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How to Improve Your Dental Practice with EOS

October 2021
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Dentists often find growing their practices and team daunting. Common concerns we’ve heard over the years while working with 100+ practices include “How do I…”

  • Know who to hire?
  • Set and achieve long-term goals?
  • Manage every employee fairly and efficiently?
  • Work through issues and conflict?
  • Make sure I am getting the most out of my team, practice, and myself?

These are not easy questions to answer. Working through your issues using a proven method can be helpful when you don’t know where to turn. One such system that is growing in popularity in the dental office management community is the Entrepreneurial Operating System, otherwise known as EOS.

What the heck is EOS?

what is dental practice entrepreneurial operating system delmain

EOS helps organizations (like dental practices) manage their labor force and achieve their long-term practice goals. 

While most practices operate with their own unique (and at times unwieldy) blend of management best practices, HR policies, operation processes, and communication methods, EOS works to formalize and provide consistency to these actions. 

By formalizing and communicating these systems, every employee can know what is expected of them and be accountable for their responsibilities.

If successful, this will lead to a better run dental office, more engaged and satisfied employees and patients, and sustainable practice growth. 

EOS focuses on 6 key management components

  1. Vision: Clear short-term and long-term goals that are communicated clearly to your team so that every employee is rowing in the same direction.
  2. People: Making sure that the right team members are in the right positions that will allow them to be at their best and for you to get the most out of them.
  3. Data: Tracking performance measurables of your employees keeps your team on track and accountable, and easily identifies issues that need attention.
  4. Issues: Once issues are identified, your team can problem solve and develop solutions together in a productive and fair way.
  5. Process: Formalizing the processes that make the day-to-day operation of your practice work ensures everyone is on the same page and working efficiently.
  6. Traction: This is where everything comes together. Your practice communicates clear priorities and goals that your team will work to achieve.

What is the primary goal of EOS?

EOS recognizes that business success is found through clear communication, accountability, and actionable goals. Through special tools, best practices, and establishing foundational processes and systems, EOS can empower your practice to reach its potential.

If implemented successfully, EOS can get your entire team on the same page and rowing in the same direction towards shared goals.

“I would say the biggest change since implementing EOS is clarity. We have a 10-year vision of where we are going, and know who our target audience is and potential issues we need to address. We have clear tools to communicate and meetings in order to address these issues in a timely manner. It allows us to focus on what is going to move the needle and goals that are going to help us achieve our big vision. We no longer waste time on goals that may be good for our industry, but not specifically for our mission.” 

Dr. Thomas Dooley, Cedar Village Dentistry in Mason, OH

6 ways EOS can help your practice reach its full potential

6 ways dental practice entrepreneurial operating system delmain

1. Makes long-term goals manageable

A key part of EOS is setting manageable long-term goals and then laying out actionable short-term goals (called Rocks) that will help you achieve those long-term goals. This “one foot in front of the other” approach makes big-picture goals more manageable by focusing on the most important things you can do today to achieve your end goal.

Rocks are set every 90 days and are intended to keep you focused on the most important things over the next quarter. Think of Rocks as stepping stones that can help you get across a raging river. While stepping from one stone to another may not be a massive achievement, it’s a crucial part of achieving your goal of getting to the other side of the river.

This process makes your long-term goals more manageable, and also keeps your team focused. While it may seem unattainable to open 6 office locations in 5 years, breaking down the steps it will take to get there and focusing on just completing those steps will make it possible.

Do you know where your practice is headed? While not every practice needs to be hyper-growth motivated, having a clear vision of where you want to go as a practice is crucial in a competitive landscape. 

EOS helps focus your growth through a tool called the Vision/Traction Organizer. This document puts down on paper your company’s vision for the future. In it, you’ll place your 1, 3, and 10-year goals, core focus and values, important Rocks, issues, and more. The end goal for this document is to get your employees on the same page for both immediate and long-term goals. 

3. Improves communication

What good is a great team that can’t get on the same page? A key focus of EOS is to get your team communicating effectively so they can problem solve more efficiently, work through issues, and be operating at their best.

Part of this is done through the Vision/Traction Organizer, but also through weekly meetings with a consistent agenda where you work through issues. The EOS folks call it a “weekly meeting pulse,” but it’s really just a way for you to get on the same page with your team. The idea is that this will help you work through everything in one go, as opposed to having multiple meetings that take up more time and are disruptive.

4. Keeps your team (and you) accountable

Another important aspect of EOS is making sure your team is accountable. This does not mean micromanaging your employees. 

EOS places an emphasis on tracking key numbers to measure the production of different employees and teams. It’s crucial that these numbers are not necessarily seen as indicative of employee performance (though they may in certain situations). 

Put simply, these measurables should track key actions of your practice (think new patient appointments, missed payments, etc). For every position at your practice, you’ll set what is expected in actions relevant to the position. 

For every major number at your practice, an employee will have responsibility over it. They will be the only person who answers to that number. You’ll track these measurables for every employee. This is called a Scorecard, and it will ensure that if numbers are not being met, you will know there’s a problem that needs solving.

5. Active problem solving

What good is identifying an issue if you don’t have a good process to solve it? When issues pop up, be it through identification from a team member, low numbers on a scorecard, or feedback from a patient, EOS has a tool to help your team work through the issue.

This tool is called IDS (identify, discuss, solve). IDS generally takes place at your weekly meetings. It’s crucial that your team is open, honest, and works in good faith (that means no finger pointing!). During IDS, you will identify the real issue and discuss with your team the best way to solve the problem. It will generally start by identifying the person who is accountable for the issue. 

The idea is that honest conversation will lead to clear and actionable next steps that will solve the issue.

6. Less waste (of time and people)

The People Analyzer uses your Core Values and Scorecard to ensure that your employees fit in with your practice’s culture, and can keep up with the responsibilities of their specific position. If they don’t, you can then find someone who is the right person for the job. By making sure that you have the right people in the right positions, you will ensure that none of your employees’ efforts are being wasted on a task they are not capable of or committed to. 

When EOS is functioning properly, everyone is rowing in the right direction. Practices that are successfully using EOS will waste less time focusing on the wrong goals, actions, and employees.

How to start implementing EOS into your practice

implement dental practice entrepreneurial operating system delmain

Read the books

EOS has a number of different books that can bring you and your team up to speed. These books will not only familiarize your team with the terminology, but introduce tools and questions that they should be asking managers to get the most out of them.

These books are:

  • Traction → For everyone
  • Rocket Fuel → For Visionary (practice owner) and Integrator (generally the Office Manager or Practice Administrator)
  • Get a Grip (Traction’s Fable) → For your leadership team
  • How to Be a Great Boss → For leaders, managers, and supervisors 
  • What the Heck is EOS → For all employees, managers, and supervisors 

Get buy-in from your team

A crucial aspect of bringing EOS to your practice is getting all your employees on board. While not everyone may be immediately jazzed about the idea, filling in your team on your goals and what EOS means for them will go a long way towards getting buy-in from even the most skeptical employees. 

By keeping your employees in the dark at the start, they may feel blindsided by the sudden shift in strategy and reluctant to get on board.

    Questions about integrating EOS into your practice? Reach out!

    At :Delmain, we help dental offices across the country achieve their long-term goals through digital marketing and web design. We’ve also worked with practices who have integrated the Entrepreneurial Operating System (and even use it ourselves!).

    If you have questions about EOS or want some help improving your practice’s digital presence (or both) reach out! We’d love to help bring your practice to the next level. 

    Dr Anderson at Holy City Ortho



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