Building a Successful Front Office Team

Filed under: Dental Practice

With a struggling economy and continued staffing shortages in many areas, it’s more important than ever to have a strong, cohesive front office team for your dental practice. The right people and systems can help to offset a busy schedule, fill in temporary gaps, and ensure a profitable outcome.

Indeed, the right front office crew can be just as vital to your success, if not more, as the most advanced marketing tool. Let’s look at five factors for building a stellar team.

The Right Stuff

Thanks to COVID-19 and other factors, hiring is still a problem for many dentists. In the latest American Dental Association Health Policy Institute’s (HPI) economic survey, 72% of dentists found recruiting for administrative staff to be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ challenging.

Therefore, hiring the right people from the start is everyone’s aspiration. One human resources firm calls these ideal employees “difference makers” and describes them as engaged and committed to making a difference in the practice. They not only bring the right skills to the job but fresh energy and ideas as well.

Retaining these employees is just as important. While competitive compensation is great, it takes more than money to attract and keep a good staff. Make problem-solving a team effort, keep communication lines open, invest in training, and celebrate successes when they happen.

Common Goals

In order to clock those successes, it’s beneficial to set goals as a team. It could be as simple as good time management that reduces wait times for patients, or as ambitious as being the best implant practice in the county. A common mission will further unite the practice as well as the front office.

When you establish the ‘why’ of your business and communicate it well, it will be the thread that runs through the day, even when it’s hectic. If there’s an office manager or natural leader in the front office, they should convey that in their leadership.

Systems for Success

The best team spirit and mission statement won’t matter if there aren’t efficient systems and processes in place. It’s always wise to establish team members’ strengths and delegate tasks accordingly. Put the basic systems in writing for easy training and reference. Tips to improve these processes include:

  • Cross-training to avoid interruptions to the flow when one person is out.
  • Task batching to tackle and complete a specific set of tasks in one swoop.
  • The two-minute rule, which means handling brief duties right away rather than putting them off.

Because the front office often interacts with patients at various levels  – appointment setting, new patient intake, insurance questions, etc. – scripts can be helpful to simplify things for both the employees and the patients. Phone training for the whole practice can be very useful and ultimately profitable when everyone knows the right language to use – and avoid.

Regularly monitor systems to spot and resolve bottle-necks or drains on the workflow.

Embrace Technology

While machines will never replace a talented front office staff, advances in technology are improving dental practices more each day. Patients can schedule appointments online and fill out time-consuming intake forms before reaching the waiting room.

There are many software apps such as Engage that not only send out text reminders to cut down on cancellations and no-shows, but also educate the patient about a procedure before they get to the chair.

Improve your practice and your marketing decisions by automating follow-up surveys for valuable feedback.

The Silent Team Member

By building a strong front office team, you’re investing in your patients, the entire staff, and the successful future of your practice. For them to focus on what they do best, it can be practical to add another team member behind the scenes – marketing. An outside resource who has a more objective view of your practice can help make informed decisions about where marketing dollars would be best allocated.

At RAMP, The Dentist’s Marketing Company, we can provide a free consultation and help elevate your front office staff even further. Give us a call or email us today.