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Los Angeles dentist Igal Elyassi believes that dentistry is a partnership between the patients and doctors. Here he shares how to establish a winning practice culture for your staff.
The practice is not about the doctor, he says, it’s about the entire team, and the patient experience.
We hear the buzzwords all the time. Leadership. Culture. Chemistry. More often than not they’re attributed to a championship sports franchise. But how important are these concepts to a successful dental practice?
Very, says Igal Elyassi, D.D.S., founder and owner of the Los Angeles-based Wilshire Smile Studio. And they become more important as the practice grows. Together with a dedicated staff and a well developed and maintained culture, he’s built a thriving multi-disciplinary practice where dentists, hygienists, technicians and office staff are committed to providing the best patient care.
“For a practice to be able to grow, it needs good leadership, it needs a good culture, and it needs good people,” Elyassi says. “And it starts from the top.”
“They helped me understand and implement that mindset,” he says. “And my staff pretty much incorporates it on a daily basis.”
Elyassi stresses a team approach in his practice. He says not only works as a team, they also need to communicate as a team, and take care of patients as a team.
“Every time you have a newcomer, a new doctor, or new staff member, they need to be able to pretty much make sure that individual is integrated in the practice and be part of the team as well,” Elyassi says. “It’s a top priority for me to take care of my employees, so they can, you know, take care of my patients.”
Effectively communicating that throughout the practice is challenging. Elyassi says not everyone is able to absorb, or is willing to be part of, that philosophy. Part of his strategy, of course, is effectively communicating office goals and principles to his staff through ongoing meetings. But he also takes them to meetings and seminars to ensure his commitment to them, so that they make the commitment to the practice.
“Especially practice in Los Angeles,” he says. “We have employees from very diverse backgrounds. They come from different countries and different cultures. But the bottom line is what are our goals? You have to set goals as to what you want to achieve at the end of the day, at the end of the week, and at the end of the month.”
Elyassi believes there’s always room to grow and get better. To that end, he says it’s very important to have goals conversations. He says his staff has meetings and pretty much knows how to have that line of communication open so that, bottom line, they can provide the best customer service.
“Sometimes things happen,” he says. “It’s important to make sure they don’t happen again.”
That happens, Elyassi says, because his is a team practice. That’s why culture is so important. The practice is not about the doctor, he says, it’s about the entire team, and the patient experience.
“A lot of my employees have long days because the traffic is bad here,” Elyassi explains. “They could find jobs very close to their home. But establishing this culture, making it very professional so that they want to work here, gives them that motivation to come to work every day and grow as a person and a team.”
Wilshire Smile Studio is a multi-disciplinary practice. That means some days general dentists are present, and other days specialists are working with patients. That can make establishing and maintaining a winning culture challenging, but Elyassi says it also makes things more interesting.
“We are able to render most major dental services here in the practice,” he says. “We don’t have to refer patients, for the most part. We try to keep it here because patients don’t like to be passed from one office to another. Our goal is to give them the best possible dental care under one roof.”
That culture, Elyassi explains, can have a positive impact on the practice’s bottom line.
“It might not be reflected immediately,” he says, “but in the long run, it will definitely be reflected on the bottom line.”
Because when patients feel comfortable, when they feel they’re receiving the best possible care, they’re going to spread that feeling by word of mouth and through social media.
“You can’t pay someone enough to care, it has to come from within,” Elyassi says of the dedication to provide patients with the best possible experience. “It’s really about selecting the right team members to be able to establish that winning culture.”
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