How many times have I heard an experienced dentist wistfully muse how they wish they had their current understanding of the business of dentistry back when they first graduated. “I would have done things differently if I had known then what I know now” is what I often hear.
Why do these dentists not revisit their practice operations and apply the knowledge they have gained with their experience? Often the answer is they are too busy treating patients!
Let’s face it…courtesy of CV-19, that is not a problem right now. And it won’t be a problem for a while.
Rarely does life provide you an opportunity for a “do-over”. Or if you are a golfer, that opportunity to take a “mulligan”! But that is exactly what the current CV-19 crisis is providing us…an opportunity to take a mulligan no other generation of dentists has ever had.
For those who might be unfamiliar with the concept of a “mulligan”, it is the recreational golfers term for a “do-over”. Those times when that tee shot slices deep into the woods, you just try another tee shot, hope for a better result, and play that second ball as though it was your first.
So the question remains, how will you use this time and this mulligan?
Now is your opportunity to take a look at your practice and determine what you are doing well (your strengths) and what areas you think require improvement (your weaknesses). As you go through this exercise, always keep in mind what you would consider your vision of the ideal dental practice to be. Are your weaknesses holding you back from achieving your vision?
When you have done this much, I recommend you involve your team. Set up a video conference and invite them to participate. Ask them what they see as their vision for your practice and what they think are the strengths and weaknesses of your office.
This part is important…let them know you have done the same thing. But have them give their list before you give yours. Leaders know when to talk but more importantly, they know when to listen. As the practice owner, if you speak first, your team may feel it is a fait accompli. They may feel it is pointless to provide their own comments so you may miss some valid suggestions.
As you go through this process, do not be afraid to strip right to the bones of your practice. This is not about making cosmetic adjustments that may be nice window dressing, but really fail to get to the foundational challenges you may be facing.
If your challenges can be attributed to a fundamental lack of vision, develop that vision now. Build out from that. What tasks need to be done to achieve that vision? Can you build job descriptions around that and assign responsibility for those tasks to specific individuals? What systems do you need to have in place to ensure those tasks are being completed? Remember, your systems need to include follow up. If you are not following up on things, you really do not have a system in place.
Make sure your discussion includes time on how to move forward after this crisis ends. You can expect that this will change some aspects of our day to day life now. Will N95 masks and higher levels of PPE become the new norm? Perhaps you may consider more ways to use technology in your practice to reduce the risk of spread of any infectious disease. This may include a move toward some forms of tele-dentistry for screening purposes.
I am not suggesting these are things all of you must do…nor am I suggesting that some of these things will come to pass.
But the key is you have an opportunity to re-invent your practice now. As you do this, I want to remind you of a quote from Andy Grove, a former CEO of Intel: Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.
The pandemic may force some new factors to take into consideration for some time to come. But by making the right choices now, you can make sure yours is a great practice, one that thrives and improves in the face of this crisis.
So take advantage, take the mulligan, and move toward greatness.
About the Author
Shawn Peers is the President of Dental Peers.
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