By Sally McKenzie, contributing writer

May 31, 2017 -- When dentists are struggling, they may find it difficult to admit they need help. Instead of seeking outside advice from an industry expert, they tell themselves they can fix their practice problems on their own -- they just need a solid self-help plan and a little determination.

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Sounds great, but that usually isn't how it works. Without proper guidance, these dentists struggle to implement their plan or even come up with one at all. The situation never improves; in fact, it gets worse, leading to even more stress and frustration for the dentists and their team members.

Is this sounding all too familiar? If your practice is struggling, it might be time to consider hiring a consultant to help. You really don't have to do it all on your own, and the sooner you realize that the more successful you'll be. The right consultant will help get you back on the right track -- and finally on your way to meeting your full potential.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article by Mark Dombeck, PhD, that outlines exactly why self-help plans usually fail. His reasons make sense and might even convince you it's time to hire an experienced consultant who can help you meet your goals.

1. You're just not objective enough

You spend a lot of time in your dental practice, but that doesn't mean you see everything that's happening. Let's say case acceptance is down, which hurts both your bottom line and team morale. Sure, you know your rates aren't what they should be and that presentations need to be improved, but do you know part of the problem might also be a lack of follow-up?

No one is calling patients two days after that initial presentation -- and there's a slim chance they'll call back on their own to schedule treatment. Tasking your treatment coordinator with follow-up calls will make a huge difference in terms of boosting case acceptance and practice productivity.

2. You're not sure how to fix the problems plaguing your practice

“The bottom line is that objectivity is key to understanding your practice's main challenges and the steps you need to take to overcome them.”

Before jumping into a self-help plan, it's important to understand the problems you're dealing with and have a pretty good idea of how to fix them. For that to happen, you'll need to do some research. While that might sound easy enough, most dentists just don't have that kind of time -- so they never develop a plan, and nothing ever changes.

The bottom line is that objectivity is key to understanding your practice's main challenges and the steps you need to take to overcome them. A consultant offers that all-important outside perspective and will notice issues you had no idea were holding you back.

3. You're not disciplined enough

Of course you want to make the necessary changes and finally reach your goals, but that's often easier said than done. You need the motivation to execute, which can be difficult to find if you don't have someone cheering you on. A consultant provides the support you need and will be right beside you, offering advice, monitoring your progress, and encouraging you to keep going.

Another common problem is that people tend to deny or distort the truth about the issues they're facing. They create defense mechanisms, such as externalization. In other words, they know something's wrong, but rather than take accountability, they blame the people around them for their troubles. Dentists might blame low patient retention, for example, on the fact that people just don't value good dental care, rather than admitting they really don't make an effort to connect with patients and build relationships.

To many dentists, the thought of implementing a self-help plan is pretty appealing. They like the idea of doing it all on their own, but, unfortunately, this approach typically doesn't give them the results they're after. In fact, they often end up creating more problems along the way. That's why many of these dentists eventually call a consultant for help, whether it's days, weeks, or months later -- and they all wish they had made that call sooner.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

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.

Copyright © 2017

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