The first question every dentist owner should ask themselves is Why?"
Why did they build the practices that they have?
Why do they want to grow, or sell, or partner?
Many people think business is all about the profit, but the profit is simply the fuel for a vehicle, the larger vision.
Here's three "vehicles" I usually see as answers for the "Why"?
Which one is your practice?
The Race Car - Lifestyle
I started my dental practice to fund my lifestyle. I enjoy dentistry but I enjoy my hobbies, family, traveling etc even more. I try to run a great practice that can fund a great lifestyle. I work as little as possible. I enjoy the patients, but enjoy my outside activities even more. My competitors are a nusance that can dramatically hurt my ability to enjoy my life.
The Boat - Opportunistic
Like Columbus I believe there is so much opportunity out there and I want to discover it. I think more practices equals more cash. I manage my practices from a perspective of cost. I keep the costs extremely low and watch every penny that is spent. If the bottom line is doing well, I'm doing well and I'm taking the opportunties that the world has provided. I dont worry too much about competitors because I know there is so much opportunity out there.
The Jet Plane - Creative Practice
I want to change the world of dentistry. I have a vision of a new kind of care I want to bring to dentistry and a new way of running a dental practice. Though my ideas may be simple, they are still revolutionary since no one else is really doing them. In my practices, I see expenses as investments that creates a positive experience for my patients and staff. I really want to change the world through the service I am providing and would love to see my vision scale and grow. Competitors are no challenge for my vision. My practice is so amazing that I worry little about what they would do. In fact, I like it when they come up with something that is innovative because I can use it as well.
So which vehicle are you driving. It will greatly determine where you are headed and what it feels like on the trip there.
Years ago when we first started working with dentists to help them grow their practices we thought to ourselves, “This will be easy, there is so little innovation happening in this industry, beating the competition is not going to be difficult.”
The first problem happened when we went to pull the financial numbers.
The problem was, we couldn’t get them. Not the real numbers. Not the one’s that help you grow your business.
In addition, there were no marketing tools built into the software. (other than the little place where you can put who referred the patient…ohh, please.)
The industry was so far behind in it’s business development you couldn’t get basic reporting or metrics, much less sales funnel analysis.
Here was our mistake, we thought since we had built skyscrapers (metaphorically) in other complicated businesses that helping grow simpler dental business models, residential homes if you will, it would be easy.
What we didn’t realize is that there was no “Lowes.”
The basic back office tools and functions needed to grow a dental practice didn’t exist.
We would have to build them on our own. Every nail, every hammer, every piece of drywall. Painful.
That started a journey of a thousand steps. It was excruciating and expensive but we finally did it. Our dentists could now enjoy the 21st century.
So next time you feel that you just don’t have the tools you really need to run the business side of your practice, don’t get mad at your office manager, just remember, she doesn’t have access to a Lowes.