Episode 486: Utilizing Team Members During Crunch Time

Still going through lots of change in your practice? Have no fear, Tiff, Britt, and Dana are here to offer advice on utilizing what you’ve got. Their suggestions include:

  1. Looking at recare (consider assisted or accelerated hygiene)

  2. Expanding days

  3. Taking tasks off others’ plates

These methods are tried and true, and the trio gives details on how to make each of these work.

Episode resources:

Reach out to Tiff, Dana, and Brit

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0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled to over 165 different offices, coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you; we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress, and create A Teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team Podcast.


0:00:52.7 Speaker 2: Alright. I am so excited. This is a weird one because we've got a threefer, is what I'm calling it. I've got two of my favorite hygienists and favorite consultants of all time here with me to really talk a lot of team and hygiene stuff. So we'll start. Brittany, how are you today?

0:01:11.0 Brittany: I'm doing good, I love it when we do threefer. I love the company.

0:01:16.1 S2: I know. I know you do. I know you do. We're gonna get you on some solos; you're gonna do it. Although, I haven't done a solo, so I can't really talk. But yeah, so I'm excited. Brittany, what are we gonna talk about today, Brittany? What was your idea?

0:01:29.4 Brittany: So we're gonna talk today, let's talk about how do we best utilize our team members? I think a lot of us, especially over the last year, have gone through some changes in team members. We've probably worked some time where we've been down a team member or two, so what can we do during that time to really best utilize the people we've got?

0:01:48.1 S2: Love it. I love it. Okay, so utilizing team members, Dana is here too. Dana was hygiene, office manager, all the office things you can think to call people, and she is now one of our thriving consultants, and I'm super stoked to have her here with myself and Brittany today. Dana, how are you?

0:02:07.9 Dana: Good. Thanks. Thanks for having me on, you two.

0:02:11.5 S2: Yeah, of course, I was like... This morning, I was like, "Oh wait, why don't we just have Dana in there. Dana needs to record more, let's get her in there." So Dana...

0:02:17.0 Brittany: The hygienist have taken over here today. Join in, Tiff.

0:02:21.7 S2: Seriously, they're like, "Oh, I have these hygiene ideas," I'm like, "Well I'll interview you. That's fine." I love it. So Dana, you came up with this idea this morning, of utilizing your team members, so tell me a little bit, where was your brain at when you were thinking of that this morning?

0:02:39.3 Dana: So the idea came from, I'm on countless coaching calls with all different offices and hiring keeps coming up, they're losing staff members, how do we hire? And while we have fantastic tips for hiring, sometimes offices just can't find their absolute perfect candidate that they're looking for. So in the meantime, what do we do? How do we keep the office going and growing and being productive when we are short on team members?

0:03:07.5 S2: I love it. I super love it. Okay, so then I wanna hear... I think we all have awesome perspectives. I think Brittany has... We all have a ton of office experience, right? But Brittany did a ton of management, Dana, you did a ton of management. You guys both have hygiene, I can come in strong on an assistant, don't you worry. I've got you there.

0:03:28.5 Brittany: An important perspective we definitely need.

0:03:34.2 S2: Yeah, I can thrive with that one. That's totally fine. But I think it would be fun. I wanna hear kind of... Dana, I wanna pick your brain a little bit, how do you feel being productive, growing, continuing a growth trend, 'cause we're hitting the New Year, and it's like we wanna grow, but how do we grow if we can't grow our team? So I'd love to hear from your perspective how a hygiene team could really be utilized and to stay proactive in a time like this.

0:03:58.4 Dana: Yeah, sure. I think first, before we dig into hygiene, it's important to maybe look at what it is that your office is short on. Is it short on needing re-cares or do we need some more doctor production, meaning is there an assistant that can float back and forth between the two to do assisted hygiene. And I think assisted hygiene is definitely a great way to ramp up the need for re-cares when you are short-staffed. Now, I wouldn't suggest doing assisted hygiene every day, you're gonna burn out your team really quick, but I think half days or one full day a week per hygienist that you have is really a great idea to get those re-cares in, but yet keep your team wanting to keep pushing and moving through the tough spot.

0:04:49.6 S2: Yeah, I love that. Those are like the worst and most loved words in our world, right? Assisted hygiene. Doctors are like, "Yes!" And hygienists, most hygienist are like, "Oh, I don't know about that." I hear you. I think that's a great idea to ramp up the re-care, grabbing some assisted hygiene hour. So what would you suggest to an office? How would they figure out if that's what they need?

0:05:15.5 Dana: I would find out basically how many re-cares they have due, what hours they have available currently in hygiene, and basically what that overage is, and then... You know, in an eight hour day, you could see, as assisted hygiene, about 12 patients, so you figure for every day that you do assisted hygiene, you can add an additional four patients per hygienist.

0:05:39.5 S2: Love that. I love it, cool, so sounds like one way your hygiene team could be utilized is by looking into assistive hygiene. Now, if a hygienist or a hygiene team, if that's just not doable or it's not doable, maybe we don't have enough rooms in the practice, something like that, what do you think the hygiene team could do still to really help us grow if we can't... If we don't have that capability?

0:06:03.0 Dana: I think if you can expand as far as the number of rooms, then it might be expanding hours, so having... If you don't work Fridays, opening that Friday and just having a hygiene day, whether it's every other Friday, once a month, and really packing it full of the re-care patients.

0:06:19.6 S2: That's fine. I like that. Cool. Hey, that would be a great ad... Doctor admin time too, right? Get those admin hours in on that Friday and just run hygiene solo.

0:06:28.9 Brittany: Crank out those exams.

0:06:30.6 S2: Yeah. I love it, I love it. Very cool, I like that idea a lot. So utilizing your hygiene department, your hygiene team by ramping up re-care with maybe assisted hygiene, minimal, right. You said not every day, and then also looking at, can we expand our hours somewhere, maybe opening up a Friday here and there, and doing solo hygiene. I think those are huge ways that the Hygiene Department could really help in a time like this. So while you're in the midst of hiring, if that is something to look at, Dana gave some great tips there on what to look for, so... Brittany, I wanna pull you in now, one, awesome, I want hygiene perspective, because that's huge. I love that I can pull on you guys for hygiene, but then also other team members, so maybe treatment co-ordinators or office managers, how do you think that they can help in times when maybe we're short-staff, we might be short-staffed in the system, but how can other people help in those areas?


0:07:27.2 KD: Hey, Dental A Team listeners. How was your 2021? Have you reflected back? Where did you really win? Where did you really not win? If 2021 was a year of years, congratulations, I am celebrating with you, and I would love to invite you to take it to the next level. If 2021 wasn't quite your year, hey, it's alright, I'm there for you, and I would love to invite you to make 2022 the year for you. That's right, guys, if you're ready to take massive action, if you're ready to take your practice and your team to the next level, increase your profitability, yeah, guys, through an easy way, get your entire team aligned and you're ready to just have your life be different, that's right, team development, top to bottom, system development, top to bottom, changing and shifting your culture, improving your team morale, if that sounds like what you're interested in, guys, I'd love to invite you to join us in our Dental A team Platinum Group. It's the exclusive group where we physically fly to your practice, we give you insider tips, we share with you, we have a quarterly newsletter that goes to you that shares all the updates we're coming up with, and we share it with our platinum group.

0:08:32.8 KD: We'd love to have you, and I would like to invite you because, guys, remember, you're always one decision away from a completely different life. So reach out guys, I'd love to chat with you, I'd love to see if you're a great platinum client or what works best for you. Email me [email protected], and I can't wait to welcome you as our newest platinum client. Take massive action. This is your year. Let's make sure 2022 is your year, [email protected], can't wait to welcome you.


0:08:58.6 Brittany: I love this meeting. This is when your team work really comes into play, so when it comes to our assisted hygiene or accelerated hygiene, I think really taking an open mind to what can be possible, and for doctors and managers, like listening to your hygienist, if your hygienist is one that loves assisted hygiene, then great, I definitely know those out there. If they're like, "Hey, here's what I can do, and I'd love to be able to help out, let me do a day or two", awesome, let's do it, let's use you while we can, knowing that we are looking for someone else to go ahead and fill that position. So it is kind of a short-term thing, which is great. I think if it's other team members, whether an assistant or whether a front desk team member that we're running short with, think outside the box, what are the little things that we can do? Pass off to each other and help each other out with.

0:09:48.4 Brittany: So some examples of that would be, maybe if we're down a front desk team member hygiene and assistant, make sure you're posting all procedures, collecting payments, scheduling the next appointment. You can get most of those patients taken care of, so they don't have to stop by that front desk and have to check out with them, so that can be a big help to take some stress off of our front desk team. I think for assistance, if we're down an assistant, same thing front desk, what can we do to help that assistant team? Maybe it means you're doing all those things, so those assistants can really get those patients taken care of. It might mean learning to clean some rooms, so if an assistant's got some rooms, or running in between front desk, hop in and clean their room for them so that they can get on to that next patient. Just really think about those. I say in dentistry, minutes matter. So any minutes you can save somewhere to help your team member makes a difference.

0:10:38.2 S2: Yeah, I love that. And I can say, speaking on both of those sides, when I was a dental assistant, my front office was in tears when I would come up and be like, "Oh, their next three appointments are scheduled, they know they owe X amount for today, and you can just swipe their credit card," or when I just walk up with a credit card and I'm like, "Hey, Op2 needs to pay 252. Can you just swipe this and give me their receipt?" And they're like, "Holy, cow, where did you come from? I'm like, I had an extra couple of pockets of time, so I just filled them with something, 'cause what else am I gonna do? So I know on that standpoint, but then vice versa, when I was front office, I had the exceptional ability to dental assist while I was front office, [chuckle] so I think coming from back office to front office, gave me an edge because I really got to thrive with the back office. So what I would do is just, I would notice... I was always paying such a close attention to the schedule, and if the schedule was getting jammed or they were behind or I had people staring at me...

0:11:32.1 S2: That's the worst, when the people in the front office are just staring at you. So I'd be like, "Oh hey, I'm gonna handle this." I get up, go turn over rooms, reset them up, but it's so easy, and I think front office team members, we oftentimes don't realize how easy it is to just throw the instruments on the tray, throw it in sterilization, wipe the room down and then throw some plastics on there. You don't need the room completely set up for a [0:11:58.5] ____ to see the patient in there. Just get them moving, 'cause if you can do whatever you can to get that room turned over and get the patient back, that takes stress off of the dental assisting team, and a lot of dental assistants will say, "Well, then I have to set up around the patient" and I'm like, "I just talked to my patient while I was doing it." I'm like, thank goodness Suzy was able to help get you back here, we were... We would have been running so far behind, but now we're back on track. I'm just gonna set up some stuff around you to be super easy, let me stick this topical jelly in your mouth. It's just so easy.

0:12:28.4 Brittany: I think you hit on a good point. When we're doing those things for each other that are maybe a little bit out of our comfort zone or not necessarily completely textbook by our job description, love on each other, thank them for... We appreciate it so much. Let them know how much you appreciate it.

0:12:45.0 S2: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. Give each other those kudos, those pats on the back. I think that we can definitely... I think we under-utilize team members, to be honest with you, on the day-to-day, and then I think in the times of crunch period, we're like, "Oh dang, she knew how to do that?" And I'm the one that's over here, like, yeah, I knew how to do that, but I wasn't gonna tell you." I'm not gonna tell you all my secrets 'cause then I can just bust 'em out here and there, or... I don't want you to know I'm good with computers because then I become your tech person, and I don't wanna be the tech person.

0:13:15.6 Brittany: Exactly.

0:13:15.8 S2: So we have these hidden talents that we leave un-utilized, so I think this is a good time, and it's the new year, so why not find a new skill, if there's something that you've been wanting to learn how to do or something you feel like, Oh, my gosh, that just looks like fun, I don't know why, maybe I'm weird, but I love turning over rooms, I love seeing how quick I can get it turned over, and if a schedule's off-track, I love being able to get it back on track. So challenge yourself and look to see what is something completely outside of my day-to-day job that I could learn how to do and really have fun with, and you can learn how to utilize yourself.

0:13:51.3 Brittany: Yeah, for sure. That's one of my favorite things, is the puzzle of the schedule, if we're running behind or something, it's like, Alright, it's now a game. How can I get that patient back? Where can I put them.

0:14:02.0 S2: Gamify anything, and it automatically gets better. Dana, what were you gonna say?

0:14:07.3 Dana: No, I was just gonna say, I think in a lot of these things, it's like, we see where we can jump in and... Yeah, it's absolutely jumping in, but I think it's even kind of re-working the way we do things completely, so if... Yeah, maybe front office, you're short and somebody would take a... But if maybe we can take payments in the back now, let's get ourselves a mobile credit card processor. Maybe we don't have to add a new team member as soon as we thought we did, if we can just revamp our processes and the way that we do everything as a team.

0:14:36.2 S2: Totally, I agree. You can completely replace a front office position by just utilizing your back office team a little bit better. I agree. Also...

0:14:44.3 Brittany: And also from a back office perspective, when it comes to some of those things outside of my comfort zone, I remember when my manager at the time when I was working hygiene was like, Alright, hygiene team, we're gonna have you start taking payments. Oh man, I was like, Oh, I don't know how I feel about this. I don't think that I can do that. And when it comes down to it, it's not as scary as it sounds if you haven't worked in the account before taking a payment, it's really not that hard, you can do it. And then once I got it down, it's like, Oh, this is so nice, because I don't have to stand there awkwardly with the patient waiting for someone to check them out, when they need to do is pay me for some fluoride.

0:15:20.6 S2: Yeah, that $29 fluoride, you're like, 10 minutes of my life is gone.

0:15:26.3 Brittany: It's all I need, and I could have done it in 60 seconds.

0:15:29.6 S2: Yeah, I get it. That's an awesome perspective. I love it. Alright, ladies, so things that I've gathered, what I'm hearing, best ways to utilize our team members when we might be short-staffed or really just revamping... Revamping... What is it that I want... What's the word I want?

0:15:44.4 Dana: Like efficiency maybe even.

0:15:47.7 S2: Efficiency, just revamping systems, that's the word I wanted. It's what we live by. Revamping our systems, right? But look at your re-care. So Dana had some awesome perspectives there and really looking at current hygiene hours and the number of hygiene re-care that are due. So what's that overage? Do you need to do accelerated or assisted hygiene? Do you need another hygienist? That's also a great way to see if you need to add hygiene hours in general. And then she said assisted or accelerated hygiene, or even looking at expanding days, so looking at Fridays, things like that, and then Brittany with her brilliant mind over here too, it's just like, what can the back... What things can we take off of someone else's plate, so are there... Can you do credit card processing in the back office? I think that's a huge thing to look into, so your merchant services, call your merchant services account, see if there's an easy way to do that so that you guys can start taking those payments in the back office and scheduling those appointments.

0:16:45.8 S2: My biggest tidbit was take a look inside yourself and really dig deep and see what is it that I wanna learn how to do that's completely outside of my job this year, so that I can help my team a little bit more. Ladies, you have anything else you wanna add?

0:17:00.6 Dana: No, I think that's absolutely it, just be open, rethink the way you do things and you might find something you like even more.

0:17:08.1 S2: True. So true.

0:17:08.5 Brittany: 100%.

0:17:10.8 S2: I love it. Thanks, ladies. That was fun. We busted out some good tidbits. Action items, go count your hygiene hours, go look at what re-care you have due, and then take a look at your systems and protocols, are there things that you can re-work or revamp to have someone else doing something different that may save a pocket of time. Go have fun, guys, I hope you enjoy it.


0:17:32.8 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team podcast. Thank you so much for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.



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