Most businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (including private dental practices) are still feeling the effects of the Coronavirus and necessary restrictions on day-to-day life. Put simply, it’ll be a fairly long road to normalcy.
In such circumstances, most businesses focus on survival and reduce funding to anything that seems non-essential. Marketing and employee training are often two things that get cut during economic downturns.
While the basic premise behind “tightening your finances” is correct, deciding what gets cut is where most businesses get it wrong. Employee training is one of those areas that can directly impact the bottom line yet businesses prefer to minimize it during hard times – not realizing that they are putting their business at a clear disadvantage to competitors that continue making training a priority.
Let’s take a closer look at how discontinuing employee training will impact your practice and at the core benefits of continued training even during challenging times.
Improved Staff Efficiency & Productivity
Every dental practice owner wants team members who function at the peak of their ability. However, they fail to acknowledge that the ability to perform at your best is an acquired trait. Even the best athletes need continual training to stay sharp. Your staff is no different.
Training will expand your employees’ knowledgebase and skills thus giving them the confidence to tackle the job with surety and intent. Moreover, well-trained staff will approach a problem with a “can-do” attitude rather than brushing it under the carpet or escalating to the owner.
Additionally, your front office team’s performance in handling calls, appointment requests, and scheduling is profoundly affected by training. This has a direct effect on overall office production. Developing phone and customer service skills also has follow-on benefits in improving show-up rates, case acceptance, and referrals.
Streamlined Scheduling & Improved Workflow
As a practice owner, time is your most valuable asset. Working with a scheduling coach can help you get a better understanding of where each of your billable hours is being spent. The newfound information will streamline your team’s workflow and maximize your productivity.
Here’s a common scenario:
Most small practices contend with disorderly scheduling and don’t usually allocate specific time slots for types of procedures. There’s no categorization and new patient appointments are often “bunched in” between existing patient appointments.
However, getting a new patient through your doors is only half the battle. The other half will be won by how they’re treated during their visit. Turning a new patient into a profitable patient requires that the staff take time to nurture the relationship – listening to the patient’s issues and setting appropriate expectations when the appointment is made, and then leveraging that insight to deepen the relationship when the patient is in the office.
Additionally, new safety protocols will require more time allotted between patients for sanitizing procedures. A lack of forethought in the schedule will handicap your team, who will end up scrambling to prepare for the next patient and not be able to give the patient in their chair all the attention they need. This will result in unsatisfactory patient experience and a second visit will be unlikely.
Improvements to Case Acceptance Rates
A steady stream of new patients is the backbone of any dental practice, but this is where many practices struggle. Although the practice may employ a receptionist, they are often forced to learn “on the job,” and at times of high volume of calls, other employees take patient calls. These factors contribute to a poor call-to-appointment conversion rate. Failing to convert even a single patient means your practice will be losing thousands in potential revenue.
But the effects of poor call-handling do not end with conversion. A properly handled new patient call is the first element of an “amazing” patient experience. This is where training truly justifies its value. Getting your front office staff trained in correct verbiage and patient communication will profoundly improve case acceptance rates. Training gives your front office the techniques to build trust and overcome objections, meaning patients will be more likely to accept treatment recommendations.
Improved Employee Engagement and Retention
Often dental practices have an unfounded fear that once trained, their employees will leave for greener pastures. Organizational psychology research suggests just the opposite. Training can profoundly improve job satisfaction and commitment to their position. While some team members will eventually move on, most employees not only expect training, they place great value on practices that invest in employee development.
The fact that you’re willing to invest in them – even in hard times – will do their morale a world of good, making them feel wanted and respected. Moreover, the improved skill level means employee productivity will significantly improve – therefore directly adding to your practice’s revenue.
And if done correctly, it’s not uncommon for practices to double, triple, or even quadruple team productivity with consistent staff training.
You’ll Feel a Lot Less Stressed
Being a dental practice owner, your plate will be full most of the time. From growing your business and managing staff, to servicing patients, a lot rides on your shoulders. The last thing you want is the added task of hand-holding rookie team members with sub-par skills.
This will distract you from your core responsibilities and add unnecessary pressure.
However, a well-trained team will carry out their job with minimum supervision. This will result in improved overall patient experience and allow you to focus on the more important aspects of running the business.
When you consider all these factors, it becomes quite clear why staff training is a core ingredient for sustainable practice growth.
Chime in with your thoughts and comments. We’d love to hear what measures you have taken and how you plan to lead your practice into the post-COVID landscape.
Download our FREE eBook – Dental Practice Excellence – 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice. We explore how minor changes in your approach to training on phone skills and scheduling, and the positive impact training has on your employees will help you take your practice productivity to pre-pandemic levels.