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Episode : #629: Do This During Downtime

Podcast Description

Dana and Tiff provide tips and tricks for what to do when time moves slowly and there’s not a lot going on in your practice. In this episode, they talk about why it’s important to have a downtime list of tasks that’ll help move the business forward and approaches each department can take when there doesn’t seem to be anything obvious to do.

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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 have 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 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 could help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A Teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.


0:00:52.6 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera. And you guys, today’s the day. Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun. Consultants are taking over the podcast. I hope you guys are ready. I hope you love it. These ladies are incredible. They give you guys so much value, so much content. And guys, listen up, have the best time. And as always, thanks for listening. I’ll catch you next time on The Dental A Team podcast.

0:01:16.2 Tiffany: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Tiffany, and you are here on the Dental A Team Consultant Takeover, where the traveling Dental A Team consultants take over the mic and share tips and tricks from hundreds of offices nationwide. And today, we have myself, Spiffy Tiffy and Dana. Dana’s here helping me today. Dana, how are you today?

0:01:34.7 Dana: I’m good. I feel a little bit like Dana, after Spiffy Tiffy doesn’t quite have the introduction.


0:01:41.2 Tiffany: I know we need it, it’s dynamite Dana. I don’t know, I like that one. Dynamite Dana. I’m excited to do this with you because I feel like we don’t get enough time together, period. And so doing a solo, I feel like it’s a twofer podcast, is really fun for me, so I’m excited. And I don’t know if you guys know this or not, have heard me say this already. But when we record podcasts together, myself and the consultants, when we do it together without Kiera, we actually do it on Zoom. So it’s super fun because I’m looking at Dana and talking to Dana, but talking to the world as well. So I think it just is super fun to be here with you today, Dana. Thanks for making time.

0:02:20.1 Dana: Oh thanks. Thanks for having me. I love it too. Just this little bit of time spent together, it really helps me connect with you. And, yes, we do it via Zoom, but again, I really feel like it helps connect us.

0:02:32.8 Tiffany: I totally agree, I totally agree. And I think today’s topic that we were gonna talk about, we’re gonna talk about downtime protocol. And I feel like it’s super relevant, I think it’s super relevant for me today because one, it’s Monday, and Monday’s in our company are meeting days, so these are days where we usually don’t work with clients one-on-one, aside from emails and maybe some, please help phone calls, things like that. But we don’t schedule our coaching calls, we don’t schedule actual in-office visits normally for these days. We try to leave these days open for all things Dental A Team kind of business. So we have our meetings and we have all of our catch-up time and projects, things like that, that we get done on Monday, so I thought it was funny that that came up for us ’cause it’s kind of like a downtime protocol is something that I feel like I need on Mondays in our company and sometimes Fridays as well, ’cause we leave both of those open, but I thought, holy crap, that’s so relevant because I needed that today I had check my click up checklists and respond to emails, and all of these events we’re prepping for.

0:03:33.7 Tiffany: We’ve got so many events that were gonna be, a part of coming up, and then our summit coming up in April, and all of these pieces that I was like, I needed these on my little downtime protocol today, I thought that was relevant. How have you been doing with your Monday, Dana?

0:03:47.1 Dana: Good. Likely for me, I have a big project, the operations manual intensive. So when I have any downtime right now, I just hop right to that. So that’s kind of nice that I’ll have a bunch of little things to keep track of right now. But definitely less… And I know click-up helps me a lot with that. That’s kind of our downtime protocol checklist, a little bit. But yeah, Mondays and Fridays, for sure, I lean to see, “Okay, what do I got? What do I got going on?”

0:04:17.3 Tiffany: Yeah, I love it. And when I was in practice, I felt like downtime protocol was something… We used to just call it a downtime checklist or downtime list, and we’d have it just post it up. And I think mostly when I was a dental assistant, it came in super handy. I feel like as the front office team members, we have just running list, constantly, and sticky notes everywhere you can possibly find them, that there are a ton of things to do. But having those downtime protocols in the front office often helps as well, especially for positions that don’t have a million things that you’re doing or even have just those things that you need to check in on. So I think when I was in practice, I used to make sure that my dental assistants always had a downtime protocol, my hygiene always had downtime protocol, and it’s just something that we’ve continued on with our consulting to ensure that every position has some sort of downtime protocol which, I don’t know, I feel like there’s mixed emotions on quote-unquote, downtime protocol, because I think everyone in a dental practice is like, “Okay, downtime, that’s not a real word.”

0:05:16.5 Tiffany: We do not have downtime, and I think that’s the point is that when there is that, breathing room is one thing, and being able to take your breaks is one thing, and being able to feel like you’re connecting with your team members, for sure, but then there’s that extent of like, Okay, I’ve been connecting for quite a while now. Or I feel like sometimes I’d feel guilty, I’d feel like, okay, at this point, I feel like I’m just taking advantage of the clock, I’m either gonna do something where I’m gonna go home, that’s where you insert the, quote-unquote downtime protocol. And we do have those in our days, I feel like some positions have them less than others, and so there’s that. But I feel like we do have them in our days. And Dana, you were hygiene and you were office manager, you did all of the pieces, but when you were hygiene, when you were chairside there and you were a provider, how did that look for you as far as “downtime?”

0:06:09.4 Dana: Really downtime was typically just if I had a last minute cancellation or patient fell off the schedule, because we’re scheduled pretty tight and hygiene, so I wouldn’t say necessarily downtime, it was cancellation protocol or what to do if I didn’t have somebody fill my schedule, and oftentimes I think with hygiene, I could always find something to do. But was it the most priority or the highest… The thing that needed to get done first? Maybe not. But I certainly would fill my time, so I think that’s what having that list helped with is, okay, focus on this first and then this and then this, which helps me just fill my time more efficiently.

0:06:53.3 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners. This is Kiera, and you guys, how was your 2022? I want you to look back and tell me, was it the year of years or was it a really hard year? Did you crush it? Or did it crush you? This is the time, guys, for end of year, Dental A Team Platinum is welcoming you where we will physically fly to your practice, we will come and we will elevate your dreams and make them into a reality, and guys, space is limited and prices are going up.

0:07:25.1 KD: This is not a sales pitch, this is not something where I’m trying to scare you into it. I’m just facing the reality of, inflation is here, flights are expensive, and I want to see as many people as we possibly can and serve as many as we can. So if you wanna be part of our elite group of people, there are limited spaces, ’cause our consultants can only see as many. We are taking on 10 new Platinum offices by the end of the year and that’s it, that’s all we have space for. So if you wanna be one of the elite 10, come join us, be a part of our top notch elite doctor community, be a part of our office manager and hygiene and front office communities, get your operations manual done and live the life that you’ve only been dreaming of, today.

0:08:07.8 KD: Email me, [email protected] and make 2023 truly a year that’s unforgettable. We are a complete tax write-off, and like I said, we’re only taking 10 offices, so don’t get left behind, be one of those 10, and I cannot wait to give you the biggest warmest welcome to completely and utterly changing your life for good. Welcome to the Dental A Team, I can’t wait for you to join us, [email protected]. Cheers to 2023 and making you your best self yet.

0:08:41.8 Tiffany: Oh, I love that you pointed that out, I think that’s brilliant, because there are times when we definitely do have the time and then we think… I do this even now, I think, “Oh, I’m gonna go work on this thing over here,” and really, I choose the thing that’s the easiest to check off my list. The easiest to spend my time doing or the one that’s gonna take the least spot or just whatever seems the most fun, honestly, in my life. I’m like, what’s the most fun? ‘Cause that’s what I’m gonna do first, but that’s not always what’s gonna move the company or the project along the quickest or help the overall business. So I love that you pointed that out because I think… I’m gonna say it and all my hygienists are gonna kill me for this, and you’re probably gonna roll your eyes, but I swear, if I ever turned and looked in a hygiene room that had the “downtime,” that had the cancellation, it was like a sharpening stone was out, and I was like, “For the love… I know they need to be sharpened. But my goodness, I’ve made 200 calls this week, just get on the ding ding phones.”

0:09:35.6 Tiffany: So from the perspectives, just being able to have that list of, “Yeah, what’s gonna move the business or the company the furthest and what’s gonna be the most valuable.” On that note, there are companies that will sharpen your instruments guys, so if you are running into that issue or if that’s not the piece that’s gonna move your company the furthest, maybe look into outsourcing that because it is a sore spot and drives, I think, everyone crazy. Hygiene needs to have the instruments sharpened. The rest of the team is like, “How often do you really have to do it?” So that’s a side tangent. Just outsource that sucker.

0:10:15.5 Dana: I like the side tangent because if anything is, I am like the opposite, yes I know they need to be sharp. Yes, I know how frequently they need to be sharp. I know how two or three scalings can get in there and they’re dull. But when you said about what is most fun, that goes to the bottom of my list.

0:10:30.2 Tiffany: There you go. Perfect. I love it, I love it. I feel like so many people see things like that as a mindless, I don’t really… It’s just mindless. Like, don’t make me have to think about something, and so in every one smile for sure, guys, I’m not saying never do it or always outsource it, I’m just saying, look at those lists. So what kinds of things are on downtime protocols? I think that it’s different for every position or space in the practice. So you’ve got your front office ones, you might even have your TC, your human coordinator ones, versus your billing downtime protocols, but for sure you’re gonna have different dental assistant and hygiene, things like that. So since we’re already talking hygiene Dana, what are some of the things that you typically will put on your downtime protocols when you build them up for practices for hygiene?

0:11:13.2 Dana: Yeah, sure. The first thing I’m gonna say is, for that I always had first and foremost, make sure Steris cut up. We’ve got assistants to the running around, jumping in and help when you can. Yes, you should be helping already, but when you have that downtime, just stop and make sure everything’s caught up. And then I want you on the phone, hygienists, I know that it’s a quick, easy script, you can type it out, tape it to the front of your binder where all of your care calls are. They’re making those re-care calls just to ensure that your schedule is full and you are as productive as you can be when you’re in the chair and when you’re at the practice.

0:11:47.5 Tiffany: I love that, I totally love that. And that’s really the ins and the outs of it, sterilization, making sure that’s clean. And guys, it means so much, my hygienists out there, it means so much to the dental assistants when you do pick up and you’re just like, let me see what I can do in sterilization, because they’re just… They’re running around like crazy. You guys have patients every hour, so I know that most of my dental assistants out there are not counting on you to clean up sterilization or counting on you to even do your trays in between patients every single time, but it’s just that little thought that’s like, “Hey, let me help out.” It’s like walking in and your husband made the bed this morning and he never makes a bed. And you get… You’re tired at the end of the day and you’re like, “Shoot, I didn’t make the bed this morning,” you walk in, you’re surprised the bed was made, that’s what it feels like. There’s that sense of ease and calm. So any time, for sure, make sure sterilization is always number one. I love that.

0:12:40.7 Tiffany: And then, for sure, calls, I think calls go a long way as well. But then also utilizing your resources, you guys, I know you hate being on the phones, everyone does, but then it’s even worse for you guys because you’re never on the phone, so it’s more uncomfortable and it’s harder to get yourself on there, it’s more difficult for the team to get you on the calls because it’s an uncomfortable space. So utilize your resources too, leave the voicemails, use your scripts, but then use text messages, you guys, people are responding quicker to text messages than they ever have in this day and age, all you have to do is shoot over a quick text. And I would use your name, I know when you sign in to apps like Modento, you’d sign in under your name, and it’ll say like, “Hey, this is Tiffany with the Dental A Team.”

0:13:22.2 Tiffany: And you would say like, “Hey, this is Tiff. I noticed you’re not on my schedule, totally missing you. When can I get you booked?” Simple as that. And then it’s heartfelt, it’s from you, it actually means something to the patient. So utilize your resources. I’m giving you a huge out there. Use your texting apps, Modento or whatever it is that you guys use.

0:13:41.3 Tiffany: Dental assistants, I think are similar, making sure sterilization is complete, making sure operatories are stocked, making sure things are clean. I used to have a manager that… She was super fantastic at noticing things, which as a dental assistant, I was like, “Get off my back,” but it was awesome, because she would walk around the room and she would look at everything from a patient’s perspective. So she would take herself out of her position and then she’d walk around the practice and be like, “Okay, if I were a patient walking through the hall going to the bathroom, what would I see on the floor? If I sat in this chair, what would I see?”

0:14:16.7 Tiffany: And she kind of trained us to do that. And I thought it was annoying ’cause I was young, but it was pretty cool, you know what, in the outcome, because it’s sitting in that chair, sometimes we don’t notice the 2×2 they got thrown in the corner behind the desk that you can totally see from the chair, but you can’t see it from your point of view as the providers. And so doing simple things like that, looking up and making sure the lights are clean. Just make sure there are no cobwebs, those suckers come in a freaking day, I don’t know where they come from, I never see the spiders but they just make their way, and just making sure everything is tested, so I think serialization, making sure everything’s prepped for your patients, all the ops are stocked, making sure everything’s clean and ready to go, and phone calls for you guys too.

0:14:58.6 Tiffany: And I don’t know that you know this or not, dental assistants and doctors out there, but dental assistants can sell a treatment case over the phone 10 times faster than anybody else if they’re using the right verbiage, they’re the most trusted people. And so when they call a patient and they say, “Hey, it’s your dental assistant,” what questions do you have. The patients are actually more willing and open to ask the questions. When your treatment coordinators are calling, they’re like, “Oh, here she is again, trying to schedule,” but when the dental assistants call, they’re like, “Actually, I really understand why I need this,” and your dental assistants can talk to them about it.

0:15:29.4 Tiffany: So making sure this unscheduled treatment calls are getting done over there. Super easy downtime protocols. I think the back office are the most difficult to put together, so those are some really, really simple tools and tricks for you. Front office, I think you ladies know what you’re supposed to be doing and gents. And doctors, ask them, what are the things that they need to be doing? Easy peasy places, unscheduled calls, unscheduled treatment calls, number one, unscheduled re-care calls. Unscheduled re-care calls and treatment calls should also just be put into your daily, but then getting through in your backlog. What else? There’s AR, billing AR, insurance catch-up, so making sure that you guys have your verifications further out. Dana, what else can you think of? I guess cleaning, lobby, what else?

0:16:13.0 Dana: Yeah. Cleaning.

0:16:15.3 Tiffany: Bathrooms.

0:16:15.8 Dana: Lobby too. And another thing for everybody front office, back office, everyone, if you don’t have written protocols down, that’s a great time to write those. We see a lot of hiring and onboarding happening right now, and it’s a great thing to have that written down, so that helps with training, onboarding those new team members. So I would say too, in any position in the practice, if you don’t have things written down and processes documented, downtime is a great time for that.

0:16:43.2 Tiffany: That’s beautiful. That was brilliant. Good job. Okay, that was the easy peasy guys. We could give you so many freaking tools and tips there, on your downtime protocol. So here’s your to-dos because we never leave you without action items. I would say, go, sit down, right after you listen to this, go create a protocol per department. Okay, it’s easy. You can have a front office downtime protocol, and you can have a dental assistant and hygiene. I would say, and Dana, maybe you agree or disagree, you tell me. I would say, make these protocols like three to five items, I think when you get nitty gritty and now you’re just making a laundry list of things that they’re supposed to be doing on the daily, it takes away the value of the downtime protocol and they don’t look at it, I wouldn’t. It’s overwhelming. They need like three to five easy checklist items because downtime doesn’t actually happen. They’re creating the downtime somewhere in their day, and so if it’s an overwhelming list, they’re not gonna look at it. And make them… Give yourself a deadline, okay, give yourself a deadline to have these done. And guys, don’t give yourself a month, it’s three to five items per downtime protocol. Hey, the biggest thing I see practices do is like, “Okay, we’ll get it done bye.

0:17:48.8 Tiffany: Well, today is the 5th, so maybe by the 25th… ” I’m like, 20 Days? Guys, you can bust this out in three hours, max three hours and that’s getting interrupted. So one protocol per department, three to five items, I think is plenty. And then set yourself a day when you’re gonna make them. Dana, you got anything else you wanna add in there?

0:18:07.3 Dana: The only thing I would add in there is when you create them, prioritize them, so put the item that should be first first and down from there, that way it’s just an easy check list, okay, did that, did that, did that, and they can go down and the most important things happen.

0:18:21.1 Tiffany: I love that. That was brilliant. I love your nuggets. Thank you, Dana. Dynamite Dana for the win right there. [chuckle] Alrighty guys, that wraps up the Dental A Team podcast Consultant Takeover. Let us know what you think. We love hearing from our listen, you guys, we say that every time because we actually do mean it, so drop us a five-star review or email us over at [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll catch you next time on The Dental A Team podcast.


0:18:46.6 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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