Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 07 Impossible 1

3 reasons self-help does not work for dental practices

July 17, 2017
Like any small business, dental practices may hit rough spots along the road. It's how they overcome those rough spots that can make a difference in their business. Self-help is usually not the answer. Consultants can offer a fresh and helpful perspective. 
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management

Like any small business, dental practices may hit rough spots along the road. It's how they overcome those rough spots that can make a difference in their business. Self-help is usually not the answer. Consultants can offer a fresh and helpful perspective.

Dentistry can be a pretty isolating profession. You spend most of your days in your office treating patients and doing your best to grow production numbers and the bottom line. So, when your practice is struggling, it’s easy to think you can handle things on your own, and that with just a little self-help you’ll be back on the right track in no time.

The problem is, that usually is not the case. While you might have the best of intentions, making real, positive change isn’t easy, especially when you don’t have anyone to support or guide you. So dentists who opt to go the self-help route often end up making their situations much worse.

Instead of trying to do everything on your own, consider hiring a consultant to help you make the improvements necessary to grow your practice. A consultant can take an objective look at your systems and offer advice based on his or her years of experience in the field. Trust me, after more than 30 years as a dental consultant, I’ve just about seen it all.

Still thinking about trying self-help rather than hiring an expert? I recently read an article by Mark Dombeck, PhD, that might convince you otherwise. Here’s an overview of some of his main points:

1. It’s difficult to be objective. Yes, you’re in your practice day in and day out, but that doesn’t mean you understand what’s keeping you from meeting your full potential. For example, let’s say turnover is high in your practice. Sure, you know team morale is low and that you’re constantly hiring, but it doesn’t mean you connect that to the fact that you don’t offer enough training, which leaves employees feeling lost and less than satisfied in their roles.

To really understand what your main challenges are, you need objectivity. Without it, you can’t accurately assess your practice and determine what changes you should make. Consultants offer objectivity and bring that all-important outside perspective that enables them to point out problems you didn’t even realize you had.

Also, many people distort the truth about the problems they’re dealing with. They develop defense mechanisms, such as externalization. This means that while you know something is wrong, you choose not to take accountability. Instead, you blame everyone around you. Remember that staff turnover problem? A dentist might choose to blame the team members, convincing himself or herself that they just weren’t dedicated to the job or didn’t have what it takes to succeed. But all they really needed was guidance and feedback.

2. You don’t know how to fix the problems. A self-help plan won’t do much good if you don’t understand what’s causing your problems and what it takes to address them. To figure that out, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of time researching and studying, time most dentists don’t have. You might tell yourself you’ll carve out an hour or so every day to complete the necessary research, and you might even stick to that plan for a few days. But inevitably you’ll become sidetracked by all the demands that come with running a dental practice.

Dental consultants, however, can tell you exactly what you need to do to get your practice back on the right track. We come up with the plan so you can focus on doing what you love most: treating patients.

3. It’s difficult to stay motivated. Even if you do find time to complete the necessary research and come up with a plan, you still have to execute the plan. That means staying motivated and committed to making positive change, which isn’t easy on your own. Most people just don’t have the discipline.

Consultants not only help you develop a plan for success, they also offer you support as you implement the changes. They monitor your progress and encourage you to keep going so you can finally meet your full potential.

I understand how the thought of turning to self-help can be appealing to many dentists, but it really can lead to more problems and frustration in the long run. Consultants can help dentists avoid that frustration. With the right guidance and support, you’ll get back on the right track and finally start meeting your goals again.

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Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at (877) 777-6151 or at [email protected].