I have been a partner at MGE: Management Experts for the past 21 years.
MGE is a training company; we don’t sell or really do consulting, so some may view this article as a self-serving attack on consultants to get more business for MGE.
Naturally, I’d love to have more clients (who wouldn’t), but the reason I’m writing this article is that I’m actually more interested in your success as a dentist in private practice.
My personal experience with practice management consulting – and the results
In my eleven years in practice prior to becoming an MGE client in the spring of 1992, I paid $60,000 (more than $100,000 if adjusted for inflation) to 6 practice management consultants. These companies varied from the “one-man show” to major ones whose owners lectured at ADA and state conventions. Typically the pattern was to pay a monthly fee for the consultant to:
- Come to my office once a month or
- Have a weekly conference call to give advice on how to handle business problems.
On the surface, this seemed like a good approach. I used to tell my wife I was spending all of this money because “…consultants can’t fix their own teeth and I can’t fix my own business. I was trained in dentistry and they are trained in business.” It sounded logical. The only problem was all of this consulting didn’t lead to a stable long-term increase in production, collections, and new patients in my practice.
I was always looking for answers. As a matter of fact, the president of a major consulting company came to my office one day and blamed my lack of growth on my location (a rural Indiana farm town), the attitude towards dentistry in the farming community, competition from 11 other local dentists, and the economy. His best advice was “write more letters to your existing patients and ask for referrals.” I can’t describe how hopeless I felt after that meeting.
By March of 1992, my collections were down by 25%. I was sending my numbers in to my consultant who had no answers other than “we are in the middle of a recession and you are doing better than some of my other clients.” Meanwhile, I could barely pay my bills and considered laying off staff.
Around this time, I received a direct-mailing about the MGE New Patient Workshop and then spoke to an MGE representative who said the course came with a money-back guarantee. I was already pretty disgusted with consultants but desperately needed help getting more new patients, so I decided to try it and get my money back if I wasn’t happy.
What finally ended my business struggle in private practice?
On my first day of the MGE New Patient Workshop, I met my future MGE business partner Luis Colon and told him all the reasons I wasn’t doing well financially (i.e. my location, the farmer mentality toward dentistry, eleven dentists in a town of ten thousand people, and the economy.) He explained the problem was none of that.
The problem was me!
Not to make me too depressed, he said that that was good news. If the problem was any of points I previously mentioned, there was nothing either of us could do about it. What he could do, however, was formally train me on how to run a business. As a practice owner, I needed training – not consulting. In other words, I needed to learn how to do it rather than being told what to do. Training put me in better control—and that’s exactly what I was looking for.
At the time, it reminded me of an old proverb, which further illustrates this point:
Give a person fish and feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.
MGE trained me how to “fish” – in other words manage my practice all by myself. No one from MGE ever came to my office and told me what to do. I took courses where I had to demonstrate that I could apply the material. I attended seminars where I had to role-play the application of the principles being taught. Things began to go better. I was energized and wanted to learn as much as I could. My course materials replaced Sports Illustrated on my nightstand!
Likewise, what if you had to pay a dental school a monthly fee for the rest of your career? Every time you had a clinical question, you would call a toll-free number they gave you. Picture these scenarios:
“Give me the Operative Department. I’m doing a crown prep and the tissue is bleeding. What can I do about this?” or
“I need the Pedo Department. This three year old is crying and I have no idea how to handle it.” or
“I missed this mandibular block. Can someone over there tell me how to fix this?”
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? In dental school, we get trained on how to handle a thousand situations like this so we can make quick and accurate decisions when it comes to providing patient care. It works the same way in handling the business side of your practice.
Having said that, when you are on the MGE program, you can pick up the phone and call us for help (free-of-charge) anytime you have a problem or question. That help, though, is always in the form of giving you the knowledge and ability to handle that problem and gain better control in your practice long-term.
Within ninety days of training at MGE, I was up by 74% in my collections.
I didn’t learn how to do the next big dental procedure, nor did I relocate my practice or buy fancy new equipment. The other dentists didn’t move out of town, and the economy stayed the same. I changed. In five months, the practice exploded and I had to get an associate to keep up with all the production.
This is what happens when you train dentists how to run their practices rather than just telling them. A year later, I was practicing 22 hours a week – earning more net income than I ever made. I controlled the practice. It no longer controlled me.
I won’t say the consulting I received before MGE had no benefit all, but getting trained and making my own decisions worked at least 200% better.
As a side note: advisors of our prospective clients – accountants, bankers, and financial planners – are often skeptical that MGE is going to help their dental clients because they’ve seen too many stories like my own. Now we are getting phone calls from these same bankers, accountants and financial planners saying that our program is the only one that they have ever seen work.
For that matter, when I sent my Profit and Loss Statement to my banker after becoming an MGE client back in the early ‘90s, he wanted to know how I did it! He was amazed that while others were contracting, or just happy to maintain, I had the fastest-growing business in the county.
So what do we teach at MGE?
- How to promote and get as many new patients as you want. (My new patients increased from 10 per month to 80+ per month in one year.)
- How to get your patients to want what they need rather than doing just what the insurance allows. (While on my MGE Program, I quit doing pre-determination of benefits.)
- How to hire, train, and keep great staff. (My practice nearly doubled and all I added was two part-time staff.)
- How to manage by statistics rather than opinion. (I had graphs on the wall before MGE but didn’t know what to do when statistical trends were crashing down.)
- How to increase profit. (Collecting more while holding the line on spending leads to an abundance of profit.)
In my 22 years with MGE, we have surveyed thousands of dentists/MGE clients and found there are three common denominators of every successful MGE client:
1. Be teachable.
Most dentists are professional students and are very willing to learn. Sometimes someone shows up who thinks they already have it all figured out or their situation is unique, so what we teach won’t work on them. They’re right in that it won’t work on them—but that’s only because they’re not willing to be helped.
2. Be willing and able to think outside the “dental box.”
The “dental box” is rather constricting. Inside it are all kinds of false ideas, such as “Doctors don’t talk money,” “I should participate in PPO and HMO plans or I will go broke,” “People in my area won’t pay for comprehensive dentistry,” and “If I could just find someone to run the front office so all I have to do is be a dentist, I’d be in heaven.” These are all lies, but it’s easier for some people to follow the crowd than to think for themselves and change their mind.
3. Be Hungry, Driven and Motivated.
Most dentists are hard workers. But when you come to MGE, you have to be ready for a change. This will drive you to apply what you learn here. In the end, your success will be determined by your knowledge and application of our various MGE training programs.
The average MGE client increases collections by 35% in three to four months and doubles in two years or less. We will stack our client results up against any other consulting group in North America. My advice: Come to MGE and “learn how to fish.”
Call me at 800-640-1140 and I will speak to you personally about how to get you started on the path to having your practice under total control.