10.21.11 Issue #502 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Overcome Your #1 Fear
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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As children, we were encouraged to face our fears. Don't be afraid of the dark. Don't be a chicken. Carnival rides aren't scary. But we quickly learn that fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, it's a powerful instinct that can protect us in potentially risky situations. It can be the little voice that warns us not to walk down the dark street alone. It's that temporary hesitation that causes us to think twice about trying the exotic hors d'oeuvres. Or it's the voice of experience that tells us that great idea may not be so great. The key is sifting through the fears that guide us toward intelligent decisions and the fears that impede our true potential as professionals.

For new dentists enrolled in our Practice Start-Up Program, most acknowledge five primary fears when it comes to opening their own practice. I talked about two in last week's newsletter. Below are the top 3.

#3 - Not Being Able to Hire the Right People for Lack of Money
Certainly, for a new practice the amount of money varies depending on the dentist and the overall start-up situation. In some circumstances, the dentist’s spouse will run the business for a time, but that’s not always feasible or necessarily good for the practice. The bottom line is that it’s better to pay a quality employee with experience than to hire cheap and pay for it tenfold down the road. Additionally, having a well defined hiring process from the start - as outlined in the McKenzie Management “How to Hire” book - is critical to ensuring that when it comes to building your team, you’re picking the top players and not a bunch of benchwarmers.

#2 - Not Enough New Patients
Dentists are afraid that when they open the doors on that bright shiny new practice, they won't have any new patients. There is good reason for this fear. We see too many new practices that don't budget to market their services. It is critical that new practices have a clearly defined marketing strategy that begins months in advance of the opening. As part of this process, the doctor works with the marketing division of McKenzie Management and with the help of professionals establishes the practice's logo, overall brand, marketing materials, website, etc.

The bottom line - if you do not tell people about your practice through a professional marketing campaign, your fear of no new patients has a much greater chance of becoming a reality. It is critical that doctors budget 4-6% of their anticipated production for the coming year for marketing. Sadly, we see doctors in a panic because they have spent a fortune equipping multiple operatories with all the “must haves” they couldn’t live without. Yet the doctor has virtually no money left to market the practice. 

#1 - The Competition
Interestingly, it's not the competition most new practices need to be concerned about. Rather, the bigger concern should be what they are doing and what they can be doing to set them apart and to establish their niche in the community. Then the whole matter of competition quickly becomes irrelevant. If you've done your homework, studied the demographic and psychographic reports available through McKenzie Management, and opened your new practice in an area that can support a dentist with your skill set/specialties, then the rest is a matter of doing what you do best, starting with superior customer service.

Many dentists think their practices deliver excellent customer service, but few train their teams to ensure excellence and even fewer monitor customer service. Most business staff have no understanding of how to most effectively manage new patient phone calls, how to build rapport, how to make the prospective patient feel good about calling this office.  Something as fundamental as doing what they promise they will do is often overlooked by staff. If you promise the patient that you will send them information, contact their insurance company, phone in their prescriptions, etc. - do it! Too many staff allow patient promises to fall through the cracks, thereby eroding patient confidence in the entire practice.

Additionally, rather than worrying about the dentists down the street, go visit them. Walk into their offices and introduce yourself. Check out the interior, pay attention to how staff and the doctors make you feel when you walk in the door. If you don't feel welcome there, I can virtually guarantee that their patients don't either. Study your competition, get to know them, and offer to take their emergencies when they are away.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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