Dentists, get off the rumble strip!

When driving a car, ever drift to far to the left or right and hit the rumble strip?  The noise is embarrassing and the bumps rattle bones all the way to your core.  Highway rumble strips act as an alert to wake up drowsy drivers and prevent collisions.

Some dental practices regularly ride in the rumble strip. Day-to-day practice life is rather “bumpy”.  What is happening here?  Typically, we find a drowsy leader at the wheel.  They either take no or slow action. A healthy practice continually needs course correction to stay on track. 

What signs should alert you that the practice is in a danger zone? 

Practice rumble alerts:

  • Conflict in your team
  • Employee turnover
  • New patients few and far between
  • Patient retention diminishing
  • Scheduling chaos
  • Production/collection numbers flat lining

Where do you start course correction? Two steps are essential. Define the practice vision and clearly outline job descriptions for each employee. Immediately, I look at projects getting dropped and determine what team member should be assigned this task as their responsibility. Whose paper does this belong on? Many “bumps” during the day will disappear, once the team is clear who’s responsible and they are held accountable. For example, is one member tasked with checking that lab cases are on time before confirming patients?

Secondly, outline your practice vision, then compare to the systems in place currently. Do the systems in place take you and your team smoothly through your day? Identify a process that is particularly troublesome or out of sync with you vision. Proceed to process map the “bumps” out of that one system. How you ask?

First, a great leader will assign process mapping to the employees. Figure out who is responsible for this particular system and have them create the process. We have had success using flow charts. For example, if you are experiencing scheduling chaos. Meet with the team and determine the exact cause. What is your process for late and emergency patients?

Do you have a plan for last minute cancellations? Task an employee to begin process mapping the solution.    

The beauty of this solution is that often the team comes up with faster, better and simpler ways to solve the problem than you could have ever thought of.

What better way to engage the team and get buy in! If they create the solution odds are highly in your favor that they will want to follow and support the plan they made.

We have fun in our office by testing our process out. Once its created, a team member in an opposite department will try to follow the process map. They will do a test run to look for glitches or omissions. The process will be tweaked and re-worked by the employees until they feel it’s working beautifully. Remember to keep this process map in a binder for future reference

With time riding on the rumble strip will become a thing of the past.  The road you drive on will be smooth. No more drowsy leadership. Your engaged team will be on the lookout for bumps and happy to process map the way out.

Here’s to you having the peaceful, productive and profitable practice you want.

Shelley Renee
Peaceful, Productive and Profitable