Your Money Obsession is Killing Your Practice
Whoa, whoa, whoa… what did he say? STOP -- how is a practice supposed to be successful without a focus around the bottom line and increasing revenue? Who is this Isaiah guy anyways, and is he setting me up for failure here?
Those are all valid questions, and I am glad you asked.
Just like Dr. Paul Etchison says in his bestselling book, Dental Practice Hero, cashflow makes running your practice easier. It can help alleviate stress, afford you some extra time off, and allows you to spend some time working on your practice rather than in it.
If earning more revenue and increasing production is the core motivation of your practice, then you are surely headed down the path to misery. Not just for you, but for your entire team.
Let me explain.
Whatever your core motivation is as the dentist will become the core motivation of your staff. It’s just the way it works. What is important to the hand that feeds you must become important to you, or at least seem important to you. Otherwise, well, you just won’t stick around for very long.
Think about it. Imagine we are working at McDonalds (thank god we’re not, but for the sake of this example imagine we are).
There you are. Hair net atop your head, spatula in hand with a big white smile.
If the MAIN GOAL of McDonalds is to deliver a hamburger to their customers within, let’s say, one minute, but you, the stubborn dentist-turned-burger-flipper don’t honor that goal, what would happen?
TRAGIC – you’ve lost your dream job and are forced to return to Burger King where they don’t care if the burger is sent out in one minute or one hour.
The point here is that you, the dentist and team leader, dictate exactly what the rest of your team must be motivated by, or at least fake being motivated by. This is a GOOD THING, but is often misunderstood or taken for granted.
Well what’s the big deal, Isaiah? Why on earth is it wrong for my staff to be motivated by increasing production?
It is not necessarily wrong to pay attention to growth in production. However, the enrichment of the practice has little to no perceived impact on those you want to be motivated by it, even when a spiff or bonus structure is used. A measly bonus on an occasional basis just won’t do the trick.
It is simply impossible. Your team cannot truly care about increasing production and revenue as much as you want them to, or as much as they’d need to care in order to actually help your practice grow the way you want it to.
So reason #1 revenue and production growth doesn’t work well as a core motivation: The perceived value of the revenue growth doesn’t mean jack to them, and don’t believe them if they act like it does. The only reason they care about revenue growth is because you care, and they care about there job.
But there’s more...
That is just one element of why a core focus on revenue or production growth is stale and useless.
Next, we come to the fact that we don’t want to seem like pushy salespeople. Who really does?
A while back I was tasked with selling alarm systems door-to-door in the Houston ghetto. I am talking dark red crime zone if we’re looking at a crime map.
As much as I would love to give you an amazing success story about how good I was at getting low-income families to lock themselves into long-term security monitoring contracts, the truth is that I didn’t even sell a single system.
Because I felt like a pushy, day-interrupting salesperson. I felt like scum of the earth, tasked with not only interrupting a random person’s day, but also with convincing them to buy something that I didn’t truly believe they needed.
NOBODY wants to feel like a pushy salesperson. Not you, not your team, and certainly not me.
Now isn’t that a dilemma? Because time and time again we hear that we MUST be salespeople, and our team MUST know how to close!
Close – such a cold and sour sales word. Almost as stinky as ‘convert’.
No. It’s all wrong.
Reason #2 revenue and production growth doesn’t work well as a core motivation: When people feel the pressure to be a slimy salesperson, they will act and sound like one, or resist the conversation at all costs.
So, what can be done? Is there a better way?
You can achieve not the same, but an even better outcome for your patients, your team and your practice by readjusting your core motivation to serving your patients and community at the highest degree. "Serving your community?" That doesn’t sound very business-like.
But I am dead serious.
What do your practice’s mission statements say? What are your core values?
If you and each of your team members can’t recite with impressive accuracy, on command, your practice’s mission statements and values, they’re not taken seriously enough. Full stop.
Misch Implant Dentistry’s current mission statement is to “enhance the quality of life for our patients through excellence in dental care in a safe, comfortable and compassionate manner.”
This wasn’t Dr. Misch’s only mission statement. He had mission statements for a variety of the specific treatments he provided. Another one was to “maintain our patients’ teeth for the rest of their lives in health.”
During his 2016 interview right here on Dentaltown, Dr. Misch himself said that your mission statements, “underlie all of the decision-making aspects within your practice and for your patients. Whether you know it or not, your practice is run by these mission statements.”
He couldn’t be more right.
Now, as a marketer I don’t know tons about all else Dr. Misch was right about, but according to just about everything I’ve ever seen, he was right about just about everything he spoke. A true dental legend, and spot on when it comes to your branding.
A similar concept was coined by world-renowned author and business writer Michael Gerber. In the E-Myth Revisited, Gerber says that “Systems run the business and people run the systems.”
It is true, and as the pack leader, you must design the core systems. One major system that is often regarded as simply a formality is your system of practice values, which includes your practice’s mission. The system of your brand.
Action Step #1: Craft a brand identity with mission statements that demand successful clinical outcomes for your patients, and that steer clear of the shiny allure of using money as a motivation.
The behavior of your entire team when it comes to “closing” or “selling” will shift from timid and non-confrontational, to powerful persuasion born from compassion. If it is expected of them, they will stop at nothing to ensure your mission of dental health is achieved. Not for the company, but for your patients. I speak of this with the utmost enthusiasm because I believe in the importance of oral healthcare. If framed properly, it can be the easiest thing for people to naturally buy into – a mission and purpose greater than themselves.
Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that we all forget about tracking our numbers. Geez, I am a marketer! Numbers are of the UTMOST importance to track. However, like a thermostat, numbers are just a reflection of reality. Numbers can help us track progress and adjust the way we operate. We can set goals around numbers without the enrichment of the practice being the main goal. And without a verbalized substitute to that goal, everyone will assume that the reason we want to increase the numbers is to enrich the practice and its owner, YOU!
Action Step #2: Next time you talk about the numbers with your team, make it crystal clear that the real reason the numbers are so important is because production and revenue growth is a direct reflection of how well you are carrying out your core mission.
When your treatment coordinator trips up during their treatment presentation, or front desk fails to “convert” the phone inquiry to a booked appointment, remind them that the true importance of “closing” that treatment plan with a yes, or booking that appointment, is to carry out our commitment to our patients.
The bottom line: Unless you clearly define, and routinely remind your team of your core mission (the one that can motivate even the lowest paid team members), your team will continue to feel the wrong kind of pressure to “sell” your patients.