how to start practice

Employees and Hiring: Does it REALLY matter?

So, how much do your employees really matter anyway?

Many dentists report that managing people and building a team is often one of the most irritating and unloved parts of running a dental business. As an owner/dentist, we dream of a creating a thriving practice full of people we love to work with while doing cases we love to do... all while making great money along the way. My partner and I often retreat to our back office “man cave” in between procedures, to escape the craziness of the day and all the estrogen floating around the practice...we work with all women (like most dentists). And, here is the PROBLEM we face as business owners: we CANNOT DO IT ALONE. Maybe some of us would like to...but we can’t. We need our staff to be our support, eyes and ears and hands and feet. You need an all star crew to make your dental business great...yes, hiring and rehiring new employees will be an “inconvenience” throughout your career. But that’s part of the deal. People relocate, change careers and move on...always commit to finding great people building a great & special work culture. Keep great people at your practice as long as possible. Turn over is inevitable, but  a great practice keeps turnover as low as possible.

There is the other great person is hard to find! And, finding 7 great people is exponentially harder (we have 7 staff members on our team). Bad chemistry, a toxic personality and bad communication and culture can KILL all the great things you’ve got going at your practice and can make your life miserable. So, back to the question: "how much do employees matter”? The answer: VERY VERY MUCH. The Key? Build your crew...and KEEP building and nurturing your it your entire career.

Here are FOUR things I’ve learned so far (during my journey), and a couple things I’ve learned from other dentists, business owners and gurus around the country.


  1. Take your time to hire the RIGHT person for the RIGHT position. Take your time, and if the right choice doesn’t present; hire a temp or make things work until you do. Find the BEST person for your practice...settling for “OK” and the easy choice will not allow you to build and amazing crew easily.

  2. People are not perfect and your business will NEVER be perfect (for long). Don’t chase perfection...and realize that life doesn’t allow perfection to exist for long. Find great people (they will not perfect people). If you get close to comfortable and all figured out in your’ll see that life is likely to throw you a curve ball and reintroduce chaos (like this week when my stellar assistant decided to move back to Ohio to be with family). A little chaos is OK, don’t be afraid of through it and keep on striving toward your goal and mission.

  3. Fire Quickly. If someone does not fit in with you mission, your culture or your crew...they need to go. I’m not saying that everyone that needs a little work should be let go immediately. But, people that don’t have the CHARACTER pieces you need them to have are NOT going to suddenly align with your mission and discover them. It’s NOT your job to change people. If they don’t like their job, don’t believe in you mission and don’t love working with your staff/patients: Fire them sooner than later - you have a responsibility to your staff and business.

  4. Always be hiring. By this I really mean - always be on the lookout for GREAT potential hires. We screen all our hygiene temps and view each of them as potential employee candidates. Network and find the best assistants out there…who is highly regarded coming out of school or an internship? Is there an all star that happens to be in a practice they are unhappy with = potential recruitment opportunity! You may not have an immediate position for them...but it’s a lot easier to constantly be searching for, and building a list of all stars then to frantically interview a couple random candidates that respond to your craigslist add when you’re in an IMMEDIATE need of a new hire. In those cases dentists often settle for what’s available and in front of them...instead of being proactive and identifying the best person for the position.

Please respond with your own stories and lessons learned!


~ Cole Brenny DDS

50 "Pearls" from 50 Practicing Dentists & Owners

What would 50 dentists say if you asked them to share ONE pearl of wisdom with new dentists and new practice owners?

Well, I polled some seasoned dentists and recorded their responses...
Here's what they had to say!

  • Take CE's early to enhance your knowledge and get a mentor.
  • No good deed goes unpunished. Don't take things personally...
  • Start putting money away towards retirement right out of school or you will work until you are 70
  • Get disability insurance asap while you're healthy
  • Learn to dismiss patients that are constant problem patients. You don't have to treat everything and everyone that walks in the door.
  • Don't be a martyr for dentistry and always stand behind a high standard of care despite what a patient thinks you should do.
  • That you are going to have less spending money first few years out of school than you did while in school!
  • Tell them what they need, but let them own their own fate.
  • Get really comfortable with oral surgery laying a good flap, extractions. If they have extra time at school hang out in OS department!
  • Do it RIGHT the first time.
  • Always try to get better
  • Don't be too hard on yourself .. we all make mistakes clinically . Learn from them.
  • Always ask patient about themselves
  • Remember you can't fix everything or everyone.
  • Know when to sever employment relationships, and patient relationships.
  • Learn that the patients' problems are not your problems.
  • start putting money back for ONE.
  • Invest just as much time learning about the business of dentistry as you do on clinical skills.
  • Get a mentor, get 2, get 20, just get em
  • Find a Vision Partner, someone that sees your vision on how you want to treat patients and how you want your practice to be run. Let them lead your team with your vision so that you can do dentistry.
  • Always make eye contact when talking to patients and discussing the treatment plan. 
  • Always have a signed treatment plan!
  • Don't take anything personally, exercise frequently, and throw the ego away.
  • Understand that accepting treatment is an emotional decision. Most patients don't care about the science and the details. (Other dental personnel and engineers might. The rest won't. ) This isn't your dental school faculty who want to know WHY you recommend the treatment. Patients want to know how it benefits their specific wants and how that relates to the things they care about most. Meet that patient where they are mentally and emotionally. You'll help more people because you'll have higher case acceptance.
  • Make the patient feel good and the rest is easy.
  • Not all that you learn will be applicable or implementable with your practice and patients.
  • Set your goals higher than you THINK you can achieve, and be relentless in pursuing them.
  • Read "how to win friends and influence people" and live it. That book and tons of diversified CE will make your life easy.
  • Pursue excellence not perfection
  • 1. Set short (1-2 years) and long term (10 years and beyond) professional and personal goals and write them down
  • 2. Call your lab technicians and build a relationship with them because they can help you build your practice
  • You can't save every puppy in the pound ...
  • Always give your undivided attention, no matter how busy you are. Patients love to know that you care. Treat your staff with utmost respect and value what they bring to the table, they will make or break you. Lastly... stay true to yourself.
  • Treat the patient in the chair the same as if it was your Mom, Dad or significant other.
  • One of my big things at my office is warning the staff about getting too friendly with each other. I recommend them to be friendly but not FRIENDS. Friends bring drama , friendly brings respect.
  • Don't run after money... do what's right for the patient... impress them with your cleanings every time...
  • Be nice and respectful to your staff. Patients see and hear everything.
  • Have your big picture in mind. Set goals-- personal and financial, 6 mos, 12 mos, 3 yr, etc. Work backwards from there.
  • Be intentional about everything. Be good to your staff and patients.
  • Use an intraoral camera to show and educate.
  • Do yoga, get massages every week, PT and any other therapy as needed to help keep your back & hip, and core in tip top shape. If you can take a dental ergonomics class and if possible consider using a microscope for best posture while working.
  • Build a team of genuinely nice people, the kind of people you could be friends with. This sounds so simple but it's really hard to achieve. Some say don't be friends with your team but I say that if you could not be friends with someone, your working relationship with them probably will not last. Watch out for people with a RBF (Resting B* Face - a term coined by my team, not me), these folks never work out for me b/c just looking at them puts me in a sour mood and is poor for pt interaction.
  • Use intraoral cameras for all your new pts and show it to them. It will be the single best technology investment of your career. And you don't have to spend anymore than 150/camera.
  • Start creating your Plan B on day one. Don't wait for "someday." The habit of waiting quickly becomes a life habit that will not serve you well.
  • Be willing to take risk (the opposite taught in dental school).
  • Don't schedule crown seats at prep date...use crown seat appointments to fill holes in the schedule. learned that from the productive dentist newsletter years ago and still do it that way I really like that.