Committed to Serving Patients AND Team Members
[Adapted from a dental industry Case Study prepared and published by eAssist Dental Solutions on June 2020]
Dr. Annie Pham’s dental career began on a fairly typical trajectory: She graduated from dental school… worked as an Associate doctor for five years… married an equally successful and busy professional (Tim Dang)… founded Perfect Smile Dental Care (Santa Clara, CA) in 2005… and within a year, had become highly stressed and was no longer having much fun being a practice owner!
She got into the profession because of her love of science, the hands-on aspects of dentistry, and the satisfaction that came with helping patients. But now, her thoughts were more consumed by dealing with business issues, personnel issues, insurance issues, and all the myriad aspects of owning a practice and managing employees.
A TRANSFORMATIONAL JOURNEY
Annie and Tim did some serious soul-searching, asking themselves why they were putting themselves through all the stress, and ultimately questioning their true purpose. And that’s when the trajectory became atypical indeed!
Together they went through a personal journey of transformation, coming to appreciate their skills in dentistry and practice management as God-given gifts they should use to SERVE patients and team members.
“It sounds simple, but it was a huge shift in our thinking.
We came to realize it’s not about us. The practice now has a dual purpose to use our gifts to serve our patients, and to serve our team members.” -- Tim Dang,
Director of Operations
SERVING THEIR PATIENTS
When it comes to serving their patients, Perfect Smile’s mantra is to truly “C.A.R.E.” for their patients by offering superior Comfort, Availability, Relationships and Excellence. Dr. Pham especially values the relationships they build with patients, many of whom have been coming to the practice since it first opened, and some even continue to return from out-of-state.
Operationally, everyone at Perfect Smile is committed to getting it right – to being on time, to being accurate with estimates, to warrantying the work by taking care of any concerns at no charge. In short, doing whatever it takes to satisfy the patient’s needs and deliver a great experience. Based on social media reviews and patient referrals, clearly the practice is accomplishing its purpose of serving their patients!
SERVING THEIR TEAM MEMBERS
To serve their team members, Annie and Tim go above and beyond to empower their people to be better all around, not just as employees. They offer professional and personal development to help team members grow stronger in all aspects of their lives. Staff members – current and former – continually show their appreciation by letting Dr. Pham and Tim know how much they value not only the great workplace but for encouraging, coaching and teaching them; for helping them to become the best versions of themselves.
“I have learned more in one year here
than I did in five years on my last job.” – Team Member
- They created an all-day workshop titled “5 Languages of Appreciation in the Work Place” during which employees learn about each other, and the forms of appreciation that are most meaningful to each of them as individuals.
- During the COVID-19 shutdown, Annie and Tim overwhelmed each of their staff members with a heartfelt video message of gratitude, along with a customized care package. These care packages included “an extravagant amount of groceries” (as one team member put it), along with gloves, branded hand sanitizer, and of course, toilet paper!
Many team members responded with video messages expressing their appreciation for how thoughtful, generous, kind and caring Annie and Tim are, and how much it meant to them and their families.
A common theme was – “We are blessed to work for you.”
Hello E-Assist Team !
We had our summer team bonding and appreciation event yesterday. Each of you is part of our team. So we'd like to include you in the event by sending you a Starbucks gift card. We also recorded a video with a thank you message to you.
We are so grateful for what you do each day. Thank you for all your hard work, and your commitment to always go above and beyond to take care of our patients.
May God bless you with peace, joy, and purpose in all that you do.
Sincerely, The Perfect Smile Team
“Extended staff” to whom some functions are outsourced are made to feel as valued and appreciated as the in-house staff. Tim wouldn’t have it any other way, explaining -- “As members of the team, it’s important that we serve our out-of-house staff just as we serve the in-house staff.” They do this by including their off-site team members in meetings and special events via video; and sending gift cards, emails and recorded messages of professional thanks and personal encouragement.
Of note is that Tim chooses these “vendors” very carefully, ensuring they are not only capable of doing an outstanding job, but are committed to the mission of serving patients, AND becoming an integral part of the team
Whether or not you believe in karma, we all know the saying – “What goes around, comes around.”
Not long after changing their mindset, and redefining their purpose to use their gifts to serve within the dental industry, the practice began to flourish beyond all expectations.
“From there, we experienced amazing growth.
We grew from a typical small dental office with 4 people,
to 2 offices and a team of 7 doctors and 25 staff.” – Tim Dang
Perfect Smile was established to cater to the busy work life dynamics of Silicon Valley residents. Rapid growth naturally brought with it some challenges, including the need to hire enough of the right people with the right expertise to meet the exacting standards of their “high-tech clientele.”
On the one hand, Silicon Valley attracts many talented people, which can create a strong labor pool. On the other hand, it’s already a highly competitive job market, and the escalating cost of living in recent years has been driving people out.
Perfect Smile is committed to hiring people with the necessary knowledge and experience who can be relied upon to consistently perform at a high level, AND share in their purpose to serve their patients and their team members.
Tim is proud to say –
“Perfect Smile attracts strong talent; we have a lot to offer employees over and above our competitors.”
A large, multi-doctor, multi-office practice cannot thrive and grow without strong systems and processes in place that deliver consistent results, AND evolve with changing patient expectations and technological advances.
“Dentistry has changed so much. We are constantly learning, and evolving our processes.
Everyone on the team is a big part of that to ensure we’re doing our best, together,
to stay true to our mission.” – Tim Dang
In the spirit of continuous improvement and making processes simpler for the patients, Tim described the next big step already underway toward achieving the long term vision for Perfect Smile Dental Care, which is to continue automating the more mundane processes. By doing so, team members will be freed up to spend their time on the things that truly matter, i.e., quality interaction with the patients.
When asked what advice he most often shares with colleagues, Tim reiterated he and Dr. Pham are united in their belief, always encouraging others to “View your talent in dentistry as a God-given gift, not something that makes you better or smarter than anyone else. Use your gift to help people – to serve your patients and serve your staff. Stay true to that purpose, and everything else will come.”
The adage certainly bears repeating – What goes around, comes around.