Dental morning huddles aim to get the team on the same page each day. But for many dental practices, they can be super hard to run. So what can you do to make it easier?

Dental morning huddles are a fantastic way to start the day.

These morning meetings ensure the team arrives to the office well before the first patients arrive. They refocus everyone’s attention after the morning rush. And they enable the team to dial in together before breaking for the day.

But if dental morning huddles are so effective, why are they so hard to get right, and what can you do to make yours more productive?

 

Prepare Ahead of Time

During his time in the restaurant industry, and then across all his television shoots, the late Anthony Bourdain was fanatical about organization. While leading teams, he subscribed to the following maxim: “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.”

Like Bourdain, you should approach all huddles with ultimate preparation.

Preparation will never harm your morning meetings. It will only make them more cohesive, more engaging, and, most importantly, more impactful.

As Front Office Rocks founder and owner Laura Hatch notes, a prepared huddle can carry you not just through the day, but an entire week.

“Everyone on the team needs to show up prepared with the information that they are responsible for bringing,” Hatch says. “[They need to be] ready to talk through all that is important about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

Everyone must show up prepared and mentally ready to huddle.

The more prepared you are, the more prepared your team will be. It’s leadership by example, and it sets a precedent that every person on your team needs to know exactly what is going on within the practice.

“Everyone [must] show up mentally ready to huddle,” Hatch emphasizes. “A prepared team will produce at a much higher level throughout the day, and with the right huddle outline can be more efficient and effective.”

In prepping for your huddle, write down what you want to address (a template, like the one we offer below, can help). Be direct with whom you intend to speak. Set clearly defined goals. And prepare to explain, concisely, why the day’s topic matters.

When you arrive to the morning huddle prepared and well-organized, you’ve already won half the battle!

 

Stay Organized with Our Free Morning Huddle Template!

Protect Your Morning Huddle’s Purpose

We can probably trace the idea of a huddle back to sports: right before a game starts or during a timeout, players huddle up to regroup before the first or next play. It’s a ritual to bond, coordinate, and motivate.

Huddles in a dental office are meant to do the same, according to Shelly Otte, FAADOM, an office manager at Corporate Lakes Dental.

“Dental morning huddles are the best way to set the team’s day on the right path,” says Otte. “The team rallies together, previews the day, and sets intentions for it; it’s also when we review yesterday’s successes and the areas of improvement. They are also a great time to get a pulse on the team and where their heads are.”

Morning huddles are so much more than a schedule review.

Lois Banta, CEO, President and Founder of Banta Consulting, Inc., agrees — this meeting is hardly a walk-through of the day.

“Dental morning huddles are so much more than a schedule review,” Banta says. “They allow the practice to prepare for the day, identify any possible hiccups, and celebrate successes. No one like surprises, so why not address everything in the huddle?”

Before you run your next huddle, gather the team together and agree on exactly what the meeting’s purpose is.

Once you do, run huddles with a laser focus and fend off any distractions. By fiercely protecting your dental morning huddles’ purpose, your team will see just how important it is, and they’ll be more likely to take it just as seriously as you do.
dental coloring book

Be Strict about Your Huddle’s Length

In a survey on dental morning huddles, 40 percent of practices said they struggle with team meetings because they don’t have enough time or need to gather too much data to make the huddle meaningful.

But maybe the real issue is that morning huddles aren’t the place for a deep dive into practice statistics.

Priscilla Parra, founder of My Office Fairy, argues that morning huddles should be quick, but intentional.

“Keep it short and to the point. Don’t forget to discuss details about patients, such as any watch marks or opportunities for additional treatment.”

Keep it short and to the point.

Shelly Otte, FAADOM, an office manager at Corporate Lakes Dental, feels the same way and actually limits the length of her office’s meeting.

“Our morning huddle lasts between 10 to 15 minutes every morning without fail! Designating that amount of time is essential for setting our team’s intentions.”

Okay, so 10 to 15 minutes for a dental morning huddle. Check — now what do you fill that time with?

Cover These Topics Every Morning

Determining which topics to cover in a morning huddle can cause some analysis paralysis.

Should we cover plans for emergencies? Number of calls received last night? When people have openings? Just hearing those questions makes us feel like deer in the headlights.

And when you think back to what the purpose of a morning huddle is, some panic can set in: how in the Hades can you preview the day’s schedule, review yesterday’s performance, take the team’s pulse, set the day’s intention, and rally the team all in 10 minutes?

The good news is that you can make the huddle meaningful — and forward your practice’s goals – by covering these three topics:

Production Goals

These discussions are especially pertinent early in the month and really in the first part of every week.

Give a snapshot of what your production goals are and how you intend to get there.

Are there gaps in your schedule that can be filled to help with the production goals? Any patients on deck where you see a greater opportunity to further their oral health?

Make sure the team is aware of gaps in the schedule and patients who need more treatment.

Make sure the entire team is aware of these opportunities.

Should your doctor be involved in each morning huddle, this is likely the part he or she will care most about.

And, as Hatch says, the doctor should attend every morning huddle that occurs inside of their office.

“It is vital that the doctor is there and ready to go on time, to not only show the importance of it as a good leader but to also be involved in the daily discussion.”

Marketing Goals

Sometimes “marketing” gets a bad wrap from the dental community. It can be seen as the unnecessary salesmanship of products patients really don’t need.

Not so.

Think of marketing as highlighting the best aspects of your practice. Showcasing what you do, how you do it, and why you’re the best at doing it.

How do you and your team set your practice apart?

Think of marketing as highlighting the best aspects of your practice.

Once you have that answer, ladder it up to your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

This is a perfect tie to your production goals. Are there certain areas in which you’re lagging behind? How can you market these services to increase production: campaigns? newsletters? promotions?

Beyond this, look for ways to dip into marketing. How are your practice’s online reviews? Are you active in the community? Do your loyal patients get out and band the drum for you?

Speaking of …

Patients

Patients: the reason we do what we do. For all the talk of marketing, production, and operations, it all comes back to patients.

Are you delivering the best patient care you possibly can on a daily basis?

This is an important question to ask in each and every morning huddle.

Beyond keeping your team focused on the main purpose of their job, patient stories also ground huddles in reality.

As Hatch notes, huddles can be difficult for people to focus on. Talk of goals and concepts can make the mind wander.

“I think honestly that the most challenging part of running a daily huddle is to everyone on the team to show up physically and mentally,” she explains.

Patient stories ground  huddles in reality.

But in bringing it back to the patients, you humanize your huddle.

Does anyone scheduled have a birthday coming up? How about an anniversary? Maybe it’s been a year since they first visited you and kicked off this great relationship.

Plan on leaving every huddle with at least one patient whom you’ll bowl over with exceptional service.

And here’s where it all ties together. After paying close attention to this patient and extending an exceptional personal touch, ask for feedback.

See what you can do better. What they loved. What they didn’t.

Ask for an online review, or maybe even a testimonial — perhaps a video testimonial, even!

In bringing it back to the patients, you’ll find that you often end up addressing marketing and production goals in one fell swoop.

Add Some Fun to Your Dental Morning Huddles

As business focused as they can get, dental morning huddles are a perfect setting to inject your office’s values and brand of fun.

Just because you’re talking practice goals doesn’t mean you can make it a happy place, right?

Huddles are when teams rally together!

Here are a few ideas to turn a yawner of a meeting into an adrenaline-pumping moment your team would develop FOMO over if they missed it.

Let Another Team Member Run One Huddle a Week

The writer Irving Wallace once said, “Every [person] can transform the world from one of monotony..to one of excitement and adventure.”

Every one of your team members can do the same to your huddle — transform it into one of excitement and adventure.

Spice morning huddles up by asking a different team member to run the huddle one day a week (probably the least busy one). Your team will perk up, and that team member will gain experience in a leadership role — what a combo!

But before you move forward with this idea, consider doing the following:

  • Ask for volunteers to run a huddle (before assigning team members)
  • Create a schedule to inform team members when they’ll run their huddle
  • Meet with the team member a day or two before their huddle to review the agenda
  • Give the team member some feedback after the huddle, and ask if they’d like to do it again

 

Kick the Meeting Off with a Quick Brainteaser

Very few of us are at our sharpest before 9 a.m., so why not start your dental morning huddle out with a quick, thought-provoking, fun brainteaser?

Not only will it perk up everyone’s cranium, but it can also foster team-bonding, an essential ingredient for the day ahead.

Here are some of our favorites.

Brainteasers

 

Conversation Starters

  • What was the last app you used (or downloaded) on your phone?
  • If you could sit on a bench in a beautiful woods, who would you like sitting next to you on the bench and why?
  • If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose, and which character would you play?
  • If you were a city, which city would you choose to be and why?
  • Should you be stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you?
  • If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would the slogan be?

 

Rally Together like Your Favorite Musician

During her tour, before the curtains go up, Rhianna has her team lock hands in solidarity and raise them up while yelling out a rallying cry. Coldplay’s entire band goes quiet for a minute and gives a gigantic group hug. Justin Timberlake gets everyone together to do a quick shot of tequila.

Why not borrow from these high-octane, high-performing rockstars to liven up your morning team meetings and get the adrenaline pumping? After all, you’re a rockstar too, right? (Just be sure to swap out the tequila for a double-espresso.)

Yawp your tribe’s rallying cry. Share an inspiring quote. Heck, sing a song together, or do a dance!

The dental office is your team’s stage, and your patients are your crowd — come together right before you give them an experience they won’t forget.
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By David McCarthy

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