Too Stressed for Success? Do This.
What does it mean to be “successful”? Are you successful when you graduate from dental school? Certainly, that is a significant achievement. How about when you open your own practice? That too is no easy undertaking. Is your definition of success making it through an entire 12 months without staff turnover or a full day without a cancellation or no-show? Are you successful when you have a fully funded retirement account? Obviously, your own sense of “success” may take many forms, depending on your individual circumstances and the desired outcomes.
Every achievement - be it completing dental school, opening a new practice, or choosing to pursue a higher level of success - requires tremendous work and dedication. It doesn’t just happen, as you well know. Consider the question I posed in the first sentence. What does it mean to be “successful”? For some, it’s reducing stress, for others it’s having more free time, and for many, it’s those as well as improving their financial standing.
When we sit down with doctors who are frustrated and believe their practices could be and should be more successful, there are several common factors that we find. Although these doctors are very good dentists, they do not have adequate knowledge of the business side of their profession. They tend to be stressed and generally unhappy with their teams, their practices, and, in some cases, even their patients. The rigors of running a small business have become all consuming. Often they are overextended and don’t have the time to educate themselves. They hire employees with “previous dental experience” because they hope that the employees will know what to do, will instinctively know what the doctor wants, and will solve the business problems facing the practice. Yet the practice continues to spin its wheels.
It is also common to find struggling practices led by dentists who have a very strong need to be intimately involved in the minute details. They struggle to let staff take ownership of practice systems that could reduce stress and improve productivity. These doctors have difficulty trusting others. They believe “success” lies in control, but this control often exacerbates their frustrations because they cannot focus on leading their teams to achieve larger practice goals.
As any practice owner knows all too well, being solely responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the business is running as it should be is a job of Herculean proportions. Moreover, dentists who are not achieving the level of success that they desire are oftentimes routinely placing want ads because “good help is hard to find.” These doctors struggle with determining what they expect of their employees. They just want them to “do their job” but they can’t articulate specifically what that job is. They dislike the human resources aspects of running the practice. Consequently, those systems are weak and cost the practice tens of thousands of dollars in inefficiency and lost productivity. These are among the major factors that interfere with a dentist’s ability to achieve the level of success that s/he desires.
Conversely, those that are the most successful make specific choices. They surround themselves with a team of trusted advisors to help them shore up the areas in which the practice struggles. They are open to creating specific systems of checks and balances where responsibilities are delegated to well-trained employees and practice owners are informed to the degree they desire to be and need to be. When a client tells us, “My employees now think like CEOs” it represents a significant step for the practice because it demonstrates that employees have taken ownership for their individual practice systems.
Additionally, the most successful practices with the most satisfied doctors and staff also have stable teams. The employees are well trained, happy, and productive. They perform at a much higher level, delivering an infinitely better quality product - be it customer service, hygiene, collections, treatment presentation, etc.
When employees are engaged, they are excited and energized. That alone pays huge dividends in productivity. But when they are actively problem solving and looking for better and more efficient ways to carry out their responsibilities, you are on your way to building a truly “successful practice.”
Next week – 7 Strategies for a Successful Practice.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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