4 habits that create chaos and ways to change them

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Working with dentists to create highly effective and smooth running practices, I've discovered some common habits that teams have that create chaos. The disorder and confusion that come from these actions are completely self-imposed. This is great news because as soon as you recognize what you are doing, you and your team can change.

Here are four chaos-creating habits that you can change immediately:

1. Telling patients to arrive at their appointment time

Jen Butler, MEd.Jen Butler, MEd.

When your front desk informs patients to arrive at exactly their appointment time, you are forcing your entire office to run behind schedule. This causes them to rush through procedures, feel pressure to hurry patients through the care, potentially run into lunch hours, and leave later than their scheduled time.

Instead, train your team to inform existing patients to arrive 10 minutes before and new patients 15 minutes before the appointment. This gives the front desk staff time to review paperwork, allows for patients to be a few minutes late, and ensures the clinical staff has the full appointment for clinical care.

2. Talking about same-day schedule during huddle

If you and your team are reviewing a same-day schedule during your huddle, you are creating chaos in your day. Too often, your staff miss crucial information to be fully prepared for each patient's appointment because you don't take the time to discuss the appointment in detail.

Instead, talk about patients at least 24 hours in advance. Make sure to discuss any deliverables that need to be in the office, insurance coverage, financial balances, next phase of treatment, family appointments, and more.

3. Calling to fill the schedule

“As soon as you recognize what you are doing, you and your team can change.”

One habit that owner doctors require of their staff is to call patients or move them up to come in same day for an appointment. Whether it's to fulfill a production goal or simply keep their staff busy, spontaneously bringing patients in the same day doesn't give you or your staff time to prepare for their visit. It puts pressure on your team members to perform functions in a spur-of-the-moment environment that triggers the stress response. It also forces them to handle the immediate shifts in front of them rather than giving them the space and time to properly treat your patients.

Instead, if today falls apart, focus on making up your production tomorrow or throughout the week. It doesn't always have to be done the same day.

4. Adding treatment

When you add more production to an already full day, it's called going beyond your capacity. There is only so much you and your staff can do with the number of hands you all have. Thinking you can do more and maintain control is a common lie dentists tell themselves.

Working your staff beyond their capacity is also one of the top reasons for team turnover. It goes to job satisfaction, and when staff members feel as if their work environment is out of control, they look for someplace else to work.

Instead, acknowledge your capacity and schedule to it but not beyond it. As long as you are scheduling new patient appointments within five business days, recare appointments within 10 business days, and treatment within five business days, you are scheduling within normal standards to retain your patients.

Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners. For business coaching and consulting, leadership, and stress management services, contact her at jen@JenButlerPartners.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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