It is an uncertain time that we live in now. Who would have thought that as we ended 2019, 2020 would open up with phrases such as social distancing? Self isolation, quarantines, lock down are words we read daily.
Dentists are a resilient bunch and even though we are closed, we need to make the best of this situation so that when we re-open (and we will!), we will be in a good position to rebound, grow, and practice the dentistry that we love so much.
In the meantime, many of us have posted great tips and tasks that we and our staff can do during this shut down. We may have been too busy to do it before and so now is the perfect to do all the stuff your practice needs but had been put on the back burner.
From our homes or empty offices, many of us, including my own dental team, have transitioned into a new type of work. Rather than working in our practices, our staff has begun working on them instead. When I go to new CE conferences or talk with a growth expert, I’m always full of new knowledge and inspiration, but because I run a busy practice, I don’t always have the time to implement everything I’ve learned.
Working on your practice can take a lot of time, but in the end, it’s always worth it to keep improving your practice’s procedures, customer care, and culture. The recent virus-related shutdowns have put a lot of dentists in difficult positions, but I believe these circumstances also give us the opportunity to do some valuable internal work. This will prepare us to better manage and “wow” the upcoming influx of patients that we will inevitably take on once our doors reopen.
Today I’d like to break down exactly what it might look like to work on your practice with your team in the areas of training and the standardization of policies and procedures to drive your business toward greater success in the future.
If like me, your doors are still open for dental emergencies that will keep your patients out of the ER, and your staff is around with lots of downtime between patients. A great thing about being in person with your staff is that you can work as a team to document standard operating procedures (SOPs) and receive group training.
Working to improve your practice’s overall functionality as a team may also positively impact your office’s culture, creating a sense of inclusivity by placing value on each member’s knowledge and experience. This is especially significant during a time when most of our population is isolated.
While keeping up with a reasonable social distance between staff members, you can split up your team by expertise to work on training and procedure development. It might look something like this:
- Set up a timesheet that will allow the teams to train while you move from group to group to work on updating SOPs. This will allow you to meet with your team on a smaller, more personal level and provide guidance and clarity about your expectations for the drafting of these documents
- Gather any past SOPs to distribute them to the groups for reference and updating
- Ensure that when applicable, each team has access to a camera (it can just be a smartphone) and a text editor to record their processes and document exact steps. This is especially important for backoffice groups that might be documenting hygiene tray set-up or procedures such as draining ultrasonic machines.
- Make sure to review all suggested procedures and identify and correct any issues, later explaining to your team the edits you made
- Compile all the guides into a standardized template (that includes the images) for printing and disbursement
- Once the new manuals are completed, you may have your team practice the standardized procedures, while overseeing and supporting other groups’ learning. Roleplaying and hands-on learning between groups can solidify this process
If you haven’t done so already, this is also a great time for you to create or clarify office Policies and Procedures (P&P) through new or updated guidelines.
Scheduling a meeting to review the rules set forth, led by yourself or a team member with a copy of the policies, will increase responsibility and fairness moving forward. This will also eliminate any confusion or tension about your practice’s rules on tardiness, PTO requests, and other day-to-day policies. Make copies of these policies and procedures to distribute to your team and future hires.
If you and your staff have temporarily closed your doors, you can schedule an online meeting to discuss these policies as well. Send out an email with the attached documents, explaining your goals of returning to work with more clarity and ease during the projected rush of appointments.
From home, your staff can still use this valuable time to improve their practices through training too.
Assigning a few videos per day to each staff member will give them the knowledge needed to take positive steps forward without compromising any health issues. I’ve been promoting stellar resources like Front Office Rocks or Dental Business Mentor to get your team back on track, but you can also seek training from CE courses offered from companies such as Colgate, Crest, and MetLife at no cost.
While we struggle to get through this national health crisis, we must do our best to keep from getting discouraged. This time will pass. We can use this break to build ourselves up, transforming our struggles into success. This is an opportunity to finally refine the ins and outs will allow us to accomplish the goals we’ve set forth, but never had the time to really work on collectively.
Don’t give up and remember to stay Thrifty, with both your money AND time.
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