Like all businesses, dental practices go through stages of growth and development. The ultimate success of any dental practice depends on how well it navigates the essential phases of building and maintaining a highly successful practice. During the last 30 years, Levin Group has studied top 10% performing practices. We’ve identified 17 common principles in these practices, along with an understanding of their processes. This research has allowed us to identify four key phases that every practice must pass through to achieve superior results, continual improvement, and consistent growth.
• Phase 1: Capable and stable staff
• Phase 2: Proven business systems
• Phase 3: Leadership
• Phase 4: Relevant strategy
Each of these phases has a basic set of principles. It’s possible to build a highly successful practice without implementing every principal. The challenge is trying to figure out in advance which principles you can omit without impeding your march toward success. Therefore, we encourage each practice to examine each principle, evaluate how well they’ve implemented or not implemented that principle, and determine what needs to be done. It’s in the best interest of most practices to implement most of the principles.
Articles by Roger Levin
Breaking down the phases
In phase 1 the practice is growing, and staff members are being added. In the current era it is very difficult to hire highly trained and experienced dental staff and many new or fairly new practices can’t afford highly trained staff. The reality is that many practices will have to hire for attitude over skill and then train new hires.
You must train the team in phase 2. Training, plain and simple, is best accomplished by implementing excellent step-by-step comprehensive business systems. For 37 years we’ve watched practices increase production and profit and we’ve learned that the absolute key factor is implementing the right systems. Scheduling, collections, hygiene production, managing no-shows and late patients, insurance management, and a host of other full and partial systems all contribute to team training. Implement your systems and the team will follow them. You’re giving them an exact playbook of what to do, how to handle their positions, and how to perform at superior levels.
You want to be a great leader in phase 3. In a nutshell, the first step of leadership is acting the way you want your team to act. The second step is delegating everything possible to the team, and I mean everything. I call it extreme delegation. A dentist should be doing what only a dentist is allowed to do. Somebody else in the practice should be responsible for everything else.
And guess what? Team members really like this. People like to know you trust them, and if they have great attitudes, they enjoy the challenge of increased responsibility. Don’t over-think and complicate leadership. Great leaders have compassion, care about their teams, and behave accordingly. You can go deeper and establish your core values, mission, and vision, but start by acting the way you want the team to act.
Phase 4 is very different from the others. It’s not about the team, attitude, training, or delegation, but about strategy, the future, and the five-year plan. It’s about knowing exactly what will be accomplished by what deadline and by whom during the next five years. Strategy is the backbone of every company and one of the most crucial factors in success. When we meet with practices that used to perform well but are now in decline, rarely do they have a strategic plan. They did a lot of things right, got to a plateau, and then didn’t change as the world changed, or they didn’t change in the right direction. Practices move back on track every time they develop a good strategic plan.
Dental practices are like organisms—always developing and changing. Is your practice ready to evolve and grow? I hope so. As one practice member told me recently, “We spend a lot of time here. We might as well make it a great place to be.” I wholeheartedly agree!