Ten years ago, when I first started as practice manager at East Midlands Orthodontics, we didn’t have daily meetings. Generally, the dental profession is quite sceptical of their value, and I understand why.
Even a short meeting eats into your daily clinical time. If you get your whole team together for fifteen minutes, each clinician has effectively missed an entire appointment; repeat this every day for a month, and that’s a whole morning’s worth of chair time down the drain.
So, I can see why clinicians sometimes get impatient. And sure, if the meetings aren’t impactful, then they’re a huge waste of resources. A dentist’s time is extremely valuable, and every second that they aren’t using their skills to benefit their patients needs to be fully justified. A long, boring, directionless get-together is not the best way to maximise a practitioner’s output.
On the other hand, if the meetings are properly structured, they can be wrapped up in ten or fifteen minutes, and in the long run, they’ll make sure that your time and resources are used much more effectively throughout the rest of the day, month, and year.
What can a daily meeting do for your practice?
When we first started regular morning meetings, some staff members were worried that we were unnecessarily squeezing our clinical time, reducing the number of patients we could see, lowering productivity and therefore reaching our targets more slowly.
However, after a few months working on the new schedule, our regular audit showed that we’d actually increased the number of patients coming through the door. Since we’d started the morning meetings, we were managing our time more efficiently, our systems were running smoother and the team’s energy levels were higher than ever, resulting in more patients being seen in a shorter time and increased revenues for the practice.
We were also able to use these get-togethers to focus our attention on hitting specific targets, like increasing our numbers of referrals and patient testimonials. From the moment we brought in the meetings, the practice has gone from having basically zero Google reviews to over one hundred. We’re averaging four and a half stars out of five, ranking higher in organic searches, and our private sales are constantly increasing.
How did we manage all this? Let me explain.
Why should I bother with a daily meeting?
First, let’s think about what you cost yourself by not scheduling a daily meeting. Without making time for a regular catch-up, there is no way for you to communicate with your whole team, nor for the different parts of the team to talk to each other. You’re missing a chance to surface any potential problems, risks or opportunities which might present themselves over the course of the coming day.
This makes it far more likely that you’ll be reacting to events as they happen, rather than getting out in front of them.
Let’s say there’s an issue with the compressor that provides air to your dental equipment. This is a really easy problem to put off until tomorrow, since the worst consequences are usually weeks or months down the line… until you have a catastrophic failure that knocks out your entire practice!
If you run a daily meeting, you can make time each morning to quickly raise any technical issues your team might have noticed. As a manager, this will allow time to contact a supplier, organise a repair or order a replacement before the situation becomes critical. Instead of fighting fires, you’re staying ahead of the game.
What are the benefits of a daily meeting?
The first benefit of a morning meeting is that it allows you, as a manager, to set the tone for your team. If you start the day off on a note of positivity, that energy can spread itself to the rest of your staff. You’ll be surprised by the effect this can have on their performance!
It also gives you a chance to look over the day ahead. Is there a particularly demanding patient coming in later? Perhaps one of your clinicians is treating a teenager with autism, who might need a bit of extra time for their appointment and a private space to wait in beforehand.
By talking this through with your team, you can make sure everyone’s ready to accommodate their needs to the best of your abilities.
As well as getting ready for challenges, you can also be on the lookout for opportunities to generate sales, referrals, or other forms of added value. For example, you might notice that one of your clinicians has a debonding appointment booked in. This session – the moment when a patient’s braces finally come off after three or four years of treatment – can be a massive emotional high both for them and your team, and you should be prepared to make the most of it.
When you know these moments are coming, you can make a bit of extra time to ensure that your patient’s journey wraps up in the best way possible – giving them a bit of special attention, asking about their experience, and for any feedback they might want to give. This can be a great moment to ask a patient for a review, or even better, to book them in to record a video testimonial and capture that emotion on camera.
As I mentioned earlier, bringing in these practices led to an exponential leap in the number of online reviews we were getting, providing a really valuable source of social proof for the business. How did we make this happen? We simply introduced a couple of extra steps into our regular processes – simple changes which we’d first identified in the course of our daily meetings!
Four tips for running an effective morning meeting
1 – Keep it simple. You don’t want meetings to drag on or to overload your staff with too much information, so start out by keeping them focused on two or three key objectives.
2 – Make it about the team. In early meetings, most of your energy should go towards building a positive atmosphere and encouraging communication between team members.
3 – Focus on the day ahead. To keep things manageable, try to focus on how you and your team are going to tackle the coming day. Bigger issues should be dealt with separately.
4 – Gradually bring in targets. As the meetings become more habitual, you can start introducing daily targets. NHS patients, sales, referrals – whatever makes sense for you and your team.
Don’t expect your meetings to provide instant rewards! It’s a long-term strategy, and you may find that you have to win over some naysayers along the way. If you stick at it, though, you’ll be amazed by the transformative effect that a fifteen-minute daily chat can have on the morale of your team and the efficiency of your practice.
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