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3 management lessons for dentists from the NFL

Sept. 25, 2017
Dentists could learn a thing or two about running their practices by watching the NFL this season. Offense? Defense? It's all pretty much the same language, and "studying" is enjoyable! Take it from this Ravens fan.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and Founder, Levin Group
Dentists could learn a thing or two about running their practices by watching the NFL this season. Offense? Defense? It's all pretty much the same language, and "studying" is enjoyable! Take it from this Ravens fan.

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

I’M A BIG FOOTBALL FAN. I’m excited to see how the Baltimore Ravens will do this year. Last year was a bust. Actually, ever since winning the Super Bowl five years ago, it’s been a hard slog. Fortunately, a new season brings new possibilities, and I’m hopeful that my team can bounce back this year.

So what can football teach us about running a successful dental practice? Here are three lessons . . .

1. A good ground game makes everything better
The Dallas Cowboys surprised a lot of people last year, especially after star quarterback Tony Romo went down in preseason with a back injury. In the past when Romo has been out, the Cowboys have fallen apart.

That didn’t happen, thanks to the superlative play of first-year quarterback Dak Prescott. With Prescott at the helm, the Cowboys reeled off 11 straight victories after losing their season opener. They finished the season with the best record in the NFC at 13–3.

How did a rookie QB manage to do so well? He was supported by the number two rushing attack in the league. As a team, the Cowboys racked up nearly 2,400 rushing yards. Of course, with defenses geared up to prevent the run, throwing the ball was a lot easier for Prescott, who connected time and again on key passes to receivers such as Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

What’s all this have to do with dentistry, you may ask? A lot, actually.

Your hygiene department is similar to a running game. It drives doctor production. When hygiene is operating at optimal levels, it’s a lot easier to successfully present restorative and elective treatment. A powerhouse hygiene schedule fuels practice success.

2. Don’t settle for the short pass
Watching the Ravens last year was tough. Too often Joe Flacco would throw a four-yard pass when the team needed five for a first down. Yes, it was a completion, but it wasn’t enough to move the chains. It was very frustrating.

Single-tooth treatment is the go-to procedure for many dentists, the equivalent of the short pass. Yes, your patients need amalgams, but often they are candidates for other types of restorative and elective treatment, too. They may turn down your case presentation, but if you don’t even present the case, then it’s an automatic rejection.

Please excuse me for switching sports, but as Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

3. A good defense keeps you in the tough games
The Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2001 with a great defense and a barely-there offense. Some years, your production (your offense) will sputter along, but playing great defense––improving collections and cutting overhead––can help you remain profitable.

Many dental offenses are currently struggling. There’s more competition for new patients, so it’s harder to grow production. But shoring up your defense can keep your practice performing at a high level. Here are some defensive targets to strive for:
• Collect 95% or more of fees.
• Reduce overhead by 3% or more this year.
• Decrease cancellations by 10% or more.
• Reactivate 60% or more of patients who haven’t been seen in six to 18 months.

Can you lead your team to a winning season? Apply these three lessons to your practice and you’ll be doing your own touchdown dance at the end of the year.

Author's Note: Need a new playbook for your offense? Click here to learn more about Levin Group’s marketing consulting program.

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Roger P. Levin, DDS,is the chairman and CEO of Levin Group Inc., a leading dental consulting firm. A nationally recognized speaker, Dr. Levin presents practice management seminars throughout the country.