Got a call from a client that wanted to know: “What is wrong, how can I fix this”? Seems that last month this single doctor office did $180,000 and following the first week of December, there was only $80,000 scheduled. Hygiene was full, and three weeks were yet to be seen, but they were already in a panic. It seems we never get a call when there is a great month. But if there is a small blip on the horizon, we get a call. In fact, it is the good months that you should obsess about. Study the good months, figure out what you did right, and do it again. One of the top ten things that successful dentists do is always ask the right questions.
My first question was: “What were the numbers (new patients, production, collection, overhead, etc.) during the same time period last year?” Well, the numbers showed that every fall there seems to be a slow-down. Now this doctor does good work, just hired us, is implementing what we are teaching him, and seeing good things begin to happen, but “what is wrong with this month”?
It seems that we all have an internal “Success Meter”. The interesting thing is that we never feel like a success unless reality exceeds our expectations. You read about some dentist in Dental Economics that is doing a little better than you are doing and you feel like you are an underachiever. The other thing about this success meter is that it resets itself like a heroin addict: The needle stays in the green zone and we feel fulfilled and when it dips into the red, we feel horrible. What used to make us feel good, now seems to barely satisfy us. I have a meter, too. Unless we keep our overhead for the year below 55%, increase our production about 25% over last year, have an 80% recall effectiveness rate, a hygiene department contributing at least 33% of the practice production, and save about 20% a year, I have a conniption.
In this case it was a phone call and I had to come up with an answer quickly. By the way, he did not get to hear what I said in the first two paragraphs. Let’s take a look at what you should do right now.
• I would take the time to relive the successes and failures of 2014 and come up with a measurable reflection of how 2014 turned out.
• Your goals should be written and an action plan along with due dates should be set for 2015.
• I would look for any blockages that might prevent your practice from increasing your production 25% for 2015: Hygiene being able to get new patients in within 4-10 days during a peak demand time (7-9am, 3-5pm, Saturdays), production of $20K per employee, $25K per Op, and hygiene recall near 80%.
• I would set a goal to add another service in 2015: Six Month Smiles, TMJ, Sleep Apnea, etc.
• I would look at my debt reduction plan. I have never seen a situation where we could not eliminate your entire debt in 7 years.
• I would set a goal to increase your savings while planning for predictable future expenses like kids schooling, equipment purchases, building expansion, etc.
The take away here is that success does not happen by accident. It is consistently predictable when you work your plan. The problem is that the average dentist spends more time setting up a vacation than setting goals and plans for his/her business. To help you, I have included a link below to the Ten Year Planner I have used for the last 40 years in my practice and home. Take the time to become “future focused” and intentional. Also, there is a second link below to one of our radio shows where we discuss planning for a successful New Year. Even though it was recorded a couple of years ago, the information is just as pertinent today as it was then. The recorded broadcast on goal planning and the Ten Year Planner will help you and your staff start 2015 far differently than you ever have started a New Year. I guarantee that 2015 can be the best year ever.
This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS