How To’s

Do you envy those practices that seem to have a dynamic dental team that actually enjoys spending time with each other? Do you feel like you struggle to find, recruit, and keep team members? 

This is something that as dentists, we can struggle a lot with. In dental school, we studied our butts off learning some of the most intensive and technical subjects out there. But one thing we weren’t exposed to as much is hiring, training, and leading a team.

It’s a real shame because this is something we spend a good portion of our time and mental energy on. Instead of treating patients (and making more money) we have to do all of the behind the scenes work of finding the right team member. There are no headhunters. Then there’s the non-stop work of training and coaching them for the first 90 days. Only at this point do we know whether they are the right fit.

Wouldn’t it be great if they started teaching leadership courses in school? I think so. For now, though, it’s on us to figure all of this out and develop the necessary leadership skills on our own. 

In this blog post, I’m going to share my top five secrets for building a dream dental team. These are the things that work for me and I am hoping these secrets will save you some major headaches and regrets!

Secret #1 – The Hiring Process: Knowing What to Look For

Of course, building your dream dental team starts with the hiring process. Trust me, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, you’re going to have your own unique set of challenges to contend with and unfortunately, it’s not the most fun thing in the world. 

My practice is based out of Chicago, which means I have a large pool of potential candidates to choose from, but there’s also a ton of competition and there’s an expectation of a competitive salary right out of the gate. If you live in a small town, it might be really hard to find someone you mesh with and who has the skills to do the job well. 

Surprisingly, I have had a lot of luck with two very different platforms: Craigslist and Honeybook. Craigslist, as you know, is great for finding a used bicycle but if you’re lucky, it can also be a great place to find your next team member. Honeybook is a tool for creative entrepreneurs to network and post opportunities. I have found some of my more right-brained team members on this platform and it has worked out phenomenally! I have also found and trained a long term team member using LinkedIn and Dental Post are to others I have used. And a recent hack? I hopped on Sitter City as there are a lot of child care providers babysitting while searching for their next big life move in a career. They don’t know what that is so let us help them. 

I have a copywriter who I hire to write my job ads, and I’ve included some of the templates that we use so you can tweak them and use them for your own practice!

Here are some of the things I look for when I start to receive responses from the job ads I post:

First and foremost a cover letter with the resume! This speaks volumes to me about the candidate. If they can’t take the extra step to create a polished introduction, are they really going to be a good fit for your brand?

Second, spelling! I can not believe how many responses I get that look like this, “ Hey, i am so happy u are hiring”. UGH. I immediately toss these in the “trash” because there’s no point in pursuing a candidate who can’t be bothered to use professional language.

Thirdly, experience. It doesn’t have to be a one for one but I need to see that there’s potential there. I am willing to train the right person! I always always always stalk them on social media. Even though you may not want to do this you just have to these days. It is SO telling! Go down the rabbit hole! It will be worth it!

We have actually started doing ZOOM interviews first. You can tell a lot about the candidate here and determine if you want to take the time to meet them in person. Our time is valuable.  After meeting them in person for an interview, I invite them in for a working interview. Then, I like to wait a few days to really mull over the decision. Someone might click really well with me but that doesn’t always mean they’re the best person for the job.

I want to make sure I don’t make a decision based on personal affinity for the applicant. I want to take a few days to really reflect on whether they’d be a good fit for the brand and whether I think they have the skills (or the potential) to perform the necessary tasks.

It’s important to remember that not everyone is going to come in knowing everything you need them to know. They might not know about all of your technology, services, or unique approaches to dentistry, but if they show signs of being easily trainable and savvy, I think it’s totally fine to hire them anyway! I have done that several times, and it’s been just fine! To me, it’s more about how quick of a learner they seem to be, what experience they do have (even if it’s not a one for one) and more than anything, their personality, passion and drive!

We all have crazy stories here. I really could write a book on them! My best advice is even though I am a “follow your gut” kinda girl, DO NOT do this here. TAKE YOUR TIME.

Secret #2 – My Five Day Onboarding Process

Now that you have a new team member hired, it’s time to onboard them. Hopefully you have a process in place to do this, but if you don’t or you’re just starting your practice, here’s a great timeline to follow:

Day 1

Give them a tour and introduce them to the team. Give them your playbook (more on that later) and give them 45-60 minutes to review it and come up with any questions. Take them out for a one-on-one lunch and answer any questions they might have. This also starts the culture off strong providing an opportunity to get to know them better! Lay out early expectations for them for the week so they know what to expect and what’s expected of them. This is huge! Spend the rest of the day training or letting them shadow someone who is performing the same tasks they’ll perform. 

At the end of the day, I like to ask new team members to take a moment to reflect! I ask them to come up with one “A-HA” moment, and I ask them to share the most exciting part of their day! Then we talk about goals. 

Days 2, 3, and 4

Meet with them in the morning and ask them how their first day went. Make sure you answer any questions, and then give them a short task list for the day. Try to balance their day with tangible things to do and job shadowing or training time. 

Day 5

Have a little morning celebration with the whole crew! Bring in some doughnuts and coffee and celebrate your new team member’s first official week on the team. After the meeting, sit down with them for 15-20 minutes and go through any questions they have about the playbook, expectations, or processes. Check in to see which tasks they feel comfortable handling on their own next week and which tasks they’d like more help on. Make them feel safe and heard during this time. The rest of the day can be spent on training and other tasks. 

Trust me, this extra one on one time each day (even if it’s just 15 minutes) is going to be huge when it comes to making sure your new hire feels at home. You don’t want to just throw them into the middle of a busy workday with all new co-workers and no safety net. Make sure they know you’re there for them, and encourage them to try things, even if they fail the first few times. It’s how you learn!

Secret #3 – Dynamic Dental Team Meetings

You should be having regular meetings with your entire team on a routine basis. Keeping your team engaged at all times is key to reducing turnover and delivering an amazing patient experience.

Did you know that companies with engaged team members see 233% greater loyalty with their customers (or patients) and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue? It’s definitely in your best interest to find out how your team feels most connected and inspired by you.

Personally, I have short meetings with my team every single morning that my practice is open. We usually start by sharing a motivational quote (I also share the quotes on office Insta stories!) and then we’ll go over what’s on the schedule for the day and review routing slips for each person.

If there’s anything we need to talk about as a team (for example, if something didn’t go quite right or we received a really great positive review from a patient) we’ll do it then. This allows us to deal with any issues and move on quickly. These meetings only take about 15 minutes tops (I have a small team), but they’re so effective when it comes to keeping everyone on task and abreast of what’s happening. 

We use Dental Intelligence software for metrics and they have a Morning Minute video which is super positive and a great addition to your morning huddle. This is also an amazing time to take a BTS photo for your social platforms! Caption the photo with something like “starting our day off together” or “getting geared up for a fantastic day of pampering our patients!” You can check out the Sugar Fix Dental Loft instagram page to see the kinds of photos and captions we like to share from our morning meetings!

You may find that weekly meetings work better for your team and schedule. That’s great; I think you need to do what works best for your practice.

I just recommend that you don’t wait much longer than a week to have a quick meeting with your team. It’s always better to have a meeting that’s super short than wait a month until you have more to discuss. If you wait too long to address issues in the office, they could either fester and become worse, or you might lose the opportunity to hop on a timely teachable moment with your team.

#4 – An Evaluation System That WORKS

One of the more common questions I get from other dentists about managing a team has to do with evaluations. How often do you do them, what do they look like, and how in the heck do you effectively deal with a performance or behavior issue with a team member?

Ugh I know, these things are NOT fun to deal with but you have to. These kinds of things can really take on a life of their own and spread throughout the team. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty. A great team can go downhill fast if there’s a toxic personality in the office.

Having regular evaluations with your team not only gives you a chance to address things quickly, it also helps you create an open relationship with each member of your team. It gives you a chance to evaluate them on their skills and their contribution to your practice and its culture, and the value-add level they’re at (which you should have outlined during the recruitment and onboarding process).

Aside from these tangible objectives, I believe regular evaluations also make it easier for team members to bring issues to you and it also makes it easier for you to address those sometimes not-so-fun things with them in a way that they’ll be receptive to.

Employee evaluations usually take place on an annual basis after a 30/60/90. It’s also the same time you would generally award any promotions and/or raises. You should NOT try to reflect on their entire year the night before the evaluation. Develop a system that works for you to take notes throughout the year so you can make very specific points during the evaluation and have an evaluation form that is clear and easy to go through with your team members. 

No matter how difficult, you absolutely need to be honest and direct during the evaluation. Tell them what you think they’re doing well and tell them what you’d like to see them improve on, and make sure they know the exact time frame you expect to see improvement. 

If they ask you for something you can’t deliver, be honest. Don’t make false promises. This is the fastest way to create a toxic work environment because you better believe they’re going to start talking about it to other team members. If you don’t know something, tell them you don’t know and give them a time frame of when you’re going to follow up with the answer. Then stick to it. Make sure your team members can ALWAYS trust you to keep your word!

Secret #5 – Celebrate Both Successes AND Failures

Celebrating success is another way of saying “thank you for your hard work” and that is SO important to your team members. A recent survey showed that 70% of team members think motivation and morale would improve massively if their bosses just said “thank you” more often. It’s a pretty easy thing to do, but it does take a little bit of intentional action.

I like to think that I am the queen of celebrations. I always have a fridge full of champagne so I can celebrate anything at any time. Heck, sometimes the fact that we made it through a tough week is a good enough reason to have a team toast on a Friday afternoon. 

However, it’s equally important to celebrate failures. Of course, I’m not popping champagne when someone makes a mistake. So what do I mean by that? I just mean that it’s important to reframe mistakes when they happen, in your own head and out loud with the team member.

First, take a moment to reflect on how this happened. Was there a training gap, a miscommunication, or was the team member simply not focused enough? Now flip this and look for the opportunity. Additional training means a more autonomous team member. Closing a communication gap that exists means a chance to build a stronger team. Working on increasing focus means a second chance to get things right. 

Then, sit down with the team member and have an open discussion about the issue. Share with them how you think you can move forward together to correct the issue and give them some very defined expectations. Keep it positive, but let them know you’re hoping to use this opportunity to grow stronger. 

When you deal with failures in a constructive way, it shows your team that you’re human. It makes them feel comfortable bringing mistakes to your attention so they can own them and move on. You never want to create an environment where someone is afraid of what you’re going to do or say. Just like any relationship, they want to feel safe around you and they want the environment to be predictable! 

So, while you’re not throwing a party every time someone makes a mistake, you’re still celebrating it as an opportunity to reset expectations and work through it together. Your team will be more eager to improve than afraid of making mistakes. This is HUGE. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun on holidays and birthdays, too!

Final Thoughts…

The number one tool I use and that I see successful dentists using to manage and inspire their team is the Team Playbook. If you don’t have one, you have to get one. This is a branded book that you give to all new hires. It outlines everything that will happen in the first 30/60/90 days of their employment. 

The playbook also lists out all of the items they’re going to be trained on throughout that time period, so they know what to expect and what’s expected of them. It lists out all of the equipment that they need to learn how to use, all of the tasks in their job description, and which categories will appear on their annual evaluation. 

The “Setting the Office Up For Success” section contains checklists of items that need to be done routinely both in the morning and in the evening. They can check off which items got done on which day so you can make sure everything is taken care of to your standards.

The Playbook also has sections for you to outline your expectations for phone call etiquette, in-person patient experience, the check in and check out process, end of day reports, dental tray set-ups for all of your most common procedures, common dental codes, and other important tasks they’ll be performing on a regular basis. 

Finally, there’s a questionnaire for them to fill out so you can see what they hope to bring to your team, what their goals are, and why they chose to work for you and your brand. 

If I didn’t have this playbook, I know the process would be scatterbrained and things would definitely fall through the cracks. It has been a lifesaver and I think every practice should have their own version of it to give to every new hire.

Shameless plug, but this playbook is one of the bonus items that you’ll get when you join my Dental Branding Bootcamp. You’ll get access to an editable file that you can quickly customize so that it’s on brand for your practice, then you can print it out and put it in a binder whenever you hire someone new!

The Dental Branding Bootcamp is full of amazing resources like this, so if you haven’t joined us yet, I highly recommend doing so. You’ll get so many shortcuts, and as a dentist, you know how valuable your time is. Well, that’s about it. If you have any questions for me about how I hire, onboard, train, and inspire my own team, feel free to connect with me! Instagram is my favorite place to hang out, so shoot me a DM over there @drjessicaemery! I hope this blog post has given you a lot to think about and that you’ll consider joining the Bootcamp!


Instagram Stories don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon, that’s for sure! They’ve already taken a huge bite out of Snapchat’s numbers by offering what they do… but better (in our opinion, at least). In fact, we’ve fully made the switch from Snapchat to Instagram Stories and we’ve seen some serious growth in the last few months when it comes to our story viewers. 

Flipping the camera around and talking to your audience is still the best way to use Instagram Stories, but creating branded graphics to promote your practice, upcoming events, specials, and new services is also a great strategy. In a previous blog post, we taught you how to use Canva to create Instagram Story templates. In this blog post, we’re going to show you how you can also do it inside of our favorite scheduling platform: Planoly!

What is Planoly?

Planoly is a visual planner for Instagram. That means, you can see what your grid will look like once your content posts to your feed. You can rearrange your posts within Planoly to get the exact look and feel you want for your feed, and then you can add your captions and hashtags right inside of the app.

Planoly will also automatically post the content for you! This is perfect for busy dentists who sometimes don’t have a few extra minutes to log into Instagram and post content. We love to sit down once a month and plan out all of our content at once. Then, we don’t have to think about it at all. We’re posting consistent content without having to be tied to our phones. That’s a HUGE win!

Making Instagram Story Templates

Another cool feature that Planoly offers its users is StoriesEdit, which offers the ability to design and schedule Instagram Stories! This feature is integrated right in the Planoly app; you can use it on your mobile device or on the web-based app.

Here’s how it works:

First, choose an Instagram Story template from the StoriesEdit library. These can be customized, but all the design work has already been done for you! 

Once you’ve selected your favorite design, you can customize it by tapping on the Add (+) icon to add images, text, shapes, and a custom background color.

When you tap on the Text (T) icon, you’ll find all your text editing tools. You can choose your font, font style, alignment, spacing, height, and color options. Make sure you set it up to match your existing brand as much as possible to keep everything cohesive! 

The Shape tool allows you to add borders, footers, and other shapes to your stories. You can change the size and color of your shape, and choose whether you want the shapes to be filled in. 

All colors, including the background color, can be customized. They have a bunch of pre-set colors that they’ve determined will look good with the specific template, but you can also use the dropper icon to get an exact color match to your brand (far left option on mobile only). 

Follow these steps to create a standalone post, or make a series of coordinating stories that you can post in order to tell a longer story!

Posting Your Story

Once you’re happy with your Instagram Story templates, save them by tapping the download icon on the top right corner of your template. You can choose to save your template to your phone, send to Planoly, or share to Instagram. 

If you want to post it right away, go ahead and share to Instagram. If you want to schedule it to post in the future, you can save it to your phone (if you want to post it manually yourself) or send to Planoly. If you do this, you can choose the date and time you want it to post and let the app handle everything for you. 

If you’re using the desktop app, you’ll see the download and share options on the bottom left of the screen.

In our opinion, any tool that helps you create more beautiful content while spending less time managing it throughout the day is a HUGE win! We absolutely love Planoly, and while it does take a little bit of time to fully understand, it can be a game-changer for your practice. If you have any questions, let us know! We’re always happy to help!


Are you sending emails to your patients as part of your dental marketing strategy? If not, it should be! Social media is great, but there are algorithms that prevent people from seeing your content. Not to mention, there’s so much NOISE online. Your posts are competing with posts from Hollywood celebrities and your follower’s best friends. 

Your emails, on the other hand, will be delivered directly to the people you want to see it. As long as people have given you their email address and consented to receive messages from you, you’re good to go!

However, it takes a little bit of thought and effort to create emails that actually get the results you want. Anyone can send an email, but to send an email that makes you money and fills your appointment book, you need a few pointers. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

First, You Need a Catchy Subject Line!

The number one way you’re going to get people to open your emails is a great subject line. I’m sure you’ve opened emails before based entirely on that little snippet of copy. If it’s enticing, funny, appealing, or unexpected, your email will stand out and get opened. Easier said than done, though, right?

Not really. It might take a little bit of time to brainstorm a winning subject line, but here are a few tips that will make it easier for you:

  • Use words like “Free” or “Urgent” to entice people to open right away.
  • Pique their curiosity with subject lines like “You really want to open this email.”
  • Keep it under 50 characters so it doesn’t get cut off on mobile devices.
  • Personalize the subject line with the recipient’s name. Many email marketing programs make this SUPER easy. 
  • Don’t use clickbait. Be honest about what’s inside the email.
  • Add an emoji once in a while so your email stands out in their inbox. 

Spending a little extra time on the subject line is never a bad idea. Come up with a few options you like, then ask a team member to help you narrow it down!

Now, Make it Look Good

Now that you’ve enticed people to open your email, you need it to look good! Sure, you could just sent a text-based email, but you really want to “wow” people, don’t you? 

It’s super easy to create a branded email header in Canva using some beautiful styled stock photography. We have tons and tons of dental-themed images over at Soiree Stock, and you can find some awesome seasonal options in your brand colors. They’re perfect for emails!

At the bottom of the email, include a headshot of you or a team photo to really connect with people! Use your preferred font and brand colors throughout the email. Make it fun to look at and fun to read, and people will be so much more eager to open your emails in the future. 

Growing Your List

Of course, you can send emails to your patients (as long as they say it’s okay) but you want to work to add non-patients to your list as well. But how do you do that?

First, you need to give people something VALUABLE in exchange for their email list. Maybe you want to create a checklist or eBook or discount in exchange for people’s email address. Add an opt-in form to your website and Facebook page. Doing this isn’t too difficult, but if you’re not tech savvy, ask your website designer for help. 

Don’t forget about in-person events! The next time you attend a Chamber of Commerce event or fundraiser, put out a clipboard and collect email addresses! Make sure you entice people with a giveaway or coupon. 

There’s lots of ways to get new email subscribers, and if you send those people GREAT emails, there’s a good chance you can turn them into patients. You got this!

Want to get some email templates that you can customize and use for your own practice? Check out our “Three of the Most Useful Email Templates for Dentists” blog post. In just an hour or so, you can have three effective messages to send to your patients. Just make sure they’ve consented to receive emails from you and you’re good to go!


If you’re like any other dental professional ever, one of your main goals when it comes to online marketing is ranking higher in Google. It’s no secret that most patients will choose one of the top few results they see when they type “family dentist near me” or something into their search bar. If you’re not already rocking one of the top three spots, you’re probably wondering how you can bump your practice up in the local SEO ranking.

There’s lots of ways you can improve your position in Google, but in this blog post, we’re going to discuss three very simple ways you can positively impact your local SEO ranking. These are things you could start doing today! Ready? Let’s go!

Get a Google Business Page

If you don’t already have a Google Business Page, it’s time to set one up. It only takes 10-15 minutes to do it, and it’s the best way to get included in local searches. What is a Google Business Page? You probably see them all the time when you search for a restaurant or store in your city. It shows up on the top of the page underneath a Google Map, before the actual search results.

This is prime real estate because there’s no scrolling required! If you can show up here, there’s a good chance you’re going to get lots of calls from new perspective patients. In fact, 15% of users searching for a local business click on these listings.

Getting set up is easy. Just click here and follow the instructions to set up a free business profile with Google that you can customize with photos, special offers, and important details like your business hours.

Ask Your Patients for Reviews

Once you have your Google Business Page, you need to fill it up with positive reviews from your patients! These reviews will be what sets you apart from all of the other listings that appear alongside yours. If you have an average review of close to five stars but your local competitor has a 3 or 4 star average, there’s a really good chance your practice will be the one chosen.

So, how do you get those positive reviews? Well, aside from delivering amazing service (which you already do, anyway!) you just have to ask. Plain and simple. There are people who will go out of their way to leave a positive review all on their own, but most of us are so busy we just either don’t think to do it or we forget.

Start by having your receptionists ask patients to leave a review for you when they check them out. Then, if you send out a post-appointment email, remind them again and be sure to give them a hyperlink so all they have to do is click and leave their review. Make it easy! Then, be sure to respond to each review with a personalized thank you message.

Share Your Reviews Online

Now that you have all of these fabulous reviews on your Google listing, you want to make sure people see them! They’re the “social proof” that will keep you front of mind among people who haven’t even searched for you online yet. That’s powerful stuff!

Turn your reviews into graphics and post them on social media and on your website. In the accompanying copy, ask people to leave you a review if they haven’t done so — and don’t forget to hyperlink it for them! This will help you capture any of your current patients who maybe haven’t seen you recently so you can gather their positive reviews and help bolster that local SEO ranking even more!

Do you have questions about how to turn browsers into patients… or even how to get browsers in the first place? Dental Soiree specializes in dental marketing and helping dentists like you tell their story online. We’d love to chat more about your needs and how we can help!


Hashtags. They’re the bane of many social media user’s existence! It seems like the rules are constantly changing around how to use hashtags. We often get asked if they’re really worth all the extra effort. In our opinion, they absolutely are!

We know the process of finding and adding hashtags to your posts can add more time to your already busy schedule, but they’re the most effective way to get your content in front of the right people. In fact, on channels like Instagram, it’s one of the only ways to show up in new people’s feeds.

If you’re investing in social media marketing or spending a good amount of time doing it yourself, a good hashtag strategy needs to be a part of it.

Where and When to Use Hashtags

If you’re on social media, you need hashtags. However, they’re more effective on some platforms than others. As we said above, they’re absolutely necessary for Instagram. It’s also a good idea to use a few (2-3) hashtags on Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook doesn’t really support hashtags, so you don’t need to worry about using them on that platform (as of right now, who knows what the future will hold!)

Instagram hashtags connected to your photo will be added to their highly targeted tag page, where other people with the identical hashtag will be able to find the photo more easily. On Twitter and LinkedIn, the pound sign turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.

For example, if you’re posting a before and after photo of a whitening treatment, you could use the hashtags #teethwhitening or #whiteteeth so people can easily find your post.

An Effective Dental Marketing Hashtag Strategy

The most complicated part about building an effective hashtag strategy is choosing the right hashtags for your content. After all, what good is throwing a hashtag on your post if no one ever searches for that hashtag?

Unfortunately, there’s no centralized list of good hashtags to use. That would be amazing! The truth is, hashtags are influenced by trends and change all the time. Certain hashtags surge in popularity while others fade into obscurity. You have to put in a little work upfront to come up with a list of hashtags that are timely, popular, and relevant to your content.

In a past blog post, we discussed a few ways you can research hashtags. We strongly encourage you to pop on over and read the post.

Dental Soiree Can Help!

Developing a good hashtag strategy isn’t overly complicated, but it can be time consuming. However, we urge you not to skip hashtags. They’re so effective and helpful when it comes to broadening your reach on social media. If it seems like something you don’t have time to do, hiring a social media management team is a great idea. They can do all the work for you, and you can focus on the day-to-day demands of running your dental practice.

If you decide to go this route, we would love to discuss our packages with you! You can contact us anytime and we can chat. We promise, there’s never any pressure or obligation.

Happy hashtagging!