Don't settle for average: Achieve excellence in your dental practice

2016 05 24 14 35 52 802 Mc Kenzie Sally 2016 400

There are a lot of average dental practices out there. These offices do OK, but they're certainly not reaching their full potential. Don't let your practice fall into this category. Instead, focus on creating an excellent practice that truly stands out. When you do, dentistry becomes more fun and more profitable.

Of course, building an excellent dental practice isn't easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication -- from both you and your team members. You have to strive for excellence in everything you do, and that includes creating an exceptional patient experience and providing top-notch care. To do that, you must be willing to change -- which is why so many practices remain average. If you don't break out of your routine and make the necessary adjustments, you'll never reach your goals.

Don't settle for average. Here's how you can achieve excellence in your practice:

Remember it all starts with you

Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Creating an excellent dental practice takes work. It also takes being open to change. If you're not willing to change, your team members will see that and respond in the same way. That's not going to get your practice anywhere.

Don't forget you're the practice CEO and the one everyone looks to for guidance. Set the right example and team members will follow suit.

Get team members involved in the process

Yes, you're the practice leader, but you're not going to get much done without support from your team. Team members should be part of the process as well. The more employees are committed to making positive change, the sooner your practice can go from average to excellent.

What's the best way to get team members involved? Talk with them about practice goals and the changes they'd like to see -- and really listen to what they have to say. Let them know how much you appreciate their input and their contributions to the practice. Create an environment where they can talk with you about their ideas. They'll feel valued and will take more ownership of their systems, helping the practice move toward excellence.

Come up with a plan

This is the first step toward making real change. I suggest you ask these questions to get started:

  • What is the practice vision?
  • What do excellent practices do differently? How can we get there as a team?
  • How can we get the most out of our marketing efforts?

Use your answers to guide your plan for change.

Don't forget about your patients

Patients can be a great resource and often have opinions about changes they'd like to see in your practice. Some will tell you what they think unprompted, but others need to be asked. After you get your plan in place, I suggest you take some time to ask patients about their experience and what areas they think could use improvement. These answers are gold and give you the opportunity to address issues you didn't know existed.

Just try to keep a thick skin. Don't take anything patients say personally; look at it as valuable feedback you can use to grow your practice. Remember, if one person is pointing out a problem, chances are they're not the only one experiencing it.

Look at your systems

Healthy systems lead to practice success, while weak systems do nothing but hold you back. Now is the time to take a look at your systems to see how they're performing. From there, implement any changes necessary to make them more efficient.

To evaluate how your systems fit into the practice vision, I suggest you ask these questions:

  • How can we improve the new patient experience and set ourselves apart from other practices?
  • How do patients feel when they call or visit a practice that's committed to excellence?
  • How is the team involved in changing the practice culture and achieving excellence?

Answer these questions honestly and use your answers to determine how well team members handle their systems. Where do they excel and where do they fall short? You'll notice significant improvements in practice efficiencies once you fix the issues you identify, and that goes a long way in taking your practice from average to excellent.

Make customer service a priority

You and your team members should be focused on providing an exceptional experience for every patient who visits your practice. Train team members to greet every patient with a friendly smile and to have a helpful attitude. Offer patients coffee or water as they wait in a comfortable reception area, and assure them they're in good hands. Patients will remember these efforts and will feel more connected to your practice. They'll become loyal patients who accept treatment and refer, which are both signs you've achieved excellence.

It isn't easy to create a truly excellent practice, but I know you can do it. It just takes commitment from you and your team and a willingness to make the necessary changes. And it will all be worth it when you see a rise in practice production and a more robust bottom line.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

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

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