November 20, 2023
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I called a Doctor’s office to schedule a specialty test.  The person who answered the phone said “Sheila, the person in charge of those appointments isn’t in today”.  The person couldn’t even tell me when the next available appointment was!

I wonder how much that test would have cost?  So, I looked it up.  It was $2,500!  I wonder if Sheila or her stand-in even knew the monetary consequences of the phone call?

Not that money should be a primary motivation, but I’m sure that Sheila expects that her salary increases regularly.  No Money…No Mission.

I made another call at another facility, where I set up an appointment.  Opportunity lost.

There are 2 lessons to be gleaned from this poor customer service experience.



Who answers your phone, how it’s answered and what the outcomes are, are questions, the answers which have the most impact in a practice than any other single factor.  That’s because few if any patients do not go through the front desk and the phone.

Having ONE of anything is bad, it puts the practice at a severe disadvantage.  What happens when someone calls in sick?  What about vacations?  What about employees leaving?

Will your business stop in these instances?

Are you cross-training people?  Is it purposeful and guided?  Or,is it…just look at what Sheila does and do the same?

Does each member of your team appreciate their role in the entire patient care and business process?

Sheila’s absence and a lack of a replacement lost $2,500 for that office.  Would knowing the value of my phone call was have an impact on the person who answered it?

I would maintain that if it doesn’t, that person might not only be in the wrong seat but might not be on the right bus altogether!

Who helps you fill the seats on your bus?  Is it a decision based on someone’s previous skills?  Is it a decision based on their values?  How can you assure they will fit into your culture?

Better yet, what is your culture?

Do you even know what it is?  For, if you don’t, who is controlling it?

Most dentists never think about their culture.  It’s something that just happens.  And, as you invite people to reside in your house, a culture develops.  If not guided based on solid values, the culture formed might be toxic to your goals and objectives.

A new product is bought.  It’s supposed to give better performance.  Yet, it’s never used.  Dental offices around the country have closets of such products and technologies, sitting collecting dust.

For most, the diagnosis of this pathology that I call “Failure to Implement” is a fractured culture.

A fractured culture, as exemplified by the Sheila incident or the dust bin of unused material can be detrimental to the health of a practice.  And, like most pathologies understanding the cause if the beginning of finding a cure.  That’s the value of going through the process as outlined in The Practice Culture Guide and Workbook.

With this resource, a practice owner or leader can diagnose the problem and more importantly craft a solution that will create a culture of productivity, compliance, and profitability.  It can help avoid inviting someone into your home that is a poor cultural fit.  It can help avoid mis-hires and the drama that comes along with it.   It can help make your home a happier one for you, your team and your patients.

Get the help you need…NOW!

Towards a healthy culture and a very Happy Thanksgiving,


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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