The Single Greatest Asset Your Practice Will Ever Have
Three strategies to improve your practice by improving your team
For most of you, the start of the fourth quarter (Q4) is likely a welcome change to the long summer lull. You’re probably looking forward to more new patients, higher production, and increased collections—an overall surge in business. But how did you use those slower summer months to your benefit? Did you coast along or did you study your practice for missed opportunities and growth strategies?
As Q4 approaches, I look for strategic planning methods to finish the year strong and start the following year off stronger. I have 180+ employees, but I spend most of that strategic planning in a state of self-analysis because I understand that any positive change that happens in my company has to start with me.
Based on our experience, the #1 obstacle to growing the practice is the practice owner.You may think that you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to make your practice successful and that you’re taking all of the right steps to get there, but you simply don’t know what you don’t know.
Self-assessment is one of the most crucial components of growing your business. Ask any successful business owner and they’ll tell you the same thing. The simple fact is that you are the key to unlocking any successful practice management system. You can go to every seminar, buy and install every piece of expensive technology on the market, but if you haven’t invested any time or energy into developing yourself, it’s going to be a waste of money.
I have compiled three of the top strategies (used by the 800 highly successful dentists in my Platinum and 5X Coaching groups) that will help you to better understand yourself and use this knowledge to create growth in your practice.
You Have a Commitment Problem
Over the years, I worked with thousands of different doctors and practices. Many of them said, “I’d like to get more new patients.” I love increasing new patients so I say, “Okay, we’re going to start by training your front desk person and getting her to start using my system instead of her old system.” Hypothetically, the doctor delivers this message to his employee (let’s call her Mary), and she immediately becomes defensive, stating her “way is just fine.” Suddenly, the doctor no longer wants to participate.
What was the doctor’s true commitment? He was committed to making Mary happy even if it meant going bankrupt. He was committed to not ruffling any feathers, keeping Mary comfortable and “safe,” and a non-confrontational existence. The doctor is sabotaging his own success (and Mary’s because she’s only able to grow when the doctor grows) because he will not be able to grow his business unless he stands by the correct commitments.
If I conducted a brief interview with your family and staff, and looked at your schedule and finances, I could easily reveal your true commitments. Is it all about the clinical work; keeping the peace 100% of the time; or growing your business, pushing your boundaries, and reaching your full potential?
If you think about the things you’ve truly committed to in your life, you’ll realize that you’ve typically been extremely successful in these areas. Your education, practice, and income all match up to your level of commitment. So ask yourself: “Do I have a commitment problem?”
Accept That You Will Fail—Probably Often
The path to success is filled with loads of failure. Maybe that sounds cliché, but it is the most important concept to understand if you want to achieve your full potential.
I have a process for dealing with failure. First, I fall down—it’s inevitable. What do I do next? I take personal responsibility for the failure. This is key—even when it’s not my fault. Next, I look for the breakthrough. I’ve found that every single mistake, frustration, or failure in my life has led to a breakthrough—a sudden understanding or solution to a problem that stumped me up until that point. Lastly, I use the momentum from that breakthrough to change and improve something. After many years of mastering the process, I now go through it without even thinking about it. You will also notice that this formula does not leave room for excuses; that was not an accident.
If you want to grow your business, increase your new patients, double your profits—whatever it is that drives you—you have to have a process for dealing with failure. The most effective practice management system is to have an effective leader who can turn failures into lessons, and missed opportunities into areas of growth. If you don’t create your own process, you’ll get stuck with the default process—commit, fail, quit. It’s a toxic cycle that will doom you and your practice to mediocrity.
Ask yourself something: “Do I want this badly enough and am I prepared to deal with setbacks?” If you want more new patients, you need to fix what happens on the phones and be okay with ruffling some feathers. If you want an incredible team that produces incredible results, commit to training them.
Your Team Requires Training and Maintenance
Some time ago, I had a Japanese Maple, a beautiful tree with stunning, deep red leaves, planted in my yard. Unfortunately, my landscaper had no clue how to manicure it. It grew into a bushy, awkward tree with its limbs going in every direction. It was not the beautiful tree I envisioned so I planted another Japanese Maple, and I hired a new landscaper. He cleaned up the bottom of it and trimmed the top into a dome—it looked exactly like what I imagined.
While both trees are Japanese Maples with the same bright red leaves, one is a well-manicured work of art and the other one is a disaster. If we compare your team to these trees, how much time and energy have you invested in “tending” to them? Are you only investing minimally in their training, but expecting great results? It simply doesn’t work that way in nature or in your office.
When a tree isn’t properly cared for, weeds start to attack it. If the weeds are not plucked out, they will choke out the tree. The same concept can be applied to your team. If you have a team member who is toxic to the rest of your team—spreading negativity, pulling everyone down, and refusing to do anything you say—you need to get them out of your office. Your practice won’t ever make it to the next level of success with a sour team member choking its growth like a weed.
Without a doubt, your team is your biggest asset. There is no such thing as overspending on your team because they will continue to grow as long as you invest in training them. When I visit the offices of my most successful clients, their results continue to improve as they invest time and money into training their teams. There’s no limit to this process—continue training your team and you will keep seeing an increase in positive results.
If you’ve tried training your team in the past and you haven’t seen improvement, the landscaper, rather than the tree, might be the problem. Whether you’re running a tiny practice in the middle of Smalltown, USA or a multi-million dollar practice with more than 350 new patients each month, one thing remains the same: the foundation for any successfully managed practice is you.
Whether your practice stagnates or skyrockets to the next level is completely dependent upon your ability as an effective business leader. Fortunately, these three strategies will help you to better understand yourself, become a more effective leader, grow your practice, and change the way you feel about your job.
If you’ve been trying something that isn’t working, don’t keep doing the exact same thing and expect different results. If you’re ready to increase your engagement, make the correct commitment, and see a big, positive change, I challenge you to reach out to us today.
About the Author
Jay Geier is a speaker, consultant, and president and founder of the Scheduling Institute. He is also the creator of the world-renowned, 5 Star New Patient Generation Team Training Program. A free CD about this program is available at www.schedulinginstitute.com/ID.