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    How to create powerhouse office administrators

    Providing training and standardizing the job description can take your practice to the next level.

    Providing training and standardizing the job description can take your practice to the next level.

    As the business of dentistry continues to evolve, many dentists are opting to form small group practices to compete more effectively in a changing marketplace. Owning multiple practices requires a greater degree of business management than running a single practice.

    Over the last 10 years, the Levin Group has had the opportunity to provide consulting services to numerous small group practices. In that time, we have observed that the majority of them have evolved without a formal strategic plan. For example, one client opened three offices, bought another practice from a recently deceased doctor’s family, purchased the patients and equipment of another practice, and added specialists to all five offices in the practice. This rapid growth occurred over the span of three years with little planning. The doctor expanded as opportunities presented themselves, creating a small group practice, but one with major issues.

    Related reading: 5 essential staff training strategies within the dental practice

    As you would expect in such a scenario, each office runs very differently from the others, with its own individual systems, processes and policies. In addition, the office administrators have varying backgrounds and capabilities with little in the way of formal business training:

    • Office #1 – Former dental assistant who had been with the doctor for 17 years.

    • Office #2 – A former hygienist who had been with the practice for 13 years.

    • Office #3 – A medical secretary hired from a medical group practice who worked at the front desk.

    • Office #4 – Doctor/owner’s daughter.

    • Office #5 – Former front desk coordinator who had been with the practice for five years.

    Don’t misunderstand. Levin Group has worked first-hand with many excellent office managers or administrators who started their careers as hygienists, assistants and front desk coordinators. But these individuals didn’t just rely on their dental experience––they supplemented it with management training.

    Standardizing office administration

    Small group practices should focus on standardizing the role of the office administrator as early as possible. This employee’s job description should be created prior to the formation of the group practice. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Many owners attempt to retrofit tasks and reporting onto the position after someone is already serving in the role. It’s always better to give employees, including new hires, an accurate and updated job description.

    Training office administrators is necessary, but it can be time consuming. Some owners aren’t willing to make the proper investment, feeling that, because they’d training only a few people, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.  In addition, a cultural shift must also take place on the part of office administrators–– they must realize they can no longer operate independently or with their own managerial methodology. The goal is for all offices to operate with uniform systems and policies so that the practice can achieve its highest potential as a business. Without standardization, chaos ensues. The lack of consistent and effective systems in one practice is highly stressful… imagine that scenario played out across 10 offices in a group practice. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

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    Dr. Roger P. Levin
    Dr. Roger P. Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the chairman and chief executive officer of Levin Group, Inc., the largest ...

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