3 Team Building Ideas for Dentist Offices

Practice Management, Team Building and Clinical Coaching

team building in your dentist office

While creating beautiful smiles for your patients may be what you do best, it’s just as important to keep your team smiling!

If your dental practice is not running smoothly and productively, there could be a problem with the office culture.

Here’s a question for you: What is the culture of your dental practice?

Do employees show up each day to work? Does everyone occasionally attend a staff meeting? Do the workers call each other co-worker?

Or does everyone share part of their life as a member of a team, coming together with support, assistance, and encouragement to improve smiles? There’s a popular saying that is popular because it is so true: Teamwork is the dream work. But also understand—teamwork doesn’t have to be a dream. You can make it a reality.

When you have a team, everyone is happier. Including your patients.

My name is Jennifer Pearce, and I’m the owner, founder, and lead executive coach at Prosperity Dental Solutions. I’ve been involved in dentistry for almost a quarter of a century, including 18 years as a practice administrator and four years as co-owner of several successful practices. Trust me when I say—I know the dental industry and what it takes to have a successful team.

In this article, I’m going to let you in on some great tips and ideas, including 3 team building ideas for your dentist office.

  • Idea #1: Open Communication
  • Idea #2: Create a Team Atmosphere
  • Idea #3: Offer Rewards and Incentives

Team Building Idea #1: Open Communication

One of the most common reasons people feel like they are going to work as an employee rather than being part of a team is lack of communication. Each team member should feel comfortable and confident about talking to every other member of the team.

Sure, an “open-door policy” is a great start, but it’s not enough.

Communication needs to be ongoing and all-encompassing. Think of it like hygiene. You don’t just wash your hands once in the morning, and then you’re good all day. You also don’t just wash your hands. You take a shower. Wash your hair. Brush and floss.

Make a commitment to promote healthy communication between all team members. To begin the process, hold a team meeting.

The team meeting should include:

  • A safe, positive atmosphere
  • Let everyone know they will be heard
  • Squash any judgment, negativity, or finger-pointing
  • Make sure each team member knows the vision and mission of your practice
  • Layout your expectations and goals
  • Ask them for their input regarding what works well and what doesn’t
  • Ask outright the team’s perception of current communication
  • Get their ideas for improving communication
  • Encourage them to address any problems as they arise
  • Inquire if the team members feel they receive adequate feedback about performance

Now that the lines of communication are open, keep it going. Schedule regular team meetings. This shows your availability and proves your commitment to the team. You could do shorter, more focused meetings each week, and longer, more open ones once a month.

At the monthly meetings, consider asking open questions. For instance:

  • What was the biggest challenge you faced this month?
  • What did we accomplish, or what goal did we meet?
  • What is working well or not working well?
  • Is there anything we can do to improve things?

Have a daily morning huddle. If you’ve ever watched a sports team in action, you’ve seen them huddle. The huddle allows them to communicate and encourage each other. Keep it brief—maybe 10 minutes—focused, and on-time. This allows the team to check-in, set daily goals, and discuss what the day looks like.

Team Building Idea #2: Create a Team Atmosphere

When people like each other, they feel more like a team member. Okay, so not everyone can always get along with everyone else, but when people have a chance to get to know each other, harmony comes easier.

Create opportunities for non-work-related activities to boost friendships. This increases morale and productivity.

Help your team members build friendships and harmony. Consider some of the following in and out of office ideas:

  • Plan regular fun activities outside the office—or put someone else in charge of doing this. Bowling, mini-golf, happy hour, a cooking class, a baseball game, batting cages, roller skating. The sky is the limit. Get creative. You will soon appreciate how much getting silly and laughing together builds a team.
  • Buy them lunch. You’d be surprised how much your team members will appreciate a free meal! You can bring in lunch for everyone at once or treat one member at a time as you get to know them.
  • Encourage potlucks. The fastest way to someone’s heart is through the stomach. Let the team members who love to cook or have a prized recipe shine. Those who don’t cook can contribute drinks, chips, or bread. Consider holiday potlucks and birthday month celebrations.
  • Bring in an ice cream truck to treat everyone with their favorite option.
  • Have dress-up days based on themes and offer prizes for the most creative, best design, etc. Consider superhero day, pajama day, silly socks, luau theme, favorite sports team, etc.
  • Get everyone involved in volunteering. Serve the less-fortunate together at a soup kitchen or enter a 5K as a team.
  • Experience continuing education together. This not only encourages bonding, but it helps improve the care for your patients. It could be a seminar, webinar, learning lunch, or in-office training.
  • Want to go really crazy? Close the office for a day and use work hours for a fun, non-CE event, such as opening day at the ballpark or a day trip somewhere.

Once you get to know your team better through open communication, you can tailor activities to fit them better.

BONUS:

When you do fun activities, post pictures and videos on social media. Share it in newsletters and on your website. Patients like to know the people who care for their oral health enjoy having fun together.

Team Building Idea #3: Offer Rewards and Incentives

People work for paychecks. While many employers believe the paycheck is enough of reward, know you can do better. It doesn’t have to be big, dramatic, or expensive. You just want to acknowledge outstanding performance.

Look for ways to boost morale by offering rewards and incentives. Some may be known, such as a bonus or team event for hitting a certain goal. But you should also consider handing out unexpected acknowledgments.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have a stack of gift cards or awards for things like an ice cream break and hand them out as you catch team members going above and beyond.
  • Recognize team members for doing well publicly.
  • Have a corkboard in the breakroom to post notes regarding the positive behaviors of team members. Encourage everyone to write notes to each other.
  • Consider gifts for reaching goals. This could be something like tickets to an event, amusement park, or movie, flowers, a fruit basket, a trip to the spa, or gift cards to a restaurant. Again, get creative.
  • Consistently encourage team members.

Get Started on Building Your Team Today

If you want to get serious about building a team that works well together and makes your practice more enjoyable, I can help. Contact me online or call (817) 975-4576 today to get started!

Happy team building!

The Impact of Phone Etiquette on Your Dental Practice

Practice Management, Team Building and Clinical Coaching

dental practice phone etiquetteIt happens to all of us—frustration when making a phone call.

Maybe you have an urgent question and call during business hours—but after four rings, you hear a voicemail message. Or the person who answers immediately says, “Please hold.” After several minutes of music (or even worse, silence), you assume the person forgot about you, so you hang up.

Maybe you just want to talk with a human—not listen to a never-ending automated message that forces you to choose from a laundry list of options.

No one likes the above scenarios. They cause mistrust, irritation, and a lack of confidence. The results can be detrimental to a business. The customer calls the competitor instead. Probably even leaves a bad review for everyone to read.

Is your dental practice losing patients due to lack of phone etiquette? If you haven’t provided your team with proper phone training, then chances are good the answer is YES.

At Prosperity Dental Solutions, we offer coaching and consulting services to improve the profitability, accountability, and success of dental practices. Few areas can impact the health of your practice more than the telephone.

It’s important to understand that how your team handles phone calls has a direct impact on your business’ profitability. Here at Prosperity Dental Solutions, we offer phone training sessions so your team can build new patient appointments, improve patient satisfaction, and increase profits.

What first impression does your dental practice make?

As everyone knows, first impressions matter. When you consider the fact that most patients’ first contact with your practice is over the phone, you begin to realize the importance of proper phone training.

Don’t take the chance of losing potential patients to someone else because of a bad first impression.

When your practice phone rings during business hours, is it answered every single time? Ask your team. If they are missing phone calls, chances are you don’t know about it. Does your team realize the importance of the phone? If they are busy with a patient at the desk, do they ignore the potential patient who is calling? Set the expectation that the phone is answered 100 percent of the time.

The goal should be to answer every phone call on the second ring. The third ring is the “last chance ring,” right before voicemail picks up. Your team members should not allow a fourth ring to happen. And they shouldn’t answer on the first ring.

Why not the first ring?

While answering the phone is the priority, how your team members answer the phone is just as important. The tone of voice matters. Will the caller encounter a warm and welcoming tone? Or will they be turned off by an uncaring attitude? For the potential patient, the voice on the other end of the phone gives them an idea of how they will be treated in the office.

Get the first impression right. The small amount of time between the first and second ring is all it takes to focus and set the tone. It gives you the opportunity to take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and direct your attention to the caller.

What lasting impression does your dental practice make?

Have you ever been on the phone with someone who was rushing you? Finishing your sentences, cutting you off, and redirecting you?

Maybe you’ve been met with a negative attitude from the person on the other end of the phone. You could sense the eye rolls and hear the sighs.

Compare that to the last phone conversation you had with someone who was a joy to talk with.

Now ask, what experience do your patients have when they call your practice? Are their questions answered? Do they feel valued and important?

Or are they left with the feeling that their call is a nuisance?

Do the answers they receive build confidence, or do they leave the patient feeling that the staff doesn’t have the time, patience, or ability to deal with their questions?

Sadly, many dental practice employees see answering the phone as an interruption. It takes them away from something they are trying to accomplish, and they get annoyed. And the patients sense that. If this happens in your practice, you can be certain it is costing you.

Instead, you want your team to see answering the phone as an opportunity. Each phone call can present the chance to schedule an appointment or solve a problem.

Don’t Let the Telephone be a Reason to Lose Patients

Avoid the most common phone mistakes, such as when:

  • The person answering the phone is not able to help the caller with questions
  • The team member answering the phone is distracted or annoyed
  • Patients are put on hold—and left there
  • Patients are transferred to someone else—and get voicemail
  • Voicemail messages are not returned in a timely manner

Don’t lose potential or existing patients due to poor phone etiquette. With proper training, team members can learn how to deal with phone calls the right way.

Make sure every team member who receives questions from patients has answers. Consider putting together an FAQ page that staff can refer to, so they don’t have to remember things on the spot. This not only adds to the comfort level of those answering the phones, but it also ensures that patients are given correct and consistent answers.

Let your staff know the importance of answering the phone with a smile. Did you know the brain releases endorphins when you smile? These endorphins increase happiness and reduce stress. Patients can actually “feel” the smile through the phone and will be more likely to set an appointment.

If the staff really is too busy to fully help the patient on the phone, instruct them to ask permission to call the patient back in a few minutes. And then actually call them back in a few minutes.

Emphasize the importance of focus. No one feels important if the person they are talking to is busy doing other things. Patients hear the clacking of a keyboard or papers shuffling in the background. And when staff members multitask, they miss things. Sometimes important things, like neglecting to document a severe allergy, heart condition, or history of joint replacement that requires prophylaxis antibiotics.

Emphasize the importance of a graceful goodbye. Thank patients for calling. Tell them it was a pleasure to speak with them. Invite them to call back if they have any more questions. And wait for the caller to hang up, in case they think of one more thing they want to discuss.

Start Increasing Your Profits by Improving Phone Etiquette

Your team members probably don’t want to turn patients off with their poor phone manners; they just haven’t been trained properly. Stop losing patients over the phone. Contact Prosperity Dental Solutions today to learn more about our phone training sessions.

Take your first step towards achieving a prosperous dental practice.

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Practice Management, Implementation and Mentoring of Systems

 

Testimonials

Practice Management, Implementation and Mentoring of Systems

"I highly recommend Jennifer as a dental coach and as a person who understands what it takes to drive improvement. She has a wealth of experience and knowledge that makes her an invaluable tool in strengthening a practice. My practice has been successful, however, I knew that I wanted to take it to another level. Jennifer has a keen understanding of the ins and outs of running a practice, and what it takes to elevate all aspects of the practice. Whether it's a desire to improve treatment case acceptance, create more harmony and positive energy at the office, or implement the vision of the practice, Jennifer has the know how to make it happen. She says it as it is, and is down to earth and honest. I have already seen improvements across the board in my practice since we have been working together. I'm excited about the growth opportunity and confident that I have chosen a partner who understands the practice needs, and the intricacies needed to achieve the change I'm seeking. My team loves her and she has been a huge component in the success of my practice."

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