Fight Off These Fear Factors by Jay Geier

Fight Off These Fear Factors 

Reconsidering the most common reasons doctors won’t invest in team training

by Jay Geier

As a specialist, you tend to be more enamored with the latest technology and equipment than a general dentist would be (although plenty of them also go overboard). Technology that increases your efficiency and production or improves the patient experience is a wise investment with a positive ROI; in fact, space and equipment is one of the essential five pillars around which we coach clients on growth strategies. But when the latest equipment and gadgets are just new toys to use, this is not money well spent— especially if it’s in lieu of training your team in ways specifically designed to grow the practice.

Every practice owner knows their team members need to be trained. Just as you need the necessary training and ongoing CE to treat patients, your administrative team needs to be trained to do their job and continuously improve through ongoing training. Their job is to work as a high-performing unit that keeps patient service and convenience in mind—to communicate and connect with patients, expertly handle phone calls and appointments, execute efficient processes, and deliver the best end-to-end service experience possible on the phone and on-site.

Why don’t more practice owners invest in training so everyone can do a better job to benefit the patient, practice, team and individual? The answer is fear. Having worked with thousands of practice owners over more than 25 years, we’ve identified five common fear factors:

1. Fear you have the wrong team in place.
Our certified trainers have conducted in-office sessions for nearly 30,000 team members over the past 12 years. Consequently, we know these two outcomes to be fact:
  • Training will uncover hidden gems in your practice. Someone you think is marginal may prove to be one of your strongest, most engaged players once given the right tools, training and motivation to be more successful.

  • Someone you view as a strong performer may be unable to learn or unwilling to accept better ways of doing things. They refuse to be held accountable for results, and think the way something has always been done is the way it should be done forever, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Players like these have been holding you and the rest of the team back for years because they don’t value continuous improvement.
Your team is a direct reflection of you as the primary leader. Have you defined and communicated a vision for your practice so you’re all working toward the same goals? Establish a solid foundation, then give your people the opportunity to achieve those goals for their sake and that of your patients and practice.

2. Fear you can’t afford team training.
The right training done correctly (which includes accountability for improved results) pays for itself and drives growth well beyond the investment. Without accountability, training is purely entertainment; you won’t see improved results. This is just like spending big bucks on new technology that doesn’t increase production—you’re buying entertainment for your sake but the equipment has no bearing on the business and drains financial resources that should otherwise be spent on actual growth strategies..

3. Fear you won’t get the promised result.
Like anything in life, if you go into it with a fear of failure, that fear will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think training won’t work, it won’t. If you think your practice is different or your situation is unique, consciously or subconsciously, you won’t be engaged in learning, so it won’t work. Your people will feed off that vibe and be even more skeptical and unengaged. They’ll think less of you for making them spend time and energy on something you obviously don’t believe in yourself.

No matter what type of practice, size of town, location or caliber of the existing team, the right training will give you the desired result if you demonstrate confidence you believe it will work; engage yourself, and motivate your people to do the same; and be intentional about following through, sticking to it, and holding yourself and your team accountable for the desired result.

4. Fear your team won’t be interested.
You decide whether your team needs to be better trained to improve business results. Of course, you should tactfully explain the rationale—training is not a reflection on them as poor performers, but in the best interest of the patients and team members to help grow the practice in new and better ways—but they don’t get to opt out.

Frankly, you can’t know whether they will be interested in training until you discuss the benefits with them. Give your people some credit; those with the most potential will jump at the opportunity to learn new things, build their skills and better serve patients. Those who push back will show their true colors as not being interested in helping to achieve goals, which tells you they don’t belong on the team..

5. Fear of change.
Even when one of the previous four fears is specifically applicable to a situation, fear of change is often the underlying factor in play. Embracing change is challenging for most people. But if you want changed results and something better for the practice, your patients and your family, you’re going to have to make some changes. Focus on the positive outcomes you’ll get as you go through the discomfort of change.

Instead of letting any of these fear factors be an excuse for inaction, let the fear of failure, the fear of plateauing, the fear of declining profits and the fear of a less-than-ideal retirement be what drive you forward. Everything you and your family have and do in life is paid for through your business. That should motivate you to put intentional energy, effort and resources into things that will most effectively allay those fears.

Be world-class in your world
Most practice owners who don’t train their people know they should. Unfortunately, too many of those who do don’t do it in a way that brings results, so they give up on it because training seems not to work.

Effective team training is the fastest, most economical strategy to significantly boost your results. Recognize that training is not your forte, though; orthodontics is. Leveraging the expertise and experience of someone with a track record of results will ease all the fear factors associated with training going into it and help you enjoy a positive ROI coming out of it.

As a specialist who relies on referrals from general dentists to get patients, you may think your clinical expertise is all that matters and that you don’t have to be concerned with the patient experience. After all, once the patient agrees to a treatment plan, you’ve got them locked in for the duration.

Make no mistake: Their general dentist will hear about you and your team. Just because you don’t have a competitor on every corner doesn’t mean you’re the only option in town. Your practice’s performance is a reflection on the referring dentists as well, so they will start referring elsewhere if their patients aren’t happy with their overall experience, which falls largely on your team to deliver.

Also, don’t ignore the influence of social media. Patients can easily share their opinions online, which will certainly get back to their dentists too. The comments patients post are far more about their opinion of your team and their experience overall than about the quality of treatment they received, and they are not swayed by the technology or equipment that was used on them.

Author Bio
Author Jay Geier is a world authority on growing independent practices to keep for a lifetime of revenue or sell for maximum value. He is the founder and CEO of Scheduling Institute, a firm specializing in team training and doctor coaching to help people live up to their full potential by uncovering blind spots that hold them back and limit their growth and profitability. To find out if your practice would benefit from investing in team training, take the 5-Star Challenge at
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