There are certain characteristics that we all should have, and every doctor that has created The Super General Dental Practice (SGDP) already has. Because all things begin with a thought, allow me to paint a picture of what you will become if you decide to build the SGDP. Keep in mind that the Super General Dental Practice has nothing to do with just gross production and everything to do with the business of Dentistry. It could be large, but also small. It could produce a lot of income, but sometimes does not. However, it is always very profitable. It could have few or many staff, but there will be little turn over. Finally, they, the SGDP’s, are always the recipient practice and never the donor. What do the doctors have in common that consistently buck the odds and are considered to own and operate a Super General Dental Practice?
1. Persistence: I don’t know about you, but Dentistry, marriage, raising kids, and life in general is tough. We all know that we don’t get out of this alive, but we also know that only a few live an exceptional life. All of the Super General Dentists that I have met never give up. They have great stories, some sad, but they all overcame what was dealt to them and persevered. They not only survived, they thrived. It’s a mindset: They could not fail and would settle for no less than the practice they always knew they would have.
2. Change masters: We have lived through decades of change in dentistry and we can all see it accelerating today. Embracing change as a normal, every day occurrence insures that you will never be caught sleeping or reach a limit in your business. Make embracing change a “lifestyle”.
3. Integrity: Doing the right thing all of the time is a code we should all follow. It’s not just the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. Those are just starting points. We have to be better than we need to be, and do unto others as they would be done unto. Honesty is a given. Good morals is a given. Integrity is creating a “culture” of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. Integrity is not just a personal choice; it is the lifestyle that every Super General Dentist has in spades.
4. People Skills: I wish the Dental Aptitude Tests that we took for entrance to dental school made it painfully clear that those without people skills need not apply. Putting in forty years and striving to do better every day in dentistry makes one aware that the big winners in Dentistry are the ones who recognize that people skills are number one. If you don’t have them, then surround yourself with a staff that does.
5. Savers: They started young and took advantage of compound interest to create “choices” for themselves, their families, and even their employees and their families. They began with the end in mind. Knowing that only 3-4% of dentists can retire and replace 100% of their income, they spent twenty percent less than they made, and invested it wisely. They put off a lifestyle that would cripple them in the future with stress and financial woe. Now they have the habits, culture, and lifestyle of the wise and wealthy. Save at least 20% a year or plan on working till your 80.
6. Clinical Excellence: You may never be a Peter Dawson or John Kanka, but each one of us can be better today than we were yesterday. Dedication to continued and never-ending improvement (CANI) is the key. SGDP dentists add a service every year and take the time to invest in improving their clinical skills every year. As the old Army ad said: Be all that you can be.
7. Leadership: Just like there are no natural born Dentists, there are no naturally born leaders. The neat thing is that we can all learn to be a leader. Leaders are not necessarily the smartest guys/gals in the room, they just know how to surround themselves with a skilled staff that compensates for their weaknesses in order to create a synergistic response that guarantees you will do better together than apart. Look over your shoulder. If you don’t see any people following you, then you are just taking a walk.
Become the Super General Dentist. This is how you “Summit”.
Michael Abernathy, DDS