MGE’s weekly webletter, Issue 20.
Consulting versus Training
By Gregory A. Winteregg, D.D.S.
In the years prior to becoming an MGE client, I suffered from a number of not uncommon problems in my practice: inconsistent production—both for myself and the Hygiene Department, erratic new patient flow, getting the patient to do what they needed instead of just what the insurance covered, and just overall fulfillment as a private practicing dentist. So, I did what many in the profession do, I hired a number of consultants to tell me how to fix these problems. After several years and $60,000 in consulting fees, I was frustrated – I still had many of the same problems I set out to fix. Clinically, I thought dentistry was a blast. The business side of dentistry, however, began to take a toll on my attitude.
I used everything from nationally known groups to solo consultants. Every one of them was well-intentioned and sincere in their approach. They were dedicated to my success and readily available when we needed them. The problem is that I never had any kind of consistent results.
If you know me, you know that motivation isn’t my problem. To that end, I traveled all over to hear every big dental speaker on the circuit, and took many of them to lunch or dinner. Again, I found these meetings enjoyable, but then I’d find myself back in my practice in an Indiana farm town of 10,000 people with eleven dentists feeling like I couldn’t apply what I’d just heard.
For example, I remember one speaker telling me he gave his patients coffee in a china cup with a gold stir-spoon to let them know that they were in a quality practice. Well, my farmer patients showed up in their bib overalls, with a Styrofoam coffee cup, with what I hoped was mud on their boots! So in this case, like much of what I heard, it just didn’t seem like I could apply what I was hearing.
My solution back then was to move on to the next consultant or seminar and see if I could learn how to get the steady and predictable practice growth I desired. I’d compare it to looking for the next diet or piece of exercise equipment that will pan out to be “the one that works.” It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, as the alternative would have been to become apathetic and deduce that no one had really “figured it out” and just give up.
Things came to a head in the recession of the early 90’s. Despite all of the money I’d spent on consulting, my practice was down 25% and I was in trouble. I needed to do something – fast. I finally found the solution and it was so simple I could hardly believe it – the MGE training program. I would get trained on the “technology” of how to run any business. It was something that would work anywhere – even in my small Midwest farm town. And let’s be clear—it wasn’t just any old technology. It worked. It was easy to learn and simple to apply.
We have a technology in Dentistry of making a crown: 7-10 degrees of taper, 1 ½ to 2 mm of occlusal reduction, get the tissue out of the way, squirt in a good impression material, use a good lab and you get a good crown. If it doesn’t turn out properly, then you or the lab messed up. You investigate what went wrong; fix it; and you’re back in business. Pretty simple.
Prior to my MGE training, business seemed so much more complicated. It actually isn’t. Once I learned the basics, it was pretty simple to double the practice, bring on an associate and make more profit in twenty-two hours than I used to make in thirty-five. It took work but I had already been working hard. Without a system, it was pure hard work with no reward.
Here’s an example: You need more quality new patients…
- Survey them properly to find out what they are looking for.
- Tabulate those surveys properly so you know their “hot buttons.”
- Use this information to formulate your marketing campaign.
- The phone rings.
- Pretty simple.
Of course, you would survey at least once or twice a year (or more often in some cases) as people’s priorities and needs may change. And, as with any technology, you must do all of the above steps very precisely or it won’t work properly, e.g., if you don’t have the proper technology on writing survey questions, the rest of the steps are a waste of time and money.
It’s just as simple to raise your case acceptance rate for comprehensive treatment to the 60% to 80% range, to get organized, run on-time, find great staff, improve customer service and increase profitability. All of these problems are addressed by training in and application of a workable technology. Here’s the key that may be a deal breaker for you—YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT AND THEN TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO APPLY IT.
(Related: The Shocking Truth About Consulting)
I wish I could tell you all you had to do was pay me and I would handle it for you. That would just make me the next “consultant.” And look, let me be clear about this, many of the consultants I know are good people. That’s not the problem. The problem is, as a business owner, you have to know how to “dot it yourself,” and not have to be dependent on anyone else. The way to achieve this state is by getting trained on how to do it yourself. It’s easy to hire an “expert” to tell you what to do. The problems inherent in this are many – the expert’s advice may not work, or you become dependent on the expert. Either way, you’re not in control – which just doesn’t work as a business owner. And as I described above, I found this out the hard way!
What I love about what I do is that we teach you how to do it. You learn it. You do it. It works. Just look at all of the client success in this publication. Men and women, from all over the country, from small towns to huge metropolis’, all succeeding – DURING A RECESSION!
The part you may not like is that your success on our program is up to you. Or that may be just the thing you’ve been looking for. I was sick and tired of paying my money for no, or marginal, results. I was more than ready to take responsibility for my own success or failure. I must admit that three little kids and a mortgage provided plenty of motivation, but once I started applying what I learned, my practice took off like a rocket. I was semi-retired at thirty-nine.
So here is the bottom line: if you want to have complete control of your destiny in business, you have to learn the technology of running a business. Apply it properly and you’re off to the races. It doesn’t matter where you’re located or how many dentists are in your area. If you know how to run it like a business, you have NO COMPETITION.
So there you have it. Get trained and apply what you learn to your practice. Start now. There’s no time like the present.
Dr. Greg Winteregg provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. Neither MGE nor Dr. Winteregg may be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.