Regardless of the time of the year (it shouldn’t be just January 1st), each office should be looking at their “historical results” (quantitative numbers that tell you your practices’ score), your “momentum” (your pace, your ability to adapt, and change), and your “trajectory” (basically your flight path, the route you are taking). A few years back, DirectTV ran a series of commercials about “Don’t be a Settler”. A play on words and an unusual visual example of a family that “settles”. Take a moment and watch this 30 second spot: https://youtu.be/5DKscY7RcKs?si=pJ-8gZVDNG-IhNLd
Hopefully this made you smile. Now before you get upset at me, substitute your practice, your team’s performance, and your culture and attitude towards dentistry and realize that no matter where you are currently, you are getting exactly what you deserve. Everything you do is precisely designed to give you that result. If that is true, then unless you intentionally change your trajectory and ramp up your momentum, your results will never change. Any reflection or a measure of accountability has to ultimately reflect on your future performance. For the most part, it is a constant struggle to keep up, adapt, make changes, act, reassess, then act again to stay at the top of your game. This game we play, dictated by the dental economy we find ourselves in, has winning game plans. The challenge with most offices is that they are still using 20-year-old plays and strategies to compete in a Super Bowl economy against other practices that are light years ahead.
So, if this is true and you’re using the same old strategy that got you to where you are, you can be assured that you are losing ground every minute you assume that old-strategies will win the day in an ever-changing dental landscape. Here’s a time-honored fact about seeing your own deficiencies.
“Most organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems but because they cannot see their problems.” John Gardner
The biggest challenge you face in embracing these facts is your inability to see your own limitations. So often we take adversity and address it with the limited beliefs and the same strategies that got you into this less than desirable situation. It is at this point that each of us need to take a hard look at what will challenge our ability to successfully change our future. Only then, once you identify your shortfall and its cause, can you actually address a solution and act. If you have not read the last article, please go to www.summitpracticesolutions.com/blog and take a hard look at how you should “reflect, decide, and act”.
Here is the question we must take the time to explore: What will hold you back? Keep in mind that each of these are fundamental, can’t make changes, types of black & white areas that must be addressed, overcome, and strategized for you to make achieve better results over the next 12 months. Don’t leave even one on the table without making an informed, conscious decision to either make it change or figure a work around. Take action! Just ignoring these facts will put you right back in the same situation you find yourself in today. Secondly, each of these take self-reflection and some require quantitative numbers to make sure this is not a challenge and if it does, what would these numbers have to change to? The worst thing you could do is to become a “settler”.
Holding a Limiting Belief
Lack of Consumerism
Thinking your job is doing Dentistry
The wrong practice strategy
Doctor and staff fail to embrace change and apply the information
Poor Clinical results/skill
Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the pitfalls of failure? There is a common thread with those practices that seem to continue to struggle and fall short of where they thought they would be. These nine things, if overcome, could spell unlimited growth for you and your practice. I want to divide the list in half and cover the first part this week and the last of the list 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. One more thing: Even the great struggle. It is how we face our struggles that defines our legacy and future success. The mere appearance of a challenge is not a reflection on your ineptitude, but rather a wake-up call to re-evaluate where you are and reengage in being proactive in your pursuit of excellence.
Holding a limiting belief: This is a belief or feeling of certainty about what something means. The challenge is that most of our beliefs are generalizations about our past, based on our interpretations of painful and/or pleasurable experiences. The challenge is that most of us do not consciously decide what we’re going to believe. Instead, often our beliefs are misinterpretations of past events. For me, it is not what you know that scares me, it is what you think you know that is not so. You have held this limiting belief so long that it becomes truth to you. Consider what Tony Robbins says about empowering beliefs:
The past does not equal the future.
There is always a way if I’m committed.
There are no failures, only outcomes: As long as I learn something I’m succeeding.
Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves me.
I give more of myself to others than anyone expects.
I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.
If I am confused, I’m about to learn something.
Every day above ground is a good day.
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, perhaps be in network with their insurance companies while offering multiple solutions to outside financing, during peak demand times (early, late, and Saturdays). I think we forget that as dentists, we have a widget, or product that we need to create. It is patients that show up, pay for their treatment, and refer everyone they know. Do this and everything else will fall into place. Neglect consumerism and watch your once thriving practice shrink and fail.
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 they will just 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, 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 team members 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 in Dentistry.
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 assume 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 that has a low median age of 30-35, incomes that are too high or too low, etc. Common sense dictates your practice strategy. Try and sell something that no one wants and you will quickly see the folly in 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.
Mike Abernathy DDS