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Dental Practice Consulting: Be Smart With Staff

Dental Practice Consulting: Be Smart With Staff

1. Time is money

It is the small things that add up to consuming vast amounts of time, and as we all know: Time is money.

Too often, staff members look busy but are in fact simply handling unnecessary work they needlessly generate caused by inefficiencies, lack of training, and so on.

Some examples that generate unnecessary work are listed below:

Lab case is not in the office when the patient arrives.
A message is taken but not given to the correct person.
A patient leaves the office without an appointment.


The patient's phone number is incorrect.
There is incomplete information in charts.
Incomplete insurance information has been submitted.
Appointments are not confirmed.
Insurance is not verified.
Patient health history is not completed.
Financial arrangements are not made.
Treatment plan sequence is not written up.
Incomplete treatment is not followed up.
Extra dentistry services are delivered in the back, but front desk is not notified.

Part of being an excellent leader and executive is seeing that employees are provided with effective on-the-job training and overseeing routine quality control of them as employees.

2. Focus on one area

It can be difficult, but fight the impulse to address multiple issues at the same time. When there is a downtrend, practice owners tend to try to fix more than one area at time. The best approach is to find one area to focus on. For example, if doctor productivity is your focus, fight the impulse to address other issues, such as marketing, continuing care, or financial arrangements, at the same time.

3. Active feedback

If you wait until the end of the month to notice that none of your plans was implemented or effective, expect your team to get upset. When it comes to coaching your team to excellence, you must be active and timely with your observations and feedback.

If on the first day of the new month, you have added $1,500 in new treatment to the schedule, you need to praise your team's progress, analyze the success points, and reinforce the remainder of the plan.

4. Monitoring the numbers

Monitoring numbers is one of the most important functions a practice owner has. It's all about control and keeping an eye on achieving certain goals. How to "read" the numbers and decide what actions to take depend on what the numbers tell you.

Statistics are like x-rays or a car dashboard. Statistics tell you and the employee what's going on in a specific area of the practice. If a statistic is trending down, then it is likely that something changed, which means you need to figure out what changed and get it back.

This often happens when someone new takes over a position and changes things, or some successful action is changed or stopped.

As an example, you see that the new patients statistic is trending down. You know that handing out referral cards is a successful internal marketing action, so you look into it and discover that referral cards are no longer being handed out. Obviously, you want you get that fixed quickly and implement changes so that successful action does not drop out again.

A smart fix would be to assign responsibility to one employee so there's accountability. You would also be wise to set a quota in your morning huddle for the number of cards handed out on a daily and weekly basis, as well as having the statistic of "number of referral cards handed out" reported daily at your morning huddle.

Dealing with staff issues is not fun. In fact, I think it's what dentists like the least about owning a practice. I've had clients who have literally gotten ulcers at the thought of disciplining or dismissing an employee. The good news is that, even if you are not a natural-born leader, you can still learn enough management and executive skills so that you are able to get smart with your staff.


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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