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1. Holding a Limiting Belief
2. Lack of Consumerism
3. Thinking your job is doing dentistry
4. The wrong practice strategy
5. Poor location
6. Poor demographics
7. Doctor and staff fail to embrace change and apply the information
8. Financial captivity
9. Poor clinical results/skill

Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the pitfalls of failure? There is a common thread with practices that seem to continue to struggle and fall short of where they thought they would be. Overcoming these nine common pitfalls could spell unlimited growth for you and your practice. I want to divide the list into two parts, covering the first four this week and the other five next week. Consider that we speak with hundreds of doctors and in almost every case these nine dysfunctions define the cause of why these doctor’s practices struggle to be great.

1. Holding a limiting belief: This is a belief or feeling of certainty about what something means. The challenge here is that most of our beliefs are generalizations about our past, based on our interpretations of painful or pleasurable experiences. Most of us do not consciously decide what we’re going to believe. Instead, our beliefs are often misinterpretations of past events. It isn’t what you know that scares me. It is what you think you know that is just not so. You have held this limiting belief so long that it becomes truth to you. Consider what Tony Robbins says about empowering beliefs:
a. The past does not equal the future.
b. There is always a way if I’m committed.
c. There are no failures, only outcomes: As long as I learn something I’m succeeding.
d. Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves me.
e. I give more of myself to others than anyone expects.
f. I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.
g. If I am confused, I’m about to learn something.
h. Every day above ground is a good day.

2. Lack of consumerism: Welcome to the New Dental Economy. The day you realize that dentistry is just another small consumer business, the quicker you will order your life to take advantage of this fact. I would define consumerism as giving patients what they want, when they want it, at a price they can afford. If you buy this, it kind of means you need to offer services that patients seek, be in network with their insurance companies while offering multiple solutions to outside financing, during peak demand times (early, late, and Saturdays). Our goal is to attract and inspire patients that show up, pay for their treatment, and refer everyone they know. Do this and everything else will fall into place. Forget consumerism and watch your once thriving practice shrink and fail.

3. Thinking your job is doing dentistry: Meet a hygienist for the first time and ask what she does for a living and 9 out of 10 times she will simply say “I’m a hygienist”. Probe a bit further and they explain that they clean teeth and strive for zero bleeding points and two millimeter pockets. They explain that they educate patients while teaching them to take care of their smiles. Great description of what they do, but they miss the mark on what we pay them for. I figure just about any dentist can do average clinical dentistry, or hygienist can clean teeth, or assistant can suck spit. That is not what I am paying them for. I am paying them to inspire our patients. That’s why I always hire staff with great people skills and who are internally motivated. I can train everything else. But unless they walk through that door with people skills and motivation, you will never have a great team. If you think your job is hue, chroma, emergence profile, and lateral excursive movements, you are destined to have skinny kids because you will never be successful at Dentistry.

4. The wrong practice strategy: You can’t get better at giving people something they don’t want. Everyone needs to be able to do their own implants, endo, TMJ, and sleep apnea, but don’t ever think that the public at large wants all of those things. Too often we exhibit the hammer and the nail syndrome after a one-weekend course on some pseudo-specialty and then go back and try to sell it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry only to find that you have accelerated the demise of your practice. If you set up a Pedo practice in a town with no kids, you would expect to go broke. Same thing applies to boutique practices in a town with a demographic of a low median age of 30-35 and incomes that are too high or too low. Common sense dictates your practice strategy. Try and sell something that no one wants and you will quickly see the folly of your madness. I see this every day with doctors that want be the next biggest, greatest cosmetic dentist in an area that has nothing but young adults and kids. Pick the wrong strategy and you will fail.

Success is consistently predictable. A practice any place, any time, with any doctor can be done successfully if we take into account those things that are guaranteed to hold you back. This is how you Summit.

Mike Abernathy, DDS
[email protected]
972-523-4660 cell