If you want what the 1% have, you have to do what the 1% do

We all know the problem for Dental Practice owners: They have to do the dentistry as well as lead and oversee the running of their business. 

And because their fees are important for practice cash flow, doing the dentistry tends to get the priority time and priority energy, and running the business may come a distant second.

In order to help our clients disconnect from their everyday routine and reconnect with their business (and themselves), the biggest call we make on their time is to ask them to spend a few days with us in November.

One of the ironies of my job is that very often my meetings with clients, be they telephone or face to face, get squeezed into the downtime between them seeing patients! Our Client Account Managers (Nicola and Claire) spend many hours trying to find appointments that don’t interfere with earning fees such as: before dentists start work, after they finish work, in their lunch breaks, between patients etc etc. This is rarely a good time to discuss the serious business of making a dental practice successful. Better suited to the much less serious business of filling teeth. (I’m not knocking it, I just remember that when I owned my practices, the patients and the dentistry were the easy bit, successfully running my practices was much more difficult…)

So, what do the 1% do?

Well, they have many successful strategies in common but one of the most powerful is that they schedule regular time to work on their business.This includes taking regular time every year to create, review, revisit and update the long and shorter term strategic plans for their business. Because of this, they get really clear about how their practice is going to perform in 5 years time, 3 years time, in 12 months time and within the next 12 weeks.

The problem for many dental practice owners is that they are too busy doing dentistry to work on their business, let alone create 5 year, 3 year and I year business plans which inspire them and their team to move their practices forwards. So they bumble along making decisions based on their next best guess, rather than following a considered and well-researched business plan. Paradoxically, this has worked for some dental practice owners for the last 20 years. However, it is obvious to all of us that since the banks fell over, the game has changed and that having a BDS no longer guarantees a ticket to profitability.

So, every November, we facilitate a workshop in the peace and quiet of South Cornwall to enable our dentists and their partners to create:

  • A 3-5 year strategic business plan
  • A 1 year functional business plan
  • A set of actions that will ensure the functional business plan is implemented for the next 12 weeks and the right people are/will be in place to carry out these actions.

These plans then power their practices forwards until they need to be revisited and revised. At the same time we also encourage them to rebalance their time and their personal finances in order to remove the commonest cause of stress for dentists, not enough time and not enough money! It’s fair to say that the clients who have invested in doing this work have more success and achieve it faster than those who haven’t.

For me, the real value in having a detailed plan to take your practice forwards is that the plan will create a series of waypoints over time and this makes it simple for you to measure your progress. For example the waypoints will tell you when to target and measure your progress against indicators such as:

1. Turnover
2. New Patients
3. New services,
4. Profit
5. Net Worth

Regardless of what you are measuring, all of us love to feel that we are making progress towards a goal. This progress enables us to feel good about ourselves and boosts our self-esteem. Making progress against measurable goals makes the whole team feel better about their work and themselves.

Dental Practice owners who don’t have the luxury of a strategic business plan tend to experience challenges such as these:

1. They don’t know where to invest their time to make their practice more successful.
2. They don’t know where to invest their money to make their practice more successful.
3. They don’t know who to hire next.
4. They don’t know where to expand their services.
5. Their teams have no idea what they are working towards and what’s in it for them.
6. They won’t know when it’s finished.
7. They have no idea who might buy their practice when it is time to realise their asset.

The second crucial area we address during our November workshops is the area of leadership. Very few Dental Practice owners know how to lead, inspire, motivate and acknowledge themselves, let alone their teams. This means that very often, their best laid plans inevitably fail as they can’t do it all on their own!


So, if you are serious about taking your practice to the next level, particularly during this economic cycle, I believe that you had better start doing what the one percent do!


Simon Hocken Director of Coaching, Breathe Business


To learn more about how we can help you and your business move to the next level, contact the Breathe team on 0845 299 7209 orinfo@nowbreathe.co.uk


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