Take Your Sleep Practice from Good To Great

“If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

– Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great

If I had a dollar for every time a dentist told me her team won’t screen patients, doesn’t want to do sleep, or complains about how “insurance won’t pay so no patients move forward”, I’d have enough to buy a 2013 Camry with 135,277 miles on it.

The problem isn’t which bite technique you’re using, byzantine medical insurance processes, or the STOP-BANG. Nor is it Medicare’s same or similar denials or other dentists. Sure, there are issues inherent to each of those, BUT the issue we can address for the good of your patients, your profitability, and your practice is… (drumroll, please…)


Do you have the right team members on the right seats on the right bus? According to Jim Collins in his seminal leadership tome, Good to Great and bolstered by my own experience, outfitting your team with the right people is crucial to your success. You can’t do this alone, and you can’t do it hindered by the inefficiency wrought by incorrigible or incompetent team members. They will leave you drained, discontented, and stymied.

A great vision without great people to execute the plan is like a tree without branches. Don’t be a stump. To build the dental sleep practice of your dreams, we must first ensure the right people are in the right positions. Because DSM is a young niche field, it is unlikely you’ll be able to hire an experienced sleep assistant. It’s even less likely, you’ll be able to identify a Sleep Champion with a proven track record. What do you do? Quit before you start? 


Hire for character, commitment, and competency. The right person with the right energy and a history of continual learning can be the missing link. 

Where do you find these people, you ask? Anywhere. 

I’ve hired DSM team members literally just about everywhere.

The clerk whose checkout lane you prefer at the grocery store because he quickly gets you through the line when you have an overflowing basket and a 50-pound bag of dog food on the bottom shelf of your cart. You know the one. Even if you just have a container of strawberries and a jar of peanut butter, you’ll still wait behind the person with the cornucopian cart just so you can yap with the personable clerk for a minute. Their energy is infectious. 

Can’t you picture him checking in a new patient and scheduling someone for their appliance delivery? 

If not, use your imagination.

Or consider the barista at your favorite coffee shop. You’ve seen her effortlessly juggling 9 different drink orders with an average of 12 ingredients each. She still remembers your name when you stop in, and you stroll out feeling caffeinated and with a slight pep in your step. You feel seen. Acknowledged. Important. 

Can you envision her making your patients feel the same way during a consultation? Imagine her discussing a patient’s sleep study results with the same urgency, gusto, and ebullience she flawlessly demonstrated when serving up your mocha wocha java twist thing.

Both the store clerk and the barista will need training. They’ll need to learn what AHI is, how to interpret sleep test results, and much more. It isn’t a trivial undertaking. But they’ve demonstrated their commitment to learning all those dynamic drink orders or the ever-changing produce SKUs and what aisle they keep moving the beef jerky to. They can certainly earn a position in your burgeoning sleep practice.

You might be thinking, “I have an assistant that can shift around a few things, and she can run the sleep show.”

She can’t. There are a few reasons this won’t work.

Don’t just take my word for it. Consider a suggestion from my friend Kent Smith. He’s mentored many of the top DSM practices in the country via his annual Sleep Roundtable conference and lectures across the country. He also owns one of the most prolific dental sleep practices in the world. Dr. Smith cautions against hiring team members with dental experience because they enter your sleep practice programmed with preconceived notions. You may or may not be able to break those bad habits.

Then, there is also the time factor. Re-assigning your assistant is likely to flop. There are so many steps this person is responsible for daily: Chasing down sleep tests, device delivery follow-ups, physician networking, and so much more. Patients will fall through the cracks, opportunities will be missed, and protocols – if ever documented – will devolve into failed dream boards. You’ll get frustrated. She’ll get burnt out. The writing is on the wall.

Look outside the box for your Sleep Champion. This person is an investment in your practice. Don’t skimp. Don’t rush. Shortcuts will lead you to failure.

Find the right people for the right seats. Strap in. Together, you will go far.



The Step-by-Step Guide to Double Your Sleep Patients, Increase Physician Referrals, Simplify Processes, and Improve Your Life. Paperback & Hardcover will be available via Amazon on 1/24 and you can pre-order the Kindle version now.

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