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Reduce 'Chaos and Drama' in Your Dental Practice with Leadership

Tim Sawyer is president of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, a company that works with medical professionals to help them connect with patients. From his experience, Sawyer says that many dentists are excellent clinicians, but poor leaders. To drive business growth in dental practices, dentists must set clear performance standards and hold their employees accountable.
DMD Staff
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Tim Sawyer is president of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, a company that works with medical professionals to help them connect with patients. From his experience, Sawyer says that many dentists are excellent clinicians, but poor leaders. To drive business growth in dental practices, dentists must set clear performance standards and hold their employees accountable.
 
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
 
“What are some leadership tips to give dentists and their staff? Number one would be to establish and understand that it is, in fact, a business and that somebody is in charge. A lot of times, what happens is – and we work with hundreds of practices in four countries, and so you see the same model played out over and over again – you have the dentist who went to school for 12 to 15 years, all he or she does is want to work on teeth. They’ll go out and get a practice manager, and then they’ll put a ton of trust and they’ll put a ton of authority into a single person whose agenda is sometimes at odds with the business interest of the practice.
 
For example, you’ve got a practice that’s trying to grow and the dentist wants to introduce marketing strategies, whether it be social media, email marketing, SEO, or they want to introduce a new piece of technology so that they can get more inquiries into the practice. A lot of times the practice manager will be tasked with that, who in fact has no interest in seeing any more patients or getting any more patients in the practice because they’re already overworked.
 
RELATED: More Advice from Tim Sawyer
 
· Setting Priorities: An Essential Dental Leadership Skill
 
· Getting the Most Profit out of a Dentist’s Schedule
 
· Getting Dental Patients to Leave Positive Online Reviews
 
So first, what has to happen is the dentist needs to establish that they are, first of all, in their own brain, and secondly, by vocalizing to the people, is that they are, in fact, in charge. Then they need to get respect. How does that work?
 
If you want people to perform certain tasks, number one, you have to hold them accountable. So, if you’ve got a person in Boston who’s responsible for selling shoes at Nordstrom’s, and they don’t sell shoes for a month, they’re fired. If you go into any medical practice – whether it’s a dentist or a podiatrist – you’ll see people who have been there for 25, 30 years, they’re totally non-compliant, they’re not acting in the best interest of the practice, they’re just there. And the dentist says, yeah, but she’s been with me for 40 years, or 20 years, or 10 years. I couldn’t imagine working without her.
 
That’s not leadership. That’s the opposite of leadership. What has to happen is, the dentist has to understand that that is their business. The laws that apply to Nordstrom’s and Crystal Clear Marketing, and every other business also apply to them. There has to be command and control. There has to be management and oversight. There has to be meetings to discuss, are we acting in accordance with our vision? They have to set the vision. They have to put metrics in place to hold people accountable to the vision. And then they have to be able to make tough choices when people for long periods of time are completely non-compliant, and they have to understand that just because you tell somebody you want them to do something doesn’t mean they know what to do. You have to explain to them what that means and there has to be training involved. Real training. Not just, hey, go to a seminar and do this, but real training. And then to sit in a room and actually show to a person who’s in charge – the dentist – that you can perform what I’ve asked you to do. And accountability, accountability, accountability.
 
If they could just get that done, their offices would grow, they’d see more patients the way that they want to, and they would have less chaos and drama inside the office.”
 
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