COACHES ARE VITAL. We might not always like what they have to say, but trusted advisers are enormously important. In the dental practice, how do you pick the one who’s right for you?

What sort of dental coach is the right one for you and your team—and how best to decide?

Know your goals. Do you need help with team building, communication, clinical skills, technology? It’s unrealistic to find one individual who is expert in every area; instead, a great coaching team will offer options to accommodate your practice’s needs.

Know your stage. A new practice seeking to start with proper systems in place has different goals than an established one that simply isn’t performing optimally. Be honest about your situation.

Know your readiness. Are you and your team all onboard, or will a consultant meet resistance? And if your team is dedicated enough to follow a coach’s inspiration, will you be willing to share the fruits of the practice’s growth with them? Without rewards, results will be only short-term.

Know what you’re looking for. Are the coach’s philosophical goals in line with your own? Above all, make sure your coach has relevant experience. No one on your team will be receptive to an “expert” who has never performed their particular job. Nothing will sabotage your efforts faster.

As you search for the right coach, here are some things to keep in mind: Regarding fees, don’t cut value just to cut costs. Many dentists hire local consultants to save on travel, or hire a startup to save money. Be smart.

Be sure you find a coach who will come in and assess your practice first. If an assessment doesn’t feel like a good fit—for you or the coach—both parties must be willing to walk away.

Always check references. We’re in dentistry—we all know the best referrals come from within, right? Look into any available website info, online reviews, Facebook posts. Look, too, at who offers CE credits with their program. Some companies don’t.

Examine the contract closely. Make sure it maps out clear expectations and includes an exit if things aren’t going well. Protect yourself regarding HIPAA compliance, too—any outsider who gets access to your patient information must be fully vetted.

Check out each coach that will be assigned to your practice. Have a conference call with all coaches assigned to you ahead of time. The company you choose should also be able to provide (or connect you with) specialists in OSHA, HIPAA and embezzlement support.

What’s in your program? Your coaching company should be able to provide a 12- to 18-month implementation plan. It’s also hugely important to celebrate your successes along the way. Your coach should provide monitors that track all your key practice indicators (KPIs).

What happens when your contract expires? Is there a follow-up program? Are you left to fend for yourselves, or will there be continued support?

Whatever your needs and goals, remember that any practice does best when the doctor can focus on dentistry while still keeping a finger on the pulse of the entire operation. That’s when you’ll see things soar—and the right coach can help make it happen.

KAY HUFF, RDA is Director of Dental Coaching at Benco Dental. She is also a Certified Consultant in Employment Law Compliance with Bent Ericksen & Associates, as well as a member of the Academy of Dental Consultants and the American Association of Dental Office Managers.