What do you want from your dental practice? Take a moment and answer that question. Seriously, stop reading for three to five minutes and ask yourself, “What do I want for my team, for my patients, for my family, for me? What does it look like, what will it feel like when I actually get there?” We all have dreams, hopes, and ideally, a vision.
This is the story of how you get from here to there.
Right now, you’re here, but in the future, you want to be there and from here, there looks pretty good – and yet so few get there. Why is that? Of those who do “make it,” a few just get lucky, but most will have a strategy – they will plan and execute, set goals and review, and they’ll obtain the information needed to lead them to their desired destination. If you’re looking to get there, you need to chart a course and then monitor your progress every step of the way.
So, how do you reach a desired destination? It depends on the destination and distance and effort required to get there. Walking from your couch to the kitchen? Easy, hopefully. Getting from your driveway to the top of Mt. Everest? Definitely not easy.
But regardless of where you are right now, you can get to where you want to be. And the road between here and there is shorter for those who know the way.
Finding The Trail
For the past few years, I’ve coached the American Fork (Utah) High School Mountain Bike Team. Three to four times a week we identify a trail we want to ride and a meeting destination, usually at the trailhead or close by. With over 100 young athletes on the team there are always a handful showing up late to practice. Teenagers, right? Each team member understands we always start on time and, then, for latecomers, I provide detailed course instructions via text or email so they can find the trail and their team.
Recently, we all gathered together to ride a trail called Thunder-Dome, which required my riders to follow a course just to get to the trailhead. Shortly after reaching the destination myself, I received a call from one of my late athletes. “Coach Weston, I can’t find the trailhead!” I asked him if he had followed the course I sent via text and he responded by saying, “I think so?” I laughed a little and asked, “Well, where are you now?” He then responded in a whisper and with some obvious discouragement, “I don’t know.”
Far too often I run into dental practice owners who have given up on ever getting “there.” Of course they have a hope that success is possible, but they usually don’t take the time to first identify where they are and to then map out the course leading to where they want to be. Does this apply to you? If someone asked where your practice is at, right now, would you also respond with “I don’t know”?
The good news? After working with over 8,000 dental practices, I have seen real growth happen as these practices consistently apply fundamental principles. Success is ultimately being where we want to be, when we want to be there, and perhaps most importantly, knowing how we got there. So, what are those principles?
And now for your moment of truth.
If I share these principles with you, will you try to learn? Will you discuss them with your team? Will you map out a course? Will you follow the course? If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, you will get there. I promise. Time and again, I’ve seen it happen. It can happen for you. But you must – must, choose to act.
Most of us know how to set goals, right? We’ve all sat through classes and seminars on goal setting and understand the importance of setting goals in all aspects of life, but for some reason, we reach very few of our goals and sometimes even settle for less. Why would you do that? Why do I do that? Honestly, it’s simple. We have not learned how to master the techniques in living in a way to reach those goals.
I love data, and I recently came across some statistics put out by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, who performed an online and direct-mail response survey around New Year’s resolution and goals. Only 9.2% of the individuals surveyed were successful in keeping their goals. Why is this number so low?
M. Russell Ballard, a successful U.S. businessman and religious leader, had this to say about reaching our goals, “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our potential…”
We all have unrealized potential, right? Whether personally or professionally, there are still mileposts yet to reach. If we don’t want that future day to come when we look back on our lives and regret what might have been, we’ll need a vision and a plan.
This all being true, let’s start with four important steps toward reaching your goals.
- Identify where your “here” is: Where are you right now?
- Identify what your “there” is: Where do you want to be?
- Design and develop a process. This is a map for you and your team, your path to get from here to “there.”
- Monitor. Measure your progress every step of the way. This is the step that will help you know when and if you’ve fallen off-course.
How did one dentist put these 4 steps in practice? Find out.
After a couple of years of seeing plateaued results, one of our most successful practices owner decided to actually do something about not reaching his past goals by putting these four steps to work. At the time, he was trying to figure why his patient volume was up by 12%, but his gross revenue was flat. He knew he had a problem, but he didn’t know what the problem was. Or, in other words, he knew where he wanted to be, but he didn’t really know where he was. He was lost. Why? There were lots of possibilities, but just guessing wasn’t an option. He knew he had to first know why he wasn’t growing in order to make needed changes.
This doctor used the power of practice intelligence to go below the surface and find the root cause of the problem. In other words, using data, he worked hard to discover as best he could where he really was, and that’s when he found the source of his problem: There was a decrease in average production-per-patient revenue.
Armed with this data, he and his team began looking at all of the possible reasons for the decrease. After rejecting several possible causes because the data didn’t validate them, this practice determined that the cause of their lagging performance was same-day treatment acceptance. They got excited, because this metric was something they could do something about!
His next action was to meet as a team and discuss and practice techniques that would increase same-day case acceptance. Every member of the treatment team took ownership of their role, and then they went to work, focused on improving their case presentation skills with patients who needed treatment. In just a few short weeks, they saw an amazing 10% increase in case acceptance and a 50% increase in presented treatment, leading to an all-time high in total practice revenue.
I’m happy to report this successful practice owner and his team continue to monitor this and many other key metrics in their practice. Step four, in case you missed it.
Back on the mountain
So, back on the mountain here in Utah, after giving my young rider the assurance that he’d get to us and be able to practice with the team, I then asked him if he could find his way back to the parking lot. He answered hesitantly, “Yes, I think so.”
Well, I was willing to work with that hope. I instructed him to ride to the parking lot and promised him that I would be there to meet him and that, together, we would navigate through the course to the trailhead. I’m happy to report he found the parking lot, and together we made our way to the rest of the team. I’ll never forget the smile on his face when he made it to his destination.
If you’re not quite sure where your practice is at right now, don’t stress! Dental Intelligence would love to help you discover your current “location” and then share several steps you can take to reach your desired destination. We call this a “practice analysis” and we provide it to eligible practices at no charge (you just need to use one of our approved practice management software programs). Visit us here and request your free analysis today. You CAN get there from here!