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Your dental practice will do well if you have the right mindset.

Your mindset matters for the success of your dental practice

April 12, 2024
Come to work with a positive attitude, and your team and patients will follow your lead. Be clear about your mindset, and your practice will succeed. Here's how to do that.

When I coach dentists about how to elevate their private practices, I don’t start by examining their business or employees. Instead, we discuss how they can elevate their own mindset. I ask, “What are you willing to do that you’re not doing now in order to get what you don’t have?” This is a straightforward question, but the way someone answers will determine whether they’ll get what they’re aiming for.

Many dentists are willing to work harder and longer hours, at least temporarily, if this will launch their business into a multi-million-dollar practice. However, in choosing to grind it out, they inevitably get themselves in a bind. The moment they take their nose off the grindstone, whatever success they’ve managed to eke out will come to a halt. So, instead of working yourself into oblivion, leverage the power of your mind rather than your hands.

Dentists' roles likened to prime ministers and kings

Before I discuss specifics, I’ll lay some groundwork to give a broader perspective of the mindset I’m seeking. Successful dentists must fulfill two roles: prime minister and king. Most private practitioners learn to be good prime ministers. Through experience, they gain executive expertise in managing an organization. They hire a scheduler, a team of hygienists, an office manager, and a bookkeeper. They establish rules to keep everyone and everything in working order.  

If you’ve been running your practice for a few years, you’ve likely grown into the prime minister shoes. But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. Remember that a truly successful dentist must also be king, and that’s what throws many for a loop. Make no mistake. You can’t be a dictator or a despot—such character traits make for horrible kings. Good kings and queens inspire confidence. They set the tone through their own attitudes and behaviors.

Knowing this, I’ll return to my question about what you’d be willing to do to obtain what you don’t have. Are you willing to listen? Plenty of leaders think they’re listening when they’re only hearing what’s being said and not understanding whoever is speaking. Patients and employees both typically provide ample wisdom in their feedback. But you must be receptive to what they’re saying. If you routinely dismiss them, they’ll keep quiet and assume they’re better off leaving you in the dark.

Build rapport with patients and team

Do you think you might be in the dark sometimes? How can you build more rapport with your people? Customers and employees have common questions about you. Who are you? Why should I trust you? Why should I care about what you're providing? What are you going to do for me? The most successful private practitioners I coach can recite their answers with conviction. 

Never assume you can sidestep these questions with money. The dentists who struggle the most believe they can retain their employees and patients with high wages and rock-bottom prices, which does nothing to instill loyalty. When people come to you because of money, they just as easily leave you for money. 

If you want a thriving multi-million-dollar practice, you need to know what differentiates you from every other dentist in town. It’s easier to do than you may think. Most dentists don’t realize this because they focus more on their problems than on their mindset. If you come to work distracted by any number of things, you’re doing your team a huge disservice. I coach my clients to fixate on where they’re going, and to give no attention to things that aren’t relevant, especially things that only serve to take them down emotionally. 

If you blunder into the office in a huff and not caring about your business, then your business isn’t going to care about you. On the other hand, if you walk in with enthusiasm and passion, appreciative of your staff and all they’re doing to keep your office humming along, then they’re going to follow suit, taking care of each other and your valued patients in the process.

If you could develop one new attribute, I recommend the ability to get yourself in a good mood when you’re at work. I mean it when I say that only 20% of your success is the result of your technical prowess. That other 80% resides in the culture you’ve instilled in your practice. When you’ve figured out the magic formula, everyone is just as excited to be there as you are. They’re learning and expanding their skills right alongside you. Everyone thrives on each other’s excellence. You’re all being financially rewarded for your tremendous accomplishments. That kind of momentum is unstoppable.  

Hopefully, this has stirred some exciting ideas in you. But ideas mean nothing until they’re backed by plans. I’ve been an advisor for 40 years, and while everyone loves to tell me their ideas, few can tell me their plans. For those in search of a coach who can help formulate solid plans, know that my door is always open. Keep in mind that developing a master mindset isn’t like getting a certificate that you can hang on your wall. It’s an ongoing process, and having a coach to keep your mind fresh, alert, and on track is an investment that will serve to keep you in a perpetual state of leveling up.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the April 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

Mark B. Murphy, CEO of Northeast Private Client Group, is an accomplished author, speaker, and motivator who's revolutionizing the financial planning and wealth management industry. He helps entrepreneurs achieve multigenerational wealth through personalized strategies, leveraging his strategic planning and financial engineering expertise. Forbes has ranked him as the number one financial security professional in New Jersey and number 15 nationwide. Additionally, his book, The Ultimate Investment, is a number one bestseller and new release on Amazon.


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