How to Be the Leader Your Dental Practice Needs


Kirk Behrendt, BS, delivered these tips at the Greater New York Dental Meeting on how to improve at managing patients, employees, and expectations in your dental practice.

During his continuing education course on Monday, titled “The Top 10 Secrets to Make Your Practice Thrive,” which was a part of this year’s the Greater New York Dental Meeting, it became immediately clear that Kirk Behrendt, BS, would be covering far more ground than just 10 actionable steps.

Related: 5 Steps to Boosting Referrals to Your Practice

The 3-hour course covered topics such as boosting referrals, dealing with difficult employees, and changing why and how dentists work. Behrendt is the founder and CEO of ACTdental and has made a career out of elevating dentistry. As his informative session, which held the attention of dozens of dental professionals, began to wind down on Wednesday, Behrendt touched on what he referred to as the “big stuff,” or areas within practices that can result in immediate gains in team cohesion and the bottom line. Here are 5 of the key points he covered.

1. Move to a 7-3 workday. Behrendt said that he has seen boosts in productivity and profit in practices that have moved to a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. workday. He also advocated for getting rid of the lunch hour, since dentists’ lunches often get eaten away by emergencies or procedures that run longer than expected. “It isn’t how hard you work,” Behrendt said. “I love working hard. It’s what you get out of the hours.” A 7-3 shift, Behrendt also noted, leaves more room for your personal life, leading to a better work-life balance. He did caution that this change isn’t for everyone, and that if it is going to work, it needs to be implemented with clear direction from you, the practice leader.

2. E-R = C. This simple equation, Behrendt said, is an effective way of understanding conflict in your dental practice. If E stands for Expectations, and you subtract from those Expectations R, which is Reality, you end up with Conflict. You have conflict, Behrendt said, when expectations and reality don’t meet. This brought him to his next topic of …

3. Under promise, over deliver. “The only businesses in the United States that are growing are the ones that are under promising and over delivering,” he said, citing the example of Amazon. When you order from Amazon, he said, you’re typically told your package will arrive in 5-7 business days. And yet, your package typically arrives sooner, sometimes within 3 days. By under promising, Amazon has effectively made you a happier customer. The key to succeeding in this regard in your dental practice, Behrendt, is managing the Expectations in the conflict equation.

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4. Put your patients second. It seems surprising at first, but when you un-package this concept the way Behrendt did, it makes sense. If you put your employees first, Behrendt explained, you are effectively creating a better experience for the customer. Elevate your team, and thereby elevate your customers. Which leads us to …

5. Find the right people for your team. It’s hard for many of us to accept, Behrendt said, but people either don’t change, or change very little. And, he added, there are those among us who will suck the energy and life out of a practice. “It doesn’t get any better than the interview,” he said. He said that in the countless practices he’s visited, he often encounters a difficult employee who has been around for years, simply because a dentist is unable or unwilling to deal with them. It is better to be clear in addressing issues such as these, he said. “People are starving for clear.”

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