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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Regrets of the Less Than Perfect Practice
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.” - Theodore Roosevelt

CEO Training Course #CEO239

“There is so much I wish I had done” said Dr. Smilegood (names have been changed) during the first day of the Dentist CEO Business Training that he and his wife, Elle, attended together.

Dr. Smilegood explained, “Starting out, I was overly confident in my ability to manage my practice and I never sought help from outside management professionals. I made costly mistakes along the way but I thought I had time to correct the mistakes by learning from them. I am not prepared to retire and must practice another 10 years, and I want to do it the right way because I no longer have time for mistakes.”

McKenzie Management’s Dentist CEO Business Training Program provides dentist/owners with the tools necessary to manage a successful practice and the importance each business operational system plays in the overall growth and prosperity of the practice. Each dental business system creates a domino effect, in that if one fails it leads to the failure of all. Understanding how each system supports and compliments the next brings understanding of the mechanics of practice management.

In solo practice for the last 20 years, Dr. Smilegood never entertained the thought of hiring an associate. He was convinced he would not like someone else working on “his” patients. But now he wants more time to travel with his wife and time with his children and grandchildren. Hiring a well-vetted associate who is committed to the practice will allow the production to grow faster and higher than a single general dentist could ever accomplish. After examining the plan to hire an associate and where this person would practice within the office, it all seemed much simpler than he had imagined.

Discovering what Dr. Smilegood did during a typical business day at the office was an eye-opener to mismanagement of time and resources. Much of the “busy work” that took him away from patients and the team could have been delegated years ago to other team members. Such tasks as:

Writing letters to specialists or other providers regarding patients
Writing thank you notes to patients and others
Clinical note placement in patient’s computer records
Importing x-rays and reports into patient charts

“I just couldn’t trust my employees to do things the way I wanted it done.” He said.. In hindsight, Dr. Smilegood decided he did not know how to delegate or train the team to do things as he wished.

Over the years, he built a long-standing team – but he felt one of his biggest mistakes was allowing the practice to be “staff centered” versus “patient centered.” He was paying higher than average salaries and benefits, yet the team resisted the changes he wanted to make to help the practice grow, such as more patient-friendly hours, newer technology and equipment.

Dr. Smilegood remarked, “I feel I should have fired people sooner when I knew they weren’t a good fit for my practice. It got so bad that I didn’t want to practice anymore. I finally threw in the towel and realized if I want to practice the way I envision, I need people working with me who share that vision, not people fighting with me daily to get their way.”

The discussion lead to the importance of team meetings and investment in team trainings to improve the staff’s involvement in the success of the practice. The focus must be placed on the patient, not the team. Team training should be an ongoing system in the practice so the team feels like you are investing in their success also.

Dr. Smilegood was the first to admit he lacked basic leadership skills, but he was willing to learn to be a true CEO of his “new” practice. During our training, he wrote a new mission statement and we clarified his practice vision. Along with his wife as his support system, he was ready to get started on making the practice of his vision – this time with the tools needed to succeed.

Need help becoming a true CEO of your practice?  Reach out for help today and call McKenzie Management.

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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