Our Own Thriving Dental Practice Serves as Idea Center and Test Facility
Undoubtedly, the greatest challenge in a growing dental practice isn’t technical or even emotional. It’s leadership. In the formative years of Design Ergonomics, Dr. Ahearn grew his dental office design team while practicing dentistry and managing his personal dental practice. As Covid disrupted our industry, it became imperative that his dental practice, Perfect Smiles Dentistry, grow its own leadership team to navigate through this challenging time. Nicole Moniz was truly the right person at the right time. She was willing to take the role of CEO during a time of unique challenges to patient care and dental staffing.
Nicole Moniz is perfect for the role of leading Perfect Smiles. She is a registered dental hygienist and a certified dental assistant who has been with the organization for 16 years. In her expanded role as CEO of Perfect Smiles, she has focused on building a culture of continuous improvement for the team and for the patient experience. She also implements field testing of prototype equipment created by Design Ergonomics.
Echoing the focus on efficiency at Design Ergonomics, Nicole is always looking for ways to improve efficiency in every aspect of the Perfect Smiles practice.
“Because we are growing significantly, I’ve recently been digging into the details of our recruitment activities and systems, and how we how we can best communicate to candidates,” Nicole says. “I’ve put together a single text link I can send when someone applies, and I want to interview them. The text message includes how to set up the interview or a time to talk on the phone. It also includes an image of our core values, an introduction to Design Ergonomics, the benefits of working at Perfect Smiles, quotes from our team members about why they love working with us, and links to our Google reviews and website to help tell the story.”
Interviews are conducted at the Perfect Smiles offices. “If I am interviewing a doctor, a hygienist, or an assistant, I will bring them through our offices during an interview so they can see how organized it is,” Nicole says. “I’ll bring them into an operatory and show them the comfort amenities and our full comfort menu, which is up on the screens, so they can see all of the things that they can offer to their patients to optimize their experience.”
Often, onboarding includes an opportunity to visit the Design Ergonomics factory to learn how the products used in the practice are designed and manufactured. The detailed information and introduction to the Perfect Smiles sister company leads to a great deal of interest from highly-qualified candidates in what is now a very competitive job market for skilled dental professionals.
“In our two locations, we have six doctors including Dr. Ahearn, twelve dental assistants, nine dental hygienists, plus treatment coordinators and patient advocates,” Nicole says. “We recently brought on five new people, and they all went through onboarding training together.”
Once new team members are hired, the onboarding training is extensive and includes a great deal of education about efficiency. “With our new hires, we talk about lean principles and the use of checklists,” Nicole says. Many of the systems at Perfect Smiles are new to those who worked at other practices. In fact, many of the programs developed at Perfect Smiles have become part of the training that Design Ergonomics offers to dental practices around the country.
“Dr. Ahearn mentors the doctors, which for us is really helpful in a practice that is growing associates,” Nicole says. “He initially meets with new doctors for several full days of onboarding, seeing patients with them. And he has a competency checklist that he uses. Then they meet every month to optimize their growth trajectory.”
With Nicole in charge, Dr. Ahearn can devote much more time to designing and developing equipment prototypes, while still being active in the practice. “Nicole is the type of leader that every organization needs,” he says. “Strong yet caring. Discerning and forgiving. Insightful and a constant problem solver. People that intend to achieve come to work for her because she will tirelessly work to advance their careers.”
Nicole is a natural marketer who has branded many of the treatment experiences offered to patients. She has built multi-step programs such as the children’s experience, new patient experience, and sedation experience. “People go to dental or dental hygiene school with great idealism to care for people and then they get out in the real world and that isn’t what the industry allows them to do,” she says. “We create a positive patient experience all day, every day. For example, with our sedation patients we have a month-long cycle leading up to the treatment that includes videos such as ‘What is a sedation?’, ‘Why do people get sedation’, and ‘Pre-op instructions’ all the way to a reserved parking spot on the procedure day, and then a series of post-op followups.”
A major aspect of the working relationship between Design Ergonomics and Perfect Smiles is the opportunity to test new equipment designs in a working dental environment. “Our practices benefit from being the first recipient of new and advanced technology, but this does not make things easy for the team,” Dr. Ahearn says. “Every new advance requires careful training and detailed study during the use of the product, requiring significant effort on the part of Nicole and her team.”
R&D at Design Ergonomics is an ongoing process and that means testing is ongoing too. “At our dental practice, we’re moving and grooving and seeing a large number of patients,” Nicole says. “Getting new equipment always includes an adjustment period, especially when we are testing a prototype. The team is very receptive to it. We have a process to provide feedback on the new equipment, and we provide a great deal of value to R&D such as how to position a product or the way that our staff must reach for something to use it. We are aware of things in the prototype that can be further enhanced in the final product, such as the sound of the product in use, or the subtle angulation needed to reach for a product. We consider how the equipment will be fully implemented in dental offices, including the cleanup process. We then offer these and other suggestions to R&D for final stage improvement. No other dental manufacturer has such a tight relationship with a dental practice as products are created.”
“I am honored to have the good fortune of working with Nicole,” Dr. Ahearn says. “I can’t wait to discover what we can next accomplish together. Indeed, our current work in advancing our Customer Care Center which is creating an entirely new level of quiet, comfort, and environmental safety is very exciting for me. These qualities have forever been lacking in back-office support facilities – in every industry. Nicole and I have worked together rather relentlessly for the past two years to bring this to fruition. I’m excited to share our findings with the profession!”
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About Design Ergonomics
Our founder, Dr. David Ahearn, DDS, has dedicated his career to making it easier for practitioners to provide great dental care. He founded Design Ergonomics, and Ergonomic Products, to Design, Equip, and Train the best dental offices across North America. At our design center and factory in Fall River, Massachusetts, we focus on every element of dental office design and productivity, and manufacture the dental industry’s best dental workstations, lighting, delivery systems, and in-wall cabinets. Our Research and Development team holds numerous patents for their innovations and is constantly monitoring, and forecasting, the needs of the dental industry.
If you have any questions or if you need help with your dental office design, please contact the Design Ergonomics team.