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The Top Five Reasons We Don't _______________

You fill in the blank: Do better, produce more, keep our overhead down, etc. I guess I should say the top five “excuses” for not doing _____________. It seems that a lot of us spend more of our time avoiding doing what we should, rather than getting it right the first time. I’m guilty and you are too. We tend to “justify” our actions rather than optimizing our results. This month I’ve racked up a pretty substantial number of phone hours. With this much time on the phone, I seem to get a lot of clever (translate that as “silly or stupid”) reasons why doctors and staffs couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t, can’t and won’t do something to change their results. Here is the top five I heard in the last three weeks:

1. “I was just waiting until it got better”. Better? Are you kidding me? You have waited you entire career into a mediocre practice producing a financial future of uncertainty. I have never seen any situation that was best met by “hoping” it would get better. Hope is not really an effective business growth strategy. The great practices have gotten into the habit of doing what it takes to keep growing and getting better. If you feel “justified” in waiting, it will turn out as if you “just” did nothing and reaped nothing. In dentistry there is no excuse not to ask for help or guidance. We help doctors in tough situations all the time, and they always do better. It’s like the definition of insanity: Keep doing the same thing over and over but expect a different result. Life does not work like that.

2. “I couldn’t get my staff to __________________________”. (You fill in the blank here too). As the owner of a dental practice, you are also the leader. You do not negotiate with anyone when it comes to doing the right thing. Staff are either with you, or disengaged and against you. You have to suit up and be very clear in what you want, when you want it, and how you would like to go about it. Email me and let me send you a copy of my latest book that should give you a real push start.

3. “We just can’t afford to do it right now”. Financial captivity, or the inability to act because you have no money, can be counter-intuitive. You made so many mistakes in the past by overextending yourself that you have no wiggle room to spend what you should have spent before in order to make the situation turn around. Doctors who find themselves here have always found themselves here. It’s like ground hog day. Maybe it’s just me, but I see few doctors that ever learn their lesson when it comes to money. How you manage money, both saving and spending, are key habits that can secure a financial future for you and your family. Go to and start turning your financial world around.

4. “We have always have had this problem”. If you have not watched, It’s Not About The Nail, go to Max and I sit across the table from staff, spouses, and doctors every day with them telling us, it’s not about __________________. It is about the “nail” and you need to let us “fix it”. You can’t imagine the gratification we have when an office finally pulls the nail out and gets “fixed”. From my perspective, this denial of what is or isn’t wrong usually comes from a limiting belief. It usually is not true, but the doctor has held it so long, it has become “truth” to him/her. Breaking barriers is what consulting and mentoring is all about. If you have a problem that you feel is something I have never seen, just give me a call on my cell and let’s talk. I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to take your practice up a notch or two.

5. “I have never been very good at looking at numbers”. We don’t ask you to look at many, but there are a few things every doctor and staff should know:
a. Overhead %: Compensation (25%), Facility costs (7-9%), Lab (8-10%), Dental supplies (6%), Marketing (3-5%), Office supplies (about 1-2%) for a total overhead of around the mid-50% range.
b. New patients: 50-75 per doctor per month with over 50% referred to the office by an existing patient.
c. Hygiene: Should do about a third (33%) of the total production, and produce three times what they are paid.
d. Production: $20,000-25,000 per month per staff member, and $25,000-30,000 per operatory per month.
There is no excuse not to have a current profit and loss statement and not to share the numbers with your staff. Not knowing your numbers means you can never control them. Control brings less stress and more profit. Sharing the numbers is essential to partnering with your staff to make it happen.

That’s it for the top five. About once a year I encourage our clients, radio listeners, and newsletter readers to let me help them for free. Just email me and let me send a spreadsheet that will allow me to gather some numbers about the productivity of the practice. In addition, I need to see a P&L that is current for the year, and one week’s schedule. With these three items in hand, I will set up a call and discuss where you have blockages and how to fix them. What could be simpler? Don’t wait to send me the information. I guess I could add number six: Procrastination.

See you next month.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
[email protected]
972-523-4660 cell