Tunnels with cheese

May 1, 2008
Life comes at you fast in today's world. Why waste time trying to reinvent the wheel? Why run through tunnels where it would be a miracle to find cheese?

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: reinvent the wheel, cheese tunnels, transitions, and buyer seller.

Life comes at you fast in today's world. Why waste time trying to reinvent the wheel? Why run through tunnels where it would be a miracle to find cheese? Use your head and the knowledge of a trusted few to find those tunnels with cheese. Here are some examples to help you through the maze ...

Transitions → Keep your eyes open if you are either the buyer or the seller. In the real world, realtors cannot represent both the buyer and the seller, but somehow in dentistry that important ethical and legal fact is overlooked. The young dentist believes he has impartial counsel when saying, "He was so nice to me." Investigate if one is representing both buyer and seller. Who has your best interests at heart?

There is cheese at the end of the tunnel when the senior doctor can continue to increase his or her net instead of sharing it. There is very little cheese when the senior doctor sells half to someone who has no patients to bring to the table. Do the math. Does one and one equal three? The cheese at the end of the retirement tunnel for most dentists is to stay in control, keep practicing in some fashion, and do the "retire as you go" program. Solo practicing dentists are virtually unemployable. Will you find cheese at the end of the tunnel if you think you are now employable and can take directions from others?

Hygiene → Most practices spend too much team effort keeping hygiene full. Hygiene is always in a state of flux and an important part of dental practice success. We are finding most dentists are "over hygiened" when examining capacity vs. demand for services. The cheese for hygiene is when you are bursting at the seams, have reserved daily time for new patients, and sift through those patients who have accepted your work or are not ever going to accept it. Most production comes from new patients. Cheese in hygiene is a tight schedule with demand larger than capacity.

Office building → The cheese for your practice in most situations is a five-year lease with renewables and the option of moving to a better part of town. Many dentists dream of owning their own building, which usually ends up being too large and pretentious. It becomes dated in design and after 20 years the dentist says, "I'd really like to be five miles south." Rent is only 5 percent of your overhead. The cheese is in being flexible.

Marketing → The cheese for marketing is to do your own due diligence. Study your demographics and avoid copying others from dental forums whose criteria, area, or skill does not even match yours. There is cheese when you select some methods of marketing and work with your team on discovering the source of new patients. Another marketing tunnel with cheese is adding skills that make you unique and easily distinguishable. Absolute cheese is acquiring an additional practice and merging. With scripting, you can make the selling dentist a hero in the eyes of patients who love him or her, and acquire some nice cases. While 6,500 boomer dentists retire, new graduates total 4,000. One-third of the classes are women and only half of the grads are purchasing practices. Thus, it is a buyer's market. This is guaranteed marketing to add to your other marketing efforts.

Budgets → Au contraire, this is not a dirty word. A budget is not a diet, but rather a solid plan of money action. Cheese is when you create a plan for home and practice and stick to it. Your team should be aware of your budget and be accountable for their part of it. Overspending is a disease — no cheese.

Staff → A great team is small and skilled. This is where the big cheese is for those who are great, with rewards of a strong bonus plan. Your team budget should be 20 percent of your gross collections. A dental team is for the fabulous few who see the opportunity, are curious about learning and growing, and want to be responsible and accountable.

Work with people who can help you find cheese. Find a coach with integrity who holds your dreams as his or her own. Work with team members who also see the possibilities of tunnels with cheese and are willing to take a risk with you. The cheese is worth it.

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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