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Hey there, Ortho Warriors! 👋 It’s your friendly practice management enthusiast, Dustin, back with some fresh insights into the world of orthodontic practice culture. Buckle up, because today we’re diving deep into the three pillars that can make or break your practice’s vibe: Communication, Consistency, and Oversight. Let’s jump right in!

1. Communication: The Superpower of Smiles

Picture this: a patient walks into your orthodontic office, filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness. What’s the first thing they encounter? Your team’s warmth and welcoming smiles. Effective communication sets the tone for the entire patient experience. From the moment they step through the door to their final adjustment appointment, clear and empathetic communication is key. When I was in private practice, we developed five service steps in the acronym S.M.I.L.E. You can see those service steps below. Talk about this concept with your team. How can your practice enhance communication through simple but powerful service steps?


Remember, it’s not just about the technical jargon – it’s about connecting with patients on a personal level. Listen attentively, answer questions patiently, and explain treatment plans in a way that all patients and parents can understand. Trust me, a healthy dose of humility and humor won’t hurt either. As long as your communication stye is true to your personality and core values, it will come across as authentic and well-received. If you’re too small and try to sound big or you’re too big and try to play small in how you communicate. Authenticity wins the day. Be sure to communicate your true self as an organization and it will resonate with your target market. 

2. Consistency: The Groove of Ortho Excellence

Ever danced to your favorite tune? Well, consistency is the rhythm that keeps your orthodontic practice grooving. Whether it’s greeting patients with a smile, adhering to appointment schedules, or providing top-notch care, consistency builds trust and loyalty. Think of it as your practice’s trademark beat – the one that patients can always count on.

Consistency isn’t just about the big things; it’s the little details that matter too. Maintaining a clean and inviting environment, running on time, using the latest technology, and keeping team training up-to-speed – it all adds up to a symphony of excellence that patients will hum along to long after their treatment is complete. 

I had this conversation with a member at Burleson Seminars recently. Frustrated by the high turnover some regions are currently experiencing in the dental profession, we highlighted a few companies with growth through strong brand recognition, purchase frequency and high lifetime customer value but also with high employee turnover. Starbucks came to mind along with a handful of other retail firms. If higher-than-average turnover isn’t changing anytime soon due to economic challenges, then the next best thing is to create a consistent environment and brand experience for customers and employees. If the managers and supervisors can stick for at least 5 years, the firm can continue to grow even in the face of high turnover. Yes, it’s ideal to have the same employees working practice systems for a long time but the next best thing is for the practice experience to be so consistent in delivering value to the customer that it almost doesn’t matter who is wearing the uniform.

3. Oversight: Navigating the Seas of Quality

Ahoy, captain! In the ever-evolving seas of orthodontics, proper oversight is your guiding star. It’s about steering your ship (or rather, your practice) towards the shores of excellence. Regularly review protocols, assess patient outcomes, and fine-tune your approach to ensure the highest standards of care. Remember, it’s not about micromanaging – it’s about creating a culture that values continuous improvement. Everyone loves to talk about goals, leadership and the vision. Almost no one wants to be in charge of oversight. This permeates every aspect of our culture today. Parents want to be their kids best friends. Schools are terrified of parents who will blame the curriculum or the teacher and not their child for getting poor grades. Employers play a burdensome regulatory game of “check-all-the-boxes” instead of faithfully supervising employees so that the organization delivers on the promises it makes to the marketplace.

If you don’t know where to start, open up the treasure chest of feedback – both from patients and your crew. Encourage a culture where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and insights. After all, a ship sails smoother when everyone’s on board and paddling in the same direction. If you sense there might be a few discrepancies between what should be happening, what you think is happening and what is actually going on in the business, dig into this third aspect to supporting a healthy culture. 

How many superstar athletes do you think would tolerate playing for a coach who never communicated, was inconsistent in his or her approach to the game and provided zero oversight? It would be no different than simply showing up to the games, never practicing, never holding team meetings and never talking about the game after the final buzzer. Unfortunately, that’s how most orthodontists show up in their practices. They are so busy with the clinical aspect of the practice they assume everyone should just do their job and get along. And so they show up to the “game” unprepared. The culture follows the second law of thermodynamics, achieving a high state of disorder before finally something breaks and key employees quit or stop caring.

This is unfortunately the state of many practices who are struggling to grow in a challenging economy. If you want to fight this scary trend, make it a point to talk with your team about how well you’re communicating, how consistently you are delivering value to the patient and whether or not your oversight might need a little booster shot. If all is well, great! At least you know. If not, these three areas need your focus.

Get free weekly trainings. Unlock your next phase of growth with exclusive weekly trainings from Dr. Dustin Burleson to help you reimagine the status quo and advance your practice. 

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