Future shock

In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a book so important and so powerful that the phrase "FUTURE SHOCK" was added to the American Standard Dictionary.

Michael Schuster, DDS

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In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a book so important and so powerful that the phrase "FUTURE SHOCK" was added to the American Standard Dictionary. These are the words of his eloquent prediction of the "future" that we live in today.

"In the three short decades between now and the 21st century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future. Citizens [dentists] of the world's richest and most technologically advanced nations, many of them will find it increasingly painful to keep up with the incessant demand for change that characterizes our time. For them, the future will have arrived too soon."

We are exactly at the time and place that Toffler predicted. Change is all around us. We can either sit back and become victims of it, or we can embrace and adapt to it.

This shift into a whole new world is bringing new challenges, new innovations, and tremendous changes. We are entering the third critical year of a recession that is changing the fabric of how we live and practice. In times like these, people tend to lose their balance, confidence, hope, and become confused.

There are several choices you can make:

  • You can bury your head in the sand.
  • You can complain and retract.
  • You can use this time to do everything you can to improve and adapt. You can do what the best people do and realize that the better you get in everything you do, the more you will positively impact your life and the lives of those you influence.
The most common cry we hear is, "I need more new patients." That may well be true, but I would like to ask what you are doing with the new patients you have right now?

The new patient engagement process is the single most important event that occurs in your practice.

The faster you go, the less of a relationship you create, the fewer patients that come back, the fewer that start treatment, and the fewer that complete treatment. Check the new patients who have entered your practice in the last 18 months. How many of them are still active? If it is less than 25%, your practice is in trouble!

The other cry we hear is, "I need a better marketing plan," and that may also be true. But just who is your ideal patient? What kind of person is going to be attracted to your practice? What message would you send as you invite that person to enter your practice?

What is your internally generated referral rate? Who is referring to you and why? The three most important predictable growth strategies are:

  • Your new patient engagement process
  • Your market
  • Your internally generated referral rate
Do you have a defined, written strategy to engage your "market," to sell to them and gain referrals from your best patients?

Imagine what your practice would be like if you had mastered your new patient engagement process to the extent that every new patient referred at least one other patient? Imagine if you knew exactly who your "ideal patients" are and why your ideal patients chose you as their dentist.

Maybe you are tracking the wrong numbers. Maybe instead of focusing on daily production goals and numbers of new patients, you should focus on how to create the best experience possible. What if you went out of your way in every way to care for every patient?

What if your focus was primarily on your patients and not primarily on meeting your daily production and new patient goals? What if the entire focus of your practice was to get better at the little things that you and your team do every day?

What do you think might happen? You would be focusing on what's best for your patients, and your entire practice and life would get better. I guarantee it because I see it happening every day.

This thinking and these strategies are countercultural. This is different, and every dentist I know who is really focused on doing this is in predictable growth, provided they have learned to control money and time in their lives. This focus moves you out of a "me first" attitude, and it is a practice changer.


A practicing dentist, Dr. Michael Schuster founded the Schuster Center in 1978. Guiding thousands of graduates to achieve wealth and freedom, the Schuster Center is the first business school created exclusively for dentists. Dr. Schuster is a cadre and former director at the Pankey Institute, adjunct faculty at the Dawson Center, OBI, and LSU Cosmetic Continuum. Reach him at (800) 288-9393, www.SchusterCenter.com, or mschuster@cfpd.com.

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