Dental Front Office – Why Can’t I Find Good Team Members for My Dental Practice?

Day in and day out, I speak with dentists, dental front desk, dental practice managers, consultants, supply reps, and others who are either on our program or are considering enrollment for their offices or clients or colleagues.

Many of these people face the same challenges. In the past week alone, I’ve received at least three emails saying, “There is a shortage of qualified front office admin team members in our area.” Everyone thinks their situation is unique, but it’s not. I see this concern in all dentistry specialties and every part of the US and abroad.

They tell me they’ve tried creating all the usual ads, but there are few applicants and the ones who contact them are not ideal candidates. They ask, “What do we do? How can we train our team if we can’t find good long-term staff?”

But what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.


The Problem with Experience

The main problem is they are trying to find dental front office people who already HAVE experience. There are a limited number of people that are adequately trained for administrative work in the dental industry. And yet, dental practices are not willing to look for people outside of dentistry because they think they lack the time and resources to train someone in dentistry-specific admin work.

So they end up getting the same few people who are technically qualified but aren’t great candidates. These people bounce from office to office in search of better pay and better hours, but they often don’t have great attitudes.

The truth is dental front office admin is a trade like anything else, and it can be learned. What’s more, a front desk admin person can be very valuable if they have a friendly personality and are willing to work to learn the skills. What these dentists and dental practices should be doing is going outside the box and looking for people outside of dentistry. There are tons of people with backgrounds in marketing, hospitality, retail, sales, etc. that have a great attitude and work ethic but simply need to train in the dental side of things.

These candidates have transferable “people skills” that will make them effective in dentistry. The most valuable part of their job will be calling patients, interacting with patients face-to-face, and scheduling appointments. Other tasks, like following up on insurance claims or managing accounts payable, can be handled by the manager or outsourced. It’s clear that people skills are the most valuable when looking for dental front office admin candidates. The adage is true: hire for attitude and train for skill.


Looking for talent

Finding the Right People

How do you find these personable dental front office candidates? Start with a killer ad! If you place a boring ad, then you will get boring people. Come up with something creative that will attract great prospects. At All-Star Dental Academy, our ads always have a catchy heading like “Seeking Out a Superstar for Our Dental Front Office Team!”

Next, be specific about what it is you want. You can put together a wish list of what the ideal team member would be like for your practice. Imagine that you’re the kids in “Mary Poppins” making a list of traits for their nanny. Don’t be shy about describing your ideal applicant. Create your own Mary Poppins list of what attributes your new team member would have. For example, you might want someone loyal, punctual, friendly, good with patients, etc. Make it fun! Make sure you also have a solid job description in place with the position’s responsibilities. Know what you can legally ask and what is off limits in an interview.

Once you have promising applicants, don’t rush the selection process. Conduct a series of formal interviews to make sure the person you choose is the right fit. If you are satisfied, extend an offer. When the candidate accepts, it’s time to onboard your new team member. Remember that they will need industry-specific training before they can be effective in the new position.

Outsource vs In-house

Outsource Your Training Needs

Of course, it’s all well and good to say that you need to put time and energy into hiring and training. But you’re busy. That’s why dental practices should seriously consider outsourcing some of these training and onboarding tasks.

[ Read more about common mistakes when training your front office team. ]

Investing in training for the team is a smart move for any private practice dentist. After all, effective training requires a clearly mapped-out onboarding process that likely includes late hours, weekends, and time spent shadowing other team members. What’s more, corporate dental practices have a systematized process for HR, hiring, and training. You better believe they are doing all they can to take advantage of things that private practices don’t know or won’t do.

Luckily, companies like All-Star Dental Academy are out there. At All-Star we have an onboarding and training program for new and existing team members. We take team members that have come to dentistry with little to no experience and made them amazing at what they do. While you are searching for the ideal team members, we’re training your existing team, making them better at their jobs and saving you time and money by preventing costly mistakes and reducing inefficiencies.

All-Star also provides valuable resources via our online Training Program. We recommend starting there even before you have the ideal team in place. These resources include information on how to find, onboard, and keep the best team members. We offer multiple webinars and lessons on recruiting, with information on what ads to post to attract superstars, and a 47-page hiring and onboarding packet to help you get started.

The Most Effective Team via Coaching

We also have amazing All-Star Mastery Coaches that work with dentists and dental teams enrolled in the Online Training Program to help take them to the next level, and more involved coaching programs are available. All-Star coaches can come to your office and do a Jumpstart visit where, in one day at the office, the team can establish a solid foundation of phone and patient-service skills. A coach will show your team firsthand how to answer and convert calls using a customer-service based approach, how to schedule effectively to reduce or eliminate pesky no-shows and cancellations, and set the patient up for a positive and memorable patient experience. Our coaches can work with the dentist and dental teams virtually over the phone, web meeting, or Skype to make it easier to schedule meetings and minimize the need to shut down the office or take time away from patients.

Our coaches can help your team with all practice management issues as their skill sets are truly well-rounded. They can even help with the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of new team members!

Don’t wait to reach out to us. You want to have the training already in place when you hire someone, so you can get them up to speed and integrate them into your team as quickly as possible. And remember, it’s not that there aren’t enough fish in the sea, you’ve just been fishing in the wrong pond!


Get more details on how All-Star Dental Academy’s Dental Phone Skills training program can supercharge your patient experience by visiting our Services page. Alternatively, you can learn about how front office performance on the phones can lead to success: register for our free educational webinar Dental Practice Excellence: 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice. Finally, you can call our office at (844) 631.7575 to speak with an All-Star representative about our Training Program.

Heather Nottingham

Heather Nottingham

Heather is a former retail sales specialist and department trainer for Bloomingdale’s, where she had a million dollar clientele. She also took that luxury retail mentality and brought it into the dental world, where she leveraged her training and was able to make an extra million dollars for her dental office in less than 18 months. With over 16 years of retail sales & management experience, 7+ years as a phone skills coach & trainer, and thousands of hours in perfecting the art of rapport with dental patients, Heather helps improve dental practices’ profitability through phone skills success, promoting patient experience, and implementation of systems. Heather is also an accomplished writer in the world of dentistry, having her articles, press releases, and blogs featured in various publications including Dental Practice Management, Dentistry Today, The Progressive Dentist Magazine, Dentistry IQ, and more.

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