The interesting article called “What every dentist should know before investing in a consultant” by Andy McKamie, DDS, is a very good foundation for helping a dentist choose a consultant (Dental Economics, May 2004, page 16). As consultants working with dentists for more than 30 years, we would like to offer a number of other “essentials” a dentist should know before hiring a consultant.
You need a consultant who will change the quality of your life. Acceleration of anything can only mean one thing in the long run - more stress and chaos. The net results of the consultant’s work should mean that you and your staff end up working less and making more. Doctor and staff should end up working no more than 180 days per year. If the focus isn’t about the quality of your families’ lives, more money won’t change what ails the practice.
You should hire a consultant who will change the focus of how your practice communicates your most important job - closing dentistry. This is very difficult to accomplish unless the consultant teaches enhanced verbal skills while coaching and mentoring in the operatories with the doctor and staff.
You need to hire a consultant who is people-driven rather than technology-driven. Technology is wonderful and has improved the quality of preventive and restorative dental care, but the practice will only achieve the level of success according to the talents the practice possesses. For this to happen, the consultant must possess the knowledge and talent to help you assess the talent of your present staff; and, if need be, find the “gap-fillers” (talent) your practice needs to reach new levels of excellence.
You need to hire a consultant who expects to implement a follow-up program for a minimum of six months to a year; a year is preferable because “change” doesn’t come easy and it takes a while to change from the inside out before excellence is processed as the norm. You need to decide what type of consultant your practice needs, i.e. a “tweaker” or a “foundational” consultant. A tweaker will provide counsel in specific areas, for example, train your front desk staff; a foundational won’t consider anything but a holistic approach. We consider a tweaker akin to using an adhesive strip bandage to cure a systemic disease, but a foundational consultant attacks the disease from the inside out.
While conducting your due diligence in hiring a consultant, don’t allow one “negative” to unduly influence you. Many dentists talk about wanting change - a much smaller number are actually willing to embrace it.
Make sure that you visit with at least four or five of the references the consultant gives you. Arrange a telephone conference with the consultant. Seldom is there a charge for this type of consultation. If you invite them to visit your office, expect to pay for their time and travel expenses.
You need a written guarantee that the implementation of the consultant’s knowledge will increase your practice’s production and collections by, for example, a minimum of 30 percent in the first year, or the initial fee is refunded. This will be contingent upon the doctor following the consultant’s management program and actually implementing it into the practice. If the consultant’s management formula can’t bring about dramatic change in one year, you may be making a poor investment.
Denise Grady, PHT, started her career in dentistry 41 years ago as a chairside assistant. Then, after a few years working at the front desk as a business assistant, she founded Grady & Associates. Her partner and husband, Ranny, has an MDiv and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Their knowledge, education, and communication skills have helped hundreds of dentists find satisfaction in their chosen profession, and shown them how to grow wealth. They may be reached at (606) 343-0016 or visit www.dental-consultants.com.