Demand for our services

Feb. 1, 1999
In the last two weeks, I have had a number of calls and e-mails that I think typify what is happening in dentistry today. If you have been reading my Editor`s Comments, you know that I am bullish on dentistry and feel we are entering a period of even greater demand for our services.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor

e-mail: [email protected]

In the last two weeks, I have had a number of calls and e-mails that I think typify what is happening in dentistry today. If you have been reading my Editor`s Comments, you know that I am bullish on dentistry and feel we are entering a period of even greater demand for our services.

The first call was from a dentist in the Midwest who graduated from dental school in 1994. With a partner, this dentist owns and manages five practices that are doing quite well. Obviously, he has hired some dentists as associates to help with these practices, which are almost entirely fee-for-service. He is excited about dentistry and the future of his profession, and he has returned to school for his MBA. He called to inquire about what Dental Economics is doing to help the dental student and the graduate dentist who has been out of school less than 10 years. He was interested in writing articles aimed at that group of people. I encouraged him to do so.

The second call was from a dentist who had been in practice 17 years and had been through many crises in his life. With help from others and a strong will to survive, he was able to rise above all of his difficulties and now has a thriving practice in a small, rural town in the Midwest. He would like to do more cosmetic dentistry in his practice, but is not happy with his results. He feels that he needs more training and was asking what his next step should be. He is excited about the future of dentistry and wants to improve his skill level so that he can provide excellent dentistry that he can be proud of.

A dentist who graduated almost 20 years ago e-mailed me about a zero patient-base practice he opened early in 1998. This dentist spent almost $400,000 in equipment and lease-hold improvements. This story has a sad ending - the equipment was repossessed in December and the dentist was considering declaring bankruptcy. The dentist`s question was: Is there life in dentistry after bankruptcy? My question was - how did this happen?

The fourth story came at the end of one of my seminars. A number of dentists came up to the front of the room either to thank me or to ask a specific question. After everyone was gone, two young women came up and introduced themselves as dentists who had graduated in June of 1998. They were so enthused about their profession and the future of dentistry that they were planning on opening a zero patient-base practice in a suburban location. They are in the process of writing a business plan and inquired where they could get some help. I believe they will have an extremely successful practice.

There you have it. Three practices that obviously planned to succeed and one that did not. The point is that success in any field does not just happen. You must plan for it. In my experience, high-performance practices have a vision that has been written by the leader (in a dental practice, the leader is the dentist). The vision has been shared with the people who work in the practice, and everyone has committed to making the vision happen. Goals have been set, action plans have been put in place, people have accepted certain responsibilities, and everyone is working toward a common goal. This is not Pollyanna! This is happening every day in dental practices around the country. These offices are vibrant, fun places to work, and they are attracting patients who enjoy being treated by people who enjoy what they are doing.

Take a hard look at your office. If you were a patient, would you enjoy coming for treatment to your office? Ask the people who work for you for their input and listen to what they have to say. They probably know more about your practice than you do.

I am very proud to announce that Dr. Larry Emmott will join us next month as our resident high-tech expert. Dr. Emmott has a general practice in Phoenix, Ariz., and he will keep us up-to-date on our amazing future.

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