It’s about time

March 1, 2007
Another year has passed. It’s time to question yourself on reaching your desired goals and to make sure you’re driving in the right direction.

by Bill Blatchford, DDS

Another year has passed. It’s time to question yourself on reaching your desired goals and to make sure you’re driving in the right direction. The unfortunate alternative is to repeat the same year again and again, like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Finding the right path takes time. As a leader, it is about making enough quality time to be introspective and rediscover the passion and energy for yourself. It is time to refuel the engines that drive this machine, and time to be thankful you were born on this side of the planet where opportunities abound.

Take time to reinvent yourself if you are not reaching the goals and potential you feel you deserve. A question I always ask doctors is, “Are you accepting less than you deserve?”

It starts with a commitment to do something different. Top dentists devote time to recharging, reading, analyzing, coaching, and implementing classic as well as new ideas. It is easy to become complacent in dentistry, because the rewards are good enough for every dentist. But is “good enough” your motto?

What could be better? It will take time to analyze the areas in which you could significantly improve this year. Most very successful dentists arrange their schedules to create time for themselves. They may get up by 5 a.m., for example, to reach the quiet office by 6 a.m. With team members arriving at 7:30, this gives the leader 1.5 hours alone four days a week. During these six hours, the leader can read, prepare solid goals, make and execute lists, or investigate a new skill, marketing, or team offerings for patients.

Successful doctors set concrete production and collection goals they communicate daily. They analyze the steps they need to take to increase production and collection in their communities. They create the necessary capital to make physical improvements and upgrades to their offices, and they make team activities happen.

Six hours outside the office can make a leader stronger and more passionate, from which springs a much better team. Do you feel as if you are dragging your staff members into the new year? A real team forms around the direction, energy, enthusiasm, and consistency of a strong leader. Take time to assess your leadership skills beyond chairside ability.

What new energy and idea can you bring to the table? What new skill will you add to your briefcase this year? Many dentists are “seminar junkies” and love the thrill of the hunt, but implementation is another chapter. What will you truly incorporate into your practice, and what is your plan for building skills - not just for yourself but for your team?

Doctors become frustrated when they feel they have communicated their vision, yet their ideas are never fully implemented. Too often, after several weeks all is forgotten and offices proceed as before. Do you make time to implement a monthly training session rather than just talk about the idea? This requires a four-hour team training commitment every month.

Here’s an example of what good preparation can do. Grand Rapids dentist Dr. John Morris has the noble goal of having a truly cross-trained team. He has asked each team member to set up a training station to teach one skill. For example, the dental assistant will teach other team members to mix alginate and pour stone models. This enables team members to learn each other’s skills. Now, each person has a new appreciation for other team members’ skills. Dr. Morris is achieving his goal of forming a real team.

What is the last business book you read and actually implemented? Do you consistently read sales and marketing books? Does your team read them with you? Washington state dentist Dr. April Ziegele and her team read a different book each month and implement the new ideas. Her hygienist, Helen Bechtel, said, “It really is a challenge to find the time, but we just do it.”

Time to think and read by yourself is key. Winging it is no longer cool. Winners take the time to plan, think, and execute. Leadership is a lonely job and a tough job. But the financial and emotional rewards come when you design a clear path that demonstrates the values and standards for which you have passion. Others who see this enthusiastic path will want to be part of your team. But all this takes time. Is it worth it? Those who want it will take the time. It’s about time ...

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. His book Playing Your “A” Game - Inspirational Coaching to Profitability and the Purple Cow DVD are available at www.blatchford.com, or call (800) 578-9155.

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