Yep, it’s that time of the year again. One year ended and the next one under way. We weathered 10 months of a pandemic and the start of a financial recession along with a change in leadership in the White House in 2020. The next page is uncertain but a few things are likely to be on the agenda for the New Year. Taxes for each of you are going up. Capital gains will probably double to the level of ordinary income tax. January and February will probably be the worst months for COVID statistics and we can expect this pandemic uncertainty to drag out to at least the fall of 2021. Vaccines have arrived, but many will decide not to take it, more will not be given the opportunity to get it until late spring or mid-summer, and fear and caution will be the attitude for our dental patients. Consumer spending will be down in health care and most will postpone elective procedures. All and all, a season of more surprises and uncertainty.
Regardless of the cards dealt to us, it is still time to look back and see what our score card was for 2020, decide and act on adapting to the COVID reset and new dental economy, while accepting that much of 2021 will be uncertain. So how do great dental practices approach this coming year to guarantee growth and sustainability in uncertain times? Glad you asked, because regardless of the fact of what happened to us in 2020 and what lies ahead in 2021, I’m surprised at how little we learned from the “Great Recession” ending in 2009 and even more surprised that most dental offices face repeating the lack of action and not correcting their course to take advantage of the huge opportunities that are right in front of us.
I never really understood the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions and goals. I make a habit of always making goals and reflecting weekly on my performance. For me, I have always taken a Boy Scouts attitude of being prepared. I guess in a way I have always been a “prepper”. I tend to think ahead far enough to prepare for the next calamity or challenge I will face in life and business and try to be overly prepared for it. I understand that you can’t specifically prepare for a one-hundred-year pandemic fraught with an incompetent response by politicians that think no further than their next election cycle. But you can prepare for generalities such as financial strategies, clinical competence, leadership engagement and improvement, along with building a “hedge” around each and every aspect of your lives. This cushion or hedge allows you to never be caught without multiple ways to get out of a challenging situation. A financial recession or even a forced closure isn’t that big a deal to those that save 20% of their take home and continue to achieve 15%-20% practice growth each year. They are prepared for uncertainties and while every challenge in unexpected, any challenge can be easily weathered with the right preparation and a mindset of doing “whatever it takes”.
Those that tend to only make New Year’s resolutions tend to be the 90% that fail to act and persevere. Six weeks and done is the tune they march to. After spending over 40 years speaking with doctors and dealing with their challenges, I have come to the conclusion that the mechanics of change and success hinge on a complete transformation in doing what we do. It starts with absolute understanding of where you are right now. A complete unblemished accounting of last year and the years before that. Denial of your report card is no excuse for repeating a poor strategy. What are the trends and challenges that keep coming up in your life? You are not a victim but rather the captain of your own ship with a broken compass. You get what you deserve, not what you want. Lack of situational awareness of where you are dooms you to repeating or settling for a less than ideal result. Determine not to be that person that settles for what comes. Rather, be a thermostat that determines what happens. It comes down to you and the team you assemble.
It is in the challenges of business and life that the exceptional learn the critical lessons of life. They adapt and act and plan differently. They surround themselves with people that are part of the solution. Don’t be the person that tolerates staff that are and will always be part of the problem. Exceptional people learn very quickly that, in life, you become the average of the people you hang around with. Mediocrity tends to rub off on you while seeming normal and OK.
This is why New Year’s resolutions make no sense to me. Why would anyone put off to the end of the year making plans and correcting their course when there is nothing to salvage of your year? Resolutions, goals, and action are the tools the exceptional doctor uses every day of the year. They do not wait for something to blow over, or hunker down thinking that tomorrow will somehow be different without making measurable adjustments to their protocols and attitude today. The doctors that have actually done the best are the ones that realize that they are in deep trouble and reach out without reservation for help. If your history of performance falls short of the practice you thought you would have, then please decide not to settle for another year of mediocre results, staff turnover, lack of profit and productivity.
My New Year’s gift to each of you is an hour-long phone call to discuss where you are and where you would like to go. I want to help you see the possibilities and opportunities for this New Year. Sometimes it takes two people to turn the rudder of success and get where you thought you would never get. Every article I write ends with my cell number and private email. You have nothing to lose in setting up an hour to talk. I know I can help you see a new perspective of possibilities and hope. A New Year with exceptional, exponentially better results. Please give me a call and take the first step in a long journey to having that practice you always thought you would have. Don’t let 2021 be a Dr. Phil moment when you hear: “What were you thinking”?
Michael Abernathy, DDS