Encouraging your staff to ask questions and challenge the conventional wisdom can bring unexpected new energy and profit to the practice

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Let’s take a page from Silicon Valley. Some of the tech firms have a meeting that they refer to as the “Challenge Meeting.” This is the meeting where the employees at the firm get together with the leadership and can ask questions or challenge decisions.

We may not necessarily want to have a challenge meeting in an orthodontic practice, but we can have a question-and-answer meeting. This is the type of meeting that gets people involved, talking, and interested. It doesn’t have to be a challenging or negative meeting, but it should open the lines of communication in an extremely positive way. Perhaps we could call it the “Ask Anything” meeting.

For example, one practice we know implemented an “Ask Anything” meeting and a team member asked why all new patients were required to come in the morning. The answer was that traditionally mornings are lower volume times, allowing for more attention to be paid to the new patient. The team member then pointed out that as a front desk staff member, she was getting a lot of resistance from new patients about morning appointments and some were refusing to schedule at all. Although they didn’t have the data, they also observed that the no-show rate on new patients was increasing. This led to a decision to stagger the appointments throughout the day, streamline the treatment coordinator process to reduce doctor time with new patients, and block the schedule for new patients in advance. The result was a 17% increase in the start rate and a 5% decrease in the no-show rate. This was a good question, a good challenge, and it made for a great result!

If you decide to add an “Ask Anything” meeting to your practice routine, be sure to ask your staff to prepare in advance and encourage people to ask questions and participate. You’ll be surprised at how many improvements the practice can identify. This meeting will also help to galvanize the team, create commitment, and build open communication—all positive attributes of a high performing orthodontic team. OP

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com