Now, I know you probably didn’t jump out of your chair with excitement when you saw the word “meetings” in the title. It’s a lot more fun to talk about 3d X-rays, lasers and CAD CAMs than it is to talk about the business of dentistry.
But the truth is, when you sign a lease, you’re in business! And when you’re in business, there are certain things that must be coordinated and tracked regularly to ensure success and growth. To do this properly, you should be holding a few specific types of meetings, which I’ll cover below.
And before we get started, if you’re already thinking “Ugh…this is too many meetings, it’s a waste of time. We’ll never end up getting everybody together and if we do, they never get anything done, anyway…” then let me clear two things up right off the bat:
- These are not “time-wasting” meetings. Nothing bothers me more than long, meandering meetings that get off-topic and drive everybody into boredom. So, my meetings are quick in, quick out, and straight to the point. We have specific things to address that will make the rest of the day, week or month run faster and more efficiently, so we get those things coordinated as quick as humanly possible and then get to work.
- It’s not as difficult to consistently hold these meetings as you think it is. You simply put each of these meetings on the schedule, set them in stone, and make policy that no patients or anything else is scheduled during those times. And once you and the staff get into the pattern of holding these meetings, it becomes the normal routine and goes very smoothly.
So, what meetings should you be holding?
1. Morning Huddle (DAILY)
If you’ve ever had the thought “we need to get better organized” or “we need to work smarter, not harder” or “my staff aren’t productive enough, they’re all just doing their own thing throughout the day”…then implementing a consistent daily morning huddle should be the first and only thing on your agenda. In fact, stamp it on your forehead to make sure you don’t forget.
And I don’t mean a general “what are we doing today” huddle or a clinical discussion with the assistants. I’m talking about a very specifically structured meeting to coordinate production, the schedule, and treatment presentation opportunities so that you maximize production and case acceptance with the patients who are coming in that day—and work out solutions to fill any holes in the schedule.
This huddle is always first thing in the morning, before you start seeing patients, and should only last about 10-15 minutes (or less). The point is to coordinate production so you can get started with the day, not to bring up general issues, upsets, policy suggestions, etc—that’s for a weekly staff meeting when you have time set aside to address it.
I won’t get into the format of this huddle here, because our COO, Jeff Blumberg already explained it fully in his blog post, Kick Off Production With a REAL Morning Huddle.
2. Staff Meetings (WEEKLY)
You should be holding a regular meeting with the entire staff once a week. This is very important, because there needs to be a time when people can talk about issues that arise that others (including you) may not know about, changes that need to be made, and generally coordinate so everybody isn’t off doing their own thing every week not knowing what the rest of the staff is up to. If nobody knows what’s going on with the rest of the practice, then they don’t work together very well and you don’t have a real team.
Now, it’s well known and accepted that we should have staff meetings, but they can become unproductive when they are not properly structured. We’ve all been involved in staff meetings that just turned out to be a session where people were complaining or arguing and nothing gets done, and then at the end we all wish we’d never opened that can of worms.
At MGE we have a very specific format for staff meetings that you can follow (contact us at (727) 530-4277 if you like more information), but I’ll give you a little bit of information about how I ran staff meetings in my dental office to have it be something that’s productive, and not considered a negative.
We would take an hour every Monday over lunch time. We scheduled one hour and the policy was no patients could be scheduled into that hour. I know some offices don’t like to do this, but we all found this to be easiest, and the staff would simply bring their lunch with them every Monday. Then every two or three months, we would do an extended staff meeting for an entire afternoon and go over all the numbers and set new goals. As far as when you schedule yours – pick a time that works for you – some of our clients do first thing Monday (i.e. they do it at 8 AM and open at 9 AM, etc.).
The weekly staff meeting is all about communication, coordination, and handling any issues or new policies that arose over the previous week. You should also cover some of the office “numbers” and check in on your progress towards your monthly or quarterly goals.
3. Management Meeting (WEEKLY)
You also need to be confronting some of the finer points of managing an office every week, which don’t necessarily involve the entire staff. In a smaller office, this would just be a meeting between you (the doctor) and the office manager. In a larger office, this may include several “executives” or junior managers who oversee different departments.
In this meeting, you should go over the numbers from the previous week (production, collections, new patients, etc.), finances, what policies need work in the office, any problems that need to be addressed, any personnel issues, and your marketing and promotion for the week.
In my dental office, we would do this every Monday morning, before the morning huddle.
Really, you’re just sitting down and confronting everything that goes on in your business and making decisions. Some doctors just do this on their own at random times throughout the week, but without having a set time and place, and another person to discuss everything with, things inevitably get overlooked or forgotten and things that should’ve been handled weeks ago slip by.
Having a set meeting time keeps you honest and helps you stay organized. And then the office manager can get right to work on many of the things you decided upon, which allows you to stay producing chairside throughout the week.
4. Accounting Meeting (minimum TWICE A YEAR)
You should have at least two meetings a year, every six months, with your accountant to look at the first six months and how you’re preparing for the last six months; how are you doing from a tax standpoint, setting money aside, etc.
Again, it’s about really confronting the business of dentistry. I know it’s a lot more fun to go to clinical CE and learn new techniques and buy new pieces of dental equipment—I mean, that’s why we got into the profession: to do that. But once you’re in business these other areas have got to be confronted and I’m just encouraging you to minimally have a staff meeting once a month to at least get the ball rolling, because there’s communication and upsets that aren’t being discussed and if you just ignore it, soon it can turn into a huge fire and a huge problem and that’s no fun for anyone.
So, my advice is to figure out a way to have some regular organizational meetings, schedule it into the book (no patients during that time), and that’s scheduled just routinely every single week.
And if you really want to get organized, call us at (800) 640-1140 to speak with one of our consultants free of charge. You can also see them in person at one of our free seminars around the country (event calendar here) or register for the MGE Organization & Efficiency Course at our St. Petersburg, FL office.