Mike Menkhaus - Front Office vs Back Office: The Difference - The MGE Blog

A while back I was in Sacramento, CA with Dr. Winteregg to deliver the MGE Effective Case Acceptance Seminar. In speaking with a few of the doctors in attendance, I noticed something that seems to be a bit of a trend in dental practices all over the country: friction between the front office and the back office.

It is important for the front office to be in harmony with the back office. But in many offices, it can become a “Hatfields and McCoys” type of relationship, where the respective sides of the office are uncoordinated and even begin to butt heads.

Front Office vs Back Office: The Difference - The MGE BlogOver the last fourteen years in which I’ve been working with dental professionals, I have made some observations regarding this dynamic:

You want your office manager to be someone who really is on the same page and/or wavelength with you, similar to how a good dental assistant would be. In fact, some of the best office managers I’ve worked with were previously dental assistants. They excelled as assistants to the point where the doctors initially could not fathom losing them as assistants. It isn’t necessary for the office manager to have been an assistant, but it helps to have that knowledge of what is needed for production to get done.

A good assistant knows how long procedures should take and also knows the importance of being in control and making the patients feel as comfortable as possible in a potentially uncomfortable procedure.

Similarly, an assistant who has previously held a front office position and/or routinely helps up front has a better understanding of what is being confronted by the front office staff.

Of course, both the front and the back are integral parts of the dental office and each is vital to its success and expansion. When there is no experience or understanding of what the “other side” does and what its purpose is, then you limit your growth. You can end up cutting your own throat this way.

The “front” gets upset because the “slow moving people” in the back are running behind while they are the ones getting an earful from patients left to wait.

Front Office vs Back Office: The Difference - The MGE BlogThe “back” gets upset because the front is “clueless” as to how things work in the back and are scheduling patients on top of each other to the point where they can’t get everything they need to get done.

This normally doesn’t get addressed and results in resentment building up between both sides. This resentment and animosity lessens the “friendly, caring dental office” feel for your patients despite all of us keeping our “game face” on as much as possible.

It also slows down and cuts across the efficiency as there is not a smooth patient flow front to back and back to front.

In some instances, patients pick up on this tension and this lessens the professional image of your office.

Both the front and back office are integral parts of the dental office and are both vital to its success and expansion.Click To Tweet

Getting Everyone on the Same Page

Now, I am not recommending you do a big group hug and hold hands. However, what is effective is for the office manager and each staff member in the office to get some reality and understanding of what a patient experiences on each step of the process of being taken care of by your office.

One way this can be done is with a little “demonstration.” Set up a time where there are no patients in the office for some staff training. Have each staff member take a turn pretending to be a patient in your office, beginning with being scheduled over the phone to walking in the front door. Have each staff member at their regular position and handle the “patient” the way they would normally. (You would course skip the actual clinical procedure, as this is only a demonstration).

Something like this can be a great way to help the entire staff gain an understanding of the rest of the office while also troubleshooting potential problems as they arise. Each staff member learns the roles of their teammates and how they interact with their own job. You can create different scenarios of patient needs and concerns at different points along this training session. You as the doctor should take a turn being the patient – this can also be quite revelatory.

There are other exercises you can do as well to improve speed and efficiency. Drilling and role playing various scenarios is similar to practicing for game day in sports. You iron things out and improve them so that you are ready for game time.

Dental Staff Management - Front Office vs Back Office: The Difference - The MGE BlogIn order to run the office as smoothly and efficiently as possible, each player on the team needs to know exactly how they fit into the organization and how they contribute from their position. That is why training your staff members individually in addition to doing these exercises is essential.

At MGE, your staff will also go over a lot of the same material in addition to particulars of their specific job, which is important for aligning the staff and getting them on the same page with each other.

We offer training for Office Managers, PR Directors, Associates, Junior Executives, and Auxiliary Staff. Take advantage of this training today and call (727)530-4277. You may also email me at mike@mgeonline.com any time.