I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that! We go to dental school, rack up lots of debt, open a practice, rack up lots more debt and do more and more continuing education. All for the privilege of being able to: argue with insurance companies, worry about paying the bills, struggle with cancellations and no shows, watch comprehensive treatment plans get reduced to phased care, deal with staff issues and worry about retirement (as well as some time, despite all this to actually enjoy doing some dentistry).
It’s enough to get you thinking “I didn’t sign up for all of this!”
Does it ever seem that every direction you turn and with every move you make that your efforts to build a thriving, profitable practice are being stopped or thwarted? If it’s not “managed care,” it’s the “economy.” Have you ever had the thought: “Is it really possible to have a stress-free, profitable practice anymore? Maybe I should just sell and go to work for someone else as an associate.”
OK. Put down the Aspirin bottle. Time to take a deep breath and remember why we did sign up for this. Wasn’t it something along the lines of: “I really like to help people and I would like a profession where I can make a good living for my family”?
In dental school I had no idea what I was in for after graduation. Growing up, my mom and dad owned a successful family restaurant. I was raised with a good work ethic and liked the idea of owning my own business/dental practice. But the restaurant business isn’t anything like running a dental practice.
When I graduated from the Indiana University School of Dentistry in 1981, prime interest was at 20.5%! My banker did me a favor when he gave me my loan at 19.5%! Then after eleven years of hard work, six consultants and hundreds of hours of continuing education, it was still stressful and unpredictable. The dentistry was great. The business of dentistry was a ball of confusion. I tried everything I could think of to build this practice and nothing seemed to have any kind of predictable result.
Then I became an MGE client and everything changed just about overnight!
I know it sounds “too good to be true” but there is a bona fide recipe for building the type of dental practice you have always dreamed about. MGE has it. All you have to do is follow the recipe. It’s like baking a cake. Follow the recipe and it will turn out great. Alter the recipe and who knows what you’ll have at the end.
Luis Colon (who I later joined as a partner at MGE), interviewed me when I first arrived at MGE. He asked about my frustrations and let me vent. I told him about everything I had tried and how it hadn’t worked the way I wanted. He listened to me without any evaluation or opinion of what I had been through.
Then he did something very brilliant. He asked me “What kind of practice do you want to have? What kind of dentistry do you want to do? How many hours do you want to work? How much money do you want to make?”
At first it sounded like a routine drill that others had put me through. But I noticed that everything I said he was writing down. He was really listening to me. I told him everything I wanted from the practice: I wanted to do the more difficult procedures (larger crown and bridge cases, molar endo, and third molar extractions) and have an associate do the routine crown and bridge, pedo and removable. I wanted an office manager to run the place, to work twenty to twenty-five hours per week, take three to four weeks of vacation per year and make more net income than I had in my best year.
Then he asked me how long I wanted to take to get it. I was thirty-seven at the time and had been in practice for eleven years. Despite trying everything I could think of to have that kind of practice, I wasn’t much closer than the day I graduated. I told him that if I could pull it off in ten years I would be ecstatic. Without any change of expression he asked if I would be upset if I did it faster than that.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I just described my “ideal” practice and this guy was giving me the idea that it really was possible. He told me he wasn’t going to do it for me but that he could teach me how to do it for myself if I was willing to learn.
I was willing to learn and nobody was going to out-work me. I applied what I learned at MGE and I had exactly the type of practice I wanted within a year, and mind you this was in 1992 when we were in/coming out of the last recession:
a. I had an excellent MGE trained office manager running my practice.
b. My practice had more than doubled, with my net higher than ever.
c. I had a great associate, who later became my partner.
d. I was working 22.5 hours per week.
When I arrived at MGE I felt as if I had been stopped at every turn. No matter what I tried, nothing was helping me to expand my practice. I graduated with a purpose to help a lot of people by doing great dentistry and have a flourishing practice. I wasn’t achieving that to the degree I thought I was capable of.
When I met with Luis, he gave me confidence that he could teach me how to achieve it. Then he had me talk to doctors who were accomplishing everything I had asked for and more. My viewpoint was simple: If they could do it, I could do it. I was off to the races.
So I’ll ask you the same question: What do want from your practice? How many hours? What kind of procedures? How much free time? Go ahead and write it down.
OK, that exercise was nice. Now what do you do? You have to learn how to promote to bring in fee-for-service new patients, sell comprehensive care, and manage a thriving practice with the help of a trained office manager. Piece of cake! Just follow the recipe.
I really only need two things for you to be successful on our program:
1) Be teachable. Be willing to come in and learn how to do this. We will never see your practice or tell you what to do. You have to be willing to learn how to bake this cake but we are excellent teachers. Learn the recipe!
2) Be motivated to apply what you learn. You can’t pay me enough to call you every week and yell at you for not applying this technology. I’m too old to babysit. But you can call anytime you want and talk to the “teacher.” In other words, we don’t charge an hourly rate for any follow up help by phone, fax or email with me or one of my staff after you have paid your tuition for your customized training program. We’ll help but you have to apply it. Bake the cake!
If you have read this far into my article, my intention is that you are getting just a tiny flicker of HOPE. Maybe you can still achieve all of your goals. Our clients range in age from twenty-seven to seventy-four. It’s not too late to START!
My suggestion: Start with the MGE New Patient Workshop or MGE Communication and Sales Seminars. Or just give us a call at (800) 640-1140 and request to speak with me personally. Have your “grocery list” ready to tell me what you want. We’ll work something out to help you start achieving your goals.
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.