EP43: Maximizing Your Hygiene Production & Patient Care with Robin Roberts


Listen in to Wendy and Robin Roberts, a current in-the-trenches hygienist and hygiene coach, discuss the WHY and HOW they consistently double or triple hygien production. How to create a dynamic hygiene department that not only supplies restorative work to fill the doctors schedule, but also stands on its own as a contributing factor in practice growth, patient retention and ultimately treating our patients in their own unique circumstance for the best result. 

“EP43: Maximizing Your Hygiene Production & Patient Care with Robin Roberts” Transcript:

[music] Welcome to the Double Your Production podcast with the Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it, who are in the trenches, who know exactly what you’re going through. And now your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs. [music]

Hey, welcome, everybody. This is Wendy Briggs, your host for this episode of our Double Your Production podcast. Today I’m flying solo. We don’t have Dr. John with us, right? We are recording this podcast to focus specifically on maximizing potential in hygiene, so I’ve invited a very special guest to join us today, one of our incredible hygiene coaches. Her name is Robin Roberts. Hi, Robin.


We’re so glad you’re with us today. We have an–

Thanks for having me on.

Yeah. Yeah, I know our listeners will be very happy to hear some of your insights. So we have an incredible team of hygiene coaches that work with practices all across the country, and I invited Robin on– and I’m sure we’ll do some podcasts with some of our other coaches as well, but I invited Robin on because she has just been doing some amazing things, getting some incredible results with the dentists and hygienists that we work with across the country, so I wanted to invite Robin on to share some of her little inside secrets with us on how she gets such great results teaching our materials. So, Robin, let’s go ahead and give our listeners just a quick introduction to your story and how you came to be a coach with the Team Training Institute.

Sure. Well, I think I had the awesome opportunity. I found out later that it was very, very rare to hear from you, Wendy, in hygiene school. Now, later I found out that’s not something that you do, go around to hygiene schools and teach hygienists who are still in the program, but I remember taking probably like 10 pages of notes from what you taught and I remember thinking, “This lady knows what she’s talking about. If I want to be a good hygienist when I graduate, I need to do everything that she’s telling me right now.” I just knew it was different from anything else I was learning, anything else I had read. So I’ve actually been using your material, your program, your protocol, right out the gate. From the day I graduated, I knew that was the kind of hygienist I wanted to be. So long story short, you and I caught up a few years later at a CE event and I was like, “Hey, I know you. You’ve taught me everything. You are the way that I do hygiene now.” And that’s how we connected. I think it was a blur from there, Wendy, honestly. I [inaudible]–
Yeah. Well, we are always looking–

–my idol [laughter].

That’s awesome. We’re always looking for exceptionally talented hygienists who live what we teach, right? And that’s ultimately how all of our hygiene coaches come to join our team is they’re living what they teach. So I love [crosstalk]–

Right. It has to be that way because we’d be teaching something that we’re not practicing, and nobody likes that. You’ve got to practice what you preach.
And that’s such an important element that we bring. So let’s just give our listeners– let’s pretend they don’t know anything about who we are and what we do, and let’s talk about– obviously, my approach to hygiene, my philosophy when it comes to hygiene, is all about excellence is to do common things in an uncommon way, and we find that so many practices reach out because they recognize that they’re not maximizing their potential in hygiene. Now, we often talk about how today’s climate is really challenging when it comes to hygiene. Insurance companies are squeezing dentists. They’re slashing reimbursement–

–rate. Hygienists are feeling like they’re being pressured to produce, produce, produce and get more people through the door. Get them in; get them out. And and that’s just almost completely opposite of what we teach. We really have a philosophy that production’s never the goal. Instead, production’s what comes when we do the right thing for our patient. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Robin, I want you to share– when you first meet hygienists and you go to practices that you’re going to coach, what do you think the climate is? How do hygienists receive us initially?

I think they’re a little bit terrified, honestly. And I have to say, I don’t blame them at all. When you hear the word consultant or coach or– basically, somebody’s going to come in and tell you how to do your job. That feels weird, threatening at the very least. And also we have this kind of stigma, I think, associated with just the word consulting or coach. And so I run into hygienists a lot who are instantly like, “What is this about?” They have a lot of assumptions that is– you kind of just mentioned earlier, they are assuming we are there to talk about money, to turn them into a factory, right, this money machine, and that patient care is going to fall by the wayside. They’re so nervous about that. And honestly, I welcome that attitude, because that’s not what we want. And so hygienists should be concerned about that. They should have their patient at the forefront of their mind and as their number-one concern. And as soon as they realize that’s our goal, too, we become aligned very, very quickly. You are the one who taught me, Wendy, that there’s only a couple ways to make more money in hygieine. We can either slash appointment times and fit more appointments into the day. Right? Quantity, you taught me. Or we can increase the quality of each appointment. And we can take really good care of the person who’s in our chair. And we have found, over and over again, I don’t think I’ve ever not seen it happen, that that hygienist, working with that quality model will outperform.

Yeah. Absolutely. So the quality model, increasing the production per encounter, is how we impact revenue in the positive. And as you mentioned Robin, hygienists can get behind that because we all feel good– we love to have hygienists understand that when we elevate the level of service to the patients, everybody should win. The practice wins, the patient wins, and the provider should win, too. And when they understand that and they see the fruits of their labors, if you will– when we look at increasing the production per encounter because we’re focusing on patient care – again, production’s never the goal; production’s just the result when you do the right thing – then like you said, we get immediate buy-in from the hygienist. We start with the why. I think that’s why it’s so powerful and we get such tremendous results so fast– is the hygienists have clarity on why these services matter and why the patient benefits.

I agree.

And then [crosstalk] how. So talk with our listeners about how we help hygienists improve. What are some of the things that you find can help hygienists embrace and utilize preventative services, just as an example? Very, very quickly– because it’s not uncommon for you to go spend a day with one of our clients and the very next day, hygiene– double or triple where they were before. And I know some dentists listening might think that’s just impossible. Some hygienists listening think it’s impossible, too. But you show them how.

Yeah. They might think also, “You must just be giving us very best-case scenario. You might be taking the best person that had the best result and using that example” as double or triple. But I giggle because we don’t not see it. When they implement what we’ve taught them, it’s results the next day. So did you say about the how? Is that what you wanted me to answer?
Yeah. Talk a little bit about how we do it. We bring knowledge. We start with the why. We share science[inaudible] you talk about the value that these services provide to patients, but what are some of the tools that you have found really help hygienists dramatically improve in a very fast amount of time?

Well, I think everything we do is important of course, but one of my favorite things about our program, that there are so many people. We are not the only people that can say, “Hey, here is what a hygienist should be doing.” Right? We talk about that all the time, that when you are a hygienist, the doctor tells you what to do, and your rep will say, “Oh, hey. By the way, you should be doing more [inaudible]. That would make these numbers look nice,” and everyone knows how to make something look good on paper, but no one tells us, “Here’s how you actually accomplish that in your one hour or in your 50 minutes.” Right? They usually just say, “Here. Why don’t you go do this?” So that’s what I love about us. I love that you’re a hygienist because you can speak to hygienists knowing where we’re at, and that we teach, “Here’s how to realistically get things done.” So I’d say a backbone of a good hygiene program is preventative services. That’s why our patients are coming to us, because they don’t want to get cavities in the future. That’s why they’re taking time out of their day to come every six months or every four months, whatever recall we have them on, and we have to maximize that time in the chair to help them not get cavities in the future. I think one of the most powerful tools that we suggest for all of our offices is something called the risk assessment brochure. Everybody is familiar with CAMBRA, carries management by risk assessment. We learned that in school, the ADA. It’s a standard of care, right, to risk assess our patients, and make decisions about them based on that risk. However, you get out of hygiene school, you go into the real world, and you’re like, “Okay. I have 4,000 things I’m supposed to do in the hygiene equipment. Now I have to pick and choose what I can fit in that hour,” and the ADA used to have a version of the risk assessment survey, I guess, and it was four pages long. Right, Wendy?

Yup. It’s very long, very time intensive, and when we talked with hygienists about doing that, they’d look at us like we were crazy. Right? They’re trying to fit in so much already into this limited amount of time, how are they actually going to use that?

No way we can print a four-page form,  hand it to our patient, and say, “Okay. I’m trying to assess your [cavities?] Would you fill that out for me?” That’s not realistic. That’s why I love us. We function in reality. We don’t say, “This here’s what we hope can happen. Here’s where you should try to step in.” We’re like, “What’s realistic, and what’s the best thing for the patient.” So we have an adapted version of the ADA’s risk assessment survey, which I would say a lot of hygienists I work with, when they see it – one form, from and back – and when they see it, they’re probably still thinking, “I don’t know if I have time for this.” But honestly, we do have time, and we’ve got to. After you use it, it becomes almost like, “How did I talk to patients before I had this [laughter]? How did I talk to them about their risks and services that are important for them?” because honestly, it should take 90 seconds? I do it now, new patients going forward. When I’m working with patients, we do it on our new people, but really we’d want to repeat every 24 months, and it’s not something you hand the patient to have them fill out. We get information from their medical history that we have to look at anyway. We take their x-rays and we see, “Oh, there’s radiographic cavities,” or, “This person is no stranger to the dental chair. They’ve had a lot of work in the past.” That would [inaudible] an increased risk for getting recurrent decay. Right? So there’s lots of things that we can look and pick and choose from typically, I have a couple of things checked off before they’re even back in my chair just based on the medication they’re taking or something I’ve seen on their health history. And that’s really all we need to springboard– it’s like a springboard for our conversation. When we see that they have some risk factors, then we’re going to now talk to our patient about their risk and, more importantly, the way that we can help them minimize their risk going forward. It should be all about camber. We shouldn’t have a blanket statement policy for everyone that comes in our chair. I always joke with my clients [inaduible] sometimes on the phone. I’ll say, “We don’t want to say, ‘Hey we have fluoride and it’s really good for teeth.’ And, ‘Oh, hey. You have teeth. It’s a match [laughter].'” We don’t want to treat people like that. We want to say, “Here’s what I see in your mouth, specifically. And because of your unique situation, here’s the recommendations I’m going to make for you. Not because I make them to every person who sits in my chair, but because you have unique needs and risk factors and things that I need to address as your preventative therapist.”

Yeah. We love that. So we love to– whenever possible, we try to personalize the recommendations based on the challenges that each individual patient has. And what I love about that risk assessment tool– it’s just one tool. Right, Robin? I mean, we love– we provide a chairside tool kit to every single hygienist that attends our training because we want them empowered with, not only what to do, but how to do it. And we want to help them succeed from day one. So that’s just an example of one tool. In fact, for our listeners today, why don’t you go to our W Production Podcast homepage and we’ll actually include that risk assessment PDF as a free download. So anybody listening who wants to learn how we do it and what we do– now, you’re going to be missing the actual, I guess, help with implementation. Right, Robin? Because that’s what comes when we’re actually coaching and working with clients, but at least you can see what it is that we’re talking about. So let’s take just a minute, Robin, and tell them the impact. Because here’s the thing, we always say, “Here’s some of the results that we see.” This is your moment where you can brag on your clients [laughter] for a minute. Really talk about the [help?] that they’re getting day-to-day.

Okay. I have amazing clients and I would be thrilled to brag about them because– oh, my gosh [laughter]. You guys are going to think I’m such a nerd, but I feel like this proud mama hen, almost. My feathers just get all ruffled up when I see my little hygiene babies doing such good things. And when you talk about impact, my mind automatically goes to financial impact, obviously, because that’s how we can track what they’re going. But I love what you said before. Even when we’re talking financials or, “Hey. How much improvement have they had?” That’s not our goal with all of this. We’re not saying, “Hey. Focus on the money, money, money.” But what’s really quite magical about this whole program, is that when we focus on the right things for the right reason, like you said, production is this nice little side effect. And if I can follow my hygenist’s patients home, and say, “Hey. How did Mary treat you? Did she do her best to make sure you’re not going to get cavities going forward? Did she give you good recommendations for home care?” That would be an awesome measuring system. Right? A good metric, but we can’t do that. It’s not realistic. So the realistic way is to look at their personal production. And when we see production go up, we know, “Oh, my gosh. They’re having that awesome conversation chairside. They’re utilizing the risk assessment brochure. The patient is getting it.” And so things that I have seen, very, very cool things, and it’s hard to pick one or two because it happens every day. Every training, I get texts the next day like, “Oh, my gosh. Look at this. Look at what we did. We didn’t even know we had it in us. We didn’t even know we had the time to do it but one that sticks out specifically is a doctor I have in the Midwest. And we looked at her numbers– so let’s see, it was like the first quarter of last year, and she had produced total like of, obviously, in the first quarter, $300,000 or something like that. We did Hygiene Explosion, and so the next year – and we measured that same first quarter – she’d only had our first training and she was up over $100,000 for the quarter, and that entire increase was in hygiene. And I just think that’s so amazing because we talked about what kind of attitude respective to the hygienists have when we come in, and they said skeptical. I’ve noticed that a lot of doctors are excited to bring us in, but they also kind of have this idea of, I don’t know, “Hygiene is there to refer restorative work over to me.” Like, “They’re there, they’ve got to clean the teeth, and then I’ll get some work out of this.” But they start understanding very, very quickly, that holy cow, hygiene can be its own dynamic department all by itself [inaudible] powerful department for our patients. So I’m working with another office in the South, and we’re not even [inaudible], probably about halfway through their first year with us– and huge, huge place, and so that kind of brings it to a different level. It’s not just one doctor [inaudible], but five or six or seven locations and acquiring more all the time. So their hygiene after the first training was up by 55%, which I know doesn’t sound like hundreds of thousands of dollars, but for this place with seven locations was huge. It was huge. That’s a feat, right, to get all hygienists on the same page, treating the patients the same way. And it was quite impactful for them. Their story stuck out to me because a lot of hygienists come from different places, have different, I don’t know, frames of reference, I guess, or ways to do things, not all trained at the same school, and bringing them together to be on the same page to make sure a patient gets the same kind of care no matter what chair they’re in was a really big deal.
Yeah, it is. And moving the needle in larger entities is also a lot of a challenge, so consistency is key. Providing a standard of care that everybody feels good about it also critical. So, as you mentioned Robin, the solo doctor, single practitioner impact– when you talk about that roughly 30,000, $35,000-a-month impact, even for a single location, that is remarkable. We always have said, for years and years, our goal is that our program will pay for itself very quickly, and it does. Time and time and time again it does. But it also continues to pay dividends for years after we come in. And that’s what’s so exciting about what we do is when we elevate hygiene, when we elevate the care that our patients receive in hygiene, very often it’s the spark that just fuels the rest of the practice, and so we end up with a practice on fire and doing amazing, amazing things. So thank you, Robin. I don’t want to keep you too much longer; I know you’re on the road. You actually did an in-office training today, and–

Yes. I’m in Virginia. Yeah.

Yeah. So great. We send our coaches all over the country. We actually send them all over the world. We have coaches in Canada, UK, and Australia as well, so it’s super fun to be able to hear stories from in the trenches, real-world impact. So real quick, Robin, if you could say one thing– if there’s a listener that says, “I really wish my hygienist would do X or I really with my hygienist would improve in this area,” what is one piece of advice that you would give them. Where should they start?

One piece of advice is they need to hear it from another hygienist who knows. We hear it all the time, like I said, “What should we be doing? Our doctor tells us what to do. We go to CE events; they tell us what to do.” They need to hear it from a hygienist who’s done it, who knows it’s possible, who isn’t just saying, “Hey, this looks really good on paper. Now, go ahead and figure that out.” They need to hear it from somebody who has walked the walk, right? And that, I think, makes all the difference in the world. I’ve had several doctors say, “I’ve tried to talk to them about things like this before, but they seem to just listen differently when it comes from you.” And it’s like, “Of course, because we are doing it.” I know [inaudible] doctors in the trenches too, but they’re not doing hygiene appointments day in and day out like we are. And I know you said just one piece of advice, but the last thing I would probably add is you were talking about how this continues to pay. The program not only pays for itself very quickly, but you continue to see dividends for years and years. And I would just say I completely agree with that because once a hygienist learns our information, it’s aligned with the way she wants to be treating people anyway. She just hasn’t figured out how to make it work in the real world with insurance and pressure and time limits and, oh my gosh, patients who are grumpy. We’ve got to figure all of that out. But what I’ve found is that once they hear it, once they learn, once we teach them and coach them and hold them accountable and are there for them, they can’t unlearn it. I’ve had several girls say, “There’s no way we can go backwards.” Even clients who have graduated our program or moved on to one of our other products, they say, “I can’t ever not do this, now that I know it’s the right way to treat people.” And so you definitely will see results for years and years to come.

And we love that. We love that. Well, thank you so much, Robin, for all of your hard work in helping spread our message and helping hygienists and dentists all across the country realize their full potential. For me, it’s such a satisfying thing to see the results that do come when people apply elevating patient care and really work on those systems. So we so appreciate all the work you’re doing, and thank you for sharing your time with us today, Robin.
You bet. Have a good one.

Thanks, everybody, for listening, and we’ll see you on another episode of the Double Your Production Podcast. Have a great day. [music]


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