Top ten tips from thriving practices

tinyLaura Jamison says setting clear goals and strategic planning will pave the way to long term success

The end of the year tends to prompt people to be grateful for what they have and to reflect on what has happened during the last 12 months. Planning and tweaking the plan for the new year, we become hopeful. Attitude is a choice and all of the thriving practices that I work with are driven by this attitude of gratitude and reflection. Many are embracing philanthropy; giving back to their communities because they have much to be grateful for. And since this is an article dedicated to sharing what works for them which will provide you with hope, I believe that it is important to begin with the belief that 95% of your success stems from setting goals and writing down your plan. The remaining 5%, insuring that you meet your goals, is derived from perspiration, inspiration and determination.

Where do you start?

I stopped watching the news everyday nearly five years ago. You might wonder why? It occurred to me that the news was feeding my fears that things are bad. Obamacare, Ebola, security breaches… the list changes. How many of you are watching the news in the morning and then driving to work with anxiety. It affects your whole day. How many of you are watching the evening news and then losing sleep? Repeat and you have a downward spiraling cycle.
What if human beings are, by nature, depressed? It doesn’t take much effort to adopt an attitude of fear, resentment, jealousy, blame. We allow outside things such as media, patient feedback and peer comments to influence what we are feeling.  The good news is that we can reprogram ourselves. It does require effort.
Several months ago I heard this quote: Store up during the good times so that you have good habits to fall back on during the lean years. What if you began storing up on good habits during slower times? Look at this slow down as a perfect opportunity to gain something positive.

Top tips

Here are my top ten tips for thriving in today’s environment:

1. At the core of any successful business are success driven core principles. Know what you believe in. Trust your employees. Trust your patients. Trust yourself. A written philosophy statement should state your beliefs clearly.  This is also an exercise in stating what you are passionate about.

2. Let go of those activities that are not fruitful for your practice. Discontinue doing the difficult procedures that can be referred out. Delegate systems to your valued employees. If it is making you unhappy to perform the task, it is making you unhappy. Period.

3. Identify energy givers and energy vacuums. This can include employees, patients, vendors, consultants, etc. You will attract positivity into your life if you look for it. During these lean times, be sure to surround yourself with capable, positive, happy employees. Ask your friends and peers who they like to do business with. Listen to the reasons why. Do they seem energised in their response or defeated? Don’t let people that surround you to be energy drainers.

4. Commit to excellence on behalf of your patients. This may be the ideal time to learn additional procedures to offer your patients. Implant dentistry, CAD/CAM technology, short-term orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry and dermal fillers are all examples of additional treatments to consider.

5. Have a focused marketing plan to promote the services that you offer. In today’s fast paced marketing environment, it is necessary to have a polished looking website that is easy to navigate. Search engine optimisation should be part of your marketing investment. Blogs, Facebook , Twitter are a few ways that social media is revolutionising the way your patients are receiving information and interacting. Electronic newsletters should go out to your patients educating them about dentistry’s latest advancements monthly. Many of the latter activities are free!! Yellow pages are dead. Social media is alive and kicking.

6. Examine your verbal skills. It is what you say and how you say it that counts! Is the doctor asking open -ended questions to determine what motivates the patient? Are team members documenting what’s important? Are you applying what you know about the patient as the benefit for your treatment? How well are you listening? What are your skills for addressing objections? These skills can be coached. If you have downtime, utilise the time for future prosperity and gratification.

7. Financing dentistry allows the patient to become a patient for life. Care Credit patient financing offers reasonable choices for you and for your patients. Doing dentistry is a lot more fun than not doing dentistry. Help your patients by offering the means to afford the treatment.

8. Experience what your patient experiences. Take the time to walk through your office and see the facility through their eyes. Is the parking lot clear of debris? Plants thriving? Magazines up to date? Clutter put away? Treatment rooms spotless? Restrooms kept clean and filled with toiletries? If you are comfortable giving your patients a tour of your office, then it must reflect the quality of your care. If you are embarrassed to give a tour, then simple adjustments to the appearance of your office can go a long way to give them a WOW experience.

9. Systems insure consistency. Examine systems for initial phone intake, new patient experience, financial options, appointment scheduling, delayed treatment follow up, preventive maintenance and marketing.  When everyone on your team knows what is expected of them, the end result is a consistent outcome.

10. Employees are the only asset that increases in value over time. Your financial documents is designed to show you all of the assets that are depreciated. Your team is worth investing in. Zig Ziglar says, ‘It’s better to train people and risk losing them than to not train them and keep them.’ Training is a task that many dentists and team members prefer not to spend time doing. That is why having a consultant/coach is of value during good or bad times.

Attitude is a choice. Learning something knew is a choice we make. Recognising our deficiencies can be the first choice in a process that leads to asking for help. Dentistry does not have to be a lonely experience. During tough times, remember that what you store up now will help you thrive when times are hard.


Laura Jamison is one of dentistry’s most successful and highly respected consultants. Her focus is on dynamic team building and solid business management principles. Laura has guided over 1,500 practices to prosperity since 1992. Her successful seminars, in high demand, have lead her to present for national,
state and county dental meetings as well as many study club chapters throughout the USA, Sweden and Australia.

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