By Daniel Sindelar, DMD
Members of the Sindelar Dental Group team include (from left) Crystal Smothers, Kim Wood, Kim Clayton, Kelly Imig, Sonia Martin, Laura Klein, Dee Habel, Angie Herrel, Dr. Dan Sindelar.
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Incredible things can happen when you have a plan, get a vision, and add a love for your profession. Over the last year, my practice has nearly tripled in an economy in which many have struggled. We work 3.5 days a week, I am the only dentist, and our marketing budget is less than $1,000. The most amazing part of all is I am just like you. I want to share a few steps that helped in my journey. I know they seem simple, but they are very powerful. As always, the key to success is to act on them.
1. First, we must communicate with our patients. An absolute must is a good intraoral camera system. People will not fix problems they cannot see. When they can see their problems, they own them. Also, people struggle with decisions. One of my favorite sayings is, "God gives us hope, but we still fear." I think this is powerful, especially today. Patients are not sure what to do and who to trust. Often they do not even trust themselves to make a good decision. We must understand this to help them with their decisions. We must help them see what is in their best interest.
2. Put together an incredible team. Nothing less is acceptable. Life is too short to deal with mediocre employees. We have no idea how much mediocrity drains everybody’s energy. The goal is for everybody on our team to do what they do best in a safe, fun environment. Do not be afraid to pay the team well. Include incentives that protect the practice, patients, and team.
3. Next, set up great payment options that help patients fit their best care into their lifestyles. We have seen incredible improvements in the oral health of our nation recently. Some 20 years ago, the average 60-year-old had only eight teeth; today a person this age has more than 24. People are winning, but often during tough times it’s human nature to take the less optimum path due to finances. But you will find most still want to take care of their oral health in the best way if given payment options. We have been happy to offer CareCredit as our patient financing. We have also had success with our prepayment system.
4. We are all in the customer service business. Don’t be afraid to make it fun. It’s all about relationships. Don’t be afraid to share yourselves, teams included. By doing so, you can make your lives and your patients’ lives better, richer, and much more satisfying.
5. Be open-minded. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Investigate new treatment modalities and protocols.
6. Be creative. Recently, I started the Midwest Center for Oral Systemic Health. We conduct salivary diagnostics with OralDNA Labs. We also precondition our scaling and root planing visits with a 1064 diode laser. Another change I have made is to use Paroject® instead of giving a mandibular block. Find exciting new ways to help and care for patients.
7. Train your team. We constantly train in every aspect of our office.
8. Hire a good accountant who knows dentistry.
9. Hire a practice-management consultant. As an accounting major at St. Louis University, I did not think I needed such a person. I was wrong. There are several to choose from. I work with Gary Kadi at Next Level Practice.
10. Do a good fee analysis. Then give value for your fee.
11. Finally, become a passionate leader. I am no longer the manager; I have hired a great manager. Get past "command and control." It’s my job to inspire and reinspire. Have meetings that matter. Do morning huddles. Start everyone off on the same page, lighten it up, and have fun!
We are entering a "new era of dentistry." For this, I find myself very passionate about my profession. I think we are entering the most exciting time for dentistry in our lifetime.
The mouth is not only part of the body, it is one of the most important parts of a patient’s health. There is a definite connection between oral health and systemic health. We know it, and patients are starting to realize it.
Medical research has found oral bacteria involved with cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cerebrovascular disease. I have been a lifelong student of oral-systemic health. I know we are witnessing the start of the "biggest change in dentistry" in my lifetime.
Particularly be aware of the work being done by OralDNA Labs. Tests are coming back with reports of numerous bacteria involved with not only periodontal disease, but systemic disease. To me, this is our "quantum leap." This not only elevates the quality of our practice’s care, but also raises the importance of dentistry in patients’ eyes.
With this as the basis for my professional passion, I started the Midwest Center for Oral Systemic Health. The center is set up as a prototype for protocols, treatment modalities, patient education, physician referrals, physician communications, and marketing. We document everything to help other dentists with this fast, furious, and expanding part of our profession.
I am excited to be involved with the founding of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (www.aaosh.com). The founding meeting for the academy will be Oct. 15-16 in Madison, Wis. Everyone is welcome to be a part of this newly formed organization. It promises to be a journey through an exciting new frontier for dentistry.
Our profession can be tough at times, and we struggle with it occasionally. Recently, I had the pleasure of helping some dentists with some coaching. Here is some simple advice:
First, do not fear resistance; it’s just the start of a discussion. Don’t beat yourself up. Definitely do not own your patients’ problems; always help them solve their problems. Define yourself. Be who you are, not what you have. Always share hope. Discussions are simply opportunities to brainstorm ideas. Know that something good comes from everything. It just may take awhile, so persevere. Never let your need to be right get in the way of your happiness.
Reinvent yourself and your practice often. Know that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. Delegate. I recently heard Omer Reed say, "Keep learning; we don’t know what we don’t know." Don’t forget to take care of your physical health. Take 30 minutes of solitude every day. When you practice solitude on a regular basis, you will feel a strong sense of calm, quiet, creativity, and relaxation. You will emerge feeling wonderful about yourself and your life.
One of my favorite quotes is by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being." This goes for your family, team, patients – even yourself. We become what we are expected to be. Expect the best!
While this is an exciting time for me, I think it is also the most important time for dentistry. Incredible things do happen when you have a plan, get a vision, and add a love for your profession. We have initiated a complete plan in our office called "Refresh Life." It is based on a wellness model.
Currently, I am putting the finishing touches on a book that will explain the program. The book, "Refresh Life," should be available this fall. It’s my hope that 25% of the proceeds go to charities to further this cause. We also are working on a new approach to marketing this year.
In closing, I hope these simple thoughts are helpful. If you have questions, please send me an e-mail at [email protected].
Remember the words of Abraham Maslow: "You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety."
And most importantly, have fun!
Daniel Sindelar, DMD, is in full-time practice in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].
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