The 6 SCARY Truths They Kept From You…
And that are keeping you from your dreams.
“The first step to solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”
Do you have one of these scary problems?
Are you happy with the practice you have?
Are you making enough money to lead the lifestyle you desire?
Do you have a plan for an upcoming economic crisis?
Do you have a clear exit strategy?
Are the others who are dependent on you secure?
If you answered NO to ANY of these questions, please read on because;
THIS IS MEANT FOR YOU!
Recently, I’ve heard of several colleagues’ untimely deaths, their lives unfulfilled, their spouses holding the bag and their staffs wondering where their next paycheck was coming from. They failed to plan and in doing so, put their families, staffs and patients at risk. Hence…this plea to those who have the time and altitude to make some adjustments, to JUST DO IT!.
The people who advised you, who taught you, who helped you along your path to where you are now were all well-meaning. We don’t think any of them tried to trick you. However well-meaning they were, they lead you astray.
This report or “whitepaper” was written because we are sick and tired of hearing horror stories about dentists who are either unhappy or have failed to live their dream. We’re tired of hearing sad tales of woe and failure. We’re exhausted listening to:
FINANCIAL HORROR STORIES.
You are a hero! You deserve better.
For many of us, the untruths and deception began in dental school. Most schools lead their students to believe that their skills at closing a margin, diagnosing pathology or DOING any one of a thousand dental procedures is the key to future success.
That was more TRICK than TREAT.
We’re Practice Perfect Systems and I’m Michael Goldberg, the chief strategist. I’m a dentist just like you. Except, that I’ve had a significant case of Professional ADHD. I’ve done just about everything there is to do in dentistry. I still practice, teach, coach, consult and just love helping other, which is why I help run several charitable organizations too.
I told you I have ADHD! Just my form of it is more socially acceptable.
And, because I started at an early age (I graduated having just turned 24), and I had no role models to follow, I made just about all the mistakes that could have been made.
One of the dumbest mistakes is that I never focused on the money early on.
I’ve learned from many and attached myself to some very smart people early enough in my career to have saved me. It allowed me the ALTITUDE to make the appropriate adjustments. It allowed me the luxury of recovering from some 7-figure mistakes without going bankrupt. It allowed me the time to both recovers and plan ahead. Now, I’m living out the plan, pretty much as I’ve scripted it once I realized that I needed to write and direct the movie I was starring in (hence the title of my book…”From Here To Where?”
I want to help YOU from making some of the same mistakes I made.
And yet, I persevered, built a great practice (actually several), sold them and am now focusing on helping others such as YOURSELF.
I built a team that helps me help others strategically plan their lives to reach their goals and objectives.
We hope that the information below gives you some ideas you can immediately implement and that it prompts you to think, plan and most important…TAKE ACTION NOW!
1. Your dental skills do not dictate your success as a dentist.
We’ve seen hundreds of dentists who possess the knowledge and skills to do the best dentistry possible only to fail as businesspeople.
The quest for additional CE to learn new techniques and procedures has become a dental obsession.
The skill that is most important and that NO ONE is taught in any dental school we know is how to relate to people. There are few, if any dental sponsored CE in this realm. And, it’s the “people skills” that matter most in a service oriented business.
Plus, if you own your business, it’s your leadership skills that will enable you to grow your business. Ever see a course on that through dental school or society sponsored CE?
And what about marketing? Are you a marketer or a dentist? Do you need marketing?
Do you have the time to learn it or the time to implement it?
You see plenty of CE about that! You know WHY? Because there’s money to be made and you’re probably an easy mark, willing to do random acts.
What about hiring? Is that a skill they taught you in dental school? Have you seen dental CE on that one?
How about teaching your staff how to answer the phone? After all, you’re doing marketing, whose goal is to get people to pick up the phone and call your office. What happens when the potential new patient calls your office and it rings off the hook? Or what happens when the person answers and when asked if you participate with insurance the person stutters and says no…CLICK!
Do YOU have a: SALES PREVENTION DEPARTMENT?
Hiring and training staff is an important part of running a successful practice.
The bottom line is to know what you don’t know and either learn it or better yet, find someone who does it well and get the appropriate guidance and help.
We’ve seen too many dentists spend extraordinary amounts of time doing things others should be doing (and better at too!) rather than focusing on the special skills they have that NO ONE else can do in the practice; like doing dentistry!
Leveraging one’s time is a key process successful businesses do well. Would you want your Hygienist answering the phones? Or, would she be better used seeing patients?
Want to spend time and money and get the best bang for your buck? Hone your leadership and people skills.
2. Being loved is nice but being respected is better for business.
We all need recognition of some sort. We try really hard to do the best work we can day in and day out. Dentistry is a really hard job, especially when it comes to getting appreciation and recognition.
We start off behind the 8-ball because so many of our patients are scared stiff of us or of what we do. Just the office itself evokes fear. That’s why so many people stay away.
We try to get people to ‘like’ us in many ways. Perhaps the worst way is by giving our services away for nothing or “discounting” what we do.
Have you asked yourself why you do that?
It’s because you want to be liked. And also, you don’t want to be told “NO”, which is just another from of rejection that so many dentists just try so hard to avoid. That’s one of the reasons dentists are terrible at closing cases. They say that they’re “conservative”. What’s really happening is that they’ll do anything to avoid hearing “NO”.
So how are you to succeed and to routinely hear ‘YES” rather than “NO”?
The answer lies in gaining respect and being trusted. And being “liked” and being respected and trusted are very different animals.
Think of your life. How many people do you truly know well enough to “like”? How many do you trust with your health, your family, your possessions? And, WHY do you trust these people?
Isn’t it because you respect what they do, the results they’ve gotten and the actions you’ve seen? Of course it is.
Being the authority is the key. The best way we’ve found of doing that is authoring and distributing content. Educating people as to how YOU can fulfill their needs requires communication. And, the most definitive way of garnering authority is to author a blog, podcast, webinar, seminar magazine, brochure or better yet, a BOOK..
Yes, it’s nice to be liked. It’s nice to be loved. But in business, it’s more important to be respected and trusted. That will make you more attractive to new patients and most importantly, will keep current patients coming back.
3. You MUST find some redeeming qualities in the people you spend the most time with.
Dentistry, as we’ve said and as you already know, is a hard business. It’s made harder when you have to work with and on people you just don’t like.
Therefore, it pays to find something redeeming with those who you spend the most time with. Face it, you spend the more time in the office and sleeping than you do with your friends.
Mind you. We’re not saying that you have to like everyone you treat, though that would be nice. What we are saying is that every human being has SOME redeeming value. It might be harder to define in some but its better for YOU if you find it. And, the sooner the better.
That’s one of the reasons why we suggest your or your staff “Google” and/or Facebook every new patient you see. We want you and the team to know as much about them as possible before they arrive on your doorstep.
It’s one of the reasons that its SOOO important to chose your staff wisely.
Many dentists are not naturally “people people”, extraverts, outgoing or gregarious. In fact, most dentists are introverts. Having to be around strangers actually makes them stressed and uncomfortable.
Acknowledging that is important because it means that if you’re like most dentists, you need extroverts to help you build an effective team and effectively deal with patients.
It’s also why its more important to really LIKE the people you work with.
It’s human nature to treat those you like better than those you don’t. So why would you put yourself in a position NOT to treat someone well?
The key with staff is to hire properly. Having an effective hiring process, honing one’s interviewing skills and using personality assessments and background checks are just some of the ways to avoid making very costly hiring errors.
4. Your story is more important than your marketing.
Dentists are not taught marketing in school. They’re taught dentistry. And so, when one realizes that an effective marketing plan is required to build and maintain a practice, they are often at the mercy of The Dental Marketing Sharks who swim around the internet, journals, websites, webinars and CE courses like a pack of wolves ready to pick out the most vulnerable sheep among us.
DON’T BE THAT SHEEP!
What most dentists do when they realize the importance or necessity of marketing is to commit “RANDOM ACTS” of marketing. They don’t have a coherent plan. They swing at whatever pitch is thrown at them by the sharks. The results are RANDOM benefits.
In fact, when asked about return on investment for marketing, most dentists have no clue. You’re not alone.
But random acts of anything will yield such random results.
Do you have a budget?
Do you even know your COST OF PATIENT ACQUISITION?
If you’re thinking that you need help marketing, AND YOU DEFINITELY DO, then get a comprehensive plan from someone who has NO CONFLICT.
The NO CONFLICT issue is really big. While it might be OK to use the same accountant as the practice down the road because that accountant “knows the dental business”, having the same marketing company is stupid.
That’s because, the goal of marketing is to spend time and dollars attracting the “right” patients to your practice. And if the practice down the road is trying to lure the same patients as you, how is a marketer going to differentiate? Often its by how much money you spend versus the other practice. That’s just a game I would NOT suggest playing.
So choosing a marketing company to help you is challenging. Its’ not as if you can ask the dental society or the person on the other side of town. Those would not yield appropriate recommendations.
Either you deal with someone who isn’t local and has NO conflict of interest, or you deal with someone non-dental (who also has no conflict of interest). And, you make an agreement that they NOT take on any of your competition as clients without your approval. Failure to gain such an agreement sets you up for trouble.
The best dental marketing firms will have a geographic restriction on taking on new clients based on the market. Those firms might charge a premium but they are ethical. The rest…caveat emptor!
TELL YOUR STORY
To begin with, you need a story. Everyone has one. We’re positive that you do too. What are you passionate about? And we’re not talking about dentistry. Anything! It could be animals, the environment, social causes or even some hobby. Actually, something other than dentistry is best because it helps make you more human, more like the patients you’re trying to attract or keep.
Before you do ANY marketing, hone your story. Stories resonate with patients and with staff too.
RIcha Goswami, head of digital at Johnson & Johnson said “people don’t buy the products you create, they buy the stories you tell. And the stories that you tell come alive in the way you do the creative.”
Joey Karam of The Ultimate Sales Machine has said that “AUTHENTICITY is the new sales tool.” And, the claim is made that “small businesses that don’t incorporate content marketing into their marketing strategy are losing opportunities.” He further points out that content marketing is the most cost-effective way to spend one’s time.
The rub is that ONLY YOU know your story. Some non-description, off-site, impersonal marketing company doesn’t know YOU, your practice or the stories about either.
So, refine your story and communicate it as part of your content marketing. Make sure anyone you hire for any marketing knows your story and knows how to use it effectively.
By the way, your staff should know it be able to shout it from anywhere and everywhere.
5. It’s not about the money until its not there.
Then, its all about the money!
When do you want to retire? And just as important is; what do you want to do when you retire?
The answers to these questions will determine how much money you’ll need. So refining these answers as best as possible is an important part of planning for these activities.
Too many dentists have NO PLAN. They hope to practice as long as they can or want. Some hope to transition to a less stressful clinical existence. Hence, the interest in dental sleep medicine (something that we’re quite expert in). Some hope to capture the “corporate buying wave”.
HOPE IS NOT A PLAN…IT’S A DREAM
You can’t retire on a hope or a dream. They are not solvent nor beneficial to anyone other than yourself and then, only while you’re asleep.
Many dentists plan to travel and do the things they might not have done while they were tied to their practices. Having enough money for these activities is critical.
What we see way too often are doctors who rely on the sale of their practice as a key part of their retirement plan. This could be a real mistake if the value of the practice isn’t protected.
When many dentists approach retirement, they look to slow down. Dentistry can be physically taxing.
A recent trend is for mature dentists to start phasing out of doing clinical dentistry and begin doing less physically challenging treatments such as dental sleep medicine, orthodontics and TMD.
What we’ve unfortunately also seen are such doctors reducing their clinical time, reducing their most lucrative and productive procedures in exchange for less efficient or productive procedures.
We’ve seen Doctors spend less time and energy on routine dentistry, less CE, less marketing and less ‘talk’ about it to their patients. The result is that the general dental part of such practices suffer.
Even if the other components make up the difference, little thought is given to what such a practice transformation does to the salability of a practice, to the potential buyer’s market and to the ultimate value of the practice.
And so, if the value of your practice is part of your retirement formula, the sooner you start thinking about such a transformation, the better.
The rule of SUPPLY AND DEMAND still holds true.
We’ve seen general practices go from 100% general to 20%, with the 80% now being TMD/Sleep. The result is that the practice is basically a “Specialty” practice. The 20% General portion is basically worthless and the 80% will sell for a significant discount when compared to a General Practice, as the market is quite limited.
Many dentists want out only to realize that they need to continue to have a dental-derived income in order to avoid eating a diet of rice and beans. The sooner one plans, the more likely that won’t be YOUR outcome.
6. It’s never too late until it is.
No one plans to die or get disables. The colleagues we mentioned above were all younger than 70 and one was in his 50’s. Each of them thought they and their practices would go on forever. Some had even been approached, as we have been, by various entities looking to buy their practices. They declined for different reasons.
The point is that you have a responsibility to your family, your staff and even your patients to provide a smooth transition whenever the end chooses to come.
And, if you’ve set a date or an age at which you want to call it quits, a transition will have to start significantly before. Estimates are that a successful dental transition should start at least 10 years before. Yet, figures show that most dentists wait 1-2 years before they retire to start the process. That’s just too late, especially if you want to gain maximum value from its sale.
There’s a business adage that you should BUILD WITH THE END IN MIND. According to Steven Covey, it’s the second of “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.”
Yet, few dentists we know have started their practices with the end in mind. In fact, when you’re building a practice, the last thing most think about is an exit strategy, It’s as if it’s bad luck to talk about the end before the business even begins.
And yet, this is what very successful business people do. They envision what the business will look like down the road and they have a strategic plan of how to get there.
The sooner such a process of strategic planning is begun, the better.
“Too Late” might be one of the saddest phrases in the language. Don’t let that happen to you.
Better yet, don’t let those you care about say it over your grave.
Don’t Be Sorry. ACT NOW, send us an email and set up a time to talk about how we can help you realize YOUR DREAMS.
When you email us, we’ll send you a copy of the book too.
To your excellent success,
Michael, Laurie and the Practice Perfect Systems Team