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Jan Jaffer on the Importance of Culture and Values When Maintaining a Strong Dental Team

By Planet DDS
May 2, 2024

In this episode of The Dental Economist Show, host Mike Huffaker is joined by Jan Jaffer, CEO of TREC Dental. 

Join them as they discuss: 

  • The importance of culture
  • Different approaches to growth
  • Prioritizing patient care
  • The future of dentistry
  • Work-life balance
  • Bonuses
  • And more!

Jan Jaffer is the CEO and CVO at TREC Dental, a group of twenty socially conscious, value-based dental clinics in Calgary and the surrounding area. In 2018, TREC Dental partnered with the charity CUPS to operate a free dental clinic in Calgary, providing care to some of Calgary’s neediest citizens. Jan is also a lecturer with Straumann Dental and a renowned keynote speaker. 

What is TREC? – The name of Jan’s company TREC is an acronym that stands for Teamwork, Respect, Exceptional Dentistry, and Continuous and Never-Ending Improvement. He says that these four core values lie right at the heart of what he’s trying to do with this organization. Jan stresses that these qualities are in order of importance, saying that everything starts with teamwork. He believes that dentists are less important than the patients and less important than teamwork, despite this occasionally being “hard for some dentists to swallow because the ego gets in the way”!

The Drawbacks of Bonuses – Jan challenges the traditional use of bonuses and incentives in the dental industry, stating that they do not offer bonuses to their team members. Instead, they focus on fair compensation and other forms of motivation, such as team development and social responsibility. If bonuses are reached by meeting targets, Jan warns that this might lead to dentists prioritizing financial gain over patient care—Jan suggests an example of drilling on teeth that don’t require drilling in order to hit the target.

The Harsh Reality of Turnover – Even companies with the most rigorous of hiring practices can occasionally hire people that aren’t the right fit. When this happens, Jan stresses the need to make tough decisions about letting someone go. A staff member might be highly skilled or well-liked, but if they don’t align with the values of a practice, there will be problems down the line—patient care must come first.

The Future of Dentistry – Jan says that the dental industry is in a good place right now, but still has room for improvement. He emphasizes that more people must become aware of the mouth-body connection, and that this will, in turn, allow people to lead healthier lives. It’s also important that DSOs must focus on the patient, then focus on the team, and then be successful, rather than attempting to reverse-engineer this. Finally, Jan notes that DSOs should be run by dentists, and not lawyers or business professionals.