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Transitioning from People-Dependent to Systems-Driven with Kirk Behrendt & Heather Crockett
Episode 41913th May 2022 • The Best Practices Show • ACT Dental
00:00:00 00:23:36

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Transitioning from People-Dependent to Systems-Driven

Episode #419 with Kirk Behrendt & Heather Crockett

It’s great to have that awesome team member who does everything and runs the show. But what happens if they leave? That's right — they take all that greatness with them! Your practice needs to stop being people-dependent and start being systems-driven, and Kirk Behrendt brings in Heather Crockett, one of ACT’s amazing Lead Practice Coaches, to share how. One important tool is predictability, and you can achieve that with a great system. To learn how to create great systems for success, listen to Episode 419 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

There is no greater gift than predictability and systems.

Systems save you thousands of hours in the long run.

With systems in place, you can focus on things that matter.

When you become systems-driven, your costs decrease.

Your systems will eventually become second nature.


“When you're people-dependent as an entrepreneur, that means Judy does everything. Judy knows how to do this. Judy knows how to do that. Judy knows everything. And so, it makes my life better that Judy knows how to do it all. Well, there's a downside to that. Judy may leave someday, and she takes it all with her.” (2:16—2:32)

“The other downside is that when you're too people-dependent versus systems-dependent, you become dependent on adding more energy and more hands to a problem. So, you have three people at the front desk, and they're awesome. But they're taxed because you don't have any systems in place. And so, they come to you, and they go, ‘Doc, we’re stressed.’ And you go, ‘I know. Let me help.’ And they go, ‘We need somebody.’ And you don't have any organization. You don't have any systems. You don't have any checklists. And so, you go, ‘Hire somebody. I don't even care. Just put an ad.’ And you keep throwing person, after person, after person at the problem.” (2:33—3:13)

“When you're people-dependent, your team compensation is going to skyrocket. It’s probably going to be in the 30% range, which is going to drive your overall overhead way up to the high 60s or low 70s, or maybe even the 80s. And one thing happens: nobody’s happy with their compensation. You aren't happy, and they aren't happy.” (3:27—3:48)

“A lot of times, when you move to being systems-driven, your costs go down. Now, here’s a caveat: you're not paying your team less. You could actually make an argument you're going to pay them more. It’s just that they're not trying to figure everything out, every day, uniquely, for every patient; we’ve got systems in place.” (4:40—4:57)

“Think about the amount of time it takes for a team member to figure out how to do something, especially if they're a new hire, or to do something again that they’ve only done once or twice. It takes a long time. And yes, it takes time to document and implement a system. However, it saves you hours in the future. Not only that, but you make it the same across the board so that everyone is doing a task the same way every time it’s completed.” (5:07—5:38)

“Here’s what's important to you as a dental practice owner. When we talk about systems, systems allow you to give the best energy to things that matter most. Which, when you have a system in place, you can actually give your energy to the best currency in your practice, which is relationships.” (7:08—7:22)

“You need predictability. Predictability only comes from systems. And you have to improve these systems time, over time, over time. And so, what it allows you to do, again, is you can give your best energy to things that matter most. That's why some people can do so much in such little time, because they’ve got a great system in place.” (8:50—9:09)

“If a patient is coming in for an emergency appointment, rather than having the clinical team figure everything out when the patient arrives, it takes 10 seconds for the admin team member to put a note in that appointment what they're coming in for, ‘They're coming in for some pain on the upper left that they’ve tried to take Advil for.’ And then, when they do come in, the clinical team doesn't have to spend quite as long talking to the patient about their issue because it’s already been started and done. So, what took the admin team member 10 seconds can save the clinical team 10 minutes when the patient comes in.” (9:52—10:31)

“Systems allow for sanity. They allow for profitability. They allow for scalability. They allow for people to be themselves.” (11:47—11:56)

“If you find a great team member in your community, she or he does not want to come to your office and go, ‘Let me clean all this up for you.’ No! They want to come in and utilize their skills and their talents. They don't want to come into a hot mess. I know you're thinking, ‘We’re going to bring her into this hot mess, and she’s going to make it better.’ That might be true, a little bit. But that's going to create fatigue on a great team member. A great team member really excels in an organized fashion.” (12:30—13:00)

“E – R = C stands for expectations minus reality equals conflict. And when you put systems in place, it’s a win-win-win for your team members, for you, and for your patients because your team members then know exactly what is expected of them as they're completing tasks throughout the day.” (13:37—13:58)

“You as a dentist, you think, ‘I've told them a million times.’ The truth of it is your team members have no idea what to expect — and you expect them to know what you expect. And so, you can see the inherent conflict with that. And so, you get mad at a person. You're driving home, probably, tonight listening to this podcast, and you're angry at a human being that works in your practice. Well, I'm here to tell you it is not their fault. It is your fault.” (14:07—14:32)

“Don't get mad at people, because that's a short road in dentistry when you're not really diagnosing the problem.” (14:58—15:06)

“If it isn't written down, it doesn't exist. People say, ‘I have a system for that.’ ‘Well, show it to me.’ ‘Well, Judy does that.’ That is not a system. That is a people-dependent effort. So, having systems written gives a lot of power to it.” (17:47—17:59)

“Bad habits are really easy to create, but very hard to live with — very hard to live with. Good habits are really hard to create, but very easy to live with and work with. And so, taking the time to do this is essential.” (18:07—18:23)

“Yes, while systems are hard to document and implement, it’s literally a gift. It’s a gift to your team members, it’s a gift to yourself, and it’s a gift to your patients, and will literally take your practice to that next level that you're craving.” (21:04—21:18)

“You can't give a greater gift than really high levels of predictability and you being a nice person on a regular basis. And it’s systems-driven that makes that happen.” (21:56—22:05)


0:00 Introduction.

1:18 Heather’s background.

1:53 The cost of being people-dependent.

4:57 How and why this is important.

5:39 Kirk’s Applebee’s experience and learning systems.

9:09 Ten seconds for 10 minutes.

10:31 Systems allow for sanity.

13:17 E – R = C.

16:03 Your systems will become second nature.

17:59 Start creating good habits.

20:55 Last thoughts.

Reach Out to Heather:

Heather’s email: 

Heather’s Facebook:

Heather’s social media: @actdental

Heather Crockett Bio:

Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach who finds joy in not only improving practices but improving the lives of those she coaches as well. With over 20 years of combined experience in assisting, office management, and clinical dental hygiene, her awareness supports many aspects of the practice setting.

Heather received her dental hygiene degree from the Utah College of Dental Hygiene in 2008. Networking in the dental community comes easy to her, and she loves to connect with like-minded colleagues on social media. Heather enjoys both attending and presenting continuing education to expand her knowledge and learn from her friends and colleagues.

She enjoys hanging out with her husband, three sons, and their dog, Moki, scrolling through social media, watching football, and traveling.