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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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The Tipping Point
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“The word "Tipping Point" comes from the world of epidemiology. It's the name given to that moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards.” - Malcolm Gladwell.

With the New Year comes the opportunity to start fresh, to do the things we said we would do last year. It can be a motivator to change or it can just be another empty year of unresolved resolutions. What will it be for you? Malcolm Gladwell writes that for every change to occur, there has to be a “tipping point” or an accelerator to bring about a change in behavior. It is like a virus in the fact that once started, it can spread rapidly.

Kevin Myers - in his eBook “How to Lose 20 lbs in 30 Days” - defines the tipping point as “an emotional event (typically painful) that you feel in your heart that provides stimulus to get you to at least seriously consider changing your habits and losing weight. A bolt of lightning that really gets your emotions boiling. “It needs to be a major emotional event that causes you to rally those negative emotions to channel them into an unstoppable positive force.  Without this you will remain enslaved by old habits and excuse yourself into the comfort zone of complacency.

Malcolm Gladwell’s goal is to show people that they can start a “positive epidemic” on their own in any setting - whether it is personal, business or global. Behavior change can start a “contagion” of positive energy that can infect people involved in a business, a neighborhood or a country.

Research and on the job experience in hundreds of dental offices has shown me that change is often seen as frightening and may make things worse. Many offices operate well below their potential because the motivation to change is not to the boiling point. Or it may be at a boiling point for the doctor, but the staff or a staff member puts out the flame or vice versa.

Have you reached your “tipping point”? If so, where do you look for what to change?  Who will be on board for change in your practice?

The first thing to do is define your goals. What does your dream practice look like, and are you doing the dentistry you want to do? What is your production/collection goal? Put it out in front of you so that you see it every day. When you don’t make it, how do you feel?  Is the emotion enough to make you change some behaviors? Recently a Business Coordinator in a small solo practice contacted me with an issue that is her “tipping point.” 

Dear Belle,

I have been working towards Nordstrom-like customer service in our practice and the reviews online are fantastic. Yesterday a patient with a history of being late or just not showing up came in 40 minutes late. I had to move our very good patient down an hour to accommodate this person. I wanted to reschedule this patient but the doctor said she could make it work. The doctor had problems with the first patient and ran over a half hour. She was visibly angry and took it out on our very nice patient who has spent thousands of dollars in this office and is never late. She threw instruments on the tray and was short with the dental assistant and avoided her normal friendly exchange with the patient. Doesn't she understand that to lose a good patient and the family of this patient derails so much of my work to make this practice a success? This is not the first time that this has happened, but I am done and am looking for a practice that shares my values.

B. Friendly

This employee was a catalyst for positive growth in this practice and worked to provide positive connections with patients. She will take her skills elsewhere and surely make a difference there too.

Identify your tipping point that you will no longer accept the status quo, and now is the time for change. Look to the following areas to create a positive environment for change in your practice:

  1. Connections with staff such as morning huddles and positive team meetings. Have lunch together and build on the good in your people
  2. Get help from a professional coach if you are having anger issues with patients or staff.
  3. Get help becoming a better leader and communicator.
  4. Get help from McKenzie Management Consulting on building a more positive and profitable practice.
  5. Go digital and get rid of paper charts. Bring in the technology of the future and give your patients what they want “the best.”
  6. Provide the best customer service and patient care that your patients have ever had, and be consistent.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management'sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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