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Episode #2 The One Where We Turn Your Practice into a Dental Referral Machine (Part 1)

Dental Referral Machine Audio, Part 1 Get ready! A word-of-mouth practice is what you have always dreamed of having. This is the episode where we show you exactly how to make that happen!

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5 Reason Why You MUST Have A Team Leader

As long as people are breathing there are going to be SOME issues!

1. Eyes and ears
: This person IS the eyes and ears for you and the practice while you are producing dentistry. You
 NEED someone on your side. What I mean is you may think (or hope) that your whole team 
is on your side, but it’s not until someone really steps up and takes control of things that you
 realize all the things that were happening that you had no idea about. It could be as simple as a 
team member surfing the web during down time or something that you think is minimal, but you 
are too busy to notice. Once I started addressing those small things that add up, everything started
 to flow much better. For example, I always explain it to my team as if you are surfing the web
 while on the clock, you are stealing from Dr. Mohan. I also found that once this was addressed, 
everyone was leaving the office on time and not 20-30 minutes late because they were trying to 
get all of their end of the day stuff done. It just really helps keep the whole team on track and 
moving towards the same goal.

2. Team issues
: This is one of the biggest problems I face on a day-to-day basis. This is also the number one
 headache cited by dentists in their practice. If only we could be a “One man” (or woman)
 show! Hmm, there’s an idea! Don’t get me wrong I have a great team but there is always 
something going on. In other words, as long as people are breathing there are going to be issues.
It could be as simple as someone wanting to take a vacation day sometime in the near future. Or, it could be someone arriving late to work consistently. The most important part of this is that
 someone addresses it immediately if not sooner. These issues become bigger when they drag on
 longer than necessary. I tell our team members that if I have to babysit them, they don’t work
 here anymore. Which translates into: “if I have to address things with you more than once or 
twice, you just ain’t gettin’ it!”

3. Delegating: 
Delegating is one of the single most important things that a dentist can do. A team leader can 
instantly make a practice WAY more profitable. She (or he) takes the day-to-day tasks off of 
your plate so you can produce more dentistry, resulting in a better, less stressful practice for
 everyone. A lot of dentists do not trust someone enough to delegate much of anything, which 
is fine, if you want to be stagnant and stressed. The other question is “What do I delegate?”
 Truly everything in our practice that does not include producing dentistry or rapport-building 
with patients is delegated to the team leader or passed on to another team member by me. 
Realize here, too, that increased productivity does NOT only involve seeing more patients.
This is just not the way it works. You can try it, but it is the quickest recipe for burn out
 that’s available.

4. Training
Ideally,  you already have someone on your team that can train anyone who walks through the 
door. If you don’t have a system set up to train your new team members, they will largely train 
themselves and that’s just scary! Training is easily one of the MOST overlooked revenue-
enhancing opportunities in a practice. I often get the question “What should I do when a team
member doesn’t do what I want them to do?” The answer normally lies with a failure to train 
properly and systematically. I hear a lot of excuses from dentists, such as no time to train, etc.
The truth is that you can not afford NOT to take the time to train to completion. There needs 
to be time appropriated to training every week until the job is done, no matter what. Don’t
 let anything get in the way! If you don’t get the training done, the new team member is not a 
failure, but the system for training has failed. It’s very important to keep expanding your existing 
teams’ training as well as that of new team members.

5. Intercepting and diffusing patient objections:
A patient may have a small grievance or a huge complaint. Either way it needs to be addressed, 
and you (the doctor) don’t need to be getting interrupted 10 times during a procedure or to 
have 20 sticky notes waiting for you at the end of the day. This is also key for your financial
arrangement system. You need a team leader that can intercept and overcome those for you. In
other words, for a long, long time, we were not getting FIRM-SIGNED financial arrangements
 done in our practice and our accounts receivable was totally out of control. Please do yourself 
a favor and if this is the way your practice operates, STOP IT today or sooner! Someone in
 your practice is not getting paid, and I guarantee that person is you. You owe it to yourself, your
 team and your patients. Patients are much less happy if they owe you money. If you don’t have 
a team leader that can intercept and overcome patient objections, I guarantee you are leaving the
 office at night with a big headache and sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

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Tough Choices in Dental Practice and Management

Life is all about making choices. As practicing dentists, we are not excluded. We must make choices regarding our lifestyle, our workplace, even how we treat patients.
 Often, one decision leads to another level of choices, and another, and another. The decisions you make today will create the environment you, your team, your patients, and everyone else around you enjoy.


Work Arrangements.

Not only do I have to make choices for myself, but these choices affect my family. A primary example is the decision to practice or not to practice. Clearly this is a huge decision, and one that creates very real consequences in your life and the life of your family. You may have the option to be home, however this is a very expensive choice. You may also choose to work a reduced schedule for more flexibility. You must choose how many days to work, and what hours to make yourself available.
Another big choice is the decision to own a practice or practice as an associate. There are pros and cons to each. You must decide how much you are willing and able to take on. As an associate, you will have to worry less about the business of the business. You will more or less be able to practice dentistry and go home. Practice owners generally earn more, but that additional income comes with a cost of time, energy, and stress. You must evaluate the pros and cons and choose the best fit for your situation.
Finally, you must decide if you will work in a group practice or go solo. Again, there are reasons for and against each option. In a solo practice you have the option to run it your way without having to get the other doctors or owners on board. However, the group practice allows more flexibility in schedule and provides coverage for time off. It also allows you to share in some of the risk and expense of practice ownership.


When I first bought my practice, I was also just starting my family. We had four kids in a little less than 8 years. I was passionate about my practice, but of course, more passionate about my family. I was determined to find a way to do both as well as I possibly could.
One of the things I quickly realized is that time and productivity have NOTHING to do with one another. I made a conscious effort to decrease my hours while learning how to increase my production. The ways that I did this were to determine what I could delegate, what I could automate and what I could eliminate. I am the sole owner of my practice, but I have two associate dentists and I have team members that I can trust and delegate many tasks and feel confident about those decisions.
 I am constantly faced with the choice of the field trip or a productive work day at the office. One of the ways that I balance this is to work in a lot of planning time for my family schedule and weigh my options carefully. I have also taken extensive training to make myself more efficient at work and at home.
 My kids are fine with my missing the occasional event, just so that they know that I always want to be there. They understand responsibilities and they have their own at home as well. They do many chores at home, as it was with our farm family of previous generations.


Clinical Dental Practice

Once you have settled on the type of work/life balance you hope to achieve, you must go to the next level of decisions. Beyond the basics of dental care, you must decide which procedures you will offer at your practice and which you will choose to refer. Obviously, referring patients on to a specialist takes money out of your practice. You may also decide to add some niche procedures to your practice. 
These niche procedures allow you the opportunity to attract new clients and receive referrals; however they also require special training. For example, in my practice we have chosen to add Invisalign and that has meant that I get to provide a service every day that patients love, rather than dread and attempt to put off their treatment.
 Continuing education is required to maintain your license. Many dentists choose to stay well within their comfort zone and choose courses specific to that comfort zone. Other dentists choose to try new things and branch out. Some dentists take only the minimum amount of continuing education that is required. Others take courses on a regular basis. These choices will affect the services and level of care you can offer your patients.
 Another choice you must make in the area of services is who will perform those services. You must choose what to delegate to the dental assistants and what services you will perform. This is a choice that can affect how many patients the practice can see in a day and how much time the doctor will spend with each patient.


Practice Management

You must choose how you will manage your practice and those who work in it. I have had many employees come and go, some better than others. Rarely do I lose someone that is a key component of my team. We have chosen to work hard on creating a work environment that is fun and profitable for everyone.
 When attending continuing education courses and practice management comes up, be careful about who you choose to listen to and who you choose to ignore. In my personal experience, I always prefer to trust another practicing dentist. Someone who is dealing with the same daily issues that I am as opposed to someone sitting behind a desk somewhere with theories and ideals, but no experience.
 Systems must be developed and implemented to create order and levels of responsibility. Things run more smoothly if you have systems. Everything is coordinated and each person has their area of responsibility. These systems ensure that all tasks are completed, follow-up is done, and everything will be ready to go the following day.
Another obvious choice is your team – and who will be on it. This choice also includes choosing if you need to remove someone from your team. Anyone who has a bad attitude, or lack of respect for you and the team should be removed. The first person I ever fired was a dental assistant that happened to be married to an attorney. That was not fun! I also remember the relief I felt after I did what had to be done. 


A final choice, and one that is less obvious is choosing a mentor. Very often, we fall into a mentor relationship. The doctor I bought my practice from was my mentor for many years. We did not always see eye to eye, but I always listened intently to his advice as I had a deep respect for his abilities and the practice he had created. In choosing mentors, reach out to those you respect in your community. I do not believe you will ever hear a “no” from someone you admire and respect.
When I first bought my practice, I ran my practice mainly out of fear. Now I choose confidence, and refuse to make decisions based mainly on fear of loss. Managing a practice requires a level-head so as to manage the choices you must make everyday. But keep in mind, the choices are yours to make. You control your choices and their results. Good luck and enjoy whatever you choose in your practice!

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Check Out This Post!!

Check out my good friend, Dr. RItu Rao’s recent blog post, find it here or at http://raodentistry.wordpress.com/:
Get The Skinny On How To Avoid The Dentist 
by Rao Dentistry. 
I hate my ‘fat’ jeans. You know, the pair you have to reach for when you pack on a few extra pounds.
I know, I know. I know the whole eating better, exercising more, drink more water, etc. etc. But then I think, hey, life is short and indulge a little every now and then. A cookie. Or two. That slice of cake.
But never for very long.
Why?
Is it because I have super human will power, or a super model’s appetite?
Um . . . no.
It’s because I HATE my fat jeans.
H. A. T. E.
Enough to walk away, no matter how reluctantly, from any sugary treat tempting me into submission and reach for something healthier, like a treadmill.
 So much for the power of positive thinking, huh? The benefits of a positive attitude, how it can change your life.
But is it wrong to open the door to such negative thinking?
Maybe. All I know is, that for me, it WORKS.
And I’m not the only one.
I see it everyday at our practice. While most people don’t like coming to the dentist, a select few come pretty close to guaranteeing they don’t. They’ve hacked the system.
These are the people who show up every 6 months like clockwork, rarely skipping their check up and teeth cleaning appointment. They brush and floss every day as if they’re getting paid to.
They even go a step further and invest in mega prevention: a quality electric toothbrush to get the cleanest clean possible, and a night guard to protect their teeth . . . and actually use the darn things.
The result? They seldom have dental problems. They breeze in and out. Their appointments are short and sweet, uneventful. Any excitement there may be comes from catching up about their family and vacations, not their teeth. They’re nowhere close to the drill.
Why?
Because they don’t want to see me.
They make a good case for the power of negative thinking, don’t you think? They take control, do what they need to do, and make it work for them.They save time, money and treatment, and in return, get great oral health.
In short, they use this power for good, not evil, and win.
And now, if you want to avoid the dentist, so can you. And it’s fat-free.

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