The Cure to Being Overworked and Underpaid

One of the greatest playwright and masters of comedy in Wester literature of all time, Moliere, once said:

“Nearly all men die of their remedies, and not of their illnesses.”

This is true for us as practice owners. If we aren’t careful about prioritizing what we are doing on any given day, our “per hour“ rate drops dramatically. If you haven’t noticed already, by adding 20 more hours to your work week rarely if ever has brought in a 20% or more increase in production or collections, or boosted your bottom line by that same amount.

Most practice owners who have plateaued simply need to assemble or reassemble the right team around them. If not you may be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. It’s less about getting more done personally and more about delegating the right things to the right people so you can do what you do best (or enjoy most), such as:

  1. Doing more comprehensive dentistry
  2. Training an associate
  3. Big picture planning in your practice
  4. Working on your marketing plan

Leadership writer and expert John Maxwell, calls this the 10-80-10 “Cherry on top” principal.

This is a fantastic and effective way of delegating things to your team. Many practice owners will simply take things that they do not want to do and think that they are properly delegating this to someone else, but there’s no outline or guidance, or worst of all of all no goal in mind.

Is this you?

If so, the good news is you have lots of untapped potential in this area!

Here’s how the 10-80-10 principle works:

The 10% of any delegated task or project you spend in painting the picture for your team member, and then they do the 80%/middle work and then you are there for the final 10% to wrap up, discuss and learn from the progress and what you accomplished collectively as a team.

When it comes to delegating, I suggest you focus on the big things and don’t worry so much about the little things. Here are four keys you should outline when delegating to a team member (or a vendor or third-party independent contractor for that matter).

  1. Big picture purpose
  2. Goal
  3. Deadline
  4. Resources needed

I think of it like if you were coaching someone to run a race. You would want to be there to cheer them on to get the race started, and then to cheer them on for the final stretch. But you can’t run the middle of the race for that person or you would take away their learning opportunity and growth.

We start and end each day in the practice with a quick meeting to summarize what we’re going to accomplish for the day and then at the end to recap today, any important key matters and then anything we need to prepare for the next day that is urgent and important. We call it having great “bookends“ to a day. It’s 10-80-10 in action. Whether me, my associate, or the supporting team, everyone knows today’s goals and expectations.

It takes practice, work and team cooperation, but by properly delegating you can get 3 to 10 times more effectively done without using more energy and producing exponentially greater results. Over the years as I have delegated more to my internal and external teams my success has gone up dramatically and I have time to focus more on the things that I love to do most.

That’s why you got into being a practice owner right? To do what you love to do!

Learn how to delegate and you’ll continue to G.R.O.W.!

Have a great weekend.

It’s Gettin’ Tougher Out There!

As of August 24th, the ADA reported that right about half – 49% of practices are reporting LOWER volumes than usual. That is alarming for practice owners and corporate dentistry as consumer spending is up – in fact as of July consumer spending was HIGHER than pre-pandemic levels!

But….don’t just “let it be” that way!

There’s an old story of a hardhat worker, just going through the motions, day in and day out at his construction job. One day, as he’s opening up his lunchbox, he grunts “cheese sandwiches again! All I ever get is cheese sandwiches!“

Then, his coworker sitting next to him asks “why don’t you ask your wife to make you something different?“

Dreadfully he answers: “I pack my own lunch.“

Here’s an example that you can implement today!

The average practice owner suffers with a chronic, knee-jerk reaction to problems in the office. It’s called penalizing everyone for one thing that one trouble patient did one time. Like the “all payments are due at time of service” sign that many offices put at the front desk. Could anything be more “off putting” and sound more untrusting to your great patients?

Ask yourself, is this your office too? If so, here’s a quick tip you can implement this week to reward your best patients and discourage the problems from returning.

Design systems that reward your best patients and penalize your worst patients – not the other way around. As I’ve said before, there is no such thing as bad patients, just bad practices and bad practice systems. People will only do what you set as the standard and train them to do within the walls of your business.

For example, in my office we do not charge patients for a reevaluation of a tooth within 20 days of treatment or 20 days of the original diagnosis. Your best patients will generally accept treatment quickly and get it done right away. So patients who cannot keep their appointments beat you up on price, or put you off for delay their preventative or regular visits should be charged this additional fee for a re-evaluation for two reasons:

  1. Because you and your team invest a lot of time to reschedule them and last minute cancelled or missed appointments cannot be filled very often. This offsets SOME of the cost of missed appointments and let’s them know you take pride in your office.
  2. To weed them out. People who are chronic difficulties to deal with like this are not patients you want to keep around because it detracts and distracts you from focusing on your “A List” patients who are the most appreciative, and always stay and refer new patients and their families to you.

Have a fantastic week, and if you need help implementing this tip, simply reach out to my office for a free, 20-minute initial Discovery Call.

The Elections and Your Practice

I’m not a big political follower, but I do find the strategies and marketing tactics used by the political parties and candidates very interesting. Millions of dollars go into their campaigns, so watching what they do is instructive. I do however find some of the hate and combative behavior disgusting. It really comes down to a lack of respect for another’s’ point of view.

Whether it’s national policies, your local community, or your practice, it really comes down to helping people get what they want. When it comes to the next president of our country, it really doesn’t matter who gets elected in terms of your practice’s future. It’s more about how the rules change and how you play the game, fairly. It’s about how you create your own plan within the walls of your practice.

In his fascinating book, Simply Rich by Rich DeVos, he talks about what he and his partner Jay found was the special ingredient to scale Amway to the largest Network Marketing Business in the world at that time. I highly recommend this book for practice owners. His philosophy about how you can help people and your community and the exponential returns on your practice is not one to miss. He later successfully applied this idea as an owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team as well.

THE SECRET SAUCE
In the book, he talks about the early days of his business growing and how they realized one day that they could no longer do door-to-door selling to really scale up Amway. Rather, person to person selling was the new key to successful growth. This involved getting referrals and seeing prospective clients by appointment. They drew their Amway sales plan on a piece of butcher paper in their kitchen and it became the model they used for years on their way to becoming a multimillion-dollar company. Like most things, yours doesn’t need to be fancy either, its more about consistent execution than it is about making it perfect.

The other day I was asked to review a new piece of facebook ad software for a company that helps dentists get new patients. It’s very interesting, however, it goes to show that when you think you just need “more new patients,” it’s usually closing your back door and following up with the patients you already have that is MOST IMPORTANT and produces the highest ROI when compared to cold leads.

REMEMBER, whatever your case presentation system is, that your patients only have a system for not accepting treatment. They don’t have a system for what they do accept, and frankly, most people don’t love dental treatment or someone inside their mouths. Only you can produce a system for helping them see the value of accepting it. Get better and improving your case acceptance and most importantly TRACK YOUR RESULTS! Follow up with your lost or inactive patients and reach out to those who are kicking treatment down the road. If you’d like to learn more about our MAPSS case acceptance system which can increases your case acceptance by 50%-100% without any cost to you, join our monthly growth membership program or read my new book, The Owner’s Guide to a Productive Dental Practice: 7 Pillars Every Dentist Needs to Grow in the New Economy.

Remember, dental practice ownership is a marathon, not a sprint. Build long term relationships with your patients.

The ONLY two things you need for a great practice

There’s an old story that is still very true today about the nature of most people, and it goes something like this.

“A lobster when left high and dry among the rocks, has not instinct and energy enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps within a yard of him. The world is full of human lobsters: people stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat.” – Dr. Orrison Swett Marden

There are just two simple things you need for a great practice. And to be frank, hard work IS NOT one of them. Now before you rush into thinking I’m oversimplifying running a practice or business, just hang on a quick sec…

Remember, simple does not mean easy! Simple means the goal is clear, but it will take much-focused energy to make your practice grow like crazy.

The two big things you need to have a great, growing practice that your team and patients want to come to year after year are:

  1. A clear practice vision
  2. Implementation

Hard work comes along with these naturally, but hard work alone will not create for you a fantastic, out of this world, and remarkable practice. It’s a false sense of security that you can just “work your way out of a slump.” Now I have had slumps before and definitely put much effort into getting out of them, but hard work without a vision or knowing which key elements to implement first is just a fast track to burnout.

In fact hard work alone might make it worse because you can have the false perception of growing while you are actually just trading time for money. Successful practice and business owners I know do not trade time for money, they value their time more than almost anything else.

Don’t be a “lobster” and wait for things to come to you. Paint a clear vision and then implement it. Doing something consistently and regularly is much more important than how good the idea is. Implement – implement – implement, and you’ll gain the momentum for success.

Have a great week!

Garage Sales are Like Bad Patients

A few weeks ago our neighborhood put together their semi-annual garage sale. I’m not a big fan of garage sales, at least not being the one selling things out there. Some people get a thrill out of selling and buying old stuff. I see it generally as stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. For me, why spend half of my day to make a few bucks and miss out on biking or hiking or activities with my kids, or enjoying my Saturday?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been reorganizing the kids bedrooms in our house, so we are getting rid of a bunch of big stuff like beds and furniture. So, somewhat begrudgingly, this time I joined the garage sale to get rid of some of these big items.

On the flip side, I love seeing my kids work their entrepreneurial spirit and learn the importance of hard work. So anytime they want to run their lemonade stand I’m happy to facilitate it however I can. It’s a great way for them to boost their allowance, and it teaches them social and sales skills as well as the value of providing a good value product or service to their customer.

Let me continue by saying I don’t really believe there is such a thing as “bad patients.” But I do believe there are bad systems and practices that create problems with patients.

Is it wrong for us to judge someone on their character or who they really are based on how they approach their dental care. That’s just one small piece to a much bigger pie. That being said, what you allow, and what you reinforce is how your patients will behave in your office. People need to be told what to do, and often more so than you probably think. They need to be given advance notice as well.

For example, if you want to practice to run on time, patients pay on time, people to wait in their cars or in your patient lounge, not to bring family members when they have long appointments, etc. you need to have handouts, remind them on the phone and see it in person.

It takes 7 to 21 times for someone to remember something, so certainly just saying at once is enough and you can’t be frustrated with your patient if I forgot.

What gets reinforced gets done.

As for the garage sale lemonade stand, my kids did great! I think they made about $60 each for four or so hours of work. Much more than I made per hour at that age. Plus much of the time was sitting in the late summer sun and laughing and conversing with their friends who came to buy their drinks and sweets.

Remember to always find ways to turn lemons into lemonade in your practice, and most importantly, don’t waste your time on trivial things that have a low return unless you absolutely love doing them. Don’t be the dentist who insists they do all of their own lab work just to save a few bucks, when really you could be missing out on prepping more crowns, placing more implants, or starting your next cosmetic case.

Have a fantastic week!