The Best Practices Magazine Sent to You for Free!

When you think Best Practices, think the Best Practices Magazine. It is Free!

Episode #566: The Keys to Effective Morning Huddles, with Robyn Theisen

Do you dread morning huddles? Do you even have them in your office? If you’ve never done them, stopped doing them, or don’t want to have them, it’s time to make a change! A huddle is more than just a huddle, and Kirk Behrendt brings back Robyn Theisen, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, to help you have effective morning huddles that you can’t live without. Huddles are the most important part of your day! To learn the right way to do them, listen to Episode 566 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Dental Intel:

Main Takeaways:

Make morning huddles the most important thing in your practice.

Establish a time where all team members can be present.

Start and end your morning huddles on time.

Be prepared and be engaged.

Remove all distractions.


“[A morning huddle is] an opportunity to all get together at the beginning of the day, start with something positive, and kick off a great day together. It’s also an opportunity for us to identify areas that, ‘What do we have going on today? How can we serve our patients best? How can we make this flow best for our team? And then, for tomorrow, what opportunities do we have, and how do we use today to fill those opportunities and maximize the time we have?’” (2:05— -Robyn 

“Depending on who you’re listening to, many people agree that teams that do huddles produce, on average, about 17% more — I don’t know why 17%. I’ve heard that so many times — than teams that don’t.” (2:36— -Kirk

“[A morning huddle] gives us an opportunity to focus, to fine-tune our day, and know exactly what opportunities we have and how we’re going to maximize them.” (2:54—3:01) -Robyn

“I hear so often from team members, ‘We get there, and then the doctor shows up late,’ or, ‘Everybody is talking during it,’ or, ‘We read off the schedule. I can read everything that we’re talking about. It’s right on the schedule. They’re not focusing on the right things.’” (4:32—4:49) -Robyn 

“The first [step] is identifying the time. Ten to 15 minutes, when you get into the rhythm, is all you really need. Obviously, morning is when most people do it. I have teams that prefer to do it, if they don’t have a team that comes in at the beginning of the day, they may do it over lunch. They may decide that they all end the day at the same time, so that’s where they do it. It’s about establishing a time that everybody can be there and doing it.” (5:29—5:51) -Robyn 

“A missing component when people talk about leadership is predictability. You have to be consistent as a leader. If you’re a father, you have to be consistent. If you’re a mother, you have to be consistent. If you’re a leader, you have to be incredibly consistent. People start to believe in you when they know what’s going to happen — in a good way, not a bad way.” (6:13—6:32) Kirk

“If the doctor doesn’t show up on time, [the team starts] to believe that too, that there isn’t value [in the huddle] and that it’s not important.” (6:35—6:40) -Robyn

“I know what you’re thinking. ‘Kirk, you don’t understand. I’ve got a lot going on. I had to talk to the periodontist. It’s crazy at my house. I had two kids that were sick this morning.’ And so, you come in with your cape and you go, ‘I own the business, so I don’t need to really be here. Just tell me what’s going on, and you guys get started without me.’ The second you start thinking like that, we all see your behavior as, ‘He or she doesn’t care.’ So, you have to make it important.” (6:43—7:11) -Kirk

“Along with having [a morning huddle] is starting and ending on time. So, the point is to be consistent with what time you start. End on time so that you’re not late with your patients or getting your day started late. So, having [a huddle], and being on time. The second piece that I would say is, when you get to the meeting, you’re at work. It’s time to go. There’s no eating. There’s no putting on makeup. There are no cell phones. It’s time to get to work and be prepared for the day. So, no disruptions.” (7:23—7:50) -Robyn

“Start on time and end on time. That’s critical. Even if the huddle is terrible, start with that.” (7:52—7:56) -Kirk

“We had a great coach years ago, and he made us do our meetings at like 12:03 and 10:35. And I’m like, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘Because 12:03 is 12:03. It is not 12:05.’ And I’ve never forgotten how specific that is. When you’re not on time for anything, it screams, ‘I don’t care.’ So, if you’re going to want people to be on time, which is an important component of your practice — you could actually build a dental practice just by being on time. You could. Think about that. And it starts with a huddle. So, you have to be prepared.” (8:00—8:31) -Kirk

“When the meeting goes — bam. There’s no food. I don’t mind coffee. But if you’re going to do a huddle, a team meeting, anything — and don’t do it over lunch because I’m starving. When I’m hangry, I can’t think. I’ve got to eat too. So, make sure you set up some rules. Remember, the thing is you’ve got to set up some rules.” (9:19—9:37) -Kirk

“To me, [putting makeup on at work is] the same thing as — when you arrive at the office, when you punch in, it’s not to surf the internet. You’re punching in because it’s time to work. And so, that means coming prepared, being ready to go, because we’re walking out of the meeting and we’re going straight to our patients. So, being prepared for the workday and being ready to go, that’s when we start our workday.” (9:47—10:05) -Robyn 

“We talked about predictability, being on time, and starting on time. A big part of that is coming prepared. So, it’s being specific about what each person or each department is bringing to the meeting. And I like to tell my teams, if you can read it on the schedule — I can read that. I’m looking for things that aren’t on the schedule. And so often, I see that business team members are the ones that are preparing for hygienists, for assistants. And I find it very important for every person to be auditing their charts and coming prepared with their schedule, because the more that you put into researching and knowing exactly what’s happening in your day, the better results you’re going to get from the information that you’ve researched.” (10:17—11:02) -Robyn

“I know all of you have these beautiful 75-inch monitors in the back. I watched this trend happen where everybody goes back, and now we don’t write on paper, we just look at this big, huge monitor. And it was almost like everyone’s eyes started spinning. I actually watched a few people sleep with their eyes open in those things. I’m not a fan of just looking at a big, huge monitor. Even in ACT Dental, everybody’s got a paper in front of them and I expect everybody to be writing. If you’re not writing, I’m going to ask you a question and go, ‘Do you know all this already?’ And I’ll have some fun with you.” (11:22—11:57) -Kirk

“You have to have the admin team members [at the huddle]. Non-negotiable. I think it’s really important. Remember, one of the things you have to do in a business is you teach people how to treat you. I get it that Mrs. Finelli is early for the appointment. She loves coming early, chatting with everybody. She probably brought some muffins or whatever. But putting a sign up there in the front saying, ‘Hey, we’re back meeting. We’ll be with you in a minute,’ she will get that.” (12:22—12:48) -Kirk

“Even saying to [a patient], ‘Gosh, it’s great to see you. We’re going to go have our meeting to prepare so we can give you the best experience possible today. We’ll be back with you shortly.’ That’s really what we’re trying to do for the day, is prepare for the patient so that they have the best experience with us.” (12:51—13:05) -Robyn

“[A huddle] doesn’t always have to be 15 or 30 minutes. We’ve seen huddles that are really well done in eight minutes.” (13:08—13:15) -Kirk

“There is the perception that [a huddle] has to take so long, and for bigger teams that they can’t get through it. It’s really about coming prepared and having each person know their role, and you can efficiently go through it no matter how many people you have. It’s about coming prepared and knowing exactly what each person’s role is for the meeting.” (13:21—13:38) -Robyn 

“One thing that I’ve had success with is having meeting buddies. So, if there are people that come in late, somebody, it’s their responsibility to find their meeting buddy and find out exactly what happened and be prepared for that meeting buddy to give their information the day before. So, they’re giving that meeting buddy their information to give at the morning meeting, and then finding them when they come in so that they can find out what’s going on for the day and what was at the meeting.” (14:09—14:33) -Robyn 

“Here’s how a dentists’ brains work. And this is how your brain works, if you’re listening. You’re always thinking in terms of exceptions. So, when Robyn and I are talking concepts, you’re thinking about the one team member this is not going to work for, or you have three patients that aren’t going to go for this, or you’ve got a partner or associate that this isn’t going to work for. Stop thinking like that. Start thinking globally like, ‘Hey, look. This would be important for all of us to be on the same page.” (14:35—14:59) -Kirk

“If you’re going to build a dental practice with all these moving piece, I don’t care if you have four team members or 400 team members, you have to decide how well do you want this thing to run? And I would caution you to bypass the huddle because you’ve got team members coming in at every — you’re going to lose 17%, if not more, of your production because you decided not to do that.” (15:18—15:44) -Kirk

“If you have a dental practice and you run it, I would make the huddle the most important thing of the day. Period. And think better about it.” (15:46—15:55) -Kirk

“I have a dentist that I’ve known for 20 years. His name is Fred . . . An amazing producer. He said to me, ‘Kirk, you’ve got to understand. I have team members that are single moms. Their lives are complex, and I can’t even imagine how complex that is.’ And I said, ‘Fred, is a huddle important?’ ‘Yeah, but we can’t do it.’ I go, ‘Stop thinking like that. Find out how you can make a huddle happen.’ He’s like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I’m like, ‘Just ask them the question.’ Well, they all figured out they couldn’t get there at 7:45. They agreed that they could be there by like 8:15 after putting their kids on the bus. And he made a deal with them. Now, he only works till 2:30. So, (15:55— -Kirk

“Don’t just think in boxes. Think creatively. Come to your team and say, ‘Listen, I want to do this. I want to get us all on the same page.’ Now, the best place to fix the schedule is in the schedule. All of the challenges and the problems that you have are right in front of you. And nothing better, even if you have 40 team members, they’re going to see the problems and you’re going to be able to fix the problem (16:59— -Kirk

“I am a big fan of Dental Intel. We use it at ACT, and I know many of our offices have it, especially their Morning [Huddle] and the way that it is set up. One of the things that I like the most about it is that it looks at three days, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And I think that yesterday can be overlooked by many team members, and the importance, and I think there are some specific things with looking at yesterday that can help us to capitalize on opportunities. What I mean by that is I know in many morning meetings teams will look at, for example, ‘Who are we going to ask for reviews from today?’ And so, when we start with yesterday, now I can go back to those team members and say, ‘Okay, how did it go with asking for those reviews?’ So, there’s an accountability piece to it and it’s a way to identify the opportunity. So, if we didn’t ask or we weren’t successful with getting the reviews, what do we need to do to change that? If we’re focusing on collections and we need to get our collection percentage up to be able to review, ‘Here’s what we said we would do today.’ And then tomorrow, we’re going to say, ‘Did we actually do that?’ And so, it’s an opportunity to reflect on those things and have some accountability with our teams and identify opportunities to improve or celebrate the win.”  (17:31—18:45) -Robyn

“You do have to talk about the loss. But when something goes well, the huddle is the perfect opportunity to go, ‘Hey, whatever you guys did at 1:00 and how you put those appointments together, that was freaking amazing.’ You’re going to positively reinforce that. What you want to do is you want to give voice or energy to that because where your energy goes and where your brain is, that’s what you create more of.” (18:52—19:18) -Kirk

“With the reviews, if I have to come to my team day after day and say, ‘Ugh, I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask,’ there are only so many days that I’m going to do that before I start to ask for reviews. So, it’s a way to keep us on task with the things that we said that we would do. Did we do them?” (19:37—19:52) -Robyn 

“What gets measured gets improved. But what gets measured and reported on exponentially improves. And [hygiene reappointment percentage] a wonderful one just to put in the “yesterday” thing. My hygiene reappointment percentage for yesterday was 95%. Boom. And you’re going to see, once you start putting that in the morning huddle, it’s going to go up. Because if I’m a hygienist in a dental practice and I’m at 72%, I’m not going to report 72% today, 71% today. I’m going to feel some pressure, in a good way, to up my game.” (20:03—20:36) -Kirk

“Numbers don’t have to be viewed as negative. To me, they’re not subjective. They’re black and white. So, if a hygienist is at 70%, what we really need to identify is, why does that keep happening? And if somebody else is getting 90%, what are they doing that the other hygienist isn’t, and how do we change that system so we all get the result we’re looking for?” (20:46—21:06) -Robyn 

“I am a big fan, and I know at ACT we’re a big fan, of block scheduling and scheduling to goal or looking for opportunities and being productive. And so, in Dental Intel, looking at today and tomorrow, there are opportunities to look to know, ‘Have we scheduled to goal? Do we have openings in the next two days? And if so, what are the opportunities that are coming in today that we can fill in to those holes, or how do we direct them?’ So, if the business team members come with, ‘Here’s the next rock that we have in the doctor’s schedule,’ or, ‘Here’s our next new patient opening in hygiene,’ we can identify those people coming in today, who can fit into those, because our best opportunity to do it is with the people that are in front of us, not the ones we have to call on the phone.” (21:14—21:54) -Robyn

“That’s something that I would say the admin team comes prepared with. So, they’re looking for people who have balances, do we have treatment plans assigned. So, we know all of those people that are coming in. And I know Ariel recommends talking to those patients before they even go back for their treatment, and we’ve identified it so we know exactly who those people are and can make sure that we get those balances. If we aren’t able to collect the balance before they go back, now, all of our assistants and our hygienist also know those people have got to stop by and see the business team before they leave today.” (22:17—22:44) -Robyn

“I heard a statistic that it takes up to 17 touches to get in touch with somebody once they’ve left your office. So, if we can identify those people in terms of next schedule hygiene appointment — is everyone leaving with a hygiene appointment? Is there unscheduled treatment that needs to go on? Are there balances that we need to collect? We have a greater opportunity doing that today than we do trying to catch them once they leave.” (22:52—23:14) -Robyn

“We can look at opportunities, I think a great one is hygienists coming prepared with who needs perio charting today. That’s a great opportunity where that can really put a hygienist behind. So, if we can identify who those people are at the beginning, now the assistant or the admin team, or whoever can help out with that has time to prepare and know exactly who can fill that in instead of when the patient comes in, now we’re trying to scramble to see who can help out. We’ve allowed the assistant or the business team member time to identify what their day looks like, and who can help where and be able to plan their day to accommodate.” (23:56—24:30) -Robyn  

“It’s an overlooked opportunity to really plan, review yesterday, celebrate the wins, identify areas that may go on our issues list to be able to figure it out as a team how we address them. We look at today and maximize the opportunity for today and the flow of the day to make sure that people have a great day and patients have a great experience, and then identifying the opportunities for tomorrow so we can capitalize on any openings that we have or getting patients in in a timely manner. So, really identifying that, looking at those three days and making it the best that we can make it.” (24:42—25:13) -Robyn

“We’re at an age where finding, keeping, and retaining great team members is harder than ever. There’s no better way than for you to sit down, create a few giggles, fun stuff. Now, you don’t want team members disrespecting you because you’re giggling all the time, and nothing is happening. That’s not good. But remember, team members that are great ones — nobody ever leaves a practice. They leave a person. So, if you have a great chairside assistant, or a great front desk person, or a great anybody in your practice, one of the greatest things you can do to keep them long term is to be engaged with them. And the huddle is a great place to do it.”  (25:44—26:25) -Kirk

“When you do your huddle — like, I want people to know I care. I care about you. And so, as a dentist, a huddle is more than a huddle. It’s the fulcrum. It’s the beginning of a great relationship that only gets better if you treat it and think about it the right way.” (26:33—26:50) -Kirk

“[Make] it fun. I know Dental Intel has the motivational minute at the end, and different fun videos. I have teams that bring in jokes or a motivational quote for the day. So, ways to make it fun and get your day started on the right note, and set yourself up for a positive day.” (26:53—27:08) -Robyn 

“I’ll throw in one more tip too. Do you guys get Google Reviews? I hope you do. You’re going to get some great ones. What a great opportunity to say, ‘Hey, before we start the meeting, I’ve got to read this. It came in yesterday.’ And read it, and go, ‘Thank you, guys. That’s who we are.’ Or when a patient brings in gifts, somebody brings in muffins and they say, ‘You’ve changed my life,’ what a great opportunity to share the story, or share the story of the kids on the team members in the dental practice. Say, ‘Hey, I just want to say congratulations to Lucy and her daughter. I saw that yesterday. That was so cool.’ You’re going to show people you care. Again, is your practice relational, or is it transactional? The huddle tells us all.” (27:10—27:55) -Kirk


0:00 Introduction.

1:47 Why you should do morning huddles.

5:22 Establish a time for morning huddles.

7:20 Get rid of all disruptions.

10:12 Show up prepared and be engaged.

11:58 Admin team members need to participate.

13:06 Huddles don’t have to be 30 minutes.

13:38 Arrange meeting buddies.

14:34 Make huddles the most important thing.

17:26 Use Dental Intel’s Morning Huddle feature.

18:46 Use huddles to reinforce positive behaviors.

19:53 What gets measured gets improved.

21:08 Looking at today and tomorrow in Dental Intel.

21:56 Get aligned about patients and opportunities during huddles.

24:33 Last thoughts.

Robyn Theisen Bio:

Robyn Theisen brings an entire life and legacy of dental experience to the team and every team with which she works as the daughter and sister of dentists. With almost 20 years of experience in dentistry, her roles ranged from practice management to operations at Patterson Dental to coaching teams. Robyn’s passion is empowering teams to realize that they can dramatically impact the lives of the people they serve by implementing skills and systems to remove barriers to life-changing dental treatment. She has done it for decades and does it every day with dental teams.

Outside of coaching, she enjoys time with her husband, Rob, and two daughters, Emerson and Ruby. She loves traveling, music, fitness, and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans. 


Subscribe to our newsletter

Don’t miss out on valuable insights, updates, and inspiration. Subscribe to our newsletter and receive regular updates on the latest dental practice growth strategies, success stories, and exclusive offers directly in your inbox. Join our community of dental professionals committed to creating better practices and better lives.

Subscribe To Our Blog (Newsletter)! - Footer

"(Required)" indicates required fields