Considering Self-Help to Fix Your Practice? Read This First
Admitting you need help isn’t easy. Most people want to fix whatever problems they’re facing on their own rather than look for outside guidance. They convince themselves a little self-help will set them on the right path, and they vow to start making the necessary changes. Problem is, their self-help plan never really gets off the ground and the situation just gets worse.
Over the years, I’ve heard many dentists say they’ve decided to focus on self-help to fix their struggling practice instead of hiring a consultant. Eventually, whether it’s weeks, months or years later, these dentists find they simply can’t do it all on their own. They end up calling McKenzie Management, frustrated but ready to admit they could use some expert guidance.
The truth is, many dentists struggle with the business side of running a practice. It’s not something you learned much about in dental school, and it’s probably safe to say the thought of owning a small business likely isn’t what attracted you to the profession. If you’re already stressed out and worried about your practice, trying to figure out exactly what you’re doing wrong and then making changes on your own is only going to add to the pressure – and probably won’t get you where you want to be.
I recently read an article by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., that outlines exactly why self-help often doesn’t work. His reasons make a lot of sense, and might even convince you that hiring a consultant is the best move after all.
It’s difficult to be objective. You spend hours in your practice every day, so of course you know what the problems are, right? Not necessarily. For example, you might know patient retention is down, but have no idea that the long wait time to get in to see you is what’s driving patients away. This stems from a scheduling problem.
The point is, to really understand what your main challenges are, you need objectivity. That’s the only way you can accurately assess your practice and determine what changes need to be implemented to increase productivity numbers and your bottom line. A consultant can give you that important outside perspective and point out issues you didn’t even know existed.
It’s also common for people to deny or distort the truth about the problems they’re dealing with. They create defense mechanisms, such as externalization. What does that mean? It means you know something’s wrong, but instead of taking accountability, you blame people around you for the problem. A dentist might blame low case acceptance numbers on the patients themselves, rather than admitting it could be because only 5-10 minutes are being used to go over treatment chairside, and no follow-up is being done when patients say they need to think about it.
Bottom line: If you don’t understand why you’re having certain problems, you won’t be able to take the necessary steps to fix them. You might even create more problems for yourself if you try.
You don’t really know how to fix the problems in your practice. To create a useful self-help plan, you need to know exactly what’s causing practice problems and how to fix those problems. That means you’ll need to spend a lot of time researching and studying to determine the changes you need to make. Busy dentists typically don’t have that kind of spare time, so while they intend to put in the work, it just doesn’t get done and the practice continues to suffer. On the other hand, dental consultants see these problems every day and know what it takes to put a hurting practice back on the right track.
You just don’t have the motivation. No matter how much research you do and what changes you intend to make, none of it will do your practice any good if you’re not able to execute. You need the motivation and willpower to actually make it happen, which can be difficult if you don’t have someone, like a consultant, monitoring your progress and rooting you on. Not everyone is disciplined enough to follow a self-help plan, no matter how much they want to fix their problems and achieve success.
The thought of relying on self-help to fix practice problems can be appealing, but it comes with many challenges that will likely keep you from meeting your goals. If you hire a knowledgeable dental consultant, you’ll have much better results. Consultants share their expertise and proven strategies for success. They offer support, guidance and feedback that will help your practice thrive.
If you’re ready to benefit from a dental consultant with more than 30 years of experience, feel free to give me a call. I’m happy to talk through your problems and create a plan that will help your practice meet its full potential.
Next week: 4 ways your practice can benefit from a dental consultant
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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