Last night, I got word that an ortho friend of mine is coming to visit Dallas and he’s going to come visit my practice. I’m super excited to see him and have him follow my team and myself for the day, and the best part is that our visits allow us to feed off of each other’s positive vibes and perform better in our practices.

I’ve always been an advocate of reaching out to others who seem to be “doing to right” and visiting their office for a day. Sure, you get to follow them around and see their clinical techniques, chat with their teams, learn about their cultures, see their clinical tips and tricks, but there’s something even more important that happens when you visit someone’s office: You generally become friends.

I know, this whole friendship thing can sound a little silly or trite, but we all know that our practices are a reflection of who we are and the sacrifices and hard work we’ve put into them. They aren’t perfect, but they are ours and when we open them up to others,  theres a vulnerability that comes along with that. We hope that the visiting docs likes what they see and we hope (at least I do) that they’ll make suggestions about how I can get better. But at the end of the day, the opening up of the practice and the thanks for visiting creates a stronger bond that goes on well after the visit…if it’s done right. Best of all, it tells others that you don’t think you know it all and that others have insight that you don’t.

So, here are a few quick suggestions for you if you’re thinking of having guests or visiting an office:

1. Try to have dinner the night before or lunch the day of the visit. If possible, have spouses/partners be a part of it. Sure, the doctor is the reason for visiting, but they’re not alone on the journey and I’ve learned so much about the process of success from their partners. My wife isn’t a part of my practice but she is my best friend and her opinion matters. Plus, she’s WAY more intuitive than I am, so when the story of the practice’s growth is told over dinner or lunch, she often gleans insight that went right over my head.  I know it’s not always possible to have spouses/partners, but if you can, it’s nice. BTW, there’s no rule to who pays. I’ve visited doctors way more mature in practice who insisted they pay because I was their guest and other times I’ve secretly picked up the tab because I’m visiting. It’ll work itself out.

2. If you’re the one visiting, ask the Dr. what you should wear or stalk them on FB. I’ve visited offices where I know the doctor wears a tie, so I do the same or perhaps I know that Thursday is “Red Day” and I show up in a matching outfit. When you make an effort to be a seamless part of the process, they’ll appreciate it but yeah, there are times you just can’t do it and that’s OK. It’s just a nice touch if you can. Also, coffee, bagels, fruit or donuts or something special from your part of the country can be a nice gift to bring. Texas sized jelly beans tend to be a pretty big hit when given to a team 1000 miles away.

3. Make sure you’re there at the beginning of the day. Some of the best practices succeed because of the culture and tone set by the morning meeting. I have learned so much from watching the VERY different ways that teams kick off their day, from full diagnostic conference-like meetings to a simple “rah rah, go get em” huddle.

4. Chat with the team members as much as you can. Learn why they love their practice. Find out from them where they think it can get better. What are some of THEIR secrets to success. The most successful practices share the fact that the doctor and team genuinely care for one another. There’s a feeling that it’s much more than a job and their team members won’t leave when offered an extra $2/hr.

5. Ask permission to take notes and pictures. I NEVER take images of their patients but I always snap pictures of great ideas and create an album of their practice on my phone. I also have one notebook that I bring with me to every practice and each visit has 3-7 pages of notes about how I can do things better. On my flight home I generally create an action plan based upon what I observed.

6. If you have someone visiting, they’re a superstar. I’ve always accentuated the amazing positive virtues of any visiting doc when introducing them to my team or patients. After all, they came out to your office and spent their time and money and a day off doing it. How cool is that? Make sure everyone knows it.

7. When visiting an office, always leave them better off than you found them. When I’m watching a procedure and I’m introduced to the parent or patient, when the doctor leaves I always say things like : “Dr. X is amazing. You made an amazing choice.” or, “You are so fortunate to be here with Dr. X. They are an amazing clinician.” And I mean it.  YOU can say amazing things about the practice that those in the practice can’t. Don’t miss an opportunity to give back to those you are visiting.

8. Don’t wear out your welcome. I find that a full morning is generally more than enough to get a great feel for a practice. After 4-5 hours and lunch, there isn’t a whole lot more I’m going to gain and I want them to not have to worry about me any more, so I generally  thank everyone for their kindness, wish them well and take off. Leave on a high note and let them get back to business and of course, offer for them to visit you if they ever want to.

The first time I visited a practice, I came home and had my best month of production ever by 250% and our positive vibe was through the roof!!! I’ve made amazing friends along the way and it’s a joy to be immersed in another practice’s culture for the day or have them in yours. Just always remember the “Purple Velvet Suit Syndrome” and the fact that not everything does at someone else’s office is a good fit for yours.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact your friend, pack your bags and go get some practice gems.

All the best,

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