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Stop Fighting the Uphill Battle

My heart sank. As my patient walked out the door, I felt deflated and like a complete failure. He presented with moderate periodontal disease and was refusing the necessary treatment. I had done everything I was taught in school and even took it one step further. The practice employing me as a hygienist allowed me to create my own new patient experience, and up to this point, it had worked flawlessly.

What went wrong? I’d done my best. Why did I feel the need to please this patient? It was eating me alive! I had to dig a bit deeper.

I looked to our mission statement, including the words “Our patients are our priority.” It was in these words where my frustration was born. With what I thought was a clear mission and directive in place, I believed the team, and I had a solid foundation for our priorities in place.  But it simply wasn’t enough .  We had not previously discovered our strengths, our niche, and we did not have a clear core purpose and core values to support that foundation. Lacking that pertinent information led to feelings of frustration and uncertainty as to where my true focus should be. It left me thinking I could and should please everyone, and this simply can not be the case.

Words Are Only Words

That statement in our mission “Our patients are our priority,” was true to an extent. Of course, we placed a priority on the people and community we served. However, we hadn’t clearly defined what that looked like on a day-to-day basis as a “Practice Promise.” Neither I nor my team knew exactly where to give our best energy because we had not spent the time to clarify this as a team.

As a leader, and a dental team, you can alleviate that frustration and build a practice filled with the type of patients that you value and that value you by taking the time to answer the four questions below:

1 – What Are Our Core Values?

Core Values are the principle perspectives that guide a person or organization’s behavior. If you haven’t gone through the process of discovering and defining your practice core values, it’s about time that you did! It’s extremely rewarding and simplifies your business. Kirk is constantly reminding us that  “core values are the non-negotiable behaviors for your practice.”  They apply not only to you and your team members but also to your patients! One of our clients’ core values is “Be the Light.” This value helps them understand how to behave with each other, and with their patients. It lets them know where their focus should be!

2 – What Is Our Core Purpose?

Your core purpose is your practice’s reason for being. Your purpose answers the ageless question “WHY?” Why does what we do matter, and what difference are we making in the world? You can’t go with the first thing that pops into your head, but ask yourself “WHY?” again, to that first idea in your head. Now, peel back the layers by asking yourself, “WHY?” at least five times.  Why five? That’s the average amount of times we need to peel back enough layers to get to the real answer.  Don’t settle for the first, second, or third. You’ll be amazed at how detailed and specific your purpose becomes by completing this exercise.

3 – What Are Our Strengths?

Understanding your inherent strengths is crucial! This knowledge will help you to set boundaries when determining your overall business strategy, including what services to offer, your hours of operation, your insurance involvement, and the technology you will pursue. Knowing your strengths is crucial when helping the team understand where to focus their energy and how you will differentiate yourself in the dental marketplace.

4 – What Are Our Practice Promises?

Practice Promises are your differentiators, the reasons your patients come to you instead of your competition. These are the tangible differentiators setting you apart, the specific actions that represent HOW you deliver dentistry differently than the competition.  Your promises are the concrete actions or the things your patients experience, keeping them loyal and coming back . Don’t overthink this and don’t let perfection get in the way of good. Write your promises down and perfect the verbiage over time.

Answering these key questions are the first steps towards creating clarity and focus within your dental team. They help you give your best energy to the people and processes that will create a better practice and life, and not lose sleep over those who don’t value what you do! But remember, you can write down your core purpose, your core values, your strengths, and even your practice promises. But they mean absolutely nothing if you don’t live and breathe them every day.

We are here to help you stop fighting the uphill battle by avoiding those feelings of frustration and uncertainty . Get started today by watching our latest free webinar “Keys to Differentiating Your Practice From The Competition” featuring Dr. Barrett Straub.

About the Authors: Jenni Poulos is a lead practice coach at ACT Dental.

Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental. She is also a dental hygienist, motivational speaker, and writer. With over twenty years of serving in different roles in dentistry, she combines her experience to provide our community with best practices for a better life.


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