7 Dental Practice Management Mistakes You Can Avoid

Posted by Amy Carbone on Apr 1, 2020 11:49:13 AM

Managing a dental practice efficiently and effectively can be challenging, even for experienced dentists. Here are seven dental management mistakes to avoid and what you can do instead.

Mistake #1. Ignoring a Top-Notch Patient Experience

Your patients' experiences should be one of your top priorities. 

Patients who have a subpar experience with your dental office are less likely to return, and the cost of acquiring new patients to replace them is far higher than having the same patients return on a regular basis.

Instead: Delight Every Patient during Their Visit

When you provide a great experience for a patient, you transform a dental checkup from a chore into a fun appointment. This is especially true for young children who may have that typical fear of a dentist. 

Bright lighting, polished windows, a friendly demeanor, lighthearted smalltalk, and other small changes can make a big difference between a patient coming back and finding another dentist!

Mistake #2. Undervaluing Your Own Services

Offering affordable dental services to your patients is always a smart idea and an excellent way to endear yourself to your patients. 

However, be careful not to undervalue the quality of your services. Even if your services are affordable, your patients should be able to clearly see that they are also worth the price.

Instead: Present Your Services with a Five-Star Image

Educate your patients on the value of the procedures or treatments you recommend. Take the time to discuss with them the benefits of the treatment and the consequences of declining.

When your patients understand what you do and how much work goes into making them healthy, they may be more willing to pay for your good work. 

Mistake #3. Hiring Team Members That Don’t Fit 

Your dental practice is only as strong as your team. It's critical to hire experienced, dedicated team staff members who are knowledgeable in their area of training. 

Avoid making hires with too little information, even if you're in desperate need of filling a position. Take your time to fully understand someone’s professional background, their education, their passion, and why they’d be a good fit for your dental practice. 

Instead: Be Thorough During the Hiring Process

Be as thorough as possible during the hiring process. Review resumes, schedule multiple interviews, and ask your current staff for their feedback on their potential new teammate. 

This may seem time-consuming, but hiring and training are costly. Do what you can to make sure the people you hire will be a successful investment.

Mistake #4. Not Providing Your Team with Ongoing Training

Training your new hires is common sense. But continually training your staff takes extra effort. 

Failing to work with your current team means you’re losing an opportunity to improve the strengths and weaknesses of everyone at your practice. It's important that your team receives regular updates and ongoing training, especially in modern dentistry.

Instead: Create Multiple Opportunities for Your Staff to Learn and Review Skills

Create or find robust training programs that allow your staff to engage in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. Provide hands-on training, and don't be afraid to ask your staff where they feel they need the most help.

This won’t just improve your current team’s knowledge of dentistry — you’ll also engage your team members who are encouraged by ongoing learning, helping you retain your best talent for years. 

Mistake #5. Treating Your Staff Like Partners

It's easy for your employees to feel close when you work together day in and day out. 

However, you and your team are a professional unit first and foremost, regardless of how skilled they are or how long they've worked with you.

Instead: Maintain Healthy Employer-Employee Boundaries

Let your employees know up-front what they can expect from their working relationship with you. Be clear about employer-employee boundaries and any consequences that may be imposed if those boundaries are overstepped.

This may be challenging at first, but it helps establish good working practices and a positive professional environment that helps your practice thrive.

Mistake #6. Failing to Make a Good First Impression

While every patient's experience is crucial, the first impression you make on new patients sets the tone for what they can expect from you in the future. 

New patients are expensive to acquire, and if their first impression of your office is subpar, they may not return. That makes it harder for you to establish a reliable patient base, and there’s not much you can do once someone decides not to come back. 

Remember — it’s not always about what you say or do. It’s also about how the patient feels.

Instead: Pay Extra Attention to First-Time Patients’ Feelings

When going through a mock appointment, take the stance of a new patient who has never seen or interacted with your practice before. The phone is the most common point of first contact — call and make an appointment to get a feel for how your front desk staff is communicating with patients. Or, consider hiring a "mystery shopper" to walk in for an appointment and let them tell you about their initial first impression.

Mistake #7. Keeping Outdated Equipment

Patients are paying attention to the technology in your office. If your patients feel like you're five, 10, or even 20 years behind the industry, they may decide to eventually move on to a new practice.


Because technology is a crucial part of our world today, and it’s understood to make life more efficient, comfortable, and even relaxed. 

If someone gets the impression that you’re not up to snuff, it can easily harm your reputation and push them away. 

Instead: Watch for New Technology & Purchase It When Necessary

New tech is costly but often well worth the investment in streamlining new patient exams and increasing treatment acceptance. Pay attention to your competitors and what other dentists in the area are using. Make an effort to update outdated equipment and invest in cutting-edge tech.

Is it an expensive up-front cost? Yes. 

But it will hopefully help you create a modern dental practice that inspires confidence in your patients.

How Managing Your Dental Practice Effectively Can Help You Grow

Managing your dental practice efficiently and effectively may help you to steadily grow and succeed. At Treloar & Heisel, we're dedicated to providing you with the resources you need to pursue your dental career goals. Download your free eBook — Managing People in Your Dental Practice — here.

Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.

Insurance products offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.

Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and its divisions do not offer practice management advice. Please consult a professional concerning this topic.

Topics: Dental Practice Business Tips