The why factor

April 11, 2014
The majority of dental patients have a general idea of what services their dentist provides. Patients are learning what a periodontal exam, extraction, filling, and oral cancer screening are ...

By Rick Workman, DMD, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Heartland Dental

The majority of dental patients have a general idea of what services their dentist provides. Patients are learning what a periodontal exam, extraction, filling, and oral cancer screening are, but do they fully understand why these procedures are so important? Do they fully understand the impact these services can have on their overall health? With so many dentists across the country offering and promoting many of the same services, what will make you stand out? Emphasis must not be placed just on what your practice is, or what services you provide. Rather, the "why" must be the focal point-- why you do what you do. If you can answer that, your practice is bound for success.

Focusing on the "why" is a prominent concept in Simon Sinek's Golden Circle model for business, marketing, and leadership. A trained ethnographer and leadership expert, Sinek noticed that many organizations function quite similarly, emphasizing who they are and what they do. Because of this, many businesses get lost in the clutter of their competition. From this, Sinek created the Golden Circle model. This concept highlights three components of business and leadership -- what, how, and why, with "why" being the core element. As Sinek states, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." When you concentrate on the reason why your organization exists, this transfers into how your service or product is carried out, and is directly reflected in your end result. Ultimately, this will positively affect your entire business model and customer response.

Sinek created the Golden Circle model to correspond with the processes of the human brain. People respond to their environment by using the innermost portion of their brains. This portion controls feelings, trust, loyalty, and decision-making. It determines why we desire certain products and services, and why we choose certain brands over others. If an organization or business recognizes this link and acts accordingly, they can communicate authentically with their target audiences and generate a high response rate from their customers.

Within your dental practice, you can create an environment of success, leadership, and growth using the Golden Circle model. Meet with your team and ask, "Why do we come into this office every day?" Identify that driving force that compels each of you to provide oral health care, the reason that defines what you do and how you do it. Once defined, make this reason the ethos for your practice. Encourage your team to focus on this philosophy so that everyone shares the same mindset and works toward the same goals. Passionate team members working together will strengthen your practice in all areas, and this unity won't go unnoticed by your patients.

Understanding the "why" is equally important for your patients. The best dentistry is built upon establishing relationships with patients. In order to maintain these long-lasting relationships, you have to instill a sense of loyalty, trust, and enthusiasm within them. Patients won't respond to a dentist who seems uninterested or apathetic. Make your passion for dental health shine through, so patients know exactly why the care they receive is so important, and they become eager to further their own health. This is what keeps them coming back time and time again.

To create interest in new patients, highlight the "why" throughout your marketing and promotional activities. Instead of simply stating your services, explain the significance of these services. Help your audience understand the positive effect dental care will have on their immediate and long-term health. This will help your practice stand out, and give your patients a good reason to choose you for their dental needs.

Sinek says, "The goal is not to do business with people who need what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe." You believe that dental health is of utmost importance, so let that passion be the driving factor of your work. The value you place in this will inspire your patients and team members to share your passion. This shared value system will create lasting relationships with patients, a committed team, and continued success in the future.

Don't let the "what" of your dental practice dictate how you operate. Focus on the "why"-- the reason you do what you do. Your patients, team, and practice will all benefit.

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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