Good ... better ... best!

Oct. 1, 2008
Dentistry definitely falls into the category of "good." I didn't say it's easy, but the time and energy spent in our profession has significant emotional and financial results.

by Bill Blatchford, DDS

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: good, better, best, satisfaction in practice, efficient scheduling, serving guests.

Dentistry definitely falls into the category of "good." I didn't say it's easy, but the time and energy spent in our profession has significant emotional and financial results. Let's operate on the premise that where you are is good. Is it possible to improve from good to better to best? Do you want to improve? Rather than focusing on the monetary return, let's examine how to improve your enjoyment and satisfaction in practice. The money will follow.

In scheduling your guests, do you and your team have a consistent system of serving those who desire your services? Good would be being so busy that you fill every slot in the schedule. Better would be doing your more complex treatments in the morning, focusing only on the patient's needs rather than double-booking. Better would be a known daily doctor and hygiene goal, then scheduling toward that goal. Best would be serving your guests by committing to block-booking every day and exceeding your daily goal. End the day with a five-minute evening huddle where you, as the doctor, specifically compliment each of your team members (no grumping allowed).

Are you efficient in scheduling your patients' time for treatment? Male or female, young or old, everyone has made a real effort to keep their appointments. How then do you reward your patients? Good would be seeing them on time and "watching" many, oh so many, crowns. Better is doing 90% of your treatment as single crowns. Best is creating a long-term treatment plan after finding out the dreams and desires of your patient. Thus, together you and the patient have the road map to complete more treatment in a single visit. An efficiently planned visit is emotionally satisfying for you, your team, and your guest.

Solid systems create efficiency, a feeling of confidence, a happy team, and money in the pocket. How solid are your morning huddles, financial arrangements, hygiene protocol, phone conversations, new patient entry, and other practice systems? In hygiene, good would be completing a full day's schedule where everyone appeared. Best is having a meaningful conversation with each of your guests about their dreams for their smiles, keeping their teeth, what they have tried, etc., and even giving a rough estimate to complete their dreams.

Creating a team from an existing group of individuals is the dream of many doctors. Are you hoping someone better will beg to come work for you? Are you putting up with average when you could find sparkle, curiosity, and positive attitude? Good is getting by and each doing the best he or she knows how to do. Better is setting a higher standard and looking harder. Best is when the doctor is clear about where he or she is going and has some energy around the vision. This is how the best people are attracted to your office and want to come work with you. The best want to be accountable and believe in you.

Even time off can be good, better, and best. Dentists can be much better at taking time off. They tend to work too long between vacations, finally taking one week with an "I deserve this" mindset. Several years ago, the French government mandated workers must take five weeks off a year and three must be contiguous. Why? Vacations are really rest and prep time to return energized. Taken at regular intervals, doctors can use vacations to renew and refuel. Good is two weeks. Better is four weeks. Best is six to eight weeks a year which do not involve continuing education.

Communication with your team and patients is key to relationships and a smooth day. Since you now have a daily goal, good would be a morning huddle coached by the doctor. Better would be a weekly one-hour team meeting led by a team member to make decisions, set goals, and move forward. Best would be having a team cross-trained by devoting four hours once a month to actual dream team training.

It is hard to be unsuccessful in dentistry. Decide if OK is good enough for you. It is not a big struggle to reach better. You do have to want it. But to reach best, it takes some real focus and dedication. Best is a whole package that rolls together. Your team loves it and your patients will take note. Best does not focus on the money, yet the money shows up consistently when you deliver your best.

Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford's monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.

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