By Dr. Michael Kesner
How would you like to double your practice revenue this year? I’m serious. It’s possible. We have helped many dentists double, and even triple, their revenue. Some have even done so in less than 12 months.
I know that the business of dentistry can be overwhelming. I know that you read practice management articles. You have probably also attended seminars on how to grow your practice. Maybe you have even hired a management consultant to come to your office.
It can be overwhelming to think about everything that you might need to change in your practice. There is scheduling, hygiene recall, team meetings, financial arrangements, marketing, phone techniques, case presentation techniques, bonus systems, and capital expenditure, to mention a few.
You know that there are many items you need to fix and become better at. But where are you going to find the time? You work all day on patients and you are dog-tired at the end of the day. You are probably thinking, ”Double my revenue this year? Yeah, right! That sounds more like doubling my stress!”
Dentists tell me all the time that “if someone would handle the business part of the practice for me and just let me do the dentistry, then I would be happy.” I know how you feel. For 19 years, I tried to “keep all the plates spinning” while also trying to improve the business side of my practice … with limited success.
After seminars, consultants, and feeling like I was beating my head against the wall, I burned out and gave up. Then, through a series of events (read my book for the details), I finally figured out how to be enormously successful at the business of dentistry without going crazy and being stressed out.
I have three practices that I started from scratch that collected more than $7 million last year. I will start four more practices this year. When I start a new practice, it normally does $1.5 million in the first year, $2.5 million in the second year, and more than $3 million in the third year. Here is part of my secret.
There are several interrelated success factors in the business of dentistry that are critical to the growth of practice revenue. Here are just some of them:
- Number of phone calls (marketing)
- Call conversion (new patient appointments)
- Number of new patients
- Converting first-time patients into long-term patients
- Maximizing the number of visits per day (efficiency and capacity)
- Maximizing value per visit (range of services)
- Case acceptance rate (team case presentation)
- Repeat business (hygiene recall)
This list can be overwhelming when you think about getting better at all of these at once, in addition to performing dentistry on patients. The good news is that you don’t have to get 100% better in every factor.
In fact, you don’t even have to get 50% better … or even 30% better in every area. Believe it or not, if you get just 15% better in only five of these interrelated factors I mentioned, your practice revenue will double!
Why is this? The effects of these success factors on your business are not additive; instead they multiply on top of each other. It works like compound interest … 72/n = % per factor needed to double.
So, if you get 15% better at marketing to generate more phone calls, and you increase your incoming call conversion to new patient appointments by 15%, your case acceptance by 15%, the number of patient visits per day by 15%, and your hygiene recall by 15% ... you will double your practice revenue.
It also works if you do better in some factors than you do in others. For instance, if you get better in one factor by 25%, three factors by 10%, and another factor by 17% (25+10+10+10+17 = 72), this will also double your practice revenue.
I hope this makes the process sound a little easier. But if it is true, why aren’t we seeing more dentists doubling practice revenue?
Here is why. In working with many dentists around the nation, we find that what limits practice growth is primarily the lack of action and/or the lack of the right action by the owner/dentist. This problem typically stems from the personality styles and characteristics that are common in many dentists.
The personality style that is drawn to dentistry is usually detail-oriented, low risk, analytical, and cautious about making any mistakes. These personality characteristics are wonderful and necessary when drilling on a tooth, but not so much when trying to rapidly grow a business.
When it comes to taking action on the critical business success factors in a dental practice, most dentists take a “ready, aim, fire” approach. What really happens is “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, then maybe fire.” In other words, there is a “paralysis of analysis” that occurs. This results in inaction. This inaction wastes an enormous amount of time, and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in unrealized income.
A few months ago I spoke at a seminar. A dentist came up to me after my talk and said he heard me speak at a seminar three years ago. Since that time, he had read my book four times. He had been in practice for 17 years, and was grossing around $1 million a year. He was frustrated because his practice had been stuck at this level for the last six years.
He said that he was now ready to hire my company to help him take his practice to the next level. I said, “That’s great. Let’s get you signed up and on our calendar for the in-office evaluation.”
He reached for his credit card, and was just about to hand it to the secretary when he said, ”I need to think about this some more. I will let you know in a few weeks.” We have yet to hear from him.
Let’s look at the cost of his inability to make a decision and take action. If we were only able to get his revenue up by 50% to $1.5 million, then his lack of action over the last three years cost him $500,000 a year. This is $1.5 million in revenue that is lost forever. If he practices for another 15 more years, that is $7.5 million in lost revenue.
This is the high cost of inaction.
If your personality style inhibits and interferes with your business growth, then what can you do? First, you need to understand that the “paralysis of analysis” comes from the fear of not knowing the challenges you will encounter after you take the action. There is a belief that everything must be perfect and totally figured out before action can be taken.
This is not possible. Problems, roadblocks, and challenges will always occur when you take action and implement new systems, techniques, and business principles in a practice.
So then, why not adopt a “ready, fire, aim” approach to taking action? Once you “pull the trigger” on implementing some critical success factors in your practice, you can always “aim” after the action is taken. Everything does not have to be perfect or totally figured out before you “fire.”
The faster you take action, the faster you will reach your goals. The difference between those people who are very successful and those who are marginally successful is in direct proportion to the amount of action taken.
It is also important to take action that is right. Taking action that is wrong can be a great learning experience, but it is a big waste of time and money.
Being successful and profitable in business is one of the most important areas of my life. I have always had, and still have, mentors and coaches who help me become more successful and grow my businesses faster. I take more action that is right because I receive input from their experience.
Hiring someone who has “been there and done that” minimizes my mistakes, and greatly increases the speed and level of my success. It always costs much less money and stomach lining to learn from someone else’s mistakes as opposed to my own. My financial return on investment from hiring mentors and coaches has been incalculable.
In the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, author John Maxwell talks about the Law of the Lid. Maxwell basically says there is a lid on the success of your business, and that lid is you. Don’t blame the economy, your employees, or where your practice is located, because the problem is you.
Maxwell explains that your education, leadership, ability, and vision are the lids that are limiting your business. If you want to know what is holding back the growth of your practice, look in the mirror. There is the bad news.
The good news is, if you are the problem, then you are also the solution. You can decide to change. You can decide to grow. You can decide to do whatever is necessary to change the success of your business. You can decide to take action. You can make the decision to double your revenue and cut your stress in half this year.
Is it easy? No. If it were, then everyone would be doing it. Can you get 15% better in five interrelated areas of your practice this year? Yes. Can you do it by yourself? No. If you could, then you already would have.
Will you take action now, or will you think about it some more? Statistically, 95% of dentists will do nothing and continue running their businesses just as they always have. Why? Because staying the same is easier and more comfortable than change. Statistically, 5% of dentists will take the necessary action and change their future.
Which group are you in? Will you continue to “aim” or will you “fire?”
DR. MIKE KESNER is a practicing dentist and author of Multi-Million Dollar Dental Practice – How to net $1 million a year in your dental practice … even in a recession. He is founder and CEO of Quantum Leap Success in Dentistry, a consulting company that helps dentists build the practices of their dreams in 24 months or less, guaranteed! Reach him at [email protected].
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