The Magic of Manuals

When a new piece of equipment or new procedure is introduced into our practice it is essential for us to make the time to create a manual while learning to use or implement: this is delegated to the main user. For instance, when we started using Cerec our clinical assistants started the manual. We delegated one main assistant to take it over and the second to use the manual to test its accuracy. The true test is then having someone non-clinical to test the manual. That way, anyone can come in and be trained off this manual. It is kept in a binder in office if needed as well as in digital form for new hires when onboarding.

Starting this manual for the simplest, most used procedures is a quick way to get this going while giving the team members some ownership and excitement. Now our manuals are much more involved as we evolve into more technology and complex procedures. Our surgical assistant is in the process of making a very detailed manual for our newest piece of technology: the ICam4D scanner. But, she was trained off all our other manuals we have created over the years, so she knew the layout of how to get started and how we use them in our office; even though she has not been a contributor in the past.

So, when did she start or find the time? During the first procedure! Get a note pad and a pen and scribble! That scribble gets converted into a more organized list at the next procedure and then into a document to be tested. Our team knows how important these manuals are so they create time for her to work on it and pull her weight in the meantime. We like to set an attainable goal for the manual to be done by a certain time so we do not let time pass and it not be complete. Until that manual is created and tested, we are solely reliant on our surgical assistant to be present for these surgeries. The goal is to not be reliant on one specific team member. Now go GSD!

P.S. If you want more tips like this, you can catch me in the Practice Management Like a Pro group inside of DSN’s Workplace.

P.P.S. If you want to get a head start on your manuals, check out the manuals available from DSN!

DSN Vendor Compatibility

Over the last 4 or 5 years, there has been an explosion of dental office productivity tools to hit the market. Some are focused on one particular specialty, others are multi-faceted and meant to bring as many features under one subscription. To add to the complexity, almost all of these tools integrate into practice management systems, while those same practice management systems feature the same technology: albeit a bit “wonky” when it comes to execution.

A great example would be Open Dental: the open source practice management system of choice for many upstart and established offices.  Open Dental’s e-services can practically do it all, but the customization and execution can be a bit cumbersome.  Open Dental’s online scheduling and paperless system works well, but it is not quite as powerful as some of the others. We know about Open Dental’s in-house plan, but using something like FFS Profits or Kleer can help build in some much needed management and marketing capabilities.

What I found was that every company does one or two things exceptionally well, but can fall short with other features; so, one has to evaluate a combination of tools and make a decision on what is most important for them. As an example, one of the platforms I currently use as an add-on to Open Dental has a patient payment system, but I opted to subscribe to a different one because it had a better notification system and was much more automated. Do I want to pay two separate subscriptions? No. Do I have a choice? Also, no.

With that said, we have assembled a basic dot chart featuring the partner vendors of DSN and what they do. This will change over time, but you can at least quickly look at the features along the x-axis and visually filter down to the feature that is most important to you. Then, look at what else is offered and match it to the corresponding vendor. Everyone on this list offers a discount to DSN members, so it is a win-win regardless!

To use these vendors, sign up for DSN! I am refraining from saying what my favorites are in order for you to make an informed decision, but if you are interested in what I use in our practice, shoot me an email or message me on DSN. I suggest you demo each one, inquire about their cancellation policy, and simply experiment on what you feel works best in your practice.

New Mental Health Benefits with DSN

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, dentists have higher rates of anxiety, depression and stress compared to the general population. Additionally, a 2019 survey conducted by the American Dental Association found that 79% of dentists reported experiencing burnout at some point in their career.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and DSN recognizes the importance of mental health support for dental professionals. Because of this,we are proud to announce that Dental Success Network, in partnership with Mango Voice, is now offering Talkspace to all members. 

Talkspace is a leading provider of online therapy and counseling services and DSN members now have access to its full service suite including: therapy and counseling, psychiatry, Talkspace Self Guided, meditation practices, journaling exercises, and so much more.

DSN members will have access to licensed therapists and mental health professionals through Talkspace’s platform, which offers therapy and counseling services via messaging, video calls and audio messaging in light of the mental health challenges faced by dentists. These same services average $450 per month when paid out of pocket, depending on the plan.

As a DSN member, you and your family now have access to online therapy at no cost
. This includes unlimited messaging, as well as the option to use one 30-minute live video session (via chat, audio, or video) with your Talkspace therapist each month. 

We are thrilled to partner with Talkspace to provide our members with access to mental health support. Dentists face unique mental health challenges, and it’s important you have access to high-quality care and support. We believe that this partnership will make a real difference in the lives of our members.

Join DSN today to get access to Talkspace as well as the many other resources DSN provides including our exclusive dentist only community, 100+ hours of CE, exclusive vendor discounts and more. 

Building Your Own Recruiting Deck

Our friends at Polaris have some great tips to share with you!

If you are going to build a successful group practice, you’re going to be recruiting a lot of associates; and, if you are going to be recruiting a lot of associates, you are going to be competing against highly trained, professional recruiters. How do you intend to “present” the merits of your business in hopes of having the best candidates choose your business over that of your competitor? Here’s an example:

Want more tips like these? Catch up with Polaris Co-Founder, Perrin DesPortes, on Workplace at Dental Success Network!

P.S. Reminder, DSN members now get access to Talkspace! Get more info here.


Recently I had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Tom Osborne, former Nebraska Football coach, former US Congressman, and overall great guy. Although he is a guy I sit next to in church and get to chat with every once in a while, he could easily be counted as one of the most interesting men in the world. A student of leadership: he played college football, played NFL football, and then got his PhD as he began his coaching career. After coaching, he went to congress for a few years before coming back to Nebraska to serve as Athletic Director. 

One of his passions in life now at an advanced age revolves around mentors. He sees this as a generational problem; he and his wife Nancy have dedicated the past 20 years to philanthropy and developing his TeamMates mentor program. Through this program, he encourages adults to go into schools once a week for 1 hour, to meet with a child who has been identified as needing extra support due to certain situations. This program has expanded over the years, but the proof is in the pudding: children who have one other adult in their life (other than a parent), do better in all academic areas and increase their chance of staying away from drugs, gangs, violence, and other negative life choices.

In childhood and adolescence, we need mentors to help us keep on the right track. Dentistry is no different. At a certain point, we sometimes think we have our degree and learning can stop. However, there is nothing further from the truth. These mentors could actually come from anywhere in the dental or leadership field. They could be clinical gurus or business geniuses. No matter what, we always have something to learn.

At the Dental Success Network, we have over 40 faculty members and experts who have accepted this role of mentorship. They share freely of their wisdom, support us with hard clinical cases, and give advice whenever things get difficult.

If you are struggling with certain aspects these days, look for a mentor either in DSN or in your community. Most of the time when you find the right person, both individuals feel like the relationship is valuable.

Mental Health for May and Beyond!

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, dentists have higher rates of anxiety, depression and stress compared to the general population. Additionally, a 2019 survey conducted by the American Dental Association found that 79% of dentists reported experiencing burnout at some point in their career.

Did you catch these episodes about mental health on The Daily Dental Podcast and The Dentalpreneur Podcast?


The Dentalpreneur Podcast:


The Daily Dental Podcast:

We are proud to announce that Dental Success Network, in partnership with Mango Voice, is now offering Talkspace to all members. Join DSN today to get access to Talkspace as well as the many other resources DSN provides including our exclusive dentist only community, 100+ hours of CE, exclusive vendor discounts and more.

Why’s My Practice Falling Apart?

The Problems

Natalie just got into a fight with Jessie at the front desk in front of a patient. The 11:00 am patient just left without paying their outstanding bill. Someone got scheduled for 90 minutes that should have been 30 minutes. The 2:00 pm patient was scheduled to seat the bridge, but the lab does not have the bridge fabricated yet.

Do problems like these happen regularly in your office? I can think of many situations just like these where all you want to do is yell a bunch of 4-letter expletives. I get it. It is frustrating.

The Solutions

So, how do we overcome hurdles like these? My first answer would be communication with the team about the expectations. Here are my 5 points about communicating with clarity:

  1. Intentional clarity with our communication: speak at a slower pace, leave no detail un-said (even if it is something that should be known). Do not hide messages in “organizational speak” and words that are complicating the issue: simplify. Remember, it takes hearing something 7 times to remember it. If you want the team to remember your core values, it will take 7 times of seeing, repeating, and working with your core values to remember.
  2. Accountability: hold people accountable for the actions you request of them. If you want them to take out the trash at the end of the day, it is going to take you 2 minutes to go around and check all the trash cans, then follow up with them immediately to remind them of your expectations.
  3. Live out the message ourselves: if you request that everyone lives by your core values, then YOU should also be doing so. Asking them to do something and not doing it yourself can lead to a lot of resentment. When resentment builds, people will leave the practice to find leaders who do represent the values they espouse.
  4. Demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability when asking for feedback: every so often you will need to ask your team for feedback on how things are going, and if you are being clear enough with your communication. Sometimes the truth hurts: be ready to be vulnerable and ask if they are getting the right message from you.
  5. Tell stories to convey the message in a memorable way: the most popular book in the world is the Bible, and if you have read much of it, you would know that Jesus talked in parables all the time. It is how messages were conveyed 2,000 years ago and the same is true today. So, when you need to communicate a message or the why of a message try telling it in story form.

Hopefully these 5 points will help you as you become a better leader and a better communicator.

As always, we share content like this and more inside the Dental Success Network. If tid-bits like this would be valuable, come check us out. Right now if you sign up, you will a free 45-day trial of Dental Success Network!

Sign up HERE!

Assessing Potential New Locations for Expanding Dental Practices

As the dental industry continues to expand in 2023, many practices are considering building new locations or adding new offices to their group. When consulting with these practices on their marketing strategies, we are often asked two questions: “Should we expand, and if so, where?”

The practice should research data that shows their current demand, potential future demand, and competitor analysis. Once established that there is enough demand in the area for another dental office, look at specific locations.

Case Study
We recently worked with a rapidly growing dental practice in Omaha, Nebraska. They had outgrown their current location and needed to find either a new space to lease, build a new office, or buy the strip mall they were in. Based on their marketing data, we estimated that they had a demand for 55 to 70 new patients. We calculated this by analyzing their web traffic, number of phone conversions from their website, number of inbound phone calls, and how far out they were scheduling appointments.
Then, we validated these data points to determine their current and future demand. This information allowed them to make data-driven decisions about their expansion plans, including how many operating rooms to build and how many staff to hire. We often use this approach to help practices determine when to hire an associate doctor.

Here is the data we found:


After assessing whether expansion is a worthwhile investment, the next question to answer is “where should they expand?” This is a complex question, but we suggest that owning real estate is often a great option as long as the time horizon is more than seven years. While each case is different, we highly recommend discussing owning versus renting with an investment advisor to ensure that it aligns with your timeline and goals.

As you evaluate potential new locations, we suggest creating a scorecard that includes the following metrics:

As you consider expanding to a new location, look for a location that meets all of these criteria and pair strong operational efficiencies with your marketing strategies to ensure that your new location is a success.

P.S. If you want more tips like this check out the Marketing group on DSN. And if you want to work with CMOShare to expand your practice, join DSN!

Dental Practice: Save Time, Take a Pic!

Small Practice, Big Problems

As you may or may not know, our office is quite small. It is a homey place with tight quarters which presents unique challenges; challenges other offices may not ever have to experience. Our unique challenges come unique systems and solutions, I believe most of these can be translated to be useful in larger clinics as well.

Due to limited space, limited exams are difficult to work into our day. Especially, if we are trying to utilize our chair time to be as productive as possible. They can be unpredictable and difficult to work in same day treatment if that is your goal. If same day treatment is not performed, patients leave frustrated and annoyed that they have to return to fix the issues. The team gets annoyed because they are not sure what to set up for. The front is annoyed because they do not know where to work them into the day. The doctors are annoyed because they want to help but do not have time because they are double booked. Etcetera, etcetera.


Handheld Solution

To help make our limited exams more predictable, we ask the patients to send a picture of the problem if its visible: many of our limited exams are broken or chipped teeth. This can very frequently be captured with a simple phone picture and text or emailed to the office. Our patient base is average age of 55+ and our patients are seeing the benefit of giving it a shot and sending the picture. Verbiage over the phone is also important! Aside from the simple triage questions, the picture will help us place the patient in the correct block out for the day to make sure we can do our best to be efficient with their time and ours!

P.S. If you want more tips like this, you can catch me in the Practice Management Like a Pro group inside of DSN’s Workplace.

If you are not already part of DSN, click HERE to join DSN today and get a 45-day free trial!

Do You Have a Training Plan?


Culture Hiring

We are in a new age of hiring and Dental Success Network is seeing more members hire for culture over skill. When hiring a good culture fit, it is up to the leaders in the practice to dedicate an adequate amount of time to training to ensure the success of the new team member. Creating a training plan can help with holding your new team member accountable and create a mutually beneficial bond.

Here are a few tips and resources to help implement an effective 30-60-90 training plan;

  1. Start with creating the “Ideal Team Player” using the office’s core values, mission, and vision statement;
  2. Create a job description for each department using the Ideal Team Player and the office department daily checklist to summarize day-to-day tasks;
  3. And, create a 30-60-90 training plan which sets benchmarks that encompass the Ideal Team Player, job description, and daily checklist.

Implementing a 30-60-90 day training plan leads to team unity, clarity of job description and expectations, effective communication, and –most importantly– identifying early if this team member is the best fit for your practice.


Want More?

Want to hear more about hiring and accountability? Join Ashlee Hirschfeld, COO at Dental Success Network and Dr. Summer Kassmel, black belt coach and faculty member for the Dental Success Companies as they discuss how to hold the front office team accountable when you don’t know what they should be doing.

Click HERE to register.

Join DSN today to get a 45-day free trial!