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As consultants and coaches, we are asked all the time, “What makes a dentist successful?” I see successful dentists habitually doing similar things in their practices. This success is not only in their practice; it’s in their whole life. Success, to me, means having fulfillment in their family life, health, fun and leisure, and spiritual life, as well as their professional practice. These doctors also embrace what it means to be a leader.
There are a few things that dentists who have found success have in common. Most people would jump directly to clinical skills. However, we know it takes more than great clinical acumen to have a successful dental practice. I expect the doctors I work with to have great clinical skills. If they need training in this department, they make it a priority. However, most have taken so much clinical CE, but they are not utilizing their skills because their practice is struggling. In addition to great clinical abilities, it takes great business systems as well as strong communication skills to be successful. I would argue that communication skills (with yourself, your team, and your patients) are the most critical.
Here are three common traits among the most successful dentists:
The clearer you are on where you’re going, the more likely you’ll achieve your results. Strong leaders know their vision and goals; they tend to focus on them daily or weekly. To create a strong vision, answer some of the following: What is the ideal patient of your practice? What does the ideal team look like? What types of clinical services will you offer? How much will the practice produce and collect?
Once the management and/or team has come up with the vision, it is important to define and communicate your “why.” Why is this vision good for the practice, patients, team, and community? Agreements, or a code of conduct, that support the vision should be put into place.
Implementing front line managers within your team can help alleviate stress, create greater accountability, and foster a feeling of ownership among the staff. Individuals prefer to know that they are making a difference and are valuable members of a team. Additionally, the dentist grows stronger as a leader by encouraging the team members to achieve their very best.
Establish a “source person” for each of the departments and systems in your practice such as Financial Management, Scheduling to Goal, Marketing and New Patients, Recare Department, Clinical Supply Management, Hygiene Reactivation, Monitors, etc. This individual will oversee their department and remain accountable to getting it done.
I’m not talking about traditional marketing or advertising. There will always be a place for advertising, which can be effective. I am referring to the branding, identity, and community you create with marketing. It’s about getting patients from the point that they hear about your practice to the moment they say “yes” to the treatment.
Your logo should be something that has the look and feel that represents your practice. This logo should consistently be on everything that leaves your practice. Be in love with your brand. I know this sounds silly, but your brand is the emotional connection between your practice and your patients and the community. What do patients think of when they see your logo? Does it make them want to call your practice and refer their friends? Not only do you want to embrace internal marketing (the “WOW” experience), you also need to embrace digital marketing and understand that anything on the web should be a digital representation of your brand.
Incorporating these common traits into your practice will increase your leadership skills, attract the right team to your practice, and create patients for life!
Editor's Note: For more information on the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, please click here.