There are 86,400 seconds in a day. You have 3 seconds to capture the mind of a potential client and convert him or her into a patient. The average dental practice attracts 25 new patients a month. That means you have about 75 seconds to inspire those 25 potential clients in order to pay your bills and take some profit home. The opposite is also true. It only takes 3 seconds for a potential client to listen, vote with their feet and leave. Those 3 seconds are what your entire month should focus on. How do I become more consumer conscious? How do we TLC: Think Like a Customer? How can we take control of practice growth? The answer is to begin to practice with an attitude of “Back to the Future”.
This revelation occurred to me as I was speaking to a dozen or so doctors over the phone this month. As usual, most of the conversations begin with the doctor telling me a tale of doom and woe. In this particular case the doctor practices in a small town of about 15,000, and is struggling to get his fair share of new patients. He is in his late forties and is only getting about 10 new patients a month with no referrals, while he currently spends nothing on marketing. I know, I know, you are already thinking duh. Immediately you are thinking he is a “donor” practice. He is just doing everything wrong and is clueless. This was not the case. He does good dentistry, his hours are OK, no one in town markets, and his staff is pretty good. In fact he told me that decades ago when he first moved to the town, he had 90 patients a month. I can still hear the surprise in his voice when I made a couple of suppositions that were right on the money. I had never met him and knew nothing about his personal life or practice, but still knew everything I needed to know in order to diagnose several very common problems we often see with doctors who have been in practice over 10 years.
I said: “I will bet that when you were getting those 90 new patients a month that you were the dentist for the local high school football team.” He said: I was. “I bet you also went to the monthly Rotary Club and Lions Club luncheons. You probably went to church near the practice, bought your tires nearby, ate out at local restaurants, while your wife and kids socialized and went to school in this small town. I bet today, you don’t even live within 20 miles of this town, because you and your family decided to move closer to the “big city.” He said: We moved 12 years ago. It was about then that the lights began to flicker. He was coming to the realization that dentistry is just a small consumer driven business. He went on to admit he had become even more detached because of opening a couple of unrelated businesses (distractions) two years ago. He was just coasting and expecting the results that a doctor who was actively engaged and proactively developing his practice would get. It is not going to happen. This business is tough and it rewards the quick and persistent who are constantly embracing change while looking for new ways to grow their practices. Dentistry is back to relationships: One on one, your community, town, and patients. Consumers want to know you care and you show this caring by rubbing shoulders with them where they live and shop. In McKinney, I was always surprised when anyone I met was not my patient or did not know me or my family. It is back to the future when you look at growing a practice today. It is the “whatever it takes” attitude you had when you first started practice. Success is in the details and everything is a detail.
Before you go off and think that this only applies to small practices in small towns, think again. Every large city is merely a group of smaller communities. It is unlikely that your influence will extend much beyond 4-5 miles from your office. That box or circle is your small town. You need to understand what the boundaries are, who lives there, where they eat and shop, etc. You need to get back in step with them by shopping and living where you work. Is it any wonder that the doctor down the street is going great guns while he immerses himself in the everyday life of his potential clients?
So let’s take a quick look at what this “back to the future” mindset looks like.
Back to the Future demands that you:
- Get the mindset of someone who is just starting out. They will do whatever it takes to make things happen. They don’t have “fixed ideas” about what will work or won’t. They’re willing to try anything. Mentally they are at the top of their game with no expectations of entitlement. They will put in the time to learn and execute. They have such a great attitude that they can’t conceive of failure.
- Accept that pain, stress, and discomfort are part of change. Think back about a goal of maybe working out or running a marathon. At first you can’t even do a mile. You feet, shins, and back hurt, but you keep going. You change your priorities from watching the TV to doing your daily running program. You start sleeping better, eating better, and becoming clearer mentally. You begin to reap the benefits of establishing a goal and committing the effort it takes to see it through to completion. In essence, you are a different person. That’s the same intensity it takes to turn around a dental practice. It will be worth it.
- Understand that what you allow in your practice, you encourage. I was speaking to the wife of a dentist yesterday who was struggling with a small staff and some common team problems. The dentist, her husband, had for years allowed the staff to do pretty much what they wished. Now, at a time were things were not going well, he was surprised that the staff continued to not follow their job descriptions, work as a team, and fail to produce the results he needed. This is that “duh” moment. He had trained them to give him exactly that. You have to take back the reins of your practice. You are the leader and the number one task of a leader is to define what is core in your practice. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Make the hard decisions and reap the rewards of control and structure in your practices.
Remember, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3: Three important seconds that will define a relationship. Get back to the future and think the way you used to think. Start making relationships the number one consumer outreach that you employ.
We want to invite you and all of your staff to attend a completely free two-day seminar here in McKinney on January 27 and 28. The 180 Degree Dental Journey will give you an entirely different outlook of getting back to the future. It’s eight hours of concentrated practice management strategies that will change your life. Give Max or me a call and let us reserve your space for the seminar. Just give me a call at 972-523-4660 or email me at [email protected]
To register for the seminar, just click the link below: