Consultants: when, where, and how?

As president and CEO of a dental consulting firm, I admit to being an advocate for having a practice consultant or coach. For that reason, I decided to write this column from my own perspective as a business owner.

Cathy Jameson, PhD

As president and CEO of a dental consulting firm, I admit to being an advocate for having a practice consultant or coach. For that reason, I decided to write this column from my own perspective as a business owner. As you read it, translate my experience into your practice.

I have always had consultants working with my firm, and would never consider eliminating these invaluable people from my team. My business, like your business, is multifaceted. My team of consultants has vast experience and expertise in business, hygiene, clinical, and technological management. However, we depend on outside resources to guide and direct us on our continuous path of improvement. We believe that the day we stop learning, or the day we believe we can't get any better, is the day we should close our doors. No matter how well we provide our services, no matter how successful we become as a company, no matter how successful our clients become under our direction, there will never be a day when we know it all or when we cannot improve. That is — and always will be — our commitment to ourselves and our clients.

We reach out to qualified experts who have various areas of expertise. We listen carefully as they give us advice, evaluate our systems, make recommendations for improvement, and coach us in our various areas of responsibility so that each team member can productively add to the company's health and well-being.

We have financial and tax advisors, communication coaches, nutrition and fitness experts, and organizational consultants who work with us to assure effectiveness and efficiency. We have technological experts who help us make the proper decisions about what to buy, how to integrate equipment, and how to use the equipment to its fullest potential. And, we have management consultants who help us determine the appropriate "company dials" — how to set up and monitor our systems and how to correct systems that are not functioning at the uppermost level.

There are numerous types of consulting companies. Some consultancies invite you and/or your team to come to their learning center for training. Teaching is done in a group setting, giving you a chance to not only learn the material but also to interact with other teams.

Some consultancies come to your practice and work with you, your team, and your patients in your facility. They adapt their systems to fit your particular situation. Most consultancies help to establish monitors for your vital statistics or critical factors, and work with you to monitor and measure your progress. Support, coaching, and contact during the learning and maintenance programs will not only help you achieve your goals but will assure the stability of your success.

The important thing for you to do is to become clear about your own goals and to make sure that the consulting firm you choose will fit you. The company should have a solid track record that clearly shows constructive, long-lasting results for its clients.

When is a good time to seek a consultant or coach? Now is good! Why wait? How much money will you lose while you are waiting to make a decision to move your practice to the next level? How much stress will you sustain while you are waiting to organize your practice? How would you feel if you did not fully achieve your potential in your chosen career?

Be a continuous student for your entire life. Make sure that you do not become complacent with the status quo. There is no such thing! The minute you decide to remain static is the day you decide to go down hill. When you become stagnant, the rest of the world passes you by. Invite a coach into your life. Then, listen.

Follow through with recommendations. No consultant can make you do anything. Consultants can diagnose, treatment-plan, and provide instruction, guidance, support, and encouragement. But ultimately, your success with a consultant — or with anything — depends on implementation and follow-through. Your level of success is determined by you.

Give yourself permission to be your best. Get a coach. Implement your coach's teachings. Your best is yet to come!

Dr. Cathy Jameson is president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy's books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, email her at info@jamesonmanagement.com, or visit her Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.

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