Top 10 tips for thriving practices today

May 23, 2011

By Laura Jamison
President, Jamison Consulting, Inc.

It may be the middle of the year, but I want you to think about December 31. The end of a year prompts people to be grateful for what they have and to reflect on what happened during the last several months. While planning and tweaking for a new year, we become hopeful. Attitude is a choice, and all of the thriving practices that I work with are driven by this attitude of gratitude and reflection. Many are embracing philanthropy, giving back to their communities because they have so much to be grateful for. And since this article is dedicated to sharing what works for them to provide you with hope, I believe that it is important to begin with the belief that 95% of your success stems from setting goals and writing down your plan. The remaining 5%, ensuring that you meet your goals, is derived from perspiration, inspiration, and determination.

Where do you start?
I stopped watching the news every day about 18 months ago. You might wonder why. The news was feeding my growing fear that this poor economy would never end. How many of you are watching the news in the morning and then driving to work with anxiety? It affects your whole day. How many of you are watching the evening news and then losing sleep? Repeat often and you have a downward spiraling cycle.

What if human beings are, by nature, depressed? It doesn’t take much effort to adopt an attitude of fear, resentment, jealousy, and blame. We allow outside mechanisms such as media, patient feedback, and peer comments to influence how we feel. The good news is that we can reprogram ourselves, but it does require effort.

Several months ago I heard this quote: Store up during the good times so that you have good habits to fall back on during the lean times. What if you began storing up on good habits during slow times? Look at the slow down as the perfect opportunity to gain something positive.

Here are my top 10 tips for thriving in today’s environment:
1. At the core of any successful business are success driven core principles. Know what you believe in. Trust your employees. Trust your patients. Trust yourself. A written philosophy statement should state your beliefs clearly. This is also a chance to state what you are passionate about.

Let go of those activities that are not fruitful for your practice. Discontinue doing the difficult procedures that can be referred out. Delegate systems to your valued employees. If it is making you unhappy to perform the task, it is making you unhappy. Period.

3. Identify energy givers and energy vacuums. This can include employees, patients, vendors, consultants, and more. You will attract positivity in your life if you look for it. During the lean times, be sure to surround yourself with capable, positive, happy employees. Ask your friends and peers who they like to do business with. Listen to the reasons why. Do they seem energized or defeated in their response? Don’t let people that surround you be energy drainers.

4. Commit to excellence on behalf of your patients. This may be the ideal time to learn additional procedures. Implant dentistry, CAD-CAM technology, short-term orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, and dermal fillers are all examples of what you can add.

5. Have a focused marketing plan to promote the services you offer. In today’s fast-paced marketing environment, it is necessary to have a polished looking website that is easy to navigate. Search engine optimization should be part of your marketing investment. Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are all revolutionizing the way your patients receive information and interact. Electronic newsletters should go out to your patients monthly to educate them about dentistry’s latest advancements. Many of the latter activities are free. Yellow pages are dead. Social media is alive and kicking.

6. Examine your verbal skills. It is what you say and how you say it that counts. Is the doctor asking open-ended questions to determine what motivates patients? Are team members documenting what’s important? Are you applying what you know about patients as a benefit for your treatment? How well do you listen? What are your skills for addressing objections? These skills can be coached.

7. Financing treatment allows a patient to become a patient for life. Chase Health Advance financing options is my favorite. The beginning point for financing is $5,000. They offer reasonable choices for you and your patients. Doing dentistry is a lot more fun than not doing dentistry. Help your patients by offering the means to afford the treatment.

8. Experience what your patient experiences. Walk through your office and see the facility through their eyes. Is the parking lot clear of debris? Are plants thriving? Are magazines up to date? Is clutter put away? Are treatment rooms spotless? Are the restrooms kept clean and filled with toiletries? If you are comfortable giving patients a tour of your office, then it must reflect the quality of your care. If you are embarrassed to give a tour, then simple adjustments can go a long way to give them a WOW experience.

9. Systems ensure consistency. Examine systems for initial phone intake, new patient experience, financial options, appointment scheduling, delayed treatment follow up, preventive maintenance, and marketing. When everyone on your team knows what is expected, the result is a consistent outcome.

Employees are the only assets that increase in value over time. Your financial documents show all the assets that are depreciated. Your team is worth investing in. Zig Ziglar says, “It’s better to train people and risk losing them than to not train them and keep them.” Training is a task that many dentists and team members prefer not to spend time on. That is why a consultant/coach is valuable during these tough economic times.

Attitude is a choice. Learning something knew is a choice. Recognizing our deficiencies can be the first step toward asking for help. Dentistry does not have to be a lonely experience. ICOI/ADIA offers community and the opportunity to share what works and what doesn’t. During tough times, remember that what you store up now will help you thrive when times are lean again.

To contact Laura for information on her life changing seminars, webinar, educational products, and consulting, call (813) 251-6401 or email [email protected].