Trust — the specialist’s force multiplier

Dr. Garth Hatch discusses the benefits of building trust

In our current political, social, and economic environment, it seems that trust levels in our society are at an all-time low. This has been showcased everywhere from political debates to business boardrooms. However, despite this level of cynicism, businesses with high levels of trust are growing tremendously.

Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, discusses seven dividends businesses with high-trust levels receive, which include increased value, accelerated growth, balanced innovation, improved collaboration, stronger partnering, better execution, and heightened loyalty. Here are three groups where high levels of trust are critical to the success of your practice:

Patient trust — When patients are referred by their general dentist to see a specialist, they are often nervous about the unknown. When patients call, are they greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable staff member ready to assist and schedule their visit in a timely manner? Does your website portray a modern, professional, and friendly office with up-to-date photos of the doctor and staff? Do your patients fully understand their dental problem and the treatment options available to solve them? Do they feel you are putting their needs ahead of your own self-interests? When treatment is provided, is the patient’s comfort level a top priority? Are follow-up phone calls made to ensure the visit was positive, and the patient is likely to refer you to a friend? If the answer is no to any of the previous questions, improvements should be made to strengthen the trust your patients have in your office.

Referring offices’ trust — No other area in your practice is of higher importance to its long-term success than the relationships and level of trust you have with your referring offices. As H. L. Mencken has said, “It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.” We should clearly communicate what we intend to do, complete what we say we’re going to do in a timely manner, and deliver quality results. When treatment goes less than ideal regardless of the cause, honest communication and a willingness to “make things right” are even more important. Heightened loyalty and increased trust occur when we act with integrity and become problem solvers for both our patients and referring offices.

Employee trust — The level of trust within a practice starts at the top with the doctor/owner. Employees should be treated as co-owners of the practice and incentivized for growth. Involve the team in as many decisions as possible, and encourage collaboration. Employees should receive frequent, on-going training in their specific roles as well as overall training in communication, leadership, and customer service. They should know the owner cares about them not only professionally but also on a personal level. This leads to a high-trust practice culture that is innovative, emotionally healthy, and loyal.

As trust levels within your practice grow, so will your practice reputation, staff retention, and bottom line.

Garth W. Hatch, DDS, is President and Founder of Dental Specialist Institute, a dental consulting firm committed to helping specialists receive more referrals, profits, and freedom. As an actively practicing endodontist, Dr. Hatch is aware of the challenges specialists face in today’s dental and economic environment. He coaches endodontists and their teams to better leverage their time, space, and efforts to help minimize stress and maximize results. He is a native of Riverside, California, earned a BS in Exercise Physiology from Brigham Young University and his DDS from Indiana University School of Dentistry. Following graduation from dental school, Dr. Hatch entered the US Army Dental Corps and completed a 1-year AEGD residency at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and later completed an endodontic residency program at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After serving in Germany, he left the military and purchased an endodontic practice in Kennewick, Washington, where he still practices. Despite moving to a competitive dental market, he was able to grow a solo endodontic practice into a successful three-doctor group practice.

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