7 ways to play this game at the right level

Every month I meet two or three new clients in order to deliver our Now Breathe practice analysis service. Often these clients are very aspirational, wanting to re-configure and grow an old practice or start a new one. Their ambition and excitement is self-evident and yet what surprises me is that many of them expect to achieve their dreams with very little professionalism, content to behave as if they were organising a kids’ birthday party rather than working to establish a million pound business.

After many years of practice analysis (which in reality is just as much about client analysis) I believe I can pick those who will succeed by their own parameters and those who will fail by simply observing the level of professionalism they are willing bring to their work. For example, their ability and willingness to: turn up on time, dress appropriately, take notes during a long meeting (including arriving with a pen and paper), follow through on requests, meet a deadline. And their willingness to pay for professional help (not just my help, but good professional folk such as accountants, marketers, web designers, interior designers, business managers etc).

Game. Picture by Transformer18, Creative Commons

How you play the game matters. Picture by Transformer18, Creative Commons

In my world of successful dental practice principals, the attitude of the principal will determine their success or failure. Principals who are willing and adventurous enough to play this game at the right level will succeed and principals who want to cut corners, save money and do everything themselves will tread water while watching (helplessly) as their practices shrink.

I’m not talking about clinical professionalism here; having left clinical dentistry in 2003, I don’t believe I am entitled to much of a view about what is good and bad clinical practice (at least, not out loud!). I’m talking about everything else in the business of owning a dental practice. A handful of years ago, this didn’t use to matter so much; patients came and profits were made pretty much regardless of the behaviour of the practice owner — however, now everything has changed.

So, what do I mean by “playing the game at the right level”? Well, here are seven areas of practice where success is dependent on a level of professionalism and business competence that many principals have yet to achieve:

  • Accurate and meaningful business numbers, updated every month, which tell the principal what is happening in the business. This should include double entry book-keeping (updated at least weekly).
  • A competent and experienced ops manager (and if you want to grow your practice, a competent and experienced business manager, who’s remit includes finances, sales and marketing). Functional, minuted, relevant meetings and effective communications within the whole team.
  • A working, up to date, state of the art website with professional copy writing and professional, bespoke photography. Supported by excellent online marketing and social media.
  • A clean, modern, appropriate, well lit, well furnished, branded environment.
  • A reproducible, client-centric, on time client journey where everyone (receptionists, nurses, dentists, hygienists) know their role and are willing to perform.
  • New leads logged and dealt with away from a busy front desk. Conversion to new patients by trained staff who succeed at converting an average of 75 per cent phone leads and 35 per cent of email leads to new patient appointments.
  • Dentists/clinicians who have been trained and are willing and competent to offer patients choices and then able to treatment plan more than a single unit of dentistry without getting scared.

And a principal who can lead by example by: the way they show up, the quality of their communication, their timekeeping and follow through, their willingness to train and mentor their team and their obvious drive for success.

If you would like some help in playing this game at the right level, contact me for a chat:

e. simon.hocken@breathebusiness.co.uk

m. 07770 430576

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