Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

Last month I wrote about the effects of having underperforming team members employed at your dental office

Inspired by an article in Forbes that came across my desk this week,, I’d like to move the discussion up a notch and discuss the consequences of continuing to maintain positions in your office for toxic employees.

In one social media forum, a dentist bemoaned:

I had a toxic employee for over two decades, If you let time go by without doing nothing about it it becomes a ‘normal’ part of your practice. It probably was my worst mistake in my 33 years in practice to keep such a negative member in my practice.”

 In 2008 I heard a title for such a toxic employee that seemed most apt. And the reason it seemed most apt was because, at that time, in my office, we had someone toxic who had been with us then for some two or three years.

The title given is *Onboard Terrorist*.

The term Onboard Terrorist was put to me in a class on leadership centred around various clips taken from the movie Twelve O’clock High

Although the lesson centred around charismatic leadership and it’s prevailing over other leadership styles, my big take away at the time was the identification of the Onboard Terrorist.

The Onboard Terrorist, in the Dental Office, is the employee that on the surface appears to be with the programme, but behind the scenes, either obviously or subtly, is pulling down the business.

And the reasons may not be obvious.

The Onboard Terrorist appears to be working with the team to achieve the common goal, but in the background, for whatever reason, is severely white anting the organisation.

Much like the scorpion, in the tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.

And they know they are doing it.

Sadly often though, until you sit them down and identify their behaviour with them, they will be in denial.

Discovery and identification and subsequent revelation to the offending employee can almost be like a weight being lifted from their shoulders.

Typically, the Onboard Terrorist is a good employee. They purvey genuinely good business characteristics for a reasonable amount of the time.

However, when they switch to Terrorist mode, their negative affect on your business seriously outweighs any good they seem to be performing.

In this case in 2008, and another case before that, where I identified the role of the Onboard Terrorist, in both cases the Terrorist was having their influence or deleterious effect in the Front Office situation.

To be specific, the Terrorist in both cases was behaving and speaking to customers and clients in a manner that totally undid all of the great work done by everyone else in the dental office that had interacted with that patient during their visit.


And sadly, that position, at Front Office, being the client’s final touch point in their Patient Experience Cycle, is reliant on reinforcing positivity created already during the client’s visit. A terrorist creating a negative experience will override and destroy all the wonderful work established by the rest of the Dental Office Team.

And that, is an Act of Terrorism.

A Dental Office is too small an environment not to have every employee one hundred percent on board.

And when it’s not one hundred percent, those employees not acting in the best interests of the business and the Office will succeed in bringing down the morale of the employees who are on board.

It is the responsibility of management to identify the Terrorist and deal with them.

Sadly, as in the case of true terrorism, there is no redemption.

A terrorist must be excised.

Removed from your organisation.

Because a leopard never changes its spots.

A scorpion is always a scorpion.

In fact, the process of excision will elevate the office leader in the eyes of the other employees.

And the opposite is also true. A leader who fails to act quickly with an Onboard Terrorist is seen to be weak and ineffectual by the team. Allowing the Terrorist to prevail threatens the leader’s credibility and authority.

In both my cases the team raised and rallied following the removal of the Onboard Terrorist.

Team members stepped up to the plate.

And life went on.


One of the key handbrakes exercised by business owners when confronted with Terrorism is that for some reason the Owner feels that the business will not survive without this employee, despite their negative actions.

And that’s why, like in our friend’s case above, some Dentists hang on to their Onboard Terrorist for way too long.

So here’s the test:

If you’re Terrorist is occupying space in your head, then you need to move them on.

Nothing else works as well.

Mark my words….


“Correct hiring and HR” is just one of the modules taught in The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me:

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Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

Who Wants To Be Boring? Three Inane Topics of Discussion That You Must Eliminate Immediately!!

I’ve always been an advocate for the mantra that all of our patients deserve our full and undivided attention each and every time that they visit our dental office.

On top of that, that undivided attention needs to be given, and shown, whether the appointment time is first thing in the morning, or just before lunchtime, or worse even, last patient for the week on Friday afternoon.

Each patient is paying the same fee and therefore, because you are not offering a concession for appointments where less attention is given, then the patient must be the recipient of the same level of attention that you give to those patients in appointment times of less distraction.

As an addition to this, the dental team must also always be offering full and total attention to each and every one of the clients of the dental office.

What the team must not be doing is sending blind or seriously at fault messages to the customers that their mind is somewhere else, and that they too, would also rather be elsewhere.

Comments of this nature are far from appropriate.

These comments are a huge negative to the patient, who may have chosen to drag themselves out of bed early to attend to this urgent tooth, or similarly, the patient may have raced across town at the speed of light to attend your office for this vital treatment.

Likewise, clients attending just before our lunch have probably surrendered valuable business time to attend, and are expecting a commitment from those charged with the duty of administering dental equipment and instruments into their mouths.

So let’s discuss those *Forbidden* subjects that our dental team must never use to initiate a conversation with our valued clients and patients.

The use of these topics by any of your team members shows a complete lack of commitment to the *cause* of the dental office.

The Cause of being the most caring Dental Office in town.

Similarly, too, when patients and clients lead with a forbidden topic, a skilled and dedicated team member can immediately deflect the comment to gather a more pertinent subject. And I’ll discuss the how of that later….

Forbidden Topic #1.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

The weather is not a topic on the agenda.

The following are inane comments about the weather that mean nothing, naught and zero.

Should these comments be uttered by your team members then it is your duty to escort that team member to the door and provide them with directions to the closest employment agency.

So lets see those comments:

“I can’t believe how hot/cold/rainy/dry its been today/this week etc.….”

“What sort of day is it outside?”

“I hope it doesn’t rain on the weekend….”

The weather is the weather.

It can’t be changed. Not by force. Not by hope.

It is what it is.

Comments about the weather are pointless.

Respond to the weather. But don’t discuss it like you can influence it.

You can’t.

Just deal with it as best that you know how…and don’t let bad weather beat you up!!

Forbidden Topic #2.


Time is a constant.

First and foremost, it cannot be changed.

It is what it is.

Time moves at the same pace no matter what. It will always be what it always has been.

So which comments about time should we not use in the dental office?

“I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas already.”

“I can’t believe how quickly the year has flown”

“The day’s/week’s gone so quickly….”

Like I said, time is a constant. A minute today takes exactly the same amount of time to pass as a minute took to pass one week ago, one month ago…. etc. etc.!

Forbidden Topic #2a.

On a related matter, you just need to NEVER EVER discuss your dislike or characterisation of any particular time of the week.

As I stated at the beginning, every patient pays for and deserves your one hundred percent best that you can give.

So comments like:

“I’m not a morning person”

“Thank goodness it’s Friday”

“Hump Day Wednesday” and

“I’m so looking forward to the weekend”

These comments are indicators of less than full devotion to our craft. They are indications of distraction.

And if you’re working in my mouth, I definitely don’t want to hear them.

Forbidden Topic #3.


Someone says that they need a coffee?

And they’re going to be putting sharp instruments into my mouth, and they need coffee?

Not inspiring, sorry…Not at all.

The necessity to ingest a stimulant to survive or get through a period of time, be it a morning, a day, or an appointment, is of zero interest to our patients.

Or even dare I say it, negative interest.

Frankly, you may as well say you need a drink, or a cigarette, or a Red Bull.

Or two…

If someone told me that they needed a coffee?

I’m up and out of there!! Not in my mouth you don’t!

The Art of Deflection.

So what should we do if one of our valued patients leads with an inane comment?

Should we join in?

And switch to the pointless and the useless?

Remembering, that in the provision of World Class Customer Service, one of our primary goals of conversation is the [discrete] collection, of secret data and pieces of information about the customer that we and the team can use at a later date to provide Above and Beyond and WOW! experiences.

Experiences that leave our patients saying:

“How on earth did they know that?” or

“How the heck did they remember that?”

And of course:

“Wow!! This Dental Office is like no other [business] that I have ever been to before!!”

So to deflect, if a client or patient makes or offers one of these *Forbidden* topics for conversation, the best way to steer the conversation is to say:

“Wow, Mrs. Smith. I’m sure you’ve got a reason for saying that?”

And be quiet.

Because Mrs. Smith will go right ahead and let you know, that she has an event coming up, or that she’s had a busy day or week, or that she’s not been feeling well….etc.

And then we’re straight into a conversation about them.

Of more meaning.

And more use.

And in the end, everybody loves to talk about themselves, don’t they?

Who wants to be boring?

Finally, for all of the customers and patients who make multiple visits for treatment to our office, we really do want to be talking about them, our patient, each and every time.

What we don’t want our customers saying about us is:

“Every time I go to that office all they talk about is the weather.”

Because it wouldn’t matter then how good our margins on our crowns are, or how nice everyone else in the office is…

The boring would defeat the other greatness in our office…

Hands down.

And that’s the point…


The art and skill of conversation is just one of the simple modules that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build complete Customer Service system that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

Making Smart Decisions..And Why 19 Out of 20 Dentists Don’t Make Them…

An interesting discussion this week in an Australian email chat forum for high achieving Dentists….

It happened that one of the dentists decided that his practicing life needed some invigorating, and he felt that one way that this could be achieved was by the addition of a $150,000.00 Cad Cam machine to his practice.

Other dentists on the forum, who had been down this road themselves, spoke against the purchase of the machine, and threw up statistic after statistic that these machines tended to be considerably less profitable and considerably more time consuming than the simple alternative of providing quality indirect crowns and inlays and onlays.

I guess one of the best lines that came out in this discussion was the line that:

“Decisions are made emotionally and then you gather information to justify the decision. You have decided you want the toy, and are just looking for information to justify that decision. There’s nothing wrong with wasting money in the name of fun and enjoyment. That’s why people buy expensive cars. As this is a business group however I think we should look at the business case.”

 Following that great comment, it was then on for young and old….a polarisation began to occur in the discussion.

Those who made the logical decision of practicing profitably were berated with comments like:

There is no immediate financial reward for me to go to the lengths I do to try and create perfect soft tissue, or anatomy in my restorations.  But it gives me joy in my work.  And that means I don’t spend every day counting down until I retire.”

 So what’s wrong with someone counting down until they retire?

Two years ago, Dr Omer Reed told another group of Australian dentists that in the USA, ninety five percent of dentists reaching the age of sixty five had not reached their Walk Away Point.

That is, only five percent of dentists, at age sixty five are sufficiently financially independent that they can walk away from their practice of dentistry and live a very comfortable life style.

Or they can continue to practice dentistry because they wish to not because they have to.

And this number is sad.

To think that after all those years invested in clinical education, and after all those years of earning considerably good incomes, that nineteen out of twenty dentists are still working because they have to rather than because they want to, well that is tragic.

Dan Kennedy said, when asked, that one of the reasons he keeps working for money, when he obviously isn’t in need of money, as opposed to working for nothing, was because it was a way of keeping score.

And that’s it.

The accumulation of wealth, not for the sake of accumulation, but rather for what that wealth can bring, is an important metric to grasp and to operate by.

Because once that wealth is attained, and the process of attaining it is mastered, then life becomes extremely comfortable. And that allows you more freedom to do what you want rather than what you have to do.

And there’s no point making life more miserable for yourself by purchasing a $150,000 anchor for your boat.

The thing is, that when you own one of these machines, your outlook on treating and treatment does change.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

[Law of the Instrument, also called Maslow’s Hammer. From Abraham Maslow’s The Psychology of Science, published in 1966]

It can happen…. dentists start providing certain treatments because they own a machine, rather than what would be best for the patient, if dentistry, all dentistry were free…

But I digress….

Now, I understand that only three percent of the world’s population write down and record and review their goals.

And that’s not just financial goals. It’s also physical, emotional and spiritual goals as well.

But what is scary is that that three percent that writes down their goals accumulates ten times the wealth of the other ninety seven percent.

Now compare that back to Omer Reed’s statement and there’s a distinct correlation between his statistics and the writing down of goals.

Or call it the keeping of a score…

So I wouldn’t be so altruistic about doing dentistry not just for the money. Because you really do need to know where you’re going.

And you do need to be measuring.

And you do need to be aiming at a Walk Away Point.

Because it does make life that much more fun….

And I know, because I’ve done it. I was well on the way to being independently wealthy well before I sold my dental practice.

I saw this quote the other day from T. Harv Eker that sums it all up:

“Let me put it bluntly: anyone who says that money isn’t important doesn’t have any! Rich people understand the importance of money and the place it has in our society. On the other hand, poor and unsuccessful people validate their financial ineptitude by using irrelevant comparisons. They’ll argue, “Well, money isn’t important as love.” Now, is that comparison dumb or what? What’s more important, your arm or your leg? Maybe they’re both important.”


 The Ultimate Patient Experience  is a simple to build system that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office of patients who love coming to see me, who come more often, spend more per visit, and accept more treatment, and also refer more, in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know how I did this, then you must read my free special report.

Email me at

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Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

World Class Customer Service! Three Lessons From Four Seasons.

I read a great article yesterday in Forbes Magazine discussing the Customer Service Systems used by Four Seasons.

The article discussed the simple process of how a hotel room door should sound on closing, and the Customer Service Systems employed by Four Seasons in the delivery of the best feeling ever for their clients and customers.

It was interesting looking at this article and applying the findings back to the owning and running of a Dental Office providing World Class Customer Service.

Here are those findings:

Firstly, it was interesting to see that Four Seasons actually has a standard for the correct sound that a door should make on closing.

As the article points out, the fact that they actually *do have* a standard for this sound indicates that the Four Seasons is more about the experience that the customer feels rather than just being the service that the hotel provides.

How is it in your Dental office?

Are you providing an *experience* for your customers, clients and patients? An experience that they will remember? One that differentiates your office from any other dental office that they have ever visited before? An experience that no other business that they’ve been to before provides?

Are you looking for ways of adding *experiences* to the stages of your Customer Experience Cycles?

Are you looking out for the little nuances that your office can provide, like the unique way that each team member greets your client, or the warm moist towel following every treatment appointment, or simply how each team member assists each patient in putting on their jackets or carrying any of their bags or packages for them through the dental office?

The second point that the article raised about Four Seasons and the hotel room door was their reporting standards provided by and expected from all of their employees.

The writer highlighted that at Four Seasons the employees were trained to be aware of *all* company standards, not just those relating to their own duties, so that if they saw or experienced a “not quite right” or incorrect situation, then the team member could take immediate action to have that situation corrected and remedied as quickly as possible.

Utilisation of this principle is so easy in the World Class Dental Office.

Having Dental Office employees sticking only to their trained duties is such a disservice to your valued customers as well as being an insult almost to the human potential of your employees.

For example, a Dental Assistant can be the gatherer and collector of so much valuable information about the patient while they sit with the patient and “visit” with them while waiting in the operatory for the Doctor to arrive and begin treatment.

The opportunity is always there for the Dental Assistant to update patient information, medical histories, or just simply gather Customer Intelligence about the patient.

[Customer Intelligence is any information that can be collected about the patient that can be used by the team or the Office at a later date to provide a Wow Experience for the patient that leaves the client saying, “How did they think of/ come up with/ remember that??”]

Remember, we’ve discussed in previous blogs, the importance of utilizing this valuable time in the Dental Operatory for the gathering of this Customer Intelligence. This time should never be wasted on topics of fluff.

The weather, speed or pace of time [“I can’t believe how fast the year has gone”, etc.], and the need for coffee, along with anything personal about the Dental Assistant, are not topics for discussion. These are fluff. Time wasting.

This time can be used much more wisely.

The third and final point the author of the article made was the point that Four Seasons made in scheduling the hotel room door maintenance in a time that did not disrupt the guest’s stay. The door lock was repaired while the guest was away from their room.

In a similar vein, I have stayed in a hotel where room service and bed making was “secretly” scheduled and did take place while we were away from our room having breakfast.

The author compares this process of valuing the hotel guest’s time to the clumsy over servicing that now goes on routinely at restaurants, where wait staff seem to not only be forever filling up water glasses and wine glasses, but are also happy to announce and ask and herald the process. Or when wait staff repeatedly interrupt dinner conversation and consumption to ask how the dish just served is?

In the Dental Office, the theft of customer or patient time can be serious. And needs to be taken seriously.

In World Class Dental Offices, the customer’s time is paramount and sacrosanct.

When the patient is being treated, and when the patient is at the front office, every interruption is kept to a minimum if at all.

After all, the patient is paying for that time, their time.

In my Dental Office, any necessary interruption is always begun with, “Excuse me Dr Moffet. Excuse me, Mrs. Patient” and is timed and waited for. It is not a bold inconsiderate announcement.

Similarly too, like in the restaurant, and we have discussed this before, the premature putting away of materials and instruments during the patient’s appointment sends negative signals and creates unnecessary clutter noises that only detract from the World Class Dental Experience we are trying to provide.

I cringe when I see dental staff clicking off and removing handpieces and dental instrument trays at the end of appointments instead of taking time and attending to clients who are reorienting themselves to the vertical after being horizontal, or are struggling with water cups and spittoons.

The instruments and the trays can wait!!

The Customer comes first, always!

The Four Seasons experience didn’t just happen.

It is a well thought out Customer Experience that has evolved over time.

And it is a system. A repeatable, doable series of well crafted and rehearsed and delivered experiences that create something totally unique to Four Seasons.

In your Dental Office, are you creating and crafting and delivering a World Class Customer Service Experience for your clients and patients?

The benefits of developing and delivering such an experience to your customers creates a product differentiation for your Dental Office in the Marketplace.

And that’s the power of it…


The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

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Removing the Onboard Terrorist from your Dental Office…

Your Appointment Book is Costing You Money!! Can You Fix It?

One of the frustrations of a solo dental practitioner is the production in his dental office on the days when he is away or absent from the office.

This includes the days each week that the dentist may choose to not work at his dental office, as well as time off for vacation and for education.

Does the productivity and resourcefulness of dental assistants, hygienists and administrative employees drop in your office during times of absence by the dentist and practice principal?

Is there a “drop” in application to duty during those times of absence, be it on that day of the week that the dentist is not there, as well as those weeks when the dentist takes leave?

And what about the hygiene department?

Is your hygiene department just as productive, day in and day out, whether the doctor is in the rooms or not?

Should the doctor’s absence from the rooms, be it for education, vacation or simply for a regular day away from the tools, should his absence be a significant contributor to the productivity levels of all other employees within the dental office?

I know of a colleague who took vacation time this year for some travel. In the fifteen days that he was absent from his office, his dental hygienist was productively booked only twenty seven percent of the available appointment time.

In the fifteen working days prior to his departure, and the fifteen working days following the doctor’s return, that same dental hygienist was booked for something like over ninety percent of available appointment time.

Now I know that some dental patients feel that they want to *see* the dentist at their hygiene visit, and in this case the dentist’s absence was planned well in advance so that preferential appointing could be organised, but the poor doc was flummoxed as to why the time variance was so great while he was away and how this situation could have been better managed.

One of the reasons this appointment book could have been like this may have been because a previous period of absence could have been carried forward from six months prior?

If this was the case, then it is purely caused by poor administration of the hygiene scheduling.

The solution to this hygiene scheduling problem, which is also a problem in scheduling for the dentist as well, is the strict adherence to templating the appointment book on a day in day out week in week out basis.

[As a brief aside, what you will find common in dental offices like this is that the doctor will return from his time away to an appointment book of his own filled with small short zero fee adjustment appointments rather than his usual longer appointment productive template.]

In the case of the hygiene appointment book, the solution of correct templating allows for even distribution of appointment types on a daily, weekly and ongoing basis, so that a constant level of hygiene production is maintained.

Successful hygienists will see a specific number of regular six month recare patients, a specific number of new patient first cleanings and a specific number of perio only patients, day in and day out.

Variance from this template, like in this case, with the overloading of the appointment book with recare patients at the expense of perio and new patients, will then carry into the future with ongoing hygiene appointments for those patients, creating a “bubble” in the appointment book that needs to be smoothed back out again to fit the template.

Similarly, the doctor’s book too should really have no variance in his template in the time following his return from time away.

However, what often happens is that firstly, crown and bridge cements and issues, that would usually have been scheduled at their regular prescribed intervals, and could not be due to the doctor’s absence, are jam packed into the first few days following his return.

What should happen is this.

Let’s say, that if the regular interval between crown preparation and crown cement is two weeks, and the doctor is absent for three weeks, then the time differential in those cases needs to be five weeks, and not, three weeks and one day.

The productivity template needs to be maintained.

Maintenance of the template provides for a far less stressful work environment.

Deviation from the template results in an increase in dental office stress levels.

And that’s a fact…


Templating your appointment schedule for productivity is just one of the modules that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office of patients who love coming to see me, who come more often, spend more per visit, and accept more treatment, and also refer more, in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know how I did this, then you must read my free special report.

Email me at

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