Added value

July 1, 2006
Many of the richest people in the world became wealthy as corporate raiders. They purchased existing businesses, broke the businesses into smaller parts for resale, or added value to them.

Many of the richest people in the world became wealthy as corporate raiders. They purchased existing businesses, broke the businesses into smaller parts for resale, or added value to them. Value comes with new product lines, integrating related businesses, or increasing revenue from the existing customer base.

In dentistry, one of the best ways to insure the success of an associateship or practice purchase is to add value to the practice. Dentists can do this just like the rich corporate raiders do. We have the same three ways to add value:

Corporations add new product lines; dentists add new procedures.
Corporations integrate related businesses; dentists market to a greater patient base.
Corporations increase revenue from existing customers; dentists expand on existing treatments.

The only difference between dentists and corporate raiders is that our main purpose must be focusing on the overall benefit to our patients, not the generation of increased profits. This purpose also is the first step of adding value to the dental practice.

If you are going to add value to a practice, you must do it through an ongoing change to the existing operations. The key word here is change. Many books have been written about change - change readiness, changing the business culture, and every other aspect of change imaginable. Building change into your practice is easier than you think. It involves only four steps:

Vision:If you have been reading this magazine for any length of time, you have probably created a vision statement. The vision in this context is different. This vision for change is first about the benefit to the patients, secondly about the benefit to the practice, and, finally, about the benefit to you. This vision is vital to your success. We all have some wonderful employees who care a great deal for our patients. When they understand how change will benefit the patients, your staff will move heaven and earth to make it happen.

Tools:What tools do you need to make the change happen? Do you need new equipment? Do you need more training? Do you need to schedule differently? What verbal skills will you need to communicate benefits to your patients? In step one you identified specific benefits for your patients. Help your staff communicate these benefits by role-playing the verbal skills. Identify the tools you need to make change a reality.

Mechanics:Outline how you will gain the needed tools. New equipment mechanics include when you will buy and how you will pay for it. When will you complete the necessary continuing education and how many of your staff will attend? The mechanics of scheduling and verbal skills are fodder for staff meetings before the change is implemented. The key here is to enlist your staff before changing so you can hit the ground running.

Accountability: This is who will do what by when. Write it down and inspect what you expect. More important than staff accountability is the accountability to the practice. How will you profit from the change and how will you measure this profitability? A great truth of management is that if you cannot measure something, you cannot manage it. You absolutely must develop a way to measure the impact of the change!

Staff meetings, verbal skills, and system mechanics are often boring. These seemingly boring details are the fundamentals of management, and your ability to bring added value to your practice will be determined by these details. Unfortunately, we rarely make decisions about new products or new procedures by carefully considering the four steps listed. Too often, we are excited by marketing hype and make snap decisions to purchase new technology or add new procedures without doing the necessary homework.

My next few columns will be about adding value to your practice with new technology and procedures. I will interview doctors who have made these changes and will share their experiences with you.

Dr. Michael Gradeless, a 1980 graduate of Indiana University, practices preventive dentistry in Indianapolis with an emphasis on cosmetics and implants. He is an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University, where he teaches the Pride Institute university curriculum of dental management. He also is the editor for the Indiana Dental Association. Contact him at (317) 841-3130 or e-mail to [email protected].

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