What Dental Leaders Can Learn from College Basketball’s Top Coach

Corey Johnson


I went to the University of North Carolina (UNC). It’s a big basketball school. Just turn on March Madness and take a look at its spirited fan base. A lot of elements go into the success of UNC’s basketball program, but my favorite has to do with statistics.

The Importance of Trend-Based Data

Coach Roy Williams employs eight coaches and an army of student managers. That’s dozens of eyes watching practices and games every single day. Among the coaching staff, there are decades of basketball experience. They know what successful techniques and plays look like.  They also recognize skills that aren’t executed properly. They can see when a player takes a good shot or a bad shot. When he should have passed. When he should have faked.

Each time they spot a player making an error, they could stop the play and correct the activity. Sometimes they do. But they know that isn’t scalable. They can’t run practice correcting one action at a time and halting the entire team to do so. They’d never get anything done.

So Coach Williams does something else. He tracks it. He tracks, records, and then analyzes every single element of practice. Speed drills are timed and logged. Every single shot is tracked: warm-up, scrimmage, even after-practice free throws. He tracks the minutes his players play and their success rates.

Coach Williams knows which aggregate details to focus on in each play. He also knows he can’t remember all of it and that individual shots in practice don’t tell the whole story. He can’t improve his players looking at one shot at a time. But when he looks at the numbers over the course of weeks, months, and seasons, he knows for a fact whether his players are improving.

Taking a Page from UNC

The same is true when it comes to dental practices. Managers possess combined decades of experience. They know how to handle patient phone calls and what a good scheduling conversation looks like. At the drop of a hat, they can tell you the best answers to difficult questions and how to expertly handle common objections.

That said, they don’t have the bandwidth to stop every staff member after every misstep to coach him or her through minor improvements on each call. Not only do managers not have the time, but their patients would suffer because their staff is swamped handling calls and helping patients. They simply can’t halt what they’re doing to spend half their time on training and corrections. 

Like Coach Williams, dental managers need tools in place to track their team’s successes and failures over the phone. They need to spot trends and challenges that truly deserve their attention. They need to analyze downward trends and understand who is falling behind in which areas. Is Carol struggling with price objections? Is Jake having trouble building rapport and setting expectations for patient visits? Is Abby not converting new patient opportunities across the board? Everyone has off days, but it’s the ongoing trends that the best managers (and coaches) focus on. This allows managers to proactively spot problem areas before they become a larger issue, like a significant drop in production.

No manager can sit on every phone call, every day, with each team member. But every manager can sit down weekly with his or her staff to coach on specific challenges and continue to track improvement. The great thing about trend-based statistics is that they track both positive and negative actions. When team members work on areas of concern and take coaching seriously, managers will be able to track their improvements. It’s not a punitive approach. It’s a method of encouragement that instills accountability in teams.

Managers that implement a trend-based approach to tracking, analyzing, and coaching their teams see increased appointment conversions, improved patient satisfaction, and an overall lift in scheduler performance. Teams operate more effectively, and patients are able to receive the optimal dental care they need and deserve. Although dental practices may never grow the fan base that UNC boasts, they can certainly build a patient base with a loyalty that rivals.

Mr. Johnson is a top problem solver at Call Box. Doctors and owners call him to increase their bottom line through enhancing the patient experience over the phone and converting more opportunities. He earned his MBA from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he studied how the power of data can affect organizational change. He can be reached at (833) 259-9484.

Related Articles

From Courtship to Marriage: Choosing the Ideal DSO Partner

Three Ways the Phone Can Grow Your Practice

Asking “How Did You Hear About Us?” Might Not Work in the Digital Age