In a Private Dentistry How I Did It article, which showed the stunning transformation of a practice in Hampshire, once the newly refurbished doors were opened, owner Richard Budworth swiftly realised that although things were going well and the practice had plenty of patients, he wasn’t quite sure why.
It is essential for every business owner to understand where growth comes from in order to push things along during slower times, so Richard began looking for help from a business coach.
‘I know how to do the dentistry but have never had any business training. I found that most coaches were heavily focused on the money and this determined how the business would develop. However, there was one who thought patient care was the base for everything and although knowing your figures is important, the money would follow on from that,’ he explained.
While all businesses are different, they all have one thing in common, and that’s business values. These are the principles that are at the core of your business, the foundation from which everything emanates. For dental practices, the main value should be the people – your patients and your team – as these are the most essential components of your business model.
Your patients are the lifeblood of your business, if they’re contented with what you offer, the money will naturally follow. In essence, happy patients equal healthy profits.
It might sound obvious to put patients first within a healthcare setting, of course that’s the ethical approach and most dental professionals will already be doing as such. The General Dental Council has provided much guidance in regards to standards of conduct, performance and ethics, so patients know what to expect when they walk through your practice door.
The difference of having patients as a core part of your business values is where things shift slightly. This is the DNA of your business, working out what the patients want and work back from there. From that point you can decide whether you really want to give them what they expect, or if you want to give them something more.
Instead of going through the motions, maybe push the boundaries and try something different to what the rest can offer. Make the patient experience something that’s memorable, something that will keep them coming back and something that they will tell their friends and family about. Exactly what you do is all down to your area, demographic and, quite frankly, the ideas you can come up with.
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Your team must be an extension of you and your principles. A team that works seamlessly will enhance the patient experience. A team that is happy and understands your work ethic will connect together and the practice will flow in the way you need it to in order for it to work well.
All of this starts with the recruitment process – you need to get the right people on board from the outset. Sometimes this isn’t simply about the candidate with the best skills; instead, it could be the one with the most talent that can be used within your business. Recruiting for talent over skill is important because it will help you recruit and retain the right people for your practice.
Once you have the right people in place, you must ensure everyone understands the goals of the practice – what do you want to achieve and how are you going to get there? Ensuring everyone knows this will get you all working together and moving forwards continuously. Never underestimate the power of repetition; keep reminding everyone about your vision and values.
In this way you will start to realise that you are able to lead the way while you allow others to manage the day-to-day workflow. As a practice owner, it is not fair to yourself to expect that you can do the dentistry, be a practice manager and be a leader all day, every day. If you really have recruited the right people, you will be able to let others take over different aspects of running the practice while you focus on the areas that you do best.
With this in mind, business coaching that centres on the values of the patient and the team can help fine-tune your offering to ensure you’re keeping everyone happy.
As a business coach, I use different methods and techniques to help individuals to analyse their own issues; I don’t stand at the front of a group and simply teach or dictate a method.
Richard appreciated this approach: ‘Kevin Rose of Rose & Co very much fitted with our philosophy and helped me put on paper what my practice was about and all the plans I had in my head but had not got round to doing. As a result, the practice has not stood still. I am continually developing the practice, as I’m eager to maintain the early growth. I meet Kevin every quarter and talk monthly; he keeps us on track to meet our goals.’
My company, Rose & Co, runs a group session called Club Connect where individuals can ask the others in the group to draw on their experience to discuss solutions to a particular issue.
Using the knowledge of others and the fact that they are outsiders looking in is a different approach, with me taking the role of the facilitator by bringing everyone together. Don’t be fooled, this does not in any way mean that the day is a complete free for all! I steer the day (without dictating), ask questions where necessary and ensure that everyone within the group has a say.
There’s no need for concern either; at the beginning of the day everyone signs a confidentiality agreement, so what’s said stays secret between the group and I am quite selective about who joins.
Being involved in the Club Connect meetings has helped River Dental Care Ltd push its goals and expand, as Richard explains: ‘Last year, he [Kevin Rose] started holding meetings for practice managers, which I know have made a difference in my practice managers’ understanding of the business. As a result, we have recently put in a third surgery and are working on our plan of how to fill it over the next 18 months.’
Kevin Rose is the owner of Rose and Co and partner at Dental Excellence at Harewood. Kevin and the team at Rose and Co work with values-based dental business leaders and their teams to improve business satisfaction, results and dental health. Club Connect provides peer group advice and one-to-one coaching to develop the skills of dental business leaders. To find out more, visit www.roseand.co.