Ep 78: The 3 Things That Hold Practices Back

Dr. John and Wendy collect data from thousands of practices every year and are able to identify the really successful practices and what they are doing differently.

In this episode, they are digging into some common mistakes and blockages that can actually prevent practices from growing.

Listen to this episode and learn how to step around these landmines so that you can have a bigger 2021 than you ever thought possible.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The one factor that disturbs teamwork and who the biggest culprit is
  • What to avoid if you don’t want to be an average doctor with an average practice
  • One question doctors need to ask themselves to determine if they’re a team player
  • The 3 metrics the majority of doctors care about, and why they aren’t good indicators of growth
  • What metrics you should be measuring in your practice to determine success
  • Why trying to maintain harmony in your team can sometimes have the opposite effect
  • How to find your next rockstar hygienist, office manager, or associate (it’s easier than you think)

Listen now:

Dr John: Hey, everybody. Welcome to this edition of the double your production podcast. I'm Dr. John Meis here with the amazing Wendy Briggs. How are you doing Wendy?

Wendy Briggs: I'm doing great. Good to see you, Dr. John

Dr John: Good to see you too, as we're coming into the end of 2020 not the best year ever. But we want to be focusing on the things that are going to make 2021 better. And so we came up with three things that we think every practice should consider. Some, of these are habits or mindsets, but they're really important for supporting teamwork and growth in your practice.

Wendy Briggs: Great. I'm excited to dig in. Often we get asked the question why is my practice not growing? Or we have people reach out to us that said we're doing a lot of things really, well, but we seem to reach the ceiling and we can't break through to the next level. So today we want them to dig into very common things that we see. One of the advantages of Dr. John and I have is we get to see data from thousands of practices every year and we can identify what the outliers do differently than the masses. So more striving to accomplish world-class patient experiences and provide a world-class level of care. There's some things that we see the outliers doing differently. So today we wanted to dig into some common mistakes and common blockages that can actually prevent you from accomplishing the goals that you set for yourself and see if we can help you step around these landmines so that you can have a bigger 2021 than you ever thought possible.

Dr John: So the first one is teamwork which is so critical to dental success, right? It is a team sport and team means everybody, right? And there's the old saying. There's no I in team. But if you scramble the letters a little bit, there is a me. And when I think about that is that we all have a responsibility to the team, right? Everybody has responsibility to the team. And one of the things that I see that disrupts teamwork injures morale, and creates hard feelings is when one member of the team. Doesn't feel like they are responsible to the same rules as the rest of the team and the very most frequent person in the office position in the office that does this as who Wendy.

Wendy Briggs: It's usually sad to say the doctor, right?

Dr John: It is the doctor it is. And so we hear this from team after team. After team doctor comes in light, Dr. misses huddle, doctor comes back from lunch late. They seem to play by a different set of rules than everybody else. If they don't have anything to do, and they're not finding something to do, they're sitting in their office playing on their phone or getting on the computer and checking out sports sites and things like that. So when we have different rules for different members of the team, it disrupts teamwork. So doctors I want to encourage you to live by the same rules that you expect your team to live by, to have the same behaviors that you would expect a great team member to have to be a great team member. You have to do that. So teamwork is supported by doctor's behavior, and if you blow it, you're going to blow teamwork. If you blow teamwork, you're not going to have the results that you would like.

Wendy Briggs: So Dr. John, what would you say to the doctors that say that's why I became a doctor, right? A lot of great doctors worked in dentistry before they went to dental school and they've made a decision to go to dental school so that they could set the rules. What would you say to the people that say that's why I became a doctor, because I wanted to be able to have control over certain things.

Dr John: That's fine. Your results are just not going to be as good. You won't have the same level of teamwork. You won't be able to serve patients in the same at the same level. You won't have the same level of income. If you want to be average, do what everybody else says. And so many doctors say that it's the average doctor thing. It the negative doctor says I don't give a crap what the team thinks about. So that would be one frame. The other frame is no, this is, I'm just different. I'm separate, I'm unique. I'm the owner. So I get to do whatever I want. That's fine. But your results are not going to be as good.

Wendy Briggs: Okay. So today we're really talking about accomplishing big things right. For next year. And what that means is, Hey maybe we reframe the doctor's role in huddle, for example, right? Some, teams, doctors, like I don't really need to be at the huddle. The team's going to haul it without me. As you mentioned, those teams are just not as effective overall day in and day out because this is our. Classic example of a really powerful opportunity that many people don't leverage the way it could be leveraged.

So if you feel like you're not making good progress, it may be because, like Dr. John mentioned, teamwork is lacking somewhere. Huddle isn't happening consistently or happening, because we don't have buy-in from all of the team. That is just one example of place where it can really be hurtful if we don't have commitment from everyone on the team. So doctors just a mental check-in. When you're going about your day ask yourself the question. If one of my team members was, doing this, would it be okay? If the answer to that is no, you shouldn't be doing it either. Kind of that simple Love that. All right. Dr. John, let's move on to the second thing.

Dr John: All right. So the second thing is I consistently see practices that really don't understand or follow their numbers very carefully. I've been in recruitment mode for doctors. I've had the two interviews with different doctors in the last two days. And that was asking them some very simple numbers about their practice and and what they're doing, what their what, their performance is from a numerical standpoint. And they couldn't tell me. And so this is something that's just super, super common. The average dentist looks at collection, production, new patients. That's the only numbers they look at, but that doesn't tell you very much. First of all, it's all historical in nature. There's no leading indicator there. You would think new patients is, but it isn't. So there's no leading indicator. There's no performance of individual positions. Those three numbers are simply not enough. In fact, I'm not sure if I had to pick three numbers, only three numbers that any one of those would be in the three. So really understanding what numbers that you should be watching. So Wendy, from a hygiene management perspective, what are the, some just key numbers? Not a whole lot, but just maybe some screening numbers to see how we're performing. What are some things that you look at?

Wendy Briggs: Yeah. That's a great question, Dr. John, because this the same thing on the hygiene side, do you remember? Not too long ago, I was lecturing for a, large meeting at the AGD. Remember when we could actually meet in person or at some of these secret events. And I asked the room full of great times. But I asked the room. Of hygienists, how many of your production per hour, your production per day, your average production, and nobody could say so this is something that, again, in the past, historically, hasn't been very common in hygiene either, but we are seeing a shift, in focus, right?

Recognizing that certainly for us in our culture and with what we teach production is never the goal. Instead, production is a result that comes and we do the right thing for the patient. So how can we understand or know that we're doing well, serving our patients at the highest possible level. If we don't know what we're producing every day, if we don't, if we're not measuring or tracking the services we provide, that's really important. So when we look at numbers of hygiene, we might look at. Production per visit. We might look at production per hour. We might look at production per day. I don't care how you measure it, but you've got to have a handle on services offered in hygiene, but there are other numbers to your point, Dr.John, that are maybe more important I would look at reappointment rate, patient retention rates are super important.

I also want to know about case acceptance. What are we talking about in that hygiene appointment and how many patients that we propose treatment, necessary treatment? How many of those patients are accepting the care? Are we really partnering with our doctors and helping patients see value in the treatment that they need and moving forward. So there's a lot of numbers like that, that I'm looking at. I'm also looking at, specific numbers on the preventative therapist's role. What about fluoride? What about sealants? What about desensitizing services, what about radiographs?

We get into a level of specificity that I think is really important to get a good sense of how our patients are being treated. We want every patient to we'd be allayed, deserve the very best we can give them. So we want to make sure that it's actually happening in, in the patient appointment. So there's so many numbers and I haven't even touched perio but on the perio side, the perio diagnostics, perio acceptance. All of those paint, a big picture and tell a story. And to your point, Dr. John in today's world, we should be able to see our numbers in real time. It's no longer enough to look at this spreadsheet at the end of the month and see where we are as a team. And as a practice, we should be able to see the data in the moment so that we can make adjustments before 30 days has gone by. So these are really, indicators of a practices on top of their game. And that's why we have such a great partnership with dental intelligence, Dental Intel, because they help us do such a good job at seeing the numbers, tracking the numbers, measuring the numbers in real time.

Dr John: Yeah, for sure. So those are some great hygiene numbers to watch on the doctor's side. Some of the same things. One of the things I would look at is average dollars per exam that were diagnosed, diagnostic percentage, case, acceptance percentage. Those are those things are the things that add to the schedule today that add to the schedule tomorrow, little more Of leading indicators so that you can see where the practice is heading and if you know where you are and what the range is of acceptable, then you know where to put your efforts. So knowing the numbers is just absolutely so critical. And we could do a whole day on this. Wendy, in fact we, we probably have. Because understanding your data and making management changes based on your data is the way that practices really take off understanding that they want to identify the low-hanging fruit, the easiest thing that they are going to do in order to move the needle and focusing on that, fixing that before they move on to the next thing, that's what really gets practices great momentum and great reasons.

Wendy Briggs: Yeah. Couldn't, agree more.

Dr John: So the third one, Wendy is

Wendy Briggs: We talked about accountability and having difficult conversations. So every single practice that we work with. Most likely could be improved if we were committed to holding our teams accountable and each other accountable and having difficult conversations when people are not performing to the level that they need to be. This is a tough one because as human beings, many of us resist confrontation, it's just not in our nature to want to have some of those conversations. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. And sometimes we tolerate a behavior. Or lack of behavior for far too long to our own detriment.

Dr John: Yeah. So the typical human response to this, particularly among people in dentistry, because people are in dentistry are kind caring, compassionate people, right? And so the typical thing is something's going on. That shouldn't be going on. We don't say anything cause we want to maintain the harmony right, but it irritates us more and irritates us more, and eventually. Eventually there's a blowup. And so we want to prevent that and the way we prevent that is addressing things early. So that we have those conversations before things are way out of whack and almost any team.

If you can get them to talk about what's really happening. So we have a saying all progress begins with the truth, and if we can get the team to talk about what's truly going on and the doctors talk about what's truly going on and get them to talk to each other about it, that is such an amazing position for the practice to be in, to have a breakthrough when everybody finally trusts each other enough and is bold enough to talk about the truth and how we can improve.

Wendy Briggs: I couldn't agree more. And I think that's another common thing that the outliers do differently than the masses is. They actually have systems built in. So their leadership structure to do a regular check-in with the team members, we call these personal development interviews and they can be a tremendously valuable tool to use as you help your team grow. We love to see everyone have the opportunity for a bigger future. But what that means is we have to let our team know what our expectations are of them beyond the annual review, how are we working on developing our people?

And I know through this. This COVID challenge. One of the things that we hear from so many is that, gosh we're down team members and we're having to hire so many new we're still short-staffed. And, sometimes we run around with our hair on fire, just trying to get the very basics done on a consistent basis. But what that means is we really aren't putting in the necessary work to develop these team members and new hires we're, in crisis mode, not development mode. And so I think one of the key things that can be holding practices back is not having a systematic process for regular check-ins with our team, regular communications, and actually having tools designed to help us develop our people.

How many times Dr. John will say, Oh gosh we just need to find that rockstar hygienist. We need to find that rockstar office manager. And wouldn't that be great like you can go to the store and in the description, pick out all those qualities that you need does it work that way? And, sometimes you have to develop the rock stars within your team and give your team members the opportunity to step up and take on more responsibility and have those difficult conversations with the ones that aren't getting the job done so that you can continue to grow and break through those barriers.

Dr John: Yeah. If it were only that easy that you could just hire it. Now, I'm not saying not to be cautious on your hiring and not pick really the best people that you can find, but superstars really aren't found they're made and starting with the right raw materials, have a great attitude and a good work ethic. If you start with those two things and people the rest can come along, but it doesn't just show up. It, is developed over time.

And so I just had this conversation a week ago, Andy, in in a, practice that I was in and it was they were, down to one assistant. It was just a one doctor practice. They were down to one assistant and they were not, they were already hiring. And the one assistant that they were down gave notice. And the doctor didn't want to hire anybody because they hadn't found that superstar yet. It's okay you're going to find out. Having no team is a lot worse than having a team. That's slightly less than a superstar. But it's just it's, just this thing that w so many dentists have is that I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna wait till we get that. Are perfect person. And that person may not may, be long and coming, and you may lose an awful lot of revenue in the meantime.

So getting people with great attitudes, good work ethic, and then being able to talk to them about how they can improve being able to confront it when they're not doing what they should be, being able to have those conversations. In a way that maintains their confidence, right? Cause we all perform better when our confidence level is high. And so when we have corrective conversations being able to do those in a way that maintains the person's confidence is super important. So that skill, but if there's one skill that a management team needs to have, it's that one.

Wendy Briggs: Absolutely. And holding the team accountable for the things that we have agreed on. What's amazing is when things are working well, and we have that leadership team and we are leading with our core values. They are the ones that often come to you as the owner and say, Hey, we don't think so-and-so is a good fit. They're not living the values and these areas. And as a team, we're tired of picking up the slack and maybe we'll be the ones that derive those crucial, difficult, challenging conversations. To everyone's benefit. And once that's ha that happens, it's really an exciting time for everybody. It's really great for us to see that happening. And it takes so much off of, the doctors shoulders.

We'd love to see doctors to be able to put more time and effort into doing what they love to do. And that's one of the ways that we help teams get there so tough conversations, but boy are they so important. And if, we fix that, it's amazing what happens to fuel growth in the practice after some of those conversations are had.

Dr John: Once we get great teamwork, then we build trust. When we build trust, we can have these conversations directly and soon, quickly, and do them in a way that supports everybody and supports the team.
And that's when magic happens.

Wendy Briggs: I couldn't agree more. Yeah. It was great chatting with you on these three things that could hold practices back and it's, always a little bit different doing some of these double your production, podcasts and shows on Facebook live. But every once in a while we do it just because it's fun to be able to engage in a different way with some of our audience. And we appreciate you joining us today!

Dr John: Thanks everybody. We'll see you on the next episode of the double, your production podcast.

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