If you want more dental implant or full-arch cases, you need a great treatment coordinator on your team. Your coordinator builds relationships, navigates financial questions, and presents treatment plans — so having one who knows how to make all that fit together is often the difference between winning or losing a patient.
But finding the right person for the job isn’t always easy. That’s why I asked Sophia Dunkley, founder of Practice Navigator and a dental consultant who helps practices convert more full-arch cases, to give me the rundown on what you should look for when hiring your next treatment coordinator.
Here are the seven key factors she shared.
Look for these 5 qualities when hiring your next treatment coordinator
Here’s what to consider when interviewing candidates. Several of these qualities overlap, but we’re pointing them out individually to emphasize their importance.
1. Loves people
This one’s a no-brainer — you want to hire someone who is a genuine people person. Your ideal treatment coordinator loves meeting new people, making friends, and helping anyone around them feel good.
“That’s the primary quality,” Sophia said during our interview. “You want someone who is heart-centered, caring, giving, and empathetic.”
And small wonder. Potential patients are likely experiencing a wide range of emotions during the consulting process — some combination of anxiety, stress, shame, hope, and excitement all rolled into one.
Having a treatment coordinator who wants to make them feel safe even while riding that rollercoaster gives you a huge leg up when it comes to actually closing the deal.
Figuring out which candidates fit this mold during interviews is less of a science and more of a gut feeling. Ask yourself: How do you feel after spending time with each candidate? However, Sophia did also note that if you’re using the DISC assessment as a part of your interview process, your ideal candidate will probably notch a high I score.
“Overall,” she told me, “you’re looking for someone who knows how to quickly turn a stranger into a friend.”
2. Doesn’t judge others
We touched on this already, but going in for dental treatment is a genuinely vulnerable thing to do. Doubly so if we’re talking about implants, where a patient may be asking for help after years of living with missing or broken teeth — and the shame that goes with that.
So it’s really important that your treatment coordinator knows how to help your patients not feel judged. In practice, this means not only avoiding any holier-than-thou comments like “wow, you really should have come in sooner,” but also demonstrating the ability to genuinely accept a patient as they are.
Again, this is more of a gut instinct call than something you can test for. You’ll know it when you’re around it. But when you’re interviewing, you can try sharing a challenging story from your own life with candidates and see how they react.
3. Shows real bravery
I can say this from firsthand experience: It isn’t always easy to look someone in the eye and ask them for tens of thousands of dollars.
But that’s what full-arch treatment coordinators do! A big part of the job is talking to patients about price — helping them understand their financial options, how much each phase of treatment costs, and most of all, why they’ll end up getting great value for their investment.
“They have to be brave and courageous,” Sophia told me. “Not only are they talking about large sums of money and difficult treatment, they might even have to deliver bad news to a patient.”
No job in a dental practice is easy, and this one is no exception.
4. Knows and values great customer service
Any patient-facing role involves customer service. But the ability to deliver in this area is especially important for your treatment coordinator because they’re going to be the key point of contact for anyone going through your new patient journey.
One way to assess this during interviews is by role-playing different parts of your patient journey with candidates. Sophia also recommended asking specific questions, like:
- What’s your definition of great customer service?
- What are some examples of great customer service that you’ve experienced?
Now, just because a candidate hasn’t been on the receiving end of great customer service doesn’t mean that they won’t be an excellent hire. But it does mean you might have to be a little clearer with yourself on what you want your patient experience to look like, so you can help coach them.
5. Understands that they’re in a sales role
Sales are the elephant in the room for many dentists. Most hate it because they like to think of themselves as purely clinical — but when it comes to closing $50,000 full-arch cases, there’s no avoiding the sales aspect of the role. After all, many of your patients will end up spending more on implants than they would on a car.
That’s why it’s essential that your treatment coordinator knows that they’re in a sales job. You want to hire someone who understands each step of your patient journey and how to build excitement and momentum during the process until a potential patient is ready to say yes to treatment.
Oh, and sales don’t have to feel shady! In implant sales, you’re (hopefully) helping potential patients identify, think through, and solve a problem — in this case, how to get a beautiful, functional new smile.
Don’t make these 2 big tx coordinator hiring mistakes
Here’s what too many practice leaders get wrong when hiring a treatment coordinator.
1. Hiring someone because they know about dentistry
This one happens all the time. A dentist will assume that the best treatment coordinators are those who can thoroughly explain how implants work — and hire accordingly.
But that’s actually one of the least important qualities you should look for. Yeah, you want your treatment coordinator to be able to talk about the treatments they’re selling, but you can train them to do that!
“You’ve heard the phrase ‘hire for attitude, train for the job,’” Sophia said when we spoke. “That definitely applies here.”
In other words, it’s far more important to focus on finding a candidate who fits the five criteria we’ve covered above. They could be joining your practice after 10 years working in the HVAC business — but if they check those key boxes, they’ll be much more likely to succeed than someone with a lifetime of dental experience who just doesn’t like people very much.
2. Making your office manager the treatment coordinator
Sophia and I have both seen a lot of this, too. A practice owner decides to save money by asking their office manager to step into the treatment coordinator role.
Here’s why that’s a bad idea. Those two roles have… completely different skill sets.
Great office managers know how to get things done. They’re juggling everything from payroll to budgets to HR and often have to prioritize blunt efficiency to make it all happen.
Now compare that to the list of ideal coordinator qualities we’ve described above.
“Office managers are usually strong D or C personalities on DISC,” Sophia said. “That’s a totally different energy.”
This doesn’t mean a busy office manager can’t ever close a case, but if you’re looking for consistent results, you’ll lose more money than you’ll save by going that route.