3 reasons you should cross-train your team

August 1, 2019
Dr. Roger P. Levin
Dr. Roger P. Levin

Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm. Founded in 1985, Levin Group has worked with over 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin is one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry and is a leading authority on dental practice success and sustainable growth. Through extensive research and cutting-edge innovation, Dr. Levin is a recognized expert on propelling practices into the top 10 percent. He has authored 65 books and over 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Time magazine and is the creator of the Levin Group Tip of the Day, which has over 30,000 subscribers. To contact Dr. Levin, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.

Keep your office running without missing a beat.

Dentistry is typically a relatively small business with few employees. From a small business standpoint this makes perfect sense. Dental offices must operate “lean and mean” to help ensure maximum efficiency and low overhead. The downside is if just one team member is gone, it causes panic and chaos. There is a void everyone must scramble to fill even though they lack the proper knowledge and skillset. How can this be avoided? Cross-training. Cross-training is simply teaching your employees the skills and responsibilities of another position. Here are three great reasons to start cross-training your team today:

  • A cross-trained team member can fill-in on any given day. Rather than experiencing stress and breakdown, the practice can simply shift the responsibilities of a missing team member onto other team members throughout the day. This allows the practice to maintain a functional schedule, handle responsibilities and still provide five-star customer service.

  • Cross-training helps keep the practice flow moving forward each day. Cross-trained team members can automatically step into different functions as necessary. If the practice falls behind or has a problem in a specific area, the cross-trained team member can move into that area and bring the practice back into its normal flow for the day. Patients don’t notice any break in customer service and the doctor can continue to function, moving from patient to patient. For example, a front desk person who also has dental assisting skills can jump in periodically to help the practice if the clinical area is overwhelmed.

  • Cross-training will show the practice when there is a need to hire. If cross-trained team members are continuously being pulled into their second area of responsibility, then the practice is probably understaffed. For example, if the front desk person is frequently taking on the role of dental assistant, eventually they will fall behind in their duties at the front desk.   

Related reading: The difference between employees and team members                            

We recommend team members be trained in no more than two areas. You do not want to create more stress by asking too much of your staff. It would be very difficult for a dental assistant to also be an expert on greeting patients, insurance coding and inventory management.


Small staffs are always at risk of breakdown when team members leave or get sick. Cross-training eliminates the panic that comes when a staff member is missing and allows dental offices to keeping running without missing a beat.