Beyond Practice Management: Super success strategies

2009 08 19 10 27 14 220 Don Deems 70

I often come across dentists who have very little information about the financial performance of their practices. Some might determine their success by what their CPA (a valuable asset to any practice) tells them at the end of the year. Others will concentrate on what they have been able to take home from month to month. And if you're a little less interested in your numbers, then you might be more focused on keeping busy in order to be successful. However, you could be confusing your "busy-ness" for productivity.

There are many ways for us to determine the financial success -- or failure -- of our practices. What are the elements we should track? How should we make decisions for the success of our businesses? Let's review some super success strategies that apply to any business, including yours, and then we will look at ways you can implement them into your own practices.

Create a "sales engine" versus a sales effort.

  • Discover or create repeatable sources of referrals and business versus one-time-only business.
  • Develop relationships with as many people as possible who will make you financially secure.
  • Meet their needs versus coming up with ideas. The dental market will guide you if you listen.

Start the sales engine quickly.

  • Forget the brochure. Connect and collaborate with your existing patients, clients, and other referral sources. Connect and collaborate tirelessly.

  • Promote your practice on a daily basis. You can do this effectively and inexpensively with social media, giving 30-minute presentations to community groups who are always looking for speakers, and much, much more.

  • Keep 100 or more clients and people who know your practice informed quarterly about how it's going. They'll send you business!

Keep your "gas tank" full.

  • Eliminate all volunteer work, projects, home stuff, and distractions. You do not need these. Delegate what has to be done, but focus on your practice. Where you focus is absolutely critical.

  • Create enough structure to help you produce. For example, hire a coach, develop a daily action plan, or concentrate on business-building activities. It's too easy to fall into a nonproductive routine.

  • Resolve any fear-based issues you may struggle with, such as rejection, fear of people, or low self-confidence. These will hold you back from being the success that you can be.

Take the superhighway, not the back roads.

  • Go to the recognized experts in your field and spend time with them, not with newbies.
  • Set huge, huge goals, not just reasonable ones. At the same time, don't put yourself at financial risk.
  • Stop spending time with the wannabes in your life; spend time only with the winners.

Build a bus, not a sports car.

  • Develop 15 potential profit centers and see which ones attract the most business quickly. Drop the ones that don't produce.

  • Continually add value to what you sell and deliver. You'll need to in order to keep patients.

  • Don't worry about how it looks to drive a bus. The more the merrier!

So now that we have some strategies in place, how can you make these a reality? Here are essential elements to accomplish the above:

  1. To know how your practice is performing now, you need to know all of its essential elements. At first, you will need to monitor and tabulate everything. Later, as you become more proficient and know which aspects of your practice truly need your focus, you can ignore the ones that don't.

  2. Evaluate your expenditures monthly. Employing your team is your biggest expense. Wisely and unemotionally make the decisions that will keep your expenses in this category in check.

  3. Focus your efforts on internal marketing strategies vs. external marketing strategies. The average person is hit with 3,500+ marketing images or messages every day. Do you think yours is going to be the one they focus on? Develop at least 20 internal marketing strategies and conduct them daily. Include your team in this and make it a part of each employee's job description.

  4. You can't perform when you don't even want to go to work. If you're bored with your work environment, change it. If you're bored with your work, learn new things that will challenge and delight you.

  5. Take action to complete unresolved matters and eliminate what you're tolerating about your practice and your life. These things cause distractions, result in wasted energy, decrease creativity, and limit personal productivity.

  6. Honestly evaluate your skills and knowledge. If you're performing procedures you shouldn't be doing because you "need" the production, get the appropriate training or refer. It's your obligation to your patient and to yourself. You can have a plethora of service offerings that can make your practice very attractive to your clients. Know your limits.

  7. Spend more time planning than you think is even reasonable. I often get asked how I accomplish so much, and the answer is simple: I plan and I focus. You can do the same -- and more!

Dr. Deems is a professional personal and business coach and a practicing dentist. For the seventh year in a row, he was named to Dentistry Today's Top Leaders list and is the author of several books, the most recent, The Dentist's Coach: Build a Vibrant Practice and the Life You Want. He can be reached at
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