How to build a cohesive team across locations

November 1, 2017

Tips for performing as a single unit.

 

It’s important for dental staff members to feel like a team - even practices that have multiple locations in different neighborhoods, cities or states.

The following suggestions are designed to help make sure everyone in your practice is feeling like, and performing as, a single unit. When everyone is working toward the same goals, you’ll not only have a financially healthier practice, you’ll also have happier employees and customers.

1. Huddle up

Single-location practices use morning huddles to get on the same page. There’s no reason you can’t do the same across multiple locations with one of many user-friendly video conferencing systems available today. That way, all your locations can participate in real-time. A second option: Designate a point person to create a detailed agenda for the week’s huddle, email it out to everyone a day or two beforehand, and do it over the phone.

2. Level the playing field

With multiple locations, do your best to level the playing field by giving everyone access to the same equipment and technologies, beautiful and updated workspaces, and other company perks. In other words, if one office has a Keurig, they all should. If one practice gets upgraded to the latest practice management software, they all should. If the investment is too steep to do it all at once, communicate your plans to level the playing field later.

3. Treat everyone like an MVP

Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated. As your practice expands to more locations, this may become more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Try creating an employee spotlight program and feature a different team member each week or month. Make sure that the featured employee is based out of a different location and ideally has a different role/specialty each time. You can feature a photo and interview with this team member in many of your marketing properties, including on your website/blog, in your newsletter and of course on your social media channels.

4. Train thoughtfully

As your practice continues to expand, so will the number of people you hire (hats off to you, HR department). When onboarding and educating new staff, a training program that is both thorough and consistent from location to location will set your newest members up for success. Sharing the same procedural documents and best practices with all offices, and alerting everyone accordingly when an update is made, is key here. Finding the right product, service and technology partner who understands the importance of customizable training that fits the needs of your multi-location practice is also of paramount importance. When you partner with Patterson, for example, you gain on-demand access to our industry-leading team of experts.

 

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5. Suit up

The right uniform can make all the difference! First and foremost, uniforms keep us safe. In the dental space, that means the right fabrics, cuts and styles to promote adherence to infection control guidelines. But besides being functionally important, uniforms make us feel like members of a team. Having all your locations coordinate scrubs and attire will promote a sense of team spirit, unity and belonging. It can also bolster feelings of pride and responsibility among employees, which tends to reduce turnover and contribute to overall business success.

6. Create a consistent team culture

Practice makes perfect, so practicing consistency across locations can help eliminate errors. Are your patients receiving the same care across all practice locations? If one doctor has a last-minute conflict, will someone else be able to cover with the same level of expertise? Consider scheduling off-site continuing education events for team members who are based in different locations but with the same job function. A more cost-effective option: Encourage those same-function employees to view CE webinars followed by an exchange of notes and afterward.

7. Learn from wins (and losses)

Every team experiences a loss now and then, but the greatest teams learn from it and make the necessary changes to do better next time. If something is working well at one location, replicate it throughout the practice. Encourage team members to share location-based successes with other locations. The same goes for bouncing back from a missed opportunity. Share those learnings and plans for future success company-wide so you can all improve together.

8. Use the right tools

As your practice changes and expands, you may need new tools to connect you across locations. Think about it: every report, every schedule and every patient chart connected and instantly accessible throughout all your practice’s locations. Imagine your team members caring for patients, leveraging technology for better outcomes and successfully implementing operational aspects of your business. Fuse cloud practice management software from Patterson boosts your productivity by taking important functions of your business and making them easier to find, read and use. 

Dental practices with multiple locations face real challenges when it comes to fostering a team environment, but when you have a plan that encourages and supports a cohesive team, you’ll not only survive those challenges, you’ll come out stronger and more focused.

 

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