For some, owning an orthodontic practice is about having the means to a great home, a great car or boat or fancy vacations. For others, it’s about the freedom of owning their own business and to “steer their ship” in the manner of their choosing. No matter the reasons, owning a business (practice) is tough. It requires time, energy and resources and the most successful practices got there with a plan.
The new year brings with it the forced acknowledgment of the passage of time and the idea of closing the books on the past and planning new future chartered courses. There are lots of places where one can start with their practice but I’ll throw out 4 areas where you can focus your plans for the future, starting in 2021. The goal is greater happiness, with lower stress and a better life.
So, what are the 4 areas of focus?
- Growth: Probably the most common thought to enter any business owner’s mind is the idea that the business should grow in the future. I’ve only ever heard two people tell me that they didn’t want their practices to get any bigger, which tells me that most would like a larger financial footprint for their business. Ask yourself what you can do to grow in 2021. What kind of marketing will you do? Is there a niche that’s unfilled that you can enter? Is there an underserved area that you can go to? How can you increase your case acceptance? Maybe this is the year you collaborate with a peer in a different dental speciality or a like-minded business such as a med-spa or plastic surgeon. Asking yourself growth-minded questions will help your business get better, but it doesn’t happen without attention to a plan and the details.
- Profitability: Growth directly affects “top-line” revenue, while profitability is all about the “bottom-line”. Most would take a $1 million practice doing 50% overhead over a $2 million practice doing 75% percent overhead, so while growth is a great idea, managing your net profitability is what will pay your bills. But, you can focus on growth AND profitability if you can manage it. Remember, the definition of fixed costs is costs that don’t go up with production, so growth can make you more profitable. Focus on areas in your practice where you can produce for less cost. How can you reduce supply costs? What’s the most cost effective way to build your team? Even a strong focus on your scheduling template can change your profitability in big ways. Looking at every aspect of your practice from a CPA-minded angle will help you put more in the bank, faster.
- Human Resources (HR): I’ve practiced almost 29 years and there is no single item of practice management that has caused me more stress than managing my team. You’ll be challenged to find any industry where the CEO and the folks in “production” work side by side as much as in dentistry. The differences in education, peer groups and social attitudes can create a huge chasm in terms of how owners and team members see their roles in the practice. Managing expectations and outcomes, as well as attention to detail are just a couple of the most friction generating areas of the “boss/employee” relationship. Focus on regularly scheduled, fair employee evaluations and being kind, but honest with your expectations. As the old saying goes: “Hire slowly and fire quickly.” Make this the year that you dump that toxic employee no matter what. Hire great folks and pay them fairly. Train extensively. Learn from your previous mistakes and create a work environment where YOU would want to work if you were them. Finally, create a program where someone in management helps your team members achieve their dreams. If they win, you’ll win.
- Leadership: When you went to school, they didn’t teach you how to be a leader, but here you are, stuck in that role. Everyone comes to you for answers and you need to be prepared. The better the leader, the better the outcome. So, work on your leadership skills this year. Read books, attend seminar/meetings, work with a mentor, join an entrepreneurial group. To paraphrase the old saying, some people are born leaders and others simply have it trust upon them. No matter what your leadership style, no matter how good or bad you are at it, if you run a practice, you’re a leader and in many cases, your team is there, waiting on YOU to start leading. Step up and give your practice what it needs to get to the next level. Of course, with the theme “Become a better ortho leader and manager”, this year’s Orthopreneurs Summit is a meeting you CAN’T miss. (Click HERE to sign up.)
You obviously don’t need to focus exclusively on one of the four areas and you can jump into all of them if you have the time and resources. But, be careful to REALLY spend the time necessary when you’re focusing on one of these areas. Sit down and write up a plan for how you will accomplish each of these. Then execute. A great plan without execution is just a wish.
If you spend just a fraction of the time planning this year’s practice goals as you currently spend on planning your vacations or which boat you’ll buy or your fitness goals, as HD Thoreau said, you “will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. “
Wishing you the best,
If you want to be a part of a geographically exclusive Facebook group (OrthopreneursRD) where we come together to help each other build better practices and lower stress, please message me. To learn more about your region’s availability and what it’s all about, click HERE.
GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.