Winners lose more than losers

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Winners lose more often than losers lose. That sounds counterintuitive, but if you stop to think about it, losers will lose a few times and then stop. On the other hand, winners will lose and lose and lose repeatedly -- until they win.

Curtis Marshall is the vice president of marketing at Dental Intel.Curtis Marshall is the vice president of marketing at Dental Intel.

The stories of Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and many others are likely familiar to you but not any less instructional. Michael Jordan once said, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

This is the Naked Dentist. Now, I'm not a dentist nor am I naked. I use an intelligent practice analytics tool to take off the clothes, accessories, and distractions within a dental practice to discover the key actionable items. This results in better patient care, better team performance, and more practice profitability.

Patient care

When looking at a dental office, what is the definition of being a winner? Some may say having a profitable practice, while others might say it is increasing production. But ultimately a winning practice is a practice that improves its patient care. This being true, many factors are involved in improving patient care:

“Ultimately, a winning practice is a practice that improves its patient care.”
  • Getting the patients back in for hygiene appointments
  • Patients accepting treatment
  • Seeing the whole family for treatment
  • Not letting patients break appointment

You could track all these different ways of improving patient care, and, with enough effort, you could probably come up with many additional factors to improve the care of your patients. But let's take away all the emotion and all the distractions to help you discover how to become a winner and how to improve patient care.


I've stripped down more than 2,000 offices, and the difference between the top 10% versus the bottom 10% is clearly evident. The top 10% are consistent on charging out an exam two times per year for each active patient. The bottom 10% of offices are charging out 0.8 exams per active patient.

Within the bottom 10%, many practices are converting more than 90% of the exams to accept treatment. So, the question comes down to these questions:

  • How many exams are you doing?
  • How many exams have you lost?

To continue the point about winners losing more often than losers, the top 10% of practices lose more exams that the bottom 10% of practices.

Dr. Michigan and implants

Dr. Michigan is a general practitioner who wanted to start offering implants to his patients. He researched the best implant course, shadowed a periodontist, and after months of training he started to feel comfortable with simple implants.

He called me and said that despite all this training, he had only had three implant cases and wondered why he was not doing more.

As I stripped down Dr. Michigan's office, I found something very interesting. I had asked him how many patients he had presented implant treatment that month.

Dr. Michigan told me that he presented to everyone who needed an implant. The next question I asked him was how many patients he had seen that month who needed an implant.

He quickly followed by saying that there were between 10 and 15 such patients.

His face turned from frustration to disappointment when I showed him the actual data as to how many implant treatment proposals he had presented. This dentist had only presented to four patients, yet he said that 10 to 15 patients needed an implant.

Without any additional discussion, he grabbed his phone and started to text his office manager. His message read, "In each morning huddle, please tell me how many implants were presented the day before."

Dr. Michigan now realized he wasn't taking the shots needed to win and that his patients were losing out because they were not getting diagnosed.


The following month Dr. Michigan started to track how he was performing in his daily huddle. Without seeing more patients, he presented 16 implants, and out of those 16 implants he presented, 11 were scheduled. By taking this simple step, he and his patients started to win.


Let me be clear: I am not telling you to diagnose more. I am not saying to go do implants. Nor am I telling you to do examinations differently. I am simply using Dr. Michigan's practice as an example that if you want your practice to be a winner, you have to be willing to lose some cases along the way.

Curtis Marshall serves as the vice president of marketing at Dental Intel. If you would like your practice to be in the next Naked Dentist column and have your practice undressed, contact him at [email protected] or 801-380-7070.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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