What Separates Great Dental Practice

Why does one practice continue to grow and be successful while another practice struggles?

If you look at the dental industry as a whole, there is an epidemic of underperformance and lack of growth. The average growth rate for a dental practice is 2.5%. That may sound okay to you but consider that the average annual inflation is 3% and you will see why this is such a problem. It is important you understand this; if you do not pay attention the compound effect overtime may have you wondering why things are declining.  It is often what I refer to as a slow leak.

Recently, I was looking at two different individuals who came to the same introductory workshop a couple of years ago.  One of them has since taken the steps we have recommended and has tripled their practice in revenue. The other decided not to take any action. I bumped into this dentist recently and asked, “How are things going at the practice?” The doctor said, “Well, not that great. Most of our patients are leaving still, and I bought the practice from an older doctor. So we are not really getting any new patients coming in the door and are slowly declining. We average about four new patients a month.” I told the dentist, based on the average age of his patient base, he may actually be losing around 10 patients per month. This powerful example made me think. My team and I started talking about this idea of how different two practices could truly be based on decisions they each made; to be honest with you, it grabbed me.

Why does one practice triple in revenue while another practice begins to decline?

There are three reasons why people end up staying stuck, why their practice never takes off and why they end up selling it during decline because they really have no other option. Most doctors are under-capitalized, overwhelmed with debt, and do not have the savings they need to have.

The question is, do you?

If I asked you, on a scale of 1 to 10, “how do you feel about your current debt position?” What would you say? One being, “I feel like I’m drowning”, and 10 being, “I feel amazing”. How about capital? How about savings and retirement planning? Even if you accumulated two million dollars, that is only about $8,000 a month in income at 5% return. So If two million dollars yields $8,000 per month, the real question is, “what are you currently spending per month?” If you are spending more than $8,000 per month today, what do you think life will look like 30 years from now?

When you start thinking about this, you might say, “Holy moly Eric, you’re right! If I actually start looking at it, I’m not really where I want to be yet either.” There is great news! And the great news is, it is easy to fix. It is easy to change this paradigm. It is easy to change the way we are doing things.

As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I’m inspired to do this is because I believe there is a way to change this and you should be committed to making a change.

I know what you are likely thinking, “Oh, I’m good, Eric.” Actually, it’s not true. I’m just going to tell you, I have had people sit down in front of me with $15 million and no debt and still not be “good”. I classify people in four different areas, and I want you to classify yourself in these areas.

Area #1: the person who says, “Poor me, everything is falling down. The sky is always falling, and the problem is the divorce that happened 15 years ago, or the real estate went bad.” A person who always has a problem. There is always something going on with them, and they are the patient who sits in your chair and tells you their entire life sob story.

I am not diminishing people who have difficult times and I am certainly not trying to make light of that, but I do need you to know that you get to take a few months to deal with those things and then, you have got to move on. We do not want to hang out in that area. There are some people who want to stay at that “Poor Me” mentality.

Area #2: the person who says, “Help me Eric. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to get to the next step. I don’t know what to do but I’ will do it if you tell me what to do. I will do whatever it takes to get out of this hole.” By the way, it might not take 12 months. The comical thing about the consulting industry is most consultants want to sell you some flash in the pan idea, like diet and exercise. Building a great business is hard work and takes time. One of the reasons why doctors have failed to create successful businesses is because they do not realize that it is a business. It is a completely separate discipline.

Area #3: the individual who says, “I’m good.” I call these individuals, “leave me’s.” These are the people who know they are under-capitalized. They know they are drowning in debt and closer to retirement. They are not where they want to be financially and yet, these individuals still say, “I’m good.” If you start thinking about this for a second, you have patients like this. They walk in, you say, “Your tooth is cracked.” You tell them you can fix the problem today and insurance even covers 100%, yet the patient still says, “I’m good.” These patients are hard to get over the hurdle.

Area #4: the person who says, “Transform me”. They are the, “I want to move, I want to change, I want to become, I want to grow, I want to accelerate.” They want to continue to get better, continue growing, building, reading, attending seminars and investing. By the way, most millionaires and billionaires are in this fourth area.

Now, the interesting part is you can move, or you can fall back. So, then, you have to ask yourself, “who do you want to work with, and who do you want to be?” Probably the number two’s and number four’s, right?


#1: Facing the Truth

This is the number one reason why practices don’t get where they want. They are afraid to face the truth.

Just like a patient, many patients do not go see the dentist because they are afraid you are going to look at their teeth and find a problem. These are the people who are afraid to make a change. They do not want someone to actually tell them the truth.

It is easier to pretend than to face the truth. It is easier to tell your friends how successful you are and how great you are doing; meanwhile, you are going home to an upset spouse because you are working around the clock, still in debt, cannot get out of the hole, you do not have enough saved for retirement, you are not where you want to be, your practice stresses you out, and you are unhappy. Is it really easier to put on that fake front?

Many people do not want others like me looking at their numbers and looking at their process then telling them the truth. Some people find it offensive. But is it really? Or is it what you need to hear?

See, I do not find it offensive at all. Here is what’s offensive. Offensive is knowing that you could help somebody move to the next level and not helping them. Offensive is sitting back and watching people struggle and not jumping in and helping them. It is watching someone drown and not put out a hand. I am telling you. The number one reason I see over and over again is individuals are so afraid that someone is going to look in their mouth and tell them the truth, and the truth is, they are messed up and they have messed up for years but that’s okay.

You did not go to school to be a business owner. It is okay to have someone tell you, “you messed up but let’s fix it”.

I think the very first thing we need to do is face the truth and say, “Look, here’s my stuff. This is my investment accounts, and yeah, Eric, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know how to read a set of financials, and matter of fact, I get them once a quarter, and I just shove them in a pile.”

The first thing we have to do identify the truth. You have got to know everything, where you sit financially, what your numbers are and even your cash flow forecast. You have got to know your hygiene percentage of production. You have to know how your profitability is in the practice You have to know all these business numbers, and here is the great news. You do not have to do it yourself.

If you put systems in place, I promise you, you do not need to do all this yourself. This can be done for you but the first thing you have got to do is open up and be honest. Just like your patients, so they can get fixed and taken care of if they simply open their mouth.

Don’t be afraid to open your mouth. Don’t be afraid to let someone take a look.

If you know it is messed up and you know you are not where you want to be, why would you not do something to fix it?

Be open and honest. There are people who love and care for you. There are people who are passionate to help. There are people who are not always just trying to take your money but truly want success for you.

#2: Vital Ingredients of Success

The second reason why one practice struggles and why one triples is they lack a few key things. Maybe it is motivation, inspiration, leadership or the right team but there is a lack.

Motivation is important because you will go back to it often. There have been so many dentists who have come to me and they are not motivated to grow their business. They are not motivated to become more successful. They do not have a vision, where they are going and are unable to inspire their team.

As a leader, you have got to know where you are going. You have to be inspiring, motivating, moving and have your leadership skills focused.

If you do not know how to become a great leader, there are a lot of resources. Take the initiative to learn and become a great leader. You must learn to create your vision, know where you are going and how to inspire.

I had a doctor engage in full services with Tower Leadership. A week later, he called our office, and he said, “You know what? I signed up for all this, but I’m not really sure that I need all this. I’m not really sure I’ve made a good decision because I’m sitting on my back porch, and I’m looking at the lake, and life’s good. I’m not sure I need all this.” And he came in and we sat down, and we talked about the purpose of his life’s work, and we talked about what he’s going to do next, and we talked about how it’d impact his kids and how to leave a legacy and he was moved.

So I’m telling you, if you lack motivation, inspiration, leadership, you need to get involved. You need to learn those areas because if you have no reason to be motivated, then let me go give you a reason to be motivated, because there’s so much to be motivated for.

And then, you need to have the right team because here’s the interesting part. If you have motivation, you will show up, dressed for success, looking good, ready to go. You are inspired. You know where you’re going. You have vision. You know how to lead your team. You’re the right leader for them, and then, those things attract the right team.

Becoming a great leader attracts the right team. If you can’t find the right team, then you need to start looking at yourself. Hygienists hang out with hygienists. Assistants hang out with assistants. Doctors hang out with doctors. So who do you think they are talking about? If you are looking around, and you can’t find the right team, it might be you. Are you difficult to work with? Are you leading them to their goals? Are you inspiring them for greatness?

By the way, pay your team. Get the right team, get them in place, and then, pay them well. There’s all kinds of people out there trying to tell you to pay your team as little as possible. Fire those advisors from your life. You want the best people. You want the most successful people. You want the most inspired people. Those are the people that you want on your team. Take care of your team. The companies out there calling your team “human capital” and exploiting them and acting like they don’t matter are absurd.

You need to find your vision. You need to get motivated. You need to inspire, and you need to build one hell of a team, and don’t say, “Well, I have a bunch of people that are nice.”

One of the best leadership quotes I have heard in a long time was when someone said is, “You can have a team that gets along and is nice, but that does not mean they’re a successful team.” Successful teams know the numbers. Successful teams get results. Successful teams make the difference.

None of this is overnight. It takes time. But I will promise you that if you build the right team, they will fight for you. You want to become wealthy? Go take care of your team. You want to become wealthy? Inspire people. You want to become wealthy? Motivate people. You want to become wealthy? Become a leader. I’m telling you this matters.

If you’re reading this and saying, “Hey, I don’t know if I’m motivated, I don’t know what my vision for my practice or for my personal life would be, or I am not sure of my financial legacy and what I’m trying to build.” Then, you need to get that.

#3: Mindset

The third reason people don’t get there, is because they’re scared someone’s going to take a piece of their pie.

That’s right. They’re what we call a scarcity mindset. This idea that, “Hey, if I was to give Eric a thousand bucks, or if I was to give Jim a thousand bucks or whatever, I would be $1,000 less.” Instead of saying how much more could Eric make me if I gave him $1,000.

Matter of fact, some of you are scared that the neighbor down the street is going to take your patients. I talked to a doctor recently and he was so worried about what’s happening down the street that he was not concerned with what’s happening in his own practice.

Let me tell you this. There’s plenty of patients out there, plenty. There are plenty of people to take care of. You don’t need to worry about corporations. You don’t need to worry about everybody else. Focus on you, but you have to make an investment.

Don’t have a scarcity mindset. You have to believe in abundance. There’s abundance around you. You could make money without even trying, but you’ve got to get the resource to be attracted to you, which means you need to invest.

You have got to invest. The average person I work with has had a consultant before or has had a financial advisor. Look, don’t be scared that someone’s going to take a piece of your pie. There’s plenty of pie, and if you don’t have enough pie, go make some more.

There’s not a lack of abundance in the world. Resources are not scarce, even though everyone’s trying to tell you they are. The opportunities for you to create abundance are limitless, but you have to be willing to take a chance.

Money is an energy. You must direct it, and you must let it flow. It’s the only way money comes back. Think about that. The only way for you to allow money to come back to you is for you to let it go.

Follow those three steps. As someone who’s helped hundreds of business owners and dentists become successful. The alternative is having the belief that you are good. The alternative is to stay where you are at and wake up 20 years from now and be in the same spot you’re as today but hoping something will change.

And if you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s not me, Eric. I’m already successful. I’ve got all my stuff together.” Let’s be honest. There’s not an elite athlete in the world that does not have a coach. Even the best go get coaches. Tiger Woods always had a coach. The best of the best get advice, and they grow.

Come to a workshop. We do workshops all over the United States, and most of them cost next to nothing. Someone recently came to our workshop, and literally within 20 minutes, I showed them how to make a quarter million dollars. We’ve had people leave our foundation workshop and increase revenue by $8,000 a day within no time. I’m passionate about what I do, and I want you to be able to take a next step.

I want to make a difference, but more importantly, I want you to be making the difference. I want you to be the hero. This is your life. You only get one of them. Don’t just retire. Don’t be that person. Don’t be weak. Become more. Create more. Build more. Change lives. Create wealth, and with it, create all the impact that you could ever dream of. You have got such an opportunity in front of you, in your practice. Do not miss it. All I am is your guide, but you are the hero. Make a difference in your family, in your kids, in your great-grandkids, in your team, the community, and make a difference on how their life turns out. Go change lives. I hope you take action, and I hope you become the change.

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