Finding a keeper
Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, MBA
social media presence of your candidate. You should also
conduct a phone interview prior to having the person
come into the office. Ask: ( 1) What did you like most about
your last position? What did you like least? ( 2) What is
the thing or accomplishment in your life that brings you
the most pride? ( 3) Where would you like to be in five
Do not hesitate to look outside the dental profession
to find good front desk people. Bank tellers often make
wonderful dental business assistants. High-quality people
can be taught scheduling or computer skills, but the one
thing that can’t be taught is personality. A friendly personality is a must!
Business assistants are your most valuable employees
when it comes to patient perception of the office. It is
your responsibility to see that the person is properly
trained to do the front desk job and interact appropriately
with your patients. Poorly trained business assistants can
cause patients to leave your practice, which ultimately
affects your productivity.
To conclude, determine to hire a high-quality person
with a great personality. Require three references and
check them thoroughly. Conduct a telephone interview
first, and provide training when necessary. Finally, if your
practice is exceptional, then offer an exceptional wage to
an exceptional candidate.
Here’s hoping your luck changes!
All the best,
MBA, is a consultant,
speaker, and author. She
helps good practices
become better through
consulting. Please visit
Dianne’s website at
For consulting or
contact Dianne at
or call her at
DEAR DR. FRED,
I’m not sure where you’ve been looking, or by what criteria
you’ve been making your hiring decisions, but I can share
some tips that should help. First, you should realize that
your front office business assistant is the most important
hiring decision you will make, because this person is run-
ning your practice. Yet some dentists feel that business
desk duties are “lower-level” positions, and they try to hire
someone who will work for bottom dollar. As Zig Ziglar
used to say, “This is ‘stinkin’ thinkin.” You need a high-quality person at your business desk who is dependable,
organized, congenial, professional, and personally stable.
After all, this person is the face of your practice. Remember,
when you pay peanuts you generally get monkeys.
Make sure your ad is worded to attract qualified
Front Desk Assistant/Financial Coordinator. Our exceptional dental practice is looking for a person who has excel-
lent communication skills in person and on the phone. If
you are enthusiastic, caring, dependable, personally stable,
and have experience with computer scheduling, insurance,
and collections, please send your résumé and cover letter
to (email) or fax (111) 123-4567.
If you run an ad in the paper, make sure it is in the Sunday
edition. One suggestion is to run a block ad, about two
inches by three inches, in the leisure, food, or another sec-
tion. Online searches are very popular today, but my experi-
ence is that Craigslist will probably not give you the best
candidate. Better choices are Indeed.com or Glassdoor.com.
You should require three references from people who
can attest to the work ethic of the candidate. If the candidate is young, you could speak with teachers or school
counselors who know the person. Be sure to check on the
I’ve had terrible luck finding and keeping good front desk help. It seems like everybody I hire leaves within six
months of being hired. My best candidate had two small children who were sick a lot. She finally decided to
just stay home. Another relocated to another city. Another person I hired came to work impaired, so I had to
fire her. Can you give me any advice on how to find a keeper?
— DR. FRED