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Incentives make Annual Session accessible for entire office staff

June 17, 2013

Team meeting: Dr. Cathy L. Graves, second from left, attends the ADA Annual Session in San Francisco in 2012 with her staff, including, from left, Allie Graves, Lainey Gardiner and Kendra O'Rourke.
New Orleans—Dentists planning a trip to the ADA Annual Session Oct. 31-Nov. 3 can use the meeting as an opportunity that can benefit the entire office team.

“I believe that investing in your staff by exposing them to what I consider the premier dental meeting in the world is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your office,” said Dr. William Lee, a general dentist in Lexington, Ky., and a member of the Council on ADA Sessions. “The positives, both internally with staff loyalty and motivation and externally with practice marketing, are immeasurable.”

In his own practice, Dr. Lee says they have used incentives to help encourage staff members to work toward attending the Annual Session.

“One option is to offer incentives tied to production and collection each month to build a fund that will help pay for staff members' trips to Annual Session. You can set a lofty goal each month for the entire office, and if you hit the goal, you can contribute a percentage of anything above the goal to an Annual Session fund.”

Another option, he added, is to use continuing education as an incentive.

“As we introduce new concepts in our office, we have brought the entire staff to the necessary CE courses so everyone is on the same page,” he said. “Then we are able to take the staff to the World Marketplace Exhibition to get hands-on experience with new concepts—from orthodontic appliances, endodontics and esthetics to marketing, office design or any other concept.”

Dental practices can also offer a long-term incentive program to plan for an Annual Session destination. A list of upcoming Annual Session locations can be found online.

Dr. Lee
“One incentive plan we offered a couple of years before the 2009 ADA Annual Session in Hawaii was to enable the entire office to attend. Each employee contributed a small amount from each paycheck to a designated fund. As the employer, we matched each contribution. We reinvested the interest earned during the life of the fund. By the time the Hawaii meeting came around, there was enough money set aside for everyone—including spouses—to attend the entire meeting. This was such a tremendous motivator and marketing tool. Our staff stayed strong and loyal and we all had fun telling our patients about it.”

Staff members who are unable to attend the Annual Session don't have to miss vital CE opportunities, Dr. Lee added, thanks to ADA365—the online extension of the meeting.

Time can be set aside for those not attending the Annual Session to watch a course live by logging in to ADA365 and participating virtually in the same course as those on site.

ADA365 also offers users the chance to learn and interact in preparation for select courses before the meeting and to view select courses that were video recorded during the meeting for a year afterward.

Dr. Cathy L. Graves, a general dentist in Mason, Ohio, took her staff to the 2012 Annual Session in San Francisco.

“The Annual Session is—in a word—awesome. My team and I are already making plans for New Orleans,” Dr. Graves said. “The courses are important, and spending time with my staff on Bourbon Street is going to be fantastic.”

For more information on the Annual Session, visit