November 2019. Estimated reading time: Approx. 4 - 6 minutes.
Upskilling Practice Managers for the road ahead.
The role of the Practice Manager in a dental practice is becoming more and more critical to the success of the practice. Over the years we have met hundreds of Practice Managers and learned from them how important it is to be open to learning new skills.
Over the last 2 years, we have shared many ideas and built networks with Practice Managers all over Australia and New Zealand through our Power to the Practice Manager workshop. We have learned about your successes and challenges, and focused on the four main pillars of the Practice Manager’s role:
- The PM as a business manager – understanding numbers, translating reports to the practice owner and team, and building business acumen for the future.
- The PM as a compliance manager – understanding the complexity around compliance and the risk of not being compliant, especially regarding infection prevention
- The PM as a people manager – understanding the need for having systems in place for consistency in recruiting, training and retaining great team members
- The PM as a service manager – understanding the need for protocols to help team members enhance the patient experience.
We have also been looking at future trends, and listening to our Practice Managers, to better understand what PMs will need in the new era of 2020 - and here are the essential skills that Practice Managers will need in their quiver.
Above all, one thing is clear: practices will always be looking for new patients to grow their patient base, so the role of the PM will definitely focus more on marketing. But just because you are a good practice manager, do you automatically have the skills to create a great integrated marketing campaign?
For some Practice Managers, they may not always have the luxury to engage other marketing agencies. Instead, they are charged to develop marketing campaigns with limited budget allocation, be it across social media, email campaigns, or even letterbox distribution – all the while worrying and hoping that it will attract new patients.
If on the occasion that your practice has some budget set aside for you to engage a third-party marketing agency, it’s not without its risk and challenges either.
There are factors that need to come into consideration when discussing and planning your marketing campaign: Who is the ideal target patient you want to attract? What is the most effective way to reach out to them? What will the campaign offer be? Is it better to advertise on Facebook or Instagram? Or will print advertising be a better option? How do I get more patient contact details for future campaigns? How much would an email blast cost us?
You as the Practice Manager who is charged with managing the campaign will have to be clear about these things/questions when directing the campaign with the marketing agency.
Therefore, it will become an incredibly valuable added advantage for Practice Managers to have, at the very least, some understanding of marketing knowledge so that your marketing dollars invested are used effectively in the road ahead. With this critical skill, you will be better equipped to guarantee a healthy return on your marketing investment (ROI) - be it if you are managing your campaigns independently or through a marketing agency.
Leadership and your Emotional Intelligence
With the role of the Practice Manager spanning across more and more managerial responsibilities, the other essential skill that all PMs will have to upskill on is their Leadership.
As the central go-to-person, you will need to keep your employees engaged, motivated and performing at peak efficiency, whilst being the intermediary between your practice owner or principal dentists with the entire team.
However, Practice Managers will first need to understand that there is a difference between leadership and management – and how they need to work together.
Within the realm of your effective leadership qualities, one of the most important traits you will need to master involves managing and developing your emotional intelligence (EQ).
This is essential for those constructive, and occasionally confrontational, conversations with team members in your charge, or even at times, with practice owners and principal dentists you might report to.
Most Practice Managers I speak to often mention how difficult it is to have these conversations, and how to achieve the outcome they’re aiming for, especially when they are railroaded by unmanaged emotions.
Therefore, it will be a vital skill for Practice Managers to master so that they can better manage such situtations as they arise.
So, practice managers, are you ready to take on year ahead?
Start gearing yourselves to mastering these skills - marketing skills, and leadership skills, including emotional intelligence, so that you are better prepared for any challenges or tasks that will come your way in 2020.