Building a Dental Team for Practice Success

Building a great dental practice means putting together the right team of people. I know from my own experience just how difficult this can be: not only do you need to find candidates with the right skills for the job, but you also need to find people who will be a good fit and who share your vision for what good dental care means!

I’ve explored the topic of building a better dental team in this space before, but given how important this is to the overall success of your practice, I thought it might be helpful to share a few more outside-the-box considerations when looking to build your team.

Don’t Just Look for Competencies, Look for People

One common mistake many small businesses make when hiring new team members is to focus on the candidate’s credentials to the exclusion of everything else. Obviously, when hiring new staff you want to make sure they have the training, knowledge, and expertise to do the work – but you also want someone who will fit in well with your workplace culture, and has the soft skills to help your clinic thrive.

People with the following soft skills will help improve efficacy and efficiency, while contributing to a positive atmosphere:

  • Self Confidence – From receptionists to hygienists, employees who exude confidence contribute to a sense of calm and trust throughout the clinic.
  • Compassion – Going to the dentist is the second most common phobia in the world, so when you work in dentistry, you need to bring compassion and a soothing demeanour to the job to help patients through the process.
  • Attention to detail – Being detail-oriented and having a mind for the little considerations goes a long way in a dental practice. Missing small details can lead to scheduling conflicts, and in the chair, it can mean that patients may not understand the rational for treatment and/or may have unrealistic expectations about the outcome.
  • Time management skills – In any job, it’s essential to use time wisely, but it is especially important in a dental clinic, as everything from scheduling dental procedures efficiently to lab case tracking to patient follow-up requires managing time efficiently.

Many recruiters have noted that often the most “impressive” candidate ends up not being the best fit, because the things that make a candidate look good on paper and in an interview – extroversion, charm, and an elite education – don’t necessarily mean they will perform well in the context of your clinic. 

Look for Workers Who Can Grow Alongside Your Clinic

Hiring a new team member is an investment, and just like with any other investment, you want to make sure they will grow alongside your business.

This is why it’s important to ask candidates lots of questions about their career goals and overall direction. Someone might seem like a great employee, but if they are only considering a short-term commitment, it may be more advantageous to find someone else looking for long term stability.

Invest in Onboarding

Finding good people is only the first part of building your team. Once you’ve made your hires, you also need to take the time to integrate them into your team. All too often, promising new employees are given a cursory tour of the clinic, introduced quickly to the rest of the staff and then thrown into the deep end.

In my recent post about dental staff training I noted that training new staff offers a great return on investment when done properly. But it isn’t just inexperienced or junior staff who require training: even people who have been working in the industry for years require some investment in onboarding if they are to gel with your staff and become productive members of your team.  

Onboarding should involve going over technical tools that team members will be expected to use like practice management software, automated patient communication and digital radiography, but it should also be designed to ensure that new hires know where they can go to find help and support when they have questions. 

Investing extra time and energy upfront will pay off down the road in the form of fewer errors and less turnover.

Engagement is the Key to Reducing Turnover

Building a dental team isn’t just about making good hires – it’s also about retaining them (just like patient retention is also critical for practice success!)  Once you’ve got your dream team in place, you’ll want to hold on to it. Experts have been saying for years that the healthcare industry has a major turnover problem – industry-wide turnover is hovering at twenty percent.

High turnover rates are bad for morale and threaten your bottom line. It can cost thousands of dollars to replace an experienced employee – losing good workers comes with a serious price tag!

Working at a dental practice can be stressful, dentists and hygienists are held to high performance standards every day, which is why it is important for owners to make special efforts to ensure their team feels engaged, happy and fulfilled in their work.

Building a strong team for your dental clinic takes time and effort, but securing the right people for your growing team is always going to be a good investment. Putting together a sensitive, collegial, and patient-focussed team will pay dividends in terms of patient loyalty and long-term success. 

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