News |7 min read

Why Dentists Should Stop Micromanaging Their Dental Managers

Steve Katz, DMD, MAGD with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

Let’s begin with a premise that most dental practices today should be approaching, or should have surpassed:

Being in the category of a “million-dollar business.”

Let’s also assume that dentists understand that their hire of a manager should be with similar standards and criteria to what the owners of other businesses with million-dollar revenues would have.

The hire should include confidence in the areas of experience, confidence, and attitude.

  • If they lack experience, there must be an investment in their training.
  • If they lack confidence, time must be spent building their ability to command respect from the team and patients.
  • If they lack a positive attitude, then they are not the right fit.

As Zig Ziglar has said,

“It is attitude, not aptitude, that determines someone’s altitude.”

We can train to overcome a lack of experience. We can build someone’s confidence by acknowledging their positive achievements and growth. We cannot change someone’s personality.

The most common mistake made in hiring is settling on the hope that they can be changed. How well does that work in your relationships?

Have confidence in your dental manager

The first challenge that most office managers describe is not being shown adequate respect.

Now, I am not talking about blatant disrespect or abuse, but rather an undertone that implies and may be interpreted by other team members (or patients) as a lack of respect.

The talented men and women who are chosen to be “dental office managers” are not “front desk” or “the girl upfront.”

If our patients are going to need to trust and have confidence in these treatment and financial coordinators, the first vote of confidence should come from the doctors and other members of the team.

They should be referred to as EXPERTS in each of their responsibilities.

Refer to your team as experts in their respective roles

When you have a medical condition, your primary care physician refers you to an EXPERT in the type of care you require.

When the doctor or member of the team completes the clinical discussion with a patient, they should refer them to the practice EXPERT on making the treatment affordable, maximizing your insurance benefits, or scheduling your appointments when it is most convenient for you.

Doctors should stop telling patients that their “crown will be back in two weeks.”

Instead, they should defer to the scheduling EXPERT of the practice so that they can follow through on not filling schedules, but instead, engineering them for efficiency, balance, maximum productivity… and the least amount of stress.

Tell the patient that:

“Mary is in direct communication with the lab and will schedule your appointment for when your crown has been returned for delivery to you.”

Set your team up for success

No doctor would ever want to enter a treatment room to begin a procedure if the room was not set up with the instruments or supplies that they needed to perform that procedure successfully.

Similarly, every administrator should be set up for success by the doctor and clinical team with every patient leaving the practice.

This means that all treatment performed and planned must be entered in the treatment room and all notes completed prior to the patient approaching the front desk.

If this is not done properly, it forces the administrator to have to scramble on the fly, often with other patients waiting and the phone ringing.

Similarly, extensive treatment plans should not be entered with the expectation that options for financial arrangements and multiple appointment scheduling can be accomplished on the spot.

Doctors must work in coordination with their treatment/financial coordinators to bring patients with extensive treatment back for a more formal and prepared treatment presentation.

Let them do their job

Perhaps the concept that made me the most successful was that I realized that the only thing that I did to benefit my practice was put my fingers in patients’ mouths to perform clinical dentistry or talking to patients about doing so.

If I was doing anything else, I was usurping the responsibilities of my trained team and being counterproductive.

When I entered my practice each day, I turned off my brain.

I would not need to make decisions during the course of the day unless they were clinical ones. I was working most effectively when I let my team tell me where to go and what to do.

And when I drifted out of my lane, I empowered them to really tell me where to go.

This meant that I avoided micromanaging my team on the things that I made them responsible for.

We, dentists, tend to be task-driven, and many of us think that we can do everything in our offices better than the people we have hired to fill those roles.

There is nothing further from the truth.

Empower your dental manager

Our responsibility, as the CEOs of our practices, is to make sure that the team receives the training and resources to do what they have been hired to do and then STOP LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDERS.

Don’t move appointments in the schedule.

It is better to instruct the team how you prefer the appointments scheduled.

Don’t try to make individual financial arrangements with patients.

Give the team parameters with which they can gain the respect of the patients in making these arrangements directly.

The more that you micromanage a team, the more you prevent them from becoming the team you’ve always wished they would become.

The goal is to develop a manager and team who are empowered.

My team was empowered, and they empowered me.

Once you have given them the training and resources, the most important thing to give them is TRUST.

Trust your team and get out of their way

Trust is perhaps the most important currency of growth.

Denise was my clinical assistant for 20 years. She had the greatest work ethic of anyone I have ever worked with. She was a consummate professional… and she trained every clinical team member in my practice for most of those 20 years.

When I stopped practicing and began coaching practices, I wanted Denise to join Smile Potential on our team of coaches.

She said that she would, but she wanted to hear one of our seminars first.

Ironically, in the audience at that seminar was the doctor who she worked with for one year prior to joining my team.

During the breakout, that doctor described problems in his practice and asked us for help.

On the drive home, Denise sat in the front passenger seat of my car. I was feeling a bit cocky, and I turned to Dense and said:

“Dee, it’s a good thing that you came to work in our office when you did. If you had still been working for the other doctor, you might not have much job security now.”

Without hesitating, Denise shot back:

“Katz, you are dead wrong. If I were still working for him, he would have been giving the lecture today, and you might have been in the audience.”

BOOM!!! She understood her impact on my success and the success of the practice.

The most important thing that doctors can give their office managers and teams is empowerment.

Give them the resources, give them the training, and most importantly, give them the trust, and then GET OUT OF THEIR WAY.

If you do this, they will enable the team to be the driving force in the growth of your practice, and it’ll take a lot of stress and responsibility off of their shoulders.

For more information about how to develop a more empowered team, contact Smile Potential… This text opens a new tab to the company’s website…:

Meet the Author

Dr. Steven Katz in a suitDr. Steven Katz lost his practice 20 years ago to a series of life tragedies, then rebuilt it into a multi-million-dollar practice.

Today, he teaches dentists and their teams how to raise their standard of care, increase patients’ perception of the value of their care, and grow their practices beyond their full potential.

He’s an author, award-winning speaker, and a Master in the Academy of General Dentistry.

He was the team dentist for the NY Jets football team and a dental consultant for Channel 5 Fox News in NY.

Between 2016-2020, Dr. Katz coached over 100 practices in the NY metro area. He and his team of coaches have helped those practices achieve $59 million in increased revenue (almost $600,000 per practice).


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