Frank Taylor & Associates discusses how a few tweaks to your dental practice can have a positive impact
It’s our business to deal with principals who are often at a very stressful time in their life, either considering their options as they approach retirement age, or having to consider selling due to ill health, alongside the principals who want to realise their assets as they want to move onto other new exciting areas of their lives. I recently met with a principal who has a three surgery private practice and his plan was to sell the practice so he can focus on clinical work. He has been a practice owner for many years and certainly felt the pinch during and after the recession. He told me that the past two years had been his most successful, he was planning to add a fourth surgery to his practice, was taking on a new associate and bringing in a specialist one day a week to absorb the referrals he had previously made. His turnover has steadily increased and he was seeing a real increase in his profitability.
I asked him what he believed was the secret to his success and he said it was simple; finally he had stopped procrastinating and had taken full responsibility for his practice. Like most principals he is the significant fee earner and spent most of his time chair side, he had a good loyal team around him, all experienced in dentistry but no one had expertise in business management.
He had previously used a dental consultant but felt he spent a considerable amount of money but never got round to implementing the suggested changes. This time he attended a couple of seminars on business management which highlighted areas he should really focus on and the biggest revelation to him was he had to take time out to run his business or employ a true practice manager who could do this for him. He took the plunge and reduced his time chair side (a big leap) at the same time he increased his fees to a point that some of his patients agreed they would be happy to be referred to the senior associate within the practice. Interestingly, his turnover remained consistent as the core patients he continued to see were happy to pay a premium and as he was seeing fewer patients he was able to spend better quality time with them and offer a wider range of cosmetic services.
Reaping the Benefits
Most importantly he was able to dedicate more of his time actually working on his practice, he has met with suppliers to agree more favourable terms, he reviewed his bank facility, changed his credit card company and dealt with a host of small issues which had been wearing him down for so long and he has even reviewed his own mortgage! The benefits were more than financial; the morale of his team improved as he was more available and actively making decisions and moving issues forward, and he was happier in himself which his patients, staff and most importantly his family really appreciated.
For most principals getting the time to focus on the business and not just on dentistry is a challenge and change is most effective when it is in small steps– so maybe you need to start thinking about how you can change and how you can find out what it is that you don’t know.