Make Your Passion a Reality

June 1, 2006
Today’s advancements in dentistry are far more advanced than any of us could have predicted a few years ago...

Today’s advancements in dentistry are far more advanced than any of us could have predicted a few years ago, and they continue to be very exciting. Thanks to TV programs like “Extreme Makeover,” the public is more aware of the progress in dentistry and the opportunities to enhance their smiles. The public also gets a first-hand look at how a new smile can improve confidence and well-being. You, too, can make your dreams a reality.

The “Dream Practice”

The dream practice would boast of the following -

Patients accept the ultimate treatment plans offered and they are ecstatic about their dentistry.
Many new patients come from clients who have already invested in their dentistry, and new patient retention is 100 percent.
The practice is 100 percent fee-for-service and patients are no longer insurance-dependant.
Patients pay in full, in advance of treatment, or leave a deposit to reserve time exclusively for them.
The only patients lost are those who are not committed to their dentistry, and caused you stress.
The team believes in your dentistry and fees, and supports your passion for dentistry.
You reach new financial goals that you never believed possible.
The hygiene department is not only an income center, but also perio-driven. The hygienists promote esthetic dentistry and create awareness for your patients.
You love how you feel about dentistry. It is your passion.

Many dentists ask me how they can make all this come together - reaching new goals and still remaining consistent. The simple truth is there are effective solutions, but you need tools to help bring about the changes. Everyone is creative or talented in some way, however, not everyone is disciplined. Dentists cannot make changes alone; the entire team must be focused and determined to make it all happen.

Making it come together - start with yourself

Have a plan. If you are going to build your dream house, you must have a plan, a time line, a budget, a blue print, and a professional team working on your project. If you don’t, your dream house will cause major stress and chaos in your life. It is quite common for people to start a project without a complete plan, and then wonder why they are stressed and haven’t reached their goals. In other words, “Fail to plan is a plan to fail.”

• Focus on the journey and not just the destination. Enjoy the journey by focusing on the positives of every situation. They usually outweigh the negatives. Have fun, savor every day, continue to learn and grow.

• Believe in yourself. We all need the courage to fight adversity. Identify the obstacles you feel you may have to overcome. Be prepared in advance to be pro-active with solutions to potential problems.

• Dentist and team image. Analyze the the way your teeth and those your team look. It is important to walk what you talk and it is difficult to enthusiastically introduce cosmetic dentistry to your patients if your teeth are not esthetically pleasing. This includes your team members - if you give them a beautiful smile, it is advertising for you. Get them excited about the way they look.

Be all that you can be! Remember - only a small percentage of people reach their full potential in life. The keys to success have been written and talked about in many different ways, but the road to success involves setting realistic goals. What is your vision for the future? What are your one-year and five-year goals?

Have policies and guidelines for your team to eliminate misunderstandings and disappointments, as negativity is contagious. If your team members are unhappy, if they are not accountable or don’t have a clear understanding of your expectations, patients can sense that. Your team should be motivated, happy, and excited about your practice to deliver the best service possible. It is important to remember that the more patients invest in their dental treatment, the higher their expectations for service. Only a happy and content team can provide a positive experience for your patients.

• Guidelines for your patients are essential. They also need to be well informed of your policies. Often, when patients get angry or frustrated, it is because they don’t understand their treatment, fees, or scheduled appointments.

Explain your policies over the phone, in person, in your office, and in writing to eliminate any breakdown in communication. It also is important for your team members to say the same thing regarding policies. If not, patients will wonder if you know what you are doing. It also creates low trust, so consistency is key.

I am constantly amazed at how much money is lost because of -
a lack of consistent systems
follow up of overdue recare and perio patients
incomplete treatment or patients who are undecided about treatment
no-show patients
last-minute cancellations

This only happens because there is no policy or system in place. Many doctors state that they need more new patients to be busier. I have found many have untapped potential right in their own offices.

Accountability

Making your team accountable for specific duties is the key to a successful practice. For example -

The number of case presentations per month
The number of patients who accepted treatment and the money that was generated for the practice
The number of patients who did not accept treatment at this time and the reason (money concerns, time factor, nervous, or just not ready)
Patients who left the practice and the reason
The number of new patients per month
The number of new patients who completed treatment
The number of patients who did not come back for whatever reason.

Successful businesses identify problems and come up with solutions, even if it means you define the type of patients you want to treat. You cannot be everything to everyone.

The image of your practice is important. It is difficult to introduce full-mouth reconstruction esthetic dentistry in an office that looks tired, unorganized, and messy.

Treatment planning and patient education can be so easy with the use of technology, e.g., intraoral cameras and imaging software, so that patients feel more involved in their treatment. You need time with your patients, the right communication skills, the right team saying the right things, documentation, and follow up.

Communicate within the practiceto monitor your success. Quite often, meetings become negative about what is not being done right. Instead of complaining about minor things, focus on being constructive, positive, and proactive, but most important, focus together on common goals.

Get help when you need it. I never said it would be easy or without challenges to get to your destination, but perseverance pays and there are people who can help you. I have clients who I have coached to successfully reach their goals. Remember - even the best athletes in the world need a coach!

Anita Jupp is an internationally renowned dental practice management lecturer/practice coach. For more information on the services she offers, please visit her Web site at www.anitajupp.com or call (888) 239-9908.

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