Hiring is a topic that comes up regularly when I speak with clients, and it’s no wonder why. As production increases—which tends to happen very rapidly for MGE clients—you need a few more helping hands around the office.
And this isn’t just a matter of hiring more back office staff to handle the production; if you want to continue the growth, you need more front office staff to keep it going and drive further growth.
In fact, this brings me right into my first of four hiring tips:
1. If you want to increase production, build up your front office!
In the business world, it’s commonly agreed upon that administrative staff (executives, sales, customer service, marketing, etc.) make the income. Of course this assumes that you have a good product to deliver—but even a great product doesn’t “sell itself.” The bulk of the income is made by the administrative staff I mentioned above.
In the dental industry, it’s common to find practices with the opposite idea. They mistakenly try to increase production by hiring more back office staff (an associate, hygienist, assistant, etc.) and then make do with less front office staff to “keep the overhead down.” But really what they’re doing is putting an artificial ceiling on production and collections!
When a practice is under-producing in the back, what they actually need in most cases is more productivity in front! They need someone on the phone doing reactivation and recall, or a treatment coordinator getting patients to accept and pay for treatment, or a scheduler ensuring the schedule is full and patients show up, or a PR person doing marketing and going to the local community and business to get new patients into the office. You get the point.
The front office is the motor that drives more production into the practice. So, if you want more production and growth, look to the front office—not just the back.
2. Your hiring ad is a “marketing piece”—not just a list of job duties.
Now we’re getting into the how-to’s of finding and hiring employees. It starts with the hiring ad you post. As far as where to place your ad, there are the usual websites: monster.com, indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, craigslist.com, LinkedIn.com, etc. and then there are dental specific sites like ihiredental.com, dentalworkers.com, etc.
The problem with many of the ads I see is that they aren’t enticing. It’s just a very long and technical list of office duties that nobody would look at and get excited about! You know…an entire page long with a bunch of fine-print.
Now I’m not saying that you should lie or be misleading about the job description, but you should think of the hiring ad as an advertisement and consider how you can make it attractive to the potential employees you want.
Make it a little fun! Make it enticing! Have a headline that grabs attention and looks interesting. If you want employees that are fast-paced and great with people, put that in there and include some things that would attract that type of personality.
3. Great staff are made, not found.
You’re not looking for the “perfect person.” You’re looking for someone that, through training or apprenticing, you can turn into the ideal team member.
It’s funny that we tend to have a double standard on this. When a new dentist or hygienist comes into the office fresh out of school, we don’t expect them to start off immediately with stellar production from day one. But in many cases, we expect that a front office person can come right in and get going with little or no training.
In other words, we’re not looking for someone who’s already perfect, experienced, and that knows exactly how you want things done in your office. It’s just not realistic.
There are however, certain qualities you should be looking for in a potential candidate (which would be difficult to cover here but we can teach you them at our management programs here at MGE), and you should never compromise on those. But that doesn’t mean that your new front office person should come in and know how to do everything the way you want for your office and be incredibly productive on their first day. If they were that amazing, they wouldn’t be looking for a job (and they must be from another planet).
The main things you want in a new front office employee are:
- They are great with people (this is really what most front office jobs come down to—and after all, the front office staff are the face of your practice and will determine how your patients and the local community perceive your practice).
- They are fast-paced and can get things done in a timely manner.
- They are trainable, meaning they are willing to learn and can put a system or procedure into practice if you take the time to train them properly.
Which leads me to my next tip:
4. Be aware of the many different places where you can find great candidates.
For clinical positions, this is pretty simple. There are dental schools, hygiene schools, dental networks, etc. It’s pretty rare that you’d find a clinical employee who was working at a department store last.
For the front office, though, great candidates can come from entirely different industries. In fact, I would say that a lot of great managers at our clients’ offices came from other fields originally.
So yes, look for candidates who come from other dental offices, but be aware that they can come from any industry or walk of life. You’re looking for someone who’s quick and good with people more so than someone who’s experienced in dentistry or has an impressive resume.
Customer service or sales fields are particularly productive for good dental office staff—or any industry where interpersonal skills are required.
Usually the best long-term staff are the ones who are bright and looking for a career path. In my experience, the most successful offices identify those people and actually give them a good career path.
This, of course, means that you will need to place a focus on training your staff well and helping them realize their potential as highly productive, valuable employees. We can help you with that! Training is our specialty, and we can help you put together a great training system to build a happy and competent team. Give us a call at (800) 640-1140 or come to one of our free seminars around the country and speak with an MGE consultant there. You can find the upcoming event calendar here.