In a world of so much noise and information overload you are probably looking for an edge to grow your practice every year. Owning a dental practice requires you to be on the lookout for new ways to grow. DSOs seem to be popping up everywhere, the costs of doing business are rising, dental insurance carriers are constantly changing the rules for your patients, mid-level providers are now apparently making dentistry look like a commodity. All of this can make you crazy and send you into a downward spiral thinking, “Where do I start?”
You have probably tried just about everything to grow your practice. You hired a marketing company, you sent out postcards, you signed up for a few less desirable insurances, you brought in new technology, you hired a new amazing front desk person, you even splurged for a bigger sign in front of your practice; all to be a catalyst for some growth.
Ultimately, these efforts probably made some kind of an impact on the growth of your practice, but maybe not what you expected. Many of these efforts have fallen well short of what you had hoped.
There is one magic bullet that every great dentist comes to understand at some point in their career. And the day they learn it everything changes for them. With this knowledge they start to fix ALL of the problems they have. They see their practice grow more than they ever dreamed. No matter how flashy the next trend is they always come back to this, the biggest kept secret to growing any business.
THE SECRET: The Growth Of Your Practice Is Directly Related To Your Leadership Capabilities
There I said it. I know you’re completely disappointed because you were hoping I was going to give you an algorithm or recipe for success that you hadn’t heard before. Or you were hoping I would give you another great script to use to increase conversion with prospective callers when they call your office in hopes that you would get more new patients. Well sorry to disappoint you, but stay with me. Because if you get this, it will change everything for you forever.
Your Practice Is Limited By ONE Thing. It’s YOU And Only YOU.
In more than 20 years of working with some of the top restorative dentists and specialists all over the world one thing is apparently clear. The dentists with the best practices, best team members, and the healthiest profit margins are always the BEST LEADERS.
It’s no different in any other business. Especially here in our amazing company. When we have problems (yes we do have them too) I always like to think it’s because of someone or something else that might be influencing us, and then I’m constantly reminded the source of all of our problems are because one consistent glaring thing — ME.
The hardest part of this journey is starting with this truth. Taking the time to learn more about how you positively or negatively influence the health and trajectory of your own life is the most crucial step.
As a dentist, you see this all the time. Patients come into your office and they have a lot of problems. The problem isn’t necessarily the problem itself. It’s usually that they don’t own the problem or understand how the problem happened in the first place. And you have learned over time that the first step is gaining clarity around how this problem happened in the first place and who owns it.
The same thing applies to running your dental practice. Your ability to improve your skills as a leader, greatly impacts a healthier bottom line, a healthier team along with better patients.
Leadership capabilities have consistently shown to have a profound effect on the performance of any business and most investors know this.
A recent study commissioned by a division of a Fortune 500 commercial bank wanted to measure the effectiveness of leadership on the bottom line. They studied 50,000 managers and analyzed 500,000 feedback instruments (commonly called 360-degree feedback reports) to gain the opinions of those people that the managers led. What they found was incredible! The top 10% of extraordinary leaders (measured with these instruments) more than doubled company profits in comparison to the other 90%. They also found that poor leaders actually lost money.
Poor Leader = Negative Profits
Good Leader = Little Profits
Extraordinary Leader = Extraordinary Profits
Every one of our ACT Dental practice coaches will tell you that the NUMBER ONE determining factor in how healthy a practice is FINANCIALLY and EMOTIONALLY is the owner’s leadership capabilities. And we start with leadership with every practice we coach. The question always becomes, “Well, how do I become a better leader?”
Here Are 5 Ways You Can Continuously Improve Your Capabilities As Leader:
1. Encourage the people around you . Great leaders invest time in growing the people around them. Take your team members to great courses. Make a habit to do it all the time. Expose them to new and engaging learning experiences. It’s one of the best investments you will ever make in your business. Dentists often refer to team compensation expenses as COSTS . That is one way to look at it. I like to look at it another way. Try to use the word INVESTMENT because it implies a return. The money you invest in people not only in their pay (and their growth) will bring you returns you never dreamed of. Recently, I met a dentist at our course called ACTivate. He flew all the way from the east coast and didn’t bring his team. I asked him where his team was and he said, “I would never bring them to one of these. I would have to pay for their airfare, their hotels and all the meals to get them out here. That would be a fortune. What if I spend all this money and they LEAVE?” Well, I have a better question for you. What if you don’t invest the money in taking them to great courses to expand their knowledge and they STAY?
2. Make it a lifelong goal to become more self-aware . Stephen Covey said that the magic of great leaders exists between stimulus and response . Emotionally intelligent leaders have the ability to pause between a stimulus and response and behave appropriately. Take a few seconds to improve your response from any stimulus and see how it can make a better impact on those around you. Wondering if your self awareness score is low or high? Try this. Ask 3 people that know you really well (and preferably work with you every day) this question: “How self aware am I about how I contribute to my own problems?” Hopefully you can get an honest answer. Be ready to listen to what they have to say and use it positively.
3. Get a coach or a mentor. Great coaches and mentors can see things that you will never be able to see. Give your coach the permission to be brutally honest with you. Invite their feedback and ask them to hold you accountable. Every great athlete has a coach. If you want to be great, you should have one too.
4. Tell yourself you never have it all figured out. Embrace a lifelong journey of learning and curiosity. I met Dr. Pete Dawson at the age of 24. A mentor of mine made me take his class. I didn’t want to be there. I remember flying out to Boston and sitting in his course thinking to myself, “What is this guy going to teach me. I am 24. I have it all figured out.” Little did I know that day was going to change my life forever. He amazed me the entire time and transformed my life. At the end of the course I told him how much I enjoyed it, and I asked him this one question, “What’s the ONE THING you know for sure at this point in your career?” I’ll never forget his answer. He said, “The ONE THING I know for sure is that you can NEVER tell yourself you have it all figured out. First of all, when you come to that conclusion, you are constantly engaged when you’re learning. It keeps you young. Secondly, you will find that dentists who have it all figured out are not that much fun to be around.
5. Create a leadership team. I got this one from Patrick Lencioni and it’s one of the best things that has EVER happened in my business. A leadership team will do things you could never do! Create a small trusted circle of people that you can communicate with every day about the direction of your practice. Make it a rule to communicate without any filters. Let them be brutally honest with you and you with them. Work everyday to create more TRUST and embrace great CONFLICT. You’ll be amazed at what happens. Making an investment in a leadership team will not only make you a better leader, but it will greatly improve your overall emotional health (which is crazy important as a dentist). Your leadership team will have your back at all times and bring better people to your team in a way that you never could.
The secret to growing your practice is how well you grow YOU . Embrace a lifelong journey to grow your ability to see how you influence your own problems. Grow your ability to understand your practice. Grow your ability to communicate with people. Grow your ability to find and nurture great people. Grow your ability to think better every year.
When YOU get better, your PRACTICE gets better … and ultimately your LIFE gets better too. That is why I created ACT Dental Practice Coaching more than 20 years ago as a resource to predictability facilitate this process and make dentists dreams come alive. This is the greatest profession ever. If you need help in making YOU better and ultimately your practice better, we are here for you every step of the way.