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Today's top consultants tell you the one piece of advice you need to know to start 2016 off right


What will make 2016 better for your dental practice? These leading consultants tell you.

As the year winds down and the preparations really gear up for 2016, we picked the brains of some of the top practice management consultants in the dental industry and asked them one simple question, “What is the one piece of advice you would give to a dentist for the New Year?”

Below is what they told us they would pass along to you if they walked through your doors. There are some great nuggets of knowledge below, so enjoy reading and happy implementing!

Cindy Ishimoto

A new year and a new beginning, the goals are ahead of you. How do you achieve them? Focus on the foundation, the structure, and the systems running efficiently and effectively, with team members who know what to do, how to do it to the practice standard, and, of course, when and why they should do things are the keys that unlock the success potential for your practice.

I recommend that every practice have focused team (staff) meetings minimally for two hours each month … twice a month is even better. Using this valuable time to invest in a constant process of evaluation, problem solving, and implementation of change is when your practice will receive the return on your investment for these staff meetings.

Every meeting certainly has an agenda with pressing concerns, evaluation of statistics, and focused discussions on your ongoing projects like internal and external marketing. Of course, you need an education segment to provide ongoing advancement in understanding the dentistry, technology, and products, etc., that support your ability to provide quality care. At least 45 minutes need to be committed to evaluation and refinement of the systems of the practice. Take out the standard operating procedural guidelines for the specific system. Are they being followed? Have things changed? What is the standard you are aiming for? What verbal skills are needed? Who is assigned? When are they to be accomplishing this? Where is it done? Why do we do it and how can we polish it, change it, and/or enhance it to provide the level of care we want and the patient service that is expected? An example here would be looking at the scheduling system. Do your perfect day scheduling blocks reflect your current procedural analysis times needed to provide those services? Are there enough blocks available to achieve your 2016 production goals? What are the rules around holding the blocks?

This continual look at the “basics” creates a solid foundation for your practice and it allows for every team member to be on the same page doing what is expected and achieving at the practice standard. You can’t change your world if you don’t know the basics. If you want to propel your practice forward to achieving your goals in 2016, ensure that the foundation you stand on is solid.

Dayna Johnson

Protect your license! As the doctor, you must trust and empower your team to help take your practice to new heights, but don't go in blind. Have systems in place to keep your eyes on the clinical documentation, the numbers, and all compliance regulations.  

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Robin Morrison

Be or become a great leader, and empower your team members to become great leaders. The practice will soar!

Katie Ennis Theriault

Train your team that every point of contact with a patient is an opportunity to wow them. Also, make sure they understand that we are in the people business and it's all about relationships!

Roy Shelburne

I’ll say two things. First, doctors, in many cases, you know what to do! Just pull the trigger. Second, have a live well-trained person answer the phone by the second ring. Your appointment book will be filled and your new patient numbers will skyrocket.

Linda Miles

Hire, train, and trust your teams to reach their full potential and then the doctor reaches his or her full potential as well. You can be the greatest clinician in the world but you must have a dedicated, well-trained team that believes in you, your dentistry, and your goals.

Margy Schaller

If you truly want to be an oral physician, spend more time educating patients. This can be done in a Lobby Loop, in the chair, or with patient education podcasts you send out to your patients.

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Cathy Roberts

Treat your staff with respect and say "thank you" for a job well done!

Brenda Curry

I assume your staff does a lot right or they wouldn't be employed ... so I would say regularly acknowledge the "right" they do/did. It might cause a little more attention to be paid to what they do, or simply acknowledge that you couldn't get through those hard difficult procedures or days without the support they give you, Doctor.

Rachel Teel Wall

Empower your hygiene team to help build your practice and then share the growth with them (and the team). I know it sounds simple but you would be surprised at the number of hygienists who would love to hear they have “permission” to take patients as far down the diagnostic path as possible. And once the doctor empowers them, very often they will soar in this area.

Patti DiGangi

Make the best-fitting decision about Medicare that positions you best for the future. All paperwork must be completed and approved by June 1, 2016. Doing nothing is the worst choice.

Carol Walsh

Go with your team for education. Don't send them and ask them to report back.

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Heidi Arndt

If you want to increase hygiene revenue within your practice in 2016, you must sit down with your hygiene team and discuss your specific goals. Remember, dental hygienists have not been trained on the "business of dentistry", so you will need to educate them on how these business goals are achieved by the comprehensive care they provide to their patients. For optimal buy-in, consider designing a compensation plan that is tied to their performance.

Leslie Canham

Make sure your practice is HIPAA-compliant. Think of it as not only meeting government regulations, but as the best way to secure your patients’ personal health and financial information. Don't be the reason your patients become victims of identity theft.

Mary Govoni

I agree with Leslie Canham on HIPAA compliance. Do not assume that your electronic data is secure. Be proactive. Conduct a risk assessment to determine where your vulnerabilities are. Work with a technology professional to correct any issues. Also make sure that you have your HIPAA-required documentation.


Virginia Moore

Know your numbers! Understand the business of your practice to ensure ongoing profitability that provides for excellent team compensation, state-of-the-art technology, quality materials, and predictable doctor compensation.

Jill Townsend

Make sure your bio is current and includes a great photo. The “About the Doctor” page on your site is the first page viewed by a potential patient. The same goes for your team.

Sandy Baird 

Be a leader for your team. Walk your talk!

Pauline Grabowski

Make sure you have a strategic plan in action with systems and team accountability. Do telephone skills training to enhance the patient experience.

Debbie Seidel Bittke

Empower your hygienists by collaborating with them regarding what you want and need for success. Inspire hygienists to look at, report on, and share their numbers on treatment planning, case presentations vs. case acceptance, scheduled hygiene appointments, cancellations, perio vs. prophy, etc. Celebrate and share the success.


Sandy Pardue

Focus on patient retention. Practices are sitting on a gold mine and don't even know it.

Anissa Broussard Holmes

To make 2016 the best year ever, focus on creating SMART goals and creating checklists to make sure that they are all achieved.

Robin Besotes

"Schedule" small amounts of time for social media management.

Jack Abrams

Substitute time management with success management. We have to do what matters most and lend resources accordingly!

Steffany North Mohan

Value health for ourselves and our team. This way, we can have the right energy to care for others.

Kristine Hodsdon

Perfect the fine art of drawing people out and asking questions.

Mark Dilatush

Answer your phone. After all, a new patient might be calling.

Josalyn Sewell

Dentists, work on your leadership abilities!

Fran Pangakis

Start the year off with a values clarification exercise to create your practice culture. The leader can create one, then each department can create theirs and meld them together. Set guidelines for what the culture will accept for behaviors and attitudes. From there, create a theme for this year’s goals. 2016 will be a year of leadership. What can happen from here is limitless.

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