Why Businesses (Insert NAME of ANY Business) FAIL
Businesses mostly all fail for the same reason. In this article however, I’ll discuss a business that is near and dear to my heart: dental offices.
Dental offices fail for only ONE reason: lack of leadership. “But wait, Jerry!” you say … “What about [insert yours or another’s excuse here]?”
You name the “problem” and I can trace it back to the office being led by someone who just doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to lead. Leadership isn’t for everyone – or is it a skill easily mastered.
It’s like writing copy. It only gets better with application, testing, measuring results and plowing forward. You can’t get a Masters or Ph.D. in Leadership by attending classes, either. You develop that skill after years and years of toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, real-world tests, while reading every single book on leadership you can find.
This might be a hard pill to swallow. For most, it is. For me, it was. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to have a business that didn’t require a leader to set examples, the tone, and discipline when required and, as important, rally the troops when they need to be rallied?
I would love a business like that. Thing is, if they exist today, they won’t tomorrow. And, I’m afraid, without true, unabashed, unapologetic leadership, everything eventually withers and dies. I hate to think that might be the fate of our country if we don’t change direction and do a major gutter cleaning in DC - removing every incumbent in the city. None are required to keep it going. Not one single incumbent is immune to being returned to their respective states. And they all should be.
But, enough on politics (I’m not intolerant of a particular party — I’m just intolerant to elected officials who believe their opinion is more important than those who sent ‘em there to do a job!).
So, no matter what the perceived problem for failure might be…it all boils down to lack of effective leadership.
Lack of new patients? Leadership problem. Doc can’t get out of his own way to empower his team to generate referrals (or ask for them), or, he can’t make a decision to HIRE someone who’s an expert in this field to get it done. Delegation is a challenge for most doctors. Leaders master the art of delegation (and follow-up).
Bad or no cash flow? Leadership problem. Doc can’t control his personal or business spending so that he’s taking more money out of the business than he should. Doc can’t hold staff accountable to collect funds the practice is due — whether from insurance or patients.
Terrible staff? Leadership problem. Doc can’t stomach firing someone to free up their future. He’s too involved in personal lives of team members. He failed at hiring a real office manager to handle this for him. (The most successful docs either ONLY manage their practice and don’t pick up an instrument, or, they have hired a real professional to manage their business. It can’t be any other way!)
Ugly office? Leadership problem. Doc’s not paying attention to what’s going on around him or not listening to his team tell him how ugly the place really is. And, he’s spending too much in other areas and not enough on the image of the office.
Bad online reviews? Leadership problem. Doc treats his staff and patients like garbage or second class citizens, or, he allows his staff to. Or, he’s rough, bad at injections or has a terrible bed/chairside manner. He can’t get out of his own way and listen to criticism to fix it.
Lack of a true dental office manager? Leadership problem. See ‘Terrible Staff.’
Having to close the doors? Leadership problem. See ‘Bad or no cash flow.’
For nearly 20 years, I’ve worked with dentists from all over the US, Canada and Australia. In big towns and small. Women and men. Young dentists and some that couldn't retire even if they wanted to.
And, what I’ve noted in every single encounter was simply this: Unless and until the doctor developed effective leadership skills and empowered his employees to guide the business, failure was imminent – the writing was already on the wall. He or she would eventually close the doors.
If you have a problem in your practice and you want it solved, the first person to check with stares back at you every day. Once you realize it IS your problem and it’s a leadership problem, you can move to quickly fix it. But, it all starts with you.
Until then, you’re going to be one miserable dentist.
About The Author… Jerry A. Jones is the CEO of Jerry Jones Direct (JJD), an almost two-decade old marketing and advertising firm whose clients include Dentists and Financial Services Advisors in the US, Canada, Australia and England. He’s a widely-published author of several books and thought leader writing opinion papers and articles for a variety of publications. Jerry also publishes five different newsletters and two magazines every month, leads dental mastermind sessions, and creates marketing and advertising campaigns for his private client Financial Advisors, Dentists and ClearPath Society® Members. He is also the Founder & CEO of Wellness Springs Dental® in Salem, Oregon, which includes an incredible group of four Doctors and an amazing team. Wellness Springs Dental® will be offering national dental office franchises in 2016. More information at www.JerryJonesDirect.com or www.ClearPathSociety.com.