Every dentist knows that delivering excellent dentistry is stressful, most dentists will tell you though, that running a successful office is more stressful than the dentistry they deliver. Getting everything done in a day can be stressful or sometimes you end up handing off the running of your business to someone else without you really feeling involved, yet you feel resentful when you must clean up the mess from not being involved. Usually, I find that improving communication skills in an office is paramount in making permanent change.
I would like to offer some communication tips that will help your office run smoothly and make it successful without being stressful.
- I can’t say this enough, create lasting relationships with both your team and your patients. Getting to know your team members, their families, and their lives outside of the office will work to ensure that they feel connected to you as employer. The team will be happy to talk about themselves, make sure you are an owner who listens to the employees, it will make a difference, I promise.
Creating lasting relationships with patients comes from asking the patients about themselves and connecting with the patients about more than their oral care. A patient will be very impressed if the next time they come in you ask about their specific job or the new roof on their house, whatever the follow up is from your last conversation with them. Taking the time to make those connections will help you develop a loyal following. These connections will also help set your practice apart as being different than all others.
If your patients come into an office where they feel connected and they can also feel that the team is connected with you as well. If you can you achieve this you will have a winning connection.
- Almost every office that I work with will tell me that their lack of communication is what causes stress in their day. Communication comes in many forms, whether it is getting to know your team as I mentioned above, writing notes in software about patient care, sharing information about changes you would like to see in the office or having written protocols about systems that you want to happen uniformly in your office. Communication is core to make our daily routines successful. All communication includes two ingredients, content or message and meaning or feeling. Ensure that your communication has both aspects to it whether you are delivering it verbally or in writing. Taking the time to hone your communication skills, it will be worth taking the effort.
- If you are an owner who hands over the running of your practice to your Office/Operations Manager then you have to know that there will be hiccups that you may not like in the office. A good Manager will be proactive, have their finger on the pulse of the office and be able to have the office run the way that you like. You need to feel that you and your Manager are partners in successfully operating your practice. Finding a Manager that has these skills is harder than you expect, it takes time to build trust and comes from spending dedicated time each week discussing the operation of the office. Investing time in regular meetings will ensure that your hiccups are minor and can easily be rectified, this is time well spent.
- Working with your team on their patient communication skills is more than providing them with scripts of what you want them to say. It is having your team communicate in a unified way by delivering the same message from the clinical rooms to the admin desk. It’s getting everyone to work as one through written and verbal communication. This only happens if you develop a culture where everyone feels that they have a stake in the practice. This circles back to point number one, if your team is happy, feel heard and part of the process then your patients will feel it.
Changing communication channels and changing culture doesn’t come with a snap of your fingers. A plan needs to be set and several steps need to be put in place. If it sounds like an overwhelming task, feel free to connect with me for a complimentary call to provide you with some specific steps you can take to achieve your goals.