N America News April 2017

30 NORTH AMERICA NEWS / APRIL 2017 , TomWeir of James Island Dental Associates, based in South Carolina, offers a compelling overview of his journey as a dentist fromhis humble beginnings to the much-expanded firm that it is today. The Tooth of the Matter Tom Weir practiced as a general dentist in James Island, SC since 1990. After graduating from The Ohio State College of Dentistry in 1988 and completing a general practice residency at the VA hospital in Charleston, he began to grow his practice. He started with two employees and two operatory chairs. During the past 27 years, he has impressively grown the practice to include a partner, 13 employees, and eight operatory chairs. “Since the beginning, I have used two basic tenants to build my practice around. The first was to provide the best quality of services possible to my patients. The second was to see our patients on time, every time. In order to accomplish this, I felt it was important to utilize technology both in practice management, and in patient care. Twenty-seven years later we still have an average wait time of less than 5 minutes, and our use of technology shows our patients our commitment to quality care for their oral health” Tom explains before detailing how he built a practice that provides complete care for their patients with his partner, Dr James Thomas iii. “We have continued our education to allow us to offer most services to our patients in house, only referring complete orthodontics out. We provide complete dental treatment including endodontic treatment, periodontal treatment including LANAP therapy, wisdom tooth removal, and all aspects of implant dentistry. This is in addition to more common dental treatment such as crowns, bridges, fillings, dentures, and all areas of hygiene. “From the beginning, I have been responsible for not only providing dental treatment, but for growing and running the business of dentistry. For the first years, this was as simple as managing basic principles of business. Keeping track of banking, accounts receivables, payables, taxes, etc. “After several years, I realized that I needed to look to the future and decide what I wanted and where I wanted to business to go. By utilizing practice consultants, I was able to get a long-term vision established for the business and an idea of what needed to happen to fulfill this vision. This was probably the hardest time for me as a business owner. I was very as comfortable in my role as dentist, but was not as comfortable following through with my business vision.” After completing the purchase of his current office space, as well as the other half of the building, Tom was able to expand the firm’s physical space to allow room for more growth, and to bring in an associate to help with the workload. Tom was also able to find an office manager, who was capable of implementing the systems and procedures needed to be able to grow the firm, while keeping to the firm’s core principles and vision. This was critical to the firm’s new growth Tom believes, that is delegating the process of managing the firm, so he was able to focus on providing dental care and bringing in an associate and a partner during 2002. “As our practice grew, finding, training, and managing staff has been one of the most important, and difficult aspects of running the office. We had grown from a three-person office to a two dentist, four hygienists, five assistants, and four administrator office. It is always difficult to find people who understand and believe in your vision, but when you find them, it is important to continue to motivate them to uphold those principles. Without our exceptional employees, we would not be able to deliver the highest quality of care. In order to allow our employees to focus on providing the best care possible, we have strived to provide benefits to our employees such as health insurance, disability, PTO, and matching retirement contributions so that they know they have security in case of an emergency or injury. “Having proper business systems in place to track every aspect of our practice, has allowed all of our employees to understand what our goals are, and what is expected to them to enable us to reach those goals. We meet monthly to review key metrics of the office and discuss how to better meet and exceed our goals. By keeping the staff involved, and trained, we can be sure we are all working with the same focus and intent. This helps everyone feel part of our success, and to know what their individual role is in that success.” Tom feels it is important to allow his staff to have as much autonomy as possible, to trust them to do their job well, and to provide them guidance as needed. In order to make this work, the staff need to receive adequate training to allow them to perform their jobs with autonomy, and the support to know that they can make important decisions with confidence. One example Tom underlines is allowing the assistants to be actively involved in the CEREC design and fabrication process. This gives them confidence and makes them an active important part of the team process. With many staff, this is difficult to stay on top of, and is one of the areas that Tom finds himself trying to improve upon. “Staffing has been both one of the biggest challenges of growing a practice as well as one of the most critical parts of our success. We have been fortunate to employ some very dedicated, caring people. Some have been with us for over 20 years, and many have moved on to opportunities that allowed them to grow as professionals. We have had three dental assistants over the years that have gone on to dental hygiene school, and been able to return to the practice in a new capacity. “From the firm’s beginning in 1990, I have seen an incredible change in how dentistry is delivered to our patients. Technology has grown exponentially and the decisions of what and how to include it in our office has been challenging. 1704CA02

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