Check Yes

As simple as saying yes

July 28, 2014
Some of the most successful people I've met, no matter what business they're involved with, are "yes" people.

By Rick Workman, DMD

Some of the most successful people I've met, no matter what business they're involved with, are "yes" people. When I say "yes" people, I'm not referring to those who blindly agree with everything simply to gain approval. I'm referring to those who have a "yes" mindset, who take the extra step in everything they do for the benefit of others. Unlike those who say "no" to everything, "yes" people are positive, open, and committed. Because of this, they have a lot of potential both personally and professionally.

Your attitude will ultimately determine your level of fulfillment. As a dentist, you've learned the skills and knowledge needed to provide effective dental care. But to find overall success in dentistry, you'll need more than what is taught in dental school. You'll need to develop the right attitude -- a "yes" attitude. See patients as opportunities to use your talents, achieve results, and make a positive difference in each of their lives. See them as people. Listen to what they want instead of simply telling them what they need.

Patients want to be treated like people. They want someone who sincerely empathizes with their situation and cares enough to help right away. If someone is sick or in pain, they want relief now, not in two weeks, and not in a month. If you cannot provide the care they're searching for, they will gladly find someone else who can. If a patient calls complaining of tooth pain, say "Yes, we can take care of you now." If the occasional patient wants a prophy prior to having an exam, say "yes." You will have their medical history and can complete spot probing. Then, use the cleaning time to build a relationship, gain trust, and most importantly, educate them on the benefits of lifetime, comprehensive dentistry. In doing so, you can create patients for life.

I used to believe that one should never do a prophy without an exam. But over the years, I've learned that meeting patients where they are is a great way to initiate them into a practice and a lifetime of care. You can think of this as a "lose to win" approach. Remember, these will be occasional situations requiring only simple mental flexibility.

In addition, developing a "yes" attitude will help you become a better leader in the eyes of your team. Be approachable. Be confident. Be the person your team turns to for encouragement and insight. Your willingness to go above and beyond for everyone will go a long way in building trust with you team. Also, evaluate your team's mindset and help them develop an open, positive, and mentally flexible attitude. Few offices today operate on rigid schedules, so ensure they are ready to "hit the curveballs" and incorporate same-day care when needed.

At Heartland Dental, our most successful practices work in more treatment than the average practice in America is able to do in total. Are you willing to lead your team in going the extra mile for what patients want? If so, you will likely find long-term success. I often read that many dentists think they are entitled to smooth schedules, no cancelations, and patients who comply with all recommendations. While that would be wonderful, this is a major cause of stress and disappointment in the industry. This is simply not how the vast majority of the public realistically functions.

Saying "yes" also opens you up to taking on new challenges and experiencing growth. None of us begin our dental careers as experts. But in being open to new opportunities and applying ourselves in areas outside of our comfort zones, we're able to progress. No doubt there will be mistakes along the way. However, that is a necessity for growth. If you let fear hold you back, you will miss out on invaluable opportunities that will enrich your life.

Sure, taking some chances will seem intimidating, but you still need to say "yes." You won't regret it. When I was practicing, I experienced the challenges of managing a dental office firsthand, and I identified an opportunity to change things for the better. That was the foundation of Heartland Dental. It was risky and very daunting, but I said "yes" and ran with it. Over the years, I've continued to say "yes" with every new challenge that presents itself. Now, we're the largest dental support organization in the country. Point being, none of it would have happened without that first "yes."

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More by Rick Workman, DMD:

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Rick Workman, DMD, is founder and chief executive officer of Heartland Dental. After practicing full-time, Dr. Workman created Heartland Dental, a world-class dental support organization offering affiliated dentists nonclinical, administrative support. Heartland Dental has over 550 affiliated dental offices in 26 states. Dr. Workman may be reached at [email protected].

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