When we come up a little bit short, we all have our pat excuses. I heard one the other day from a doctor who called me. “I agree with what you said last week but I don’t think I have the talent to be a dentist or have a successful business”. I just don’t see that. Dentistry is pretty straight forward and predictable, if you just pay attention to the game. Here are 10 things that you don’t have to throw money at and require little or no talent to accomplish.
- Being on time: Patients rate this as the number one consternation that they have with their doctors. Not being on time is like saying we don’t care about you. It is the culmination of a poor diagnosis, poor scheduling, and poor execution. Anyone can stay on time if they make it a priority. Take the time to diagnose aggressively to eliminate unforeseen changes in your treatment. Schedule, or better yet, engineer your schedule to fit your ability and clinical speed. Stop changing the treatment plan or adding additional work if you can’t stay on schedule. Finally, stop taking calls or walking away from the op for any reason other than lunch and the end of the day.
- Work ethic: Everyone in your office is watching you to take their cue as to what you want and what constitutes the culture of the office. You need to model the behavior, dedication, and excellence you want in your staff. Work ethic drips down from the top, not up from the bottom.
- Effort: Sometimes when I speak with doctors I am thinking that they just are not putting forth the necessary effort. They are disengaged and just coasting. If it is worth doing, make the effort to do it well. To quote Walt Disney: “Do what you do so well that people can’t help but tell everyone they know about you.”
- Body language: This is the physical manifestation of “modeling” what you want from your staff. There is an old saying that goes like this: “I can’t hear what you are saying because what you do is so loud.” Your demeanor and body language says volumes about your attitude. People are watching.
- Energy: I may be in the minority here, but I think you have to be in good physical shape to run a dental practice well. Exercise, eating well, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night allows you to have the energy you need all day long. This is like a sports contest: You can’t win if you run out of steam half way through the day. It’s show time all day long.
- Attitude: This is psychological part of the game. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled my tush out of the fire by having a good attitude. A great attitude trumps poor circumstances every time. If you are positive, energetic, and enthusiastic your staff and patients will be, too. A great attitude doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, execution, and follow through for a successful result.
- Passion: One of the most frustrating things I see is a doctor who is just marking time until they retire or die. I realize that most of us had no idea of what it would take to run a successful office, but it is time for you to rekindle that passion and embrace a new attitude of “whatever it takes”. The neat thing about passionate doctors is that they attract and keep passionate staff.
- Being coachable: No one is good at everything, and certainly our dental education provided nowhere near the knowledge that we need to run a successful business. Being coachable, learning from your mistakes, and partnering with a mentor will define your success. No one does this alone. Learn how to learn and the right teacher will appear.
- Doing extra: The ordinary doctor who settles for whatever comes around will never become the extraordinary owner that will have 15-20% growth every year. Parents don’t just do whatever they do to just get by. They go the extra mile to insure that their kids have as good or better head start than they did. It is the same way with ownership. You should be the first one there and the last to leave every day. Remember: You are responsible for modeling what you want in your staff. Do this little bit extra and see how it changes the Esprit-de-corps of your office.
10.Being prepared: This takes the form of more education, more engagement in the process, excellent goal planning that challenges you and your staff, and always finishing the job. You show up early, ready to work, and looking for good things to happen in the practice each and every day. No exceptions.
Act 2 is a little bit counter intuitive. It has nothing and everything to do with your business. As Zig Ziglar liked to say: “We need to get rid of your stinking thinking, by giving you a check-up from the neck up”. I want to help you change your attitude by changing what you feed your mind. I want each and every one of you to take the time to Google “the most popular Ted Talks of 2016” and click on the talk by Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Every talk is 18 minutes and regardless of the talk, you will be inspired. I think we all need a cheerleader to spur us on when we get sluggish. I try to listen to a Ted Talk every week as a sort of vitamin to insure that I am engaged and inspired to do my best and model the behavior I need from my family and staff. While there is no monetary cost in pursuing this list, you certainly need to dedicate you mind and time to it. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS