How to Setup a Dental Practice Break Room (for profit)

December 19, 2014

Practice Management

How to Setup a Dental Practice Break Room (for profit)

Throughout this post I mention setting specific goals for dental practices, if you are needing benchmarks to aim for in your practice, you can download a copy of my free report: “The Fifteen Numbers that Will Make (or Break) Your Dental Practice” here

Every high-performing dental practice understands that it is important to set structured goals for their employees, owners, and the practice as a whole.

In case you missed it, I wrote a guide to setting goals for dental practices that will help make sure 2015 is your best year in dentistry.

That guide is a personal goal setting technique for the owner(s) of the practice.

Setting goals for the practice as a whole and then communicating those goals to staff can be a mystery to a lot of owners.

In fact, a common question I receive from practice owners is how to communicate dental goals to their employees.

In this guide I’m going to show you how to setup your break room so that you can easily keep employees informed, using a real life example.

Meet Bill.

Bill and I shared a lunch together and I immediately knew that Bill was in the top 10% of dentists in terms of natural business acumen.

When I met Bill he shared with me that his practice has been hitting its goals every year.  (He’s even breaking ground on a new practice location in the next twelve months)

Bill’s practice was a start-up in the middle of 2008.

Despite the economy Bill’s practice has been growing year over year at a fantastic rate.

When I walked into Bill’s break-room I knew what I was seeing was part of the secret sauce that allowed him to reach his goals.

Here’s what his break-room looks like:

Main picture

You see Bill had what I call the three core elements of communicating goals to employees. (as well as a few more great ideas)

The Three Core Elements to Communicating Goals in a Dental Practice

The first core element of communicating goals in a dental practice is expectation.

Here is where a lot of practices miss the boat.

Expectations should be set on the following levels:

  • Practice Level
  • Department Level (Hygiene, Doctor, Associate, Clinical, and Clerical)
  • Employee Level

Setting Expectations on the Practice Level

For example, Bill’s main practice goal for 2014 was production related.  (Bill has his fee schedule setup to where productions = collections)

It is key to set this out in front so that everyone can clearly see the goal set for the practice.

Here’s how Bill set his up:

Dental Practice Level Goals

The key is to keep the numbers and goals basic to not over complicate the process.

You’ll notice that the production goal isn’t listed with the four “main” goals.  It is the over-reaching big picture goal for the practice.

For most practices this is the main number you should be setting as a goal for 2015.

Setting Expectations on the Department Level

If you refer back to the last photo, you’ll see that there is a clear expectation for what the owner wants from the different departments.

Getting to eight days of hygiene, focusing on internal marketing, etc.

In my practices I typically advise setting the departments up as:

  • Hygiene
  • Clinical
  • Clerical
  • Office Manager
  • Associates
  • Doctor/Owners

Setting Expectations on the Employee Level

Each employee should have a clear daily target for some quantitative number; it could be production or collection numbers, phone calls made, letters mailed, or appointments booked.

For example; Bill has each hygienist set at $800 a day in production.

You can see that along with the color coding system here:

Hygiene Goals

There are also clear fail/good/great goals.

Which leads me to the second core element:

The second core element of communicating goals in a dental practice is accountability.

The practice owner, office manager, and other employees have to hold the employees accountable for when they both succeed and fail.

Successes should be celebrated and failures should be addressed.

I’ve seen successes celebrated by:

  • Allowing employees to draw from a grab bag with different valued giftcards.
  • A “points” system for redeeming high value items, such as an iPad or MacbookPro.
  • Straight cash rewards for certain benchmarks.

The not so fun part of accountability is when your employees fail.

The key to looking at failure is to look at where the problem lies.

Is it with the goal?  Is it with the policies? Is it with the owner?  Is it with the employee?

Have a discussion between your employee and potentially the office manager to discuss where it truly lies.

The good news is that in today’s environment, training can be had on any topic when it comes to practice management.  So if there is a problem with a policy or the practice’s processes, you can probably find some type of consultant or training to fix the issue.

If you don’t empower your employees to reach their goals, you only have yourself to blame.  This is my favorite quote on the subject:


The third core element of communicating goals in a dental practice is consistency.

You have to be consistent.  Bruce Springsteen once said;

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”

The Boss was talking about music, but just like how his nickname is relevant to the discussion; the quote goes for business as well.  Key in on “action over a long period of time.”

Set your practice a goal to work on your goals as a group.  Promise yourself a vacation after a year of goal setting and communications.

Consistency may be the most important of the three elements.

If you have children, think to yourself.  What lessons stick the best?

For me, my daughter loved playing with keys.  (She’s a year and a half, not a thirteen year old that loves keys; just in case you were thinking weird things)

If we let her even think that she was going to get to those keys, she was going to be awful until she gets those freaking keys.  It was terrible!

The only way we were able to break that habit was to be consistent in letting her know that she was not going to get the keys.  Keys aren’t made for dipping in your ketchup.  Keys aren’t toys.  She has her toy keys and we have our car keys.

It’s an elementary example, but it completely holds true.

There are proven psychological edges that kick in when you know what to do (expectation),  you know the consequences (accountability), and you know that nothing is changing about the situation (consistency); get them working for your practice by communicating your goals to your employees effectively.

Having the break-room setup as a communication tool can help your practice set it’s own path.

So who actually updates the board?

Preferably your office manager, they should be managing your practice; including business aspects.  It’s your ballgame but the board shows you the score.  Your manager can act as the scorekeeper and as an umpire, but you are the head ump and have the last call.

The dentist/owner can absolutely do it all themselves, but a great process setup in your practice is worth it’s weight in gold.  (You could be spending that time hitting your numbers)

What type of board should I get?

You can be as techy or non-techie with this as is reasonable for your practice.  Different setups I’ve seen are:

Example 1: A large whiteboard such as the one in this guide, or like this one from amazon:

WhiteBoard for Dental Break Room

Example 2: An actual old school chalkboard or chalkboard paint on a wall like this:

chalkboard paint for dental break room

Example 3: A flat-screen TV hooked up to a computer that shows an excel spreadsheet.

All of these have pros and cons.  It’s up to you to decide.  Don’t get bogged down by making the decision.  Just pick one and get started.

What Goals Do I Set?

As a recap: the key is to use the three core elements:

  • Expectation – Set a “must meet number” and a “goal number”.
  • Accountability – Communicate pass/fails and consequences for each. (Both good and bad)
  • Consistency – Set responsibilities and stay disciplined in your pursuit of the practice’s goals. (While examining what is working and not, tracking progress, and fixing what doesn’t work)

I like to setup goals by practice, department, and employee.

Time-frames should be setup with annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

If you are needing help with some specific numbers to hit, you can download my free report; “The Fifteen Numbers that Will Make (or Break) Your Dental Practice” for free here:

Click here for your copy of “The Fifteen Numbers that Will Make (or Break) Your Dental Practice” (Free)

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