Coaching Turns Practice Goals into Reality

As I’ve visited dental practices across the country, I’ve met extraordinary people striving to run successful dental businesses. I love to talk to them about their vision for the business. In fact, one of the first things I do after meeting the team is to look around the office for “the practice goals whiteboard.” Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, we have one of those.” I would venture to guess that it was put there for the same reason most offices use them: to ensure that each staff member is working toward the same objectives. I have joined some practices for their daily morning huddle around the whiteboard, where the office manager discusses the day’s goals and objectives and then reviews the prior day’s accomplishments and shortcomings. I think we would all agree that a daily discussion of the goals and a constant visual reminder is important. But I would daresay it is not enough. This is evident to me as I begin to ask different team members about those goals on their office whiteboard.

No matter what position the team member holds in the practice, my question is always the same: “What are you going to do today to influence the goals your office has set?” The answer is almost always something like, “I don’t know. The same things I do every day, I guess.” As I continue to ask questions, it becomes clear that while they know the goals (in some cases they are tied to their quarterly bonus), they don’t know how to influence the goals in their specific role in the practice.

I believe the reason for this disconnect often has to do with a basic understanding of the difference between “lag” vs. “lead” indicators. The practice goals that end up getting measured are often lag indicators—these are backward-focused or “trailing” indicators that measure only performance data that has already been collected. Office and provider production are examples of lag indicators—they show what has already been produced. Lead indicators, on the other hand, are generally seen as a prediction of things to come. For example, as a hygienist, you can positively affect lead indicators by scheduling recare patients or necessary follow-up treatment before the patient leaves the chair to check out.

For each lag measure, there are a number of lead indicators that can be affected by each role in the practice. While the previous example was an obvious one, sometimes it’s more difficult to find all the appropriate lead indicators for a specific lag measure. In fact, your office may have already tried to adjust a number of these lead indicators with little or no impact on the goals.

At Henry Schein, we have a program that can help. Our Profitability Coaching Program has assisted numerous practices to understand these lead indicators, how they affect your goals and the ways each member of your staff can positively influence them. Using the Practice Advisor and Daily Huddle reports to analyze your practice, our coaches can teach your team effective solutions to achieve your practice goals. In fact, after just six months in the coaching program, the average customer has increased collections by over $8,000 per month. This is an annualized 1600%-plus return on investment from the program. Dr. Ross, after completing the coaching program, was asked what value he would place on the program. He answered, “Priceless. After being flat for over five years, we’ve seen a tremendous jump in our bottom line.”

Dr. Roger Levin, DDS, founder of the Levin Group, said, “Dentistry has entered into a new economic reality that is reshaping the profession. The resulting structure will require dental professionals to acquire and apply real-world business principles and methodologies to remain fiscally healthy.” Keep this in mind as you look at 2015 and consider how to continually grow your business.

Our Profitability Coaching program will teach you these business principles and much more. For a limited time, you can receive a free Practice Advisor Assessment. To learn more, please visit


Author: Brad Royer, Dentrix Product Manager
Published: 03/31/2015
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