Posted November 01, 2016
As a long-time Field Evaluator for Dr. Gordon Christensen (Clinicians Report) and CRFoundation, my passion as a clinician – in addition to patient care – has been to use, evaluate, and report on new materials and devices. Now that I have retired from active practice, however, I speak less on clinical topics, and more on practice management, leadership, and life-skills.
Drawing on thirty-five years of business ownership, I enjoy sharing my successes and failures with younger dentists and their teams in an effort to help them take their practices from good to great. Many of my monthly blogs at kerrspeak.com detail specific concepts to accomplish exactly that.
After graduation, it didn’t take me long to realize that I lacked basic business skills, and that I was only as good as my team. As a result, I spent many hours studying leadership and management, and invested heavily in team training to learn the basic systems needed to bring us all to a level of success.
It is my belief that many dentists fail to provide formal team training, as they believe it to be unnecessary. As Zig Ziglar once quipped, however, “The only thing worse than training someone and having them leave, is to not train someone, and have them stay!”
In addition to establishing a culture for success through strong leadership and team training, every practitioner should recognize that community service builds good will, enhances the brand, contributes to good press, and grows the practice. Beginning each day with a morning huddle, seating patients on time, establishing personal relationships, and listening well are also critical elements to success.
Dentistry is virtually unique in health care, in that practitioners have a number of viable practice options. While the solo practice model is down ten per cent over the last five years, there will always be a need for a small practice in a small market. Those wishing to be sole-proprietors should carefully assess the demographics and plan to invest time in the community.
I really embrace the concept of like-minded sole-proprietors in the same service area joining forces to reduce overhead, offer-extended hours and services, and pool resources for the purchase of advanced technology. Creating a group practice, however, requires serious advance discussion between the principals regarding treatment philosophy, practice culture, team training protocols, and management systems, just to name a few!!
Although the traditional associate-to-owner model is hard to find today, practice mergers are a growing transition option, and provide the buyer with immediate practice growth while eliminating the competition. According to John McGill, of the McGill/Hill Group, practice mergers are up 400% over the past five years.
Finally, DSOs offer both employment and experience to many of those unable to purchase a practice, as well as another transition-to-retirement option. DSOs also provide highly valued management services, including human resources, training, and compliance, which greatly reduce the administrative demands on the clinician. Desirable technology, including 3D cone beam radiography and CAD-CAM same-day dentistry, is often available through DSOs.
Although the future for our profession is bright, we must work together to minimize unnecessary state and federal regulations which only increase the cost of providing care. Today’s practitioners are delivering the highest level of oral-wellness to the greatest number of patients in the history of our planet. And that, is certainly something to celebrate!