Five to Thrive in 2016

Molly PereiraFeatured News

By Kim McGuire, Fortune Management
What makes a dentist successful? Successful dentists habitually perform similar behaviors in their practices. This success, however, is not only in their dental offices; it’s in their lives, as a whole. Success means having fulfillment in all aspects of life, from family life, spirituality and health to fun and leisure, in addition to professional life. These dentists also embrace what it means to be a leader.

Dentists who have found success have a few things in common. Most people would jump directly to clinical skills upon hearing this. However, it takes more than great clinical acumen to have a successful dental practice. Dentists are expected to have excellent clinical skills—and if they need training in this department, they make it a priority. Some dentists have completed a great deal of clinical CE, yet they are not using their newly acquired skills because challenges in running the practice seem to take priority. Great clinical abilities are just one piece of the puzzle; it also takes great business systems and strong communication skills (with your team and your patients) to be successful.
Here are five areas to focus on to create more success in your practice and life:
1. Clearly defined vision for the practice. The clearer you are on where you’re going, the more likely you’ll achieve your results. Strong leaders know their vision and goals; they tend to focus on them daily or weekly. To create a strong vision, answer some of the following: What is the ideal patient for your practice? What does the ideal team look like? What types of clinical services will you offer? How much will the practice produce and collect?
Once the doctor and team have come up with the vision, it is important to define and communicate your “why.” Why is this vision good for the practice, patients, team and community? Agreements or a code of conduct that support the vision should be put into place.
2. Create a culture of accountability. Implementing front-line source people within your team can help alleviate the stress, create greater accountability and foster a feeling of ownership among the staff. Individuals prefer to know that they are making a difference and are valuable members of a team. Additionally, the dentist grows stronger as a leader by encouraging the team members to achieve their very best.
Establish a “source person” for each of the departments and systems in your practice such as financial management, scheduling to goal, marketing and new patients, recare department, clinical supply management, hygiene reactivation, monitors, etc. These individuals will oversee their departments and remain accountable to getting tasks done.
3. Shift your mindset regarding marketing and branding. This is not necessarily about traditional marketing or advertising. Think branding, identity and the community you create with marketing. Getting patients from the point that they hear about your practice to the moment they say “YES” to the treatment.
Your logo should be something that has the look and feel that represents your practice. This logo should consistently be on everything that leaves your practice. Be in love with your brand—your brand is the emotional connection patients and the community have with your practice. What do patients think when they see your logo? Does it make them want to call your practice and refer their friends? Not only do you want to embrace internal marketing (the “WOW” experience), you also need to embrace digital marketing and understand that anything on the web should be a digital representation of your brand.
4. Embrace the “three R’s” – Reviews, Referrals and Reactivation: Your practice must be incorporating these three systems in order to grow. Your whole team must be on board and understand why they are important and the how to execute.
• Reviews: Ask your patients for reviews on Google+, Facebook, Yelp and through your Digital Patient Communication system such as Patient Activator, Solution Reach or DemandForce. The practices that are seeing their new patient numbers grow have cultivated many strong reviews on these sites and it is not by accident. You must ask your patients who’ve had a great experience to review you online. It will show potential patients how wonderful your practice is and help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on web searches.
• Referrals: Unless you’re a start-up practice, over 50% of your new patients should come from referrals from current patients. A thriving practice will have a strong referral-based practice. Create an incentive and a system for asking. Many practices presume that patients know to refer to you, however, if you are busy, they may assume you are not looking to grow. There is an art to asking sincerely for a referral so practice this skill at a team meeting. Make it a system and a habit every day.
• Reactivation: With the focus on new patients, many practices forget to take the very best care of their current patients! Create a system to reactivate patients who are overdue for their hygiene appointments. A phone call is the most personal, however, many practices are using email and letters to reactivate patients. Calculate your recare effectiveness rate (the percentage of active patients who visit the practice consistently) every six months to monitor your progress.
5. Build an amazing team. Remember, it’s your practice and you get to create what you want. Your team can make or break your practice and they are your biggest investment. First, make your practice a great place to work. This means how you treat your team and patients, how you encourage people to grow and how you thank them for their service to your patients. This is also about letting people go when they are not a good fit. Encourage them to grow, learn and improve with honest communication. Giving them the ability to work at another practice actually helps them and also gives you an opportunity to find someone who helps you fulfill your vision. It is one of the most difficult areas of running a practice; however, the shift in team culture can be extraordinary.
Incorporating these common traits into your practice will increase your leadership skills, attract the right team to your practice and create patients for life.

About the Author: Kim McGuire, CPCC, is an executive coach with Fortune Management. For more information, contact Kim at or visit