed employees who didn't get along? How did it make you feel? Probably like turning around and getting the heck out of there.

I recently received a call from a dentist who was at his wits' end about an ongoing conflict between two of his staff members. Short of locking the two in a room and throwing away the key, he was at a loss as to what to do. I told him he didn't need to anything.

"Are you kidding? I'm pulling my hair out here," he said.

“The biggest problem in most dental offices is the practice owner.”
I took a deep breath.

"I understand, but there's a much bigger problem in your practice," I said.

"What could be a bigger problem than this?" he growled.

I took an even bigger breath.

"The problem is you."

Sound familiar? Anyway, that knocked him for a loop. Then it began to sink in. He was the one who had allowed a skirmish to turn into all-out warfare by letting it smolder.

No weak links

Dental practices are considered to be a small business in terms of how many staff members are employed. Therefore, no dental practice can afford any weak links if that practice is to operate at high level of efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

All your staff must "have your back." There are no in-betweens. When a practice owner fears getting rid of an employee or thinks the employee is irreplaceable, staff sense the fear, and some will try to take advantage.


When staff do not follow even the most common-sense policies, this is a breakdown in either the practice's hiring protocol or the practice owner's leadership and management skills.

Staff noncompliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. It is vital for practice owners to identify what management and leadership skills they lack and take action to remedy any deficiencies, such as poor communication skills or a tendency to micromanage staff.

I have found a properly designed morning huddle is a key management tool to assist in getting staff to follow through on vital tasks. This is where staff members are held accountable. Key numbers are reviewed. The day and week are gone over as to how on or off target the practice is for the monthly goals, as well as task assignments, targets, and even quotas. With a proper format and form, the huddle should take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes.

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. 


New Patient Phone Call

Insurance Processing

New Patient Experience and Patient Education

Financial Arrangements



Unscheduled Treatment 


Daily and Weekly Checklists

General Policy Manual 

Staff Accountability

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 

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?

  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance?There are advantages to both.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

Shane Blake DDS Coudersport, PA

My name is Kevin Tighe. Consultant. Coach. Mentor.

My mission is to advise, recommend and help implement proven systems to grow your practice . 

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 partner and now sole owner. 


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