Getting Started with Systems in Your Dental Practice with Laci Phillips


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Getting Started with Systems in Your Dental Practice

Episode #425 with Laci Phillips

If you're using Post-its as your training manual, you need a better system! And to help you create the best one for your practice, Kirk Behrendt brings in Laci Phillips, cofounder of Practice Dynamics, to shift your thinking and reveal how to get started. Systems give you organization, consistency, and predictability, and the way to achieve it is with an SOP. To find out more about SOPs and how to create them, listen to Episode 425 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

You need a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual.

SOPs are living, breathing documents. Keep them updated.

It’s up to leadership for team members to follow systems.

Great things will happen if you have great systems in place.

Creating systems will take a lot — a lot — of time.


“If you are a team member and you've ever said, ‘Oh, I had no idea that was my job,’ or, ‘Wow, I don't even have a job title or responsibilities,’ or, ‘I have no idea how to do that,’ or you're responsible for training somebody and you're not even fully trained yourself, these are the things that we’re talking about right now — systems, documented, actually organized and put into categories. So, no matter where you are or what you're doing, you know where to go to find any answers that you need. And it becomes an easy training manual as well. And I just find it’s something we don't have in dental practices. It’s kind of crazy to me.” (2:52—3:35)

“What I'm talking about is an SOP manual, a Standard Operating Procedure manual. And it’s a living, breathing, document. It changes as your procedures change, as your systems change. Maybe you don't accept all third-party financing anymore. Maybe you use different vendors for different things. Things change. Life changes. Procedures change. We have to document that and keep those up to date as well.” (4:43—5:15)

“It took us a good three years — I'm not kidding — to put [our SOP] together. This is not something that you just all of a sudden, on the weekend, or you send homework with your team to get this done. But there's a nice, concise, consistent way to get it done that we have found. And so, it does take a lot of time.” (6:18—6:39)

“Use your leads. You use your team leads. So, you have a business team lead, you have a clinical team lead, you have a hygiene team lead. And maybe even, now, you have a marketing lead. And so, you use those leads in the capacity in which we put them in that role, ‘Hey, if something changes, if something is different in your department, in your category, please let me know so that I can update the SOP manual.’ And, again, it’s digital. It’s a Word document, or you can lock it down as a PDF. But it’s digital so that it’s easy to do.” (6:58—7:36)

“Let's say I'm a sterilization assistant and I'm gone today. I'm out, and somebody else needs to pick up this pace for me, and they’ve never done it before. Oh — I can pull out the SOP manual, go to “Sterilization,” and it’s going to tell me exactly about the STATIM, the cold sterile, the hot sterile, where do things go, how do I use it, what do I do. It would even allow the doctor, if need be, to jump in and do some things maybe the doctor isn't used to doing. But it’s a leadership role in getting this together for our team.” (9:06—9:42)

“[When team members don't follow the systems] this is a leadership issue. It’s leadership. And look, I get it. Dentists go to dental school to become dentists. What makes them happy is being in the patient’s mouth and changing lives, and doing beautiful dentistry, making people feel healthy and whole again. But guess what? When you bought that practice and when you hired team members, you became a leader. Whether you like it or not, you are a leader by default. And you could either be a great leader, or you could be a bad leader. That's totally up to you. But you're a leader, regardless. So, when anybody tells me, ‘I can't get my team to do this,’ or, ‘We wrote all of this. We took the time to do it, but they don't ever use it,’ that's on you.” (12:46—13:24)

“If a baker was like, ‘Oh, that says a cup. But I'll just scoop it, and we’ll see what happens,’ think about with your Starbucks or your favorite coffee. If they eyeballed it and was like, ‘Let's see if this is enough here. I'm going to taste it. Oh, yeah. That's too sweet,’ things like this don't happen just willy-nilly. Starbucks didn't happen. Your drinks don't happen. Baked goods — all of this, it doesn't happen because somebody eyeballed it or somebody threw somebody in a chair and said, ‘Here, figure it out on your own.’ That's not how great things happen. Great things happen because there are systems, and there's organization, and there's consistency, and predictability.” (17:00—17:41)

“Every single team member needs to be an extension of other team members. If we’re talking about tooth surface, I need to understand what that is. If something’s hot rather than cold — dynamic verbal skills and education allow us to have educated conversations with a patient when we were never there when they received the initial education. So, verbal skills are my life. I love verbal skills. So, that's the first system, is having everything written down. Like, how do you answer the phone? How do you set the voice message? How do you forward calls? If it’s an emergency patient that calls at 3:00 in the afternoon, is it really an emergency, and how do we vet that? Verbal skills are my favorite.” (19:23—20:12)

“People don't think that verbal skills or communication is a system. 100%, [ they are]. If you think about it though, a lot of times, they don't put the effort into the verbal skills — sounding professional, being professional.” (20:17—20:32)

“My second favorite [system] is conflict management and how do we deal with each other when we’re not in the best mood, or how do we deal with something when we get our feelings hurt. And if there's an actual system for that, and everybody doesn't just blow it off, and then it gets worse and it becomes this bomb that's been fused in the office, if we actually have adult conversations with each other and we learn how to deal — I always say it doesn't have to be conflict, it has to be a conversation. Like, let's actually just talk about what just happened and how did it affect our patients, how did it affect our team, and what do we need to do to make sure this doesn't happen again.” (22:24—23:06)

“It’s everything from the moment you pull into the parking lot in the morning to the moment you pull out of the parking lot. Where do you park? What door do you come in? Is there an alarm, or do you use your key? When you get there, are the computers already turned on, or are you booting up the computer? What's your username, your password? Oh, by the way, we don't share those. It’s everything. So, what are the important [systems]? Every one of them, for me. And it takes a lot of time to get it there. But once it’s there, it’s really nice.” (27:37—28:09)


0:00 Introduction.

1:23 Laci’s background.

2:27 Why systems are important in a dental practice.

4:22 You need an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) manual.

5:15 How to keep the SOP up to date.

8:30 Benefits of having an updated SOP.

10:19 Being an admin assistant is not easy.

12:22 Responsibility falls on the leader.

13:33 Who, what, when, why, and how.

14:54 Work smarter, not harder.

18:25 Laci’s favorite system: verbal skills.

22:21 Laci’s second favorite system: conflict management.

23:44 Recipe for conflict management.

25:45 Laci’s third favorite system: marketing.

27:05 Every single system is important.

28:29 How to get started with your systems.

30:54 Laci’s contact information and where to get their e-book.

Reach Out to Laci:

Laci’s email:

Laci’s Facebook:

Laci’s social media: @practicedynamics


The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli:

Dynamic SOP Manual:

Contact Laci for their e-book, The Dynamic Verbal Skills:

Laci Phillips Bio:

At an early age, Laci discovered her passion for speaking and entertaining audiences. As a founding partner at Practice Dynamics, she combines her knowledge of dentistry with her passion for teams to deliver customized coaching, workshops, and speaking events throughout the country.

Laci began her road to coaching as a chairside assistant while going to college. While working her way to the business side of dentistry, she was fortunate to learn from top industry professionals. The experience gained on this journey gives her a unique insight into the technology and business side of dentistry. The excitement of working in high-tech offices, as well as high-end cosmetic practices, has instilled in her the passion and the knowledge to coach dental teams on their road to excellence.

Balancing coaching dental teams with her speaking career is a dream come true. Each time she takes the stage, her passion for dentistry and the dental team comes to life through her words and the lessons she teaches.

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