Afraid of Losing The A-Player?

Losing The A-Player in a Dental Office? Systems are the solution

It’s finally happened and the dreaded day has come where your A-Player tells you that they are moving away, switching careers, or their martial situation no longer requires them to work—whatever the reason, it doesn’t really matter because the bottom line is: you’re going to be losing a very valuable team member.

And heaven forbid that you lose more than one important team member in the same period. (Insert the hands-to-face-scream emoji.)

If you’re already at this point, don’t despair because we’re going to talk about what you can do a little later on. However, if you’re not in the position where key players are leaving (yet) then listen up!

There is no time like the present.

Why Does It Really Hurt When an A-Player Leaves?

I consider myself a pretty straight shooter when it comes to telling it like it is. Of course I understand and believe you when you say, “This employee is just such a great person and the patients just love them. I’ll never find anyone like them.”, but can I be straight with you?

The honest truth of why it really hurts when an A-Player leaves falls into one, if not all, of these categories:

  1. You’re afraid because you doubt your own abilities.
  2. You don’t believe in the rest of your team.
  3. You don’t actually know what and how that employee does what they do.

That’s what it really boils down to.

It’s not really about how you might lose patients (You lose patients already it’s called attrition). It’s not that no one can do their job (There’s 7.4 billion people in the world. Of course there’s someone who can do it!). It’s not that it takes forever to find someone equal (Sure it takes time, but all good things take time. You’re no stranger to that.).

But it is about not being able to properly and quickly adapt to change.

And while there are many things that can improve the circumstance to those three categories above, there’s one solid thing that is a TOTAL GAME CHANGER.

What is it?

Switching your office operations to a system-driven practice instead of a staff-driven practice. That’s right. Systemization and a culture around that is how you win.

What is a System-Driven Practice?

A system-driven practice means that everyone on the team, lives and dies by systems. Literally, everything that your office does is put into writing. From answering phones, greeting patients, seating patients, room setups, treatment presentations, all the way to check out and beyond.

In this sort of practice, if you moved all your employees around hypothetically (ignore clinical skills, we’re just talking operational practices) each person would be able to read the instructions and do the work!

When an office is staff dependent the second a person disappears it’s like starting from square one all over again. No one knows how they were doing things, and no one knows everything that they were doing.

Of course, training on a position is ideal and what you should do, but with a system-driven practice in worse-case-scenario: if you had a relatively competent person who can read and follow instructions then no task in your business would be forgotten or come unhinged at a person’s departure.

The interesting part is: you’re already working in systems! You just haven’t articulated them, written them down, and made it so others have easy access to the resource.

Think about it.

That A-player is an a-player because they’re relatively consistent in what they do. They’re consistent because they do the same thing, basically the same way, every time. They follow a system, whether written or not—but I’m willing to bet they have it written in some way, some where, even if it’s non-comprehensible to anyone but themselves.

By having written systems, you know exactly what is going on in your business, who‘s owning what, how it gets done, and when things get done.

Systemization For A Dental Office

I preach systems all day every day. Whenever, I see a team member doing something “new” I ask if it’s been put into a system. By now the team’s I’ve worked with know my alien pitch ,”What would happen if you were abducted by aliens right now, and poof you disappeared: Would anyone else here be able to seamlessly jump in your seat and do everything that you do?”

I know it’s cheesy but it gets the message across that everyone and anyone needs to have access to the same information they have access to. So every single thing that’s done in the dental practice has been systemized.

Systems Are Fueled By Leadership

I’m sure a little light-bulb is coming on for you and you’re probably feeling a bit excited about the wonderful possibilities that systems will bring to your office but I want to give you a heads up, or warning, if you will: systems are just words on paper until action is fueled by leadership.

I’m going to share with you a BIG failure of mine.

If you’ve read my bio then you know that I’ve worked in my dad’s dental practice for over 15 years and I spearheaded our office systemization change.

I on-boarded the leadership team, and at the time, I was the front office leader.

So I tirelessly worked at making sure no stone was left unturned and the entire office had the ability to find any resource they needed when it came to how we do things.

After a few years, I moved an hour away and changed roles. Before I officially left the role, I trained a person (an admittedly poor-fit; another failure of mine but we’ll talk about that a different day) to take over the role.

Can you guess what happened?

With each month that passed the systems became less and less used. The new front leader started doing her “own thing” and profitability began to slip.

The other leaders stopped trying as hard, and the office even ended up losing a key provider.

For awhile, I couldn’t figure out what had happened and then one day it hit me. I didn’t do the MOST IMPORTANT thing: on-board the dentist.

Sure, this employee was not a good fit. However, it wasn’t their fault. It was mine.

I shouldn’t have compromised on hiring, but if I would’ve made sure the OWNER was 100% clear on the changes I put in place, then he would’ve known what he was looking at when things were not being done and being done properly. He could’ve held that person accountable and course corrected before things went as far as they did.

Being A Practice Owner Means You Have to Act Like A Business Owner

The first truth I told you is that systems are what help you believe in your own abilities, your team, and clarifies what & how things get done properly.

Here’s the other truth: When your office manager or back office coordinator goes vs. other team members, it can be that much harder to regain bearings because leadership is missing.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, then you already know that I don’t believe in the traditional dental office organizational structure because it lessens the office’s ability to quickly adapt (it’s way better to have a leadership team).

However, let’s go down the hypothetical road and say you’ve lost your key leader or your office manager (maybe it’s not actually hypothetical for you).

What I need you to understand is that as the business owner you’re very likely the only one who’s always there (I don’t mean physically). I mean this is your business. Your sweat, blood, tears, money, and time have gone into building this thing. You’ve got skin in the game. Who’s going to care more about it than you? You are the leader that the team needs.

While others might care a good deal, you need to at least have a basic understanding of how things are done, where systems are found, and who owns what because at the end of the day this is your business. You are the owner.

So who’s ultimately responsible for everything that goes down inside your business? That’s right, y-o-u.

Taking Ownership

I told you about a huge failure of mine because I don’t want that to happen to you & there’s a very valuable lesson there.

The lesson that I need you to understand is that you have to act like an owner. Owners know the ins & outs of their business. And they hold people accountable.

And I totally understand that you might feel like you don’t have the time, but you must (& you can) MAKE the time. Being an owner means you don’t just work in your business you work on it.

As the leader, you have to spearhead change in your business. You have to be the one to preach the importance of systems and create a culture around it. You have to on-board your leadership team and drive this message home.

Just like we were able to, you can make changes NOW to course correct— it’s tough but it’s not too late.

Without you and years of you & your leaders driving this message, it’s likely your business will be hard-pressed to keep systems in place. Unfortunately, complacency seems to be part of human nature—it’s only through accountability  & leadership that that you break the cycle.

If you’ll commit to making sure that your office is systemized, you’ll never have to be as stressed about losing a good employee ever again.

And if you do have an a-player leaving you, ask them to make systems for the KEY tasks they do.  If there’s more time, try to get more systems that they were responsible for in writing. The sooner you can get a handle on what they do, how they do it, and when they do it the better you will feel & the easier it will be to fill the role.


Systems are what give an office consistency & are a key component in an office’s ability to adapt to change. The owner doesn’t need to know every single system, however, they do have a basic understanding of the key systems and where systems can be found and who owns what.

It is the business owner who empowers the team and drives the understanding of the importance of systems. They must set the example and hold everyone accountable to working the systems in place.


Systemization is the key to successful growth of your practice or practices. If you’re tired of being frustrated all the time, tired of things not being done properly, or balls getting dropped then sign up for the course. I’ll show you how to get your office to run like a real business, and make sure that systems are set up properly.

If you’re ready to make the necessary changes & go the distance to make your dream and passion a success then get on the course wait list today!

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