by Bill Blatchford, DDS
We all operate to the level of systems, knowledge, and philosophy with which we are familiar. And generally, we operate at our full capacity. We feel busy, possibly overworked, and often under-rewarded for our great efforts. Some doctors producing $350,000 annually feel stressed and at capacity, while other doctors grossing $1.5 million may feel like they can’t produce any more.
They are both right. Your habits, relationships, and structure keep you where you currently are and at a plateau. Because we feel busy at our current level, we tend to view others who are producing more as “dentists who must be cutting corners somewhere or doing something illegal or immoral.”
If dentists could visit other practices and see their books, they would be amazed to see the differences in gross and net return. As you move to the larger numbers, it’s a given - you must be working the same or fewer regular hour days, not more to produce more. If you are at capacity, how could you fathom someone else doing more dentistry in fewer hours with a small skilled team?
In talking with doctors, I find there is frustration at their current level, yet they have reached their ceiling of complexity. To gross and net more, changes must occur. When someone is at capacity, it is difficult to see the changes needed to move to the next level without outside help. Dentists tend to dwell on the how rather than the what of an idea.
The bigger picture will be realized by the what. In order for change to occur, your what, or vision, needs to be crystal clear. You need to be able to communicate what you envision with passion and energy to your team so they are moving at the same speed, or preferably just ahead of you. The bigger picture of where you are going will motivate people, especially if there is a declared bonus system for team efforts as they reach projected numbers.
What new numbers will be your goal? What new treatments will you be learning and adding? What will have you excited enough about the future to make the necessary changes in your systems and thinking to break through your present ceiling?
You must change your own thinking about capacity. Our daughter is in dental school, where prepping a crown with waxing and casting takes a full term. Remember feeling at full capacity? Most practicing dentists could now complete their two-year clinic requirements in two days. You have grown and now you react differently. In rising to the capacity of our systems, we need to change our thinking.
As a new pilot, I felt the Cessna 150 landing at 70 mph was at my capacity. The Comanche 260 lands at 90 mph, the Cessna 340 at 130 mph, and the F-18 pilot lands at 200 mph on an aircraft carrier. We are held hostage by our habits, thinking, and systems.
In creating new systems and thinking for the next level of practice, don’t worry about the how. Concentrate on the what. Consider these possibilities and get excited:
- Can I reinvent myself and move in a slightly different direction to renew energy and passion?
- What skills would I need to add or eliminate?
- Is my current team the right one to help me move to the next level?
- What could allow me to be the leader my team is longing for?
- What would my workdays look like for maximum efficiency?
- What could be added or subtracted from my leadership position as well as team duties?
- What systems could be instituted to make it easier for our guests and our team?
- Could we collect differently? Treatment-plan differently? Schedule differently?
- What communication systems do we need to train, motivate, and keep us in the game?
- What kinds of marketing do we need, and does it match our office and sales skills once the guest arrives to meet us?
- What kinds of help are available to make this happen?
In looking at these questions, your tendency will be to get stuck in the “How will I do that? Where will the money come from? I don’t have the knowledge.” Keep focusing on what do I want by seeing each of these possibilities clearly. If you worry about the how, you will never reach the what. If you can clearly see the what, the how will appear. It sounds like magic, and it can be.
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.