Archive for Dental Practice Management
My last blog post about my 40 Year Celebration was intended to inspire and support you in identifying what you and your team might want to celebrate. Why not take 30 minutes in your next team meeting or create a special CELEBRATION Gathering where you list the things you have to be proud of, feel good about, what you have accomplished over the past year or less? Use this as a time to exercise your gratitude and acknowledgement muscles…this time on yourselves. What obstacles have you overcome? What can we acknowledge as a team that will inspire us to achieve our next set of objectives?
Below are a few CELEBRATION ideas:
- Founding of the practice – How many years in business?
- Longevity of individual team members
- Best production/collection year ever in practice
- Community involvement
- New facility or remodel of existing facility
- Low percentage of employee turnover
- Professional awards, designations or recognition by doctor and/or team members
- Thriving, not just surviving, the recent recession
What do you have to be grateful for? What needs to be acknowledged? How can you recognize milestones that are important? Kool & The Gang reminded us in their lyrics:
It’s time to come together. It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure? Everyone around the world come on!
Celebrating teams are happy teams and are your best marketing assets! Do you have a favorite team celebration ritual? I would love to hear about it in the comments here, or on my facebook page.
Recently, Sweetness and I arrived back home in Cleveland from our 3-month winter escape in Chandler, Arizona. What a remarkable experience for both of us. Yet, this magical sojourn reminded me that oftentimes we get so caught up in living our lives that we take many things we have, the loving friendships and family connections, along with our career accomplishments that we’ve accomplished so far, for granted. The little things we enjoyed…the extended weekend when our kids chose to be with Mom & Dad (and we didn’t have to bribe them), hosting over 18 friends & clients to our winter B&B, being with Trish’s family (lots of them), continuing my Dental coaching practice from 2,300 miles away from my home office, the beautifully warm Arizona weather (yes, there was a snow in Scottsdale), traveling nearly 4,700 miles safely, having a wife that can enjoy simply being with “her man” (that’s me), and knowing that we have created a bond that is unique and special, and we’ve crafted a financial game plan that allow all of this while being in service to others. This is a gift!
I feel that Thank-fullness is NOT an option…good fortune and awareness of what we have in our lives is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the goodness that comes our way…AND an opportunity to look for occasions to acknowledge and be grateful to others.
I want to thank my “favorite youngest daughter” Brianne & son-in-law Dan; my “favorite oldest daughter” Ashley & son-in-law Jude; Ron & Aunt Marloony; Bobbi & Dan; Tim & Linda; former client Dr. Tom; Michael & Nancy; sister Heidi & Dr. Bob; former client Dr. Mike & Shereyl; Sandi & Dr. Mike; Dr. Fred & Roselle; my personal trainer (Hercules) Lee; client and dentist to the Cincinnati Reds, Dr. Alex & Jennifer; Dr. David & Jayne from Australia; client & friend, Dr. Darren; Ar izonian, Dr. P.J. & Nita; and most importantly my bride, Trish (Sweetness).
Now that I did the OSCAR thank you’s, I want to suggest that taking time to “marinade” (my coach’s term) on what is good and inspiring in our lives and being thankful will make us feel better, sleep better, produce better and live our lives better.
This week, I wanted to address what I feel is the most critical element to building a successful and fulfilling practice – business. It’s pure gold! I believe that success lies in what we declare as our values.
Values are those guiding principals that identify, for each of us, what is “right” and “wrong”. For me, they are very personal. They are the principles I hold as “truth” against which I make my decisions, what I perceive as “right” and honest, my list of all that is important to me, something I prize and has a positive influence on my life, they are what I hold dear and strive to live by each day.
Below are some steps to consider when identifying YOUR business and life core values:
- A core value is something I have chosen freely and with consideration for the consequences of my choice.
- A core value is something I prize greatly and has a positive influence on my life.
- A core value is something I want to publicly affirm.
- A core value is something I am willing to act on.
- A core value is something I would repeat…if given the circumstances, I would respond in the same way.
Many dentists will tell you this is all just a bunch of right-brained, “fluffy” stuff. I challenge you to evaluate yours. I have discovered for myself, as well as my clients report back to me, that sometimes our values get knocked out of whack and that’s when we get into trouble. The key is to come back to them and you will be amazed at how you can quickly become centered.
This is life and business-changing if you will only take the time to do it!
Many years ago, my favorite, oldest daughter, Ashley, gave me a gift. If you have had little kids, it was one of those “hand-made” school gifts that was an assignment from her teacher. In her 4th grade handwriting and multi-colored crayon she had written:
“Dad, that you are alive today is an indication that GOD has something yet for you to do.”
She put it in a plastic frame and presented it to me. It hit me like a brick!
- What was I yet to do?
- What was my purpose?
- Why am I here?
- What are my Core Values?
Because of Ashley, now one of my most valued life teachers, I have declared my PURPOSE and CORE VALUES in my life and repeat them daily. Have you set core values for your dental practice? I would love for your to share them in the comments here, or on my facebook page.
In my last blog post I shared my philosophy for coaching around the belief that if we invest in ourselves, we must give our patients the opportunity to invest in themselves. Ask yourself and your dental team the following questions to start uncovering new opportunities:
- What are you and your team doing to arouse curiosity, interest and desire in your current patients and potential guests to your practice?
- What training have you provided your team to help them with their limiting beliefs around money and how this is discussed with your patients and guests?
- How often are you practicing how to communicate with your patients and help your team understand the impact of what you say and how you say it?
Given the opportunity, I believe most people will make the “right” choice for themselves at the right time for them. Comprehensive care may take several years to complete, yet, think of how your practice will look and feel if you believe it is important to give your patients the opportunity to invest in themselves.
Here are a few tips guaranteed to help you open up your patients to invest in themselves:
- Truly discover the wants and needs of your patient.
- Listen way more than you speak.
- Ask open-ended questions…avoid “yes” and “no” questions like the plague.
- Direct your voice with direct eye contact.
- Exude positive energy as problems are opportunities for your patients to invest in themselves.
“Making one person smile can change the world – maybe not the whole world, but their world.” – unknown
I was invited by one of my non-dental clients to spend some face-to-face time with he and his team, on site, in his facility. Mr. Michael Dennis, CEO of X-Pools requested feedback regarding how he leads his team meetings. I’m always amazed at how much can be learned when we step outside our comfort zone (dental business) and observe and interact with businesses different than our own.
There is a world of new learning, fun ideas to stuff into your took kit, and an affirmation that you are doing some things very well. X-Pools is a very successful pool cleaning, maintenance and repair company that has not only survived, but thrived, in the past several years in spite of the current economic environment.
Michael reminded me that just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance. Watching him operate his business from his Core Values, vision and employee respect was like sitting in an MBA class.
Because Michael leads with a philosophy of wowing you with his X-Traordinary and X-Pert care, I believe he demonstrates a simple but powerful rule:
Always give people more than what they expect to get.
Recently I visited a grocery store in town to load up on “stuff” that my wife wanted me to get for a weekend visit with our kids. This store advertises their “distinctive customer service.” Have you ever witnessed this kind of FALSE advertising? It feels like it’s everywhere and rampant. I was standing in line to check out while the two “baggers” and the two cashiers engaged in customer-unfriendly loud conversation about who is the meanest manager in the store. Never once looking up to say “Hello wonderful patron who I’m delighted to serve and thank you for choosing to shop with us” or help the semi-deaf, elderly lady in the adjacent line asking for assistance with the use of the debit machine.
Don’t you get fed up with this kind of “customer care” lip service?
I’m noticing this happens more and more and in more and more industries. I visited the manager and shared my experience with his employees and voiced my concern. Here was his reply:
“Thank you mister for bringing this to my attention, BUT you know how the younger generation is.” My reply: “This has happened more than once to me, and with your attitude about “distinctive customer service,” this will be my last time in your store.”
Have you personally experienced a “service disappointment” in the past 3 months? Share your story with me.
Rather than have team members “guess” what it is that you want for your business, here are some simple ideas adapted from Rick Winrod that you could implement, beginning this month:
- Set objectives that are specific, realistic and measurable.
- Write down your objectives on paper. The very act of writing your objectives greatly increases your likelihood of success! When you review them several times a week your success grows exponentially.
- Make a detailed Action Plan to achieve these objectives. Break each objective down into steps, sub-steps and baby-steps. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.
- Take action on your goals immediately…no delays. Even a baby-step each day will make a HUGE difference in your ability to hit your objectives.
- Hold yourself accountable by sharing your goals with people who will challenge you and motivate you…much like what a coach will do for you.
What’s your #1 objective for your dental practice for the remainder of the year?
How will you share it with your team?
What measurables will you use to determine your success?
Dentistry is a business and as such requires you, as the doctor, to think, act and behave like a CEO. That means the accountability lies solely in your hands. I encourage my coaching clients to hire professionals to assist them – but I insist that my clients have the final accountability, responsibility and control.
Here’s how to protect your dental practice:
- Understand your tax returns and financial statements: Ask questions on items that are unclear. You don’t have to know how to file complicated tax returns, but be able to define each line on your statement.
- Have an eye out to spot unusual problems: Be knowledgeable on the overall procedures in your office, especially the ones where you have no explicit involvement. You can discover discrepancies fast and take action.
- Monitor employees: Make periodic inquiries to alert staff to the fact that you have internal controls and reminds them that you operate your business as a “tight ship”.
- Maintain computer controls (private passwords and internal record of access): This insures that you are the only one with access to ALL the practice information. Never give any one staff member access to everything – only what is necessary for them to complete their tasks.
- Implement a non-disclosure agreement (NDA): Remind a departing employee during your exit interview that such agreement is in effect. This serves as a deterrent to the sharing of finances, sensitive information and patient confidentialities.
Bottom line: Delegate effectively, but always be in a position to take back the reins. Business is business!
Picture this: your practice is thriving and you’re investing thousands of dollars into its continued success. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of growth and prosperity.
Here’s the big question: are you safe guarding your assets?
Without controls over your financial and material possessions, your dental practice is subject to losses that may be unrecoverable. It is a thought many Dental CEOs don’t want to think about – how could my loyal employee do that to me? But by thinking with emotion, you aren’t thinking like a business owner.
Follow these 5 tips:
- Create systems: Creating systems and policies around this becomes your first line of defense against any financial loss. This also helps detect problems early and let’s employees know that you’re vigilant about protecting the practice. Talk with your dental coach about how to create simple systems.
- Be kind to the whistleblowers: Have a no-fault policy for so-called whistleblowers and keep your door open. Show your team that you are counting on them to help keep the practice running without disaster.
- Obtain insurance covering employee theft: Talk to your broker, because this relatively low-cost policy will serve as a deterrent and help recover loss.
- Protect cash, which is the asset most susceptible to theft. Record receipts promptly and make bank deposits daily. Assure good controls over all expenditures, including maintaining proper documentation.
- Protect confidential information such as trade secrets. You will maintain your competitive advantage and safeguard your hard-earned assets.