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Get a 10:1 Return On Your Emotional Investment

I don’t worry much. It’s just my nature. I do get nervous in certain situations, but I’ve always been a “let’s work the problem and do what we can” kind of guy. The last 2 months have certainly stretched my ability to stay positive but now that I’m back at work, I feel more “in control”. You may be the same.

But, many around us aren’t feeling the same way and we need to be aware and respectful of it. Many are on their edge. Months of home-schooling, loss of income, loss of routine and fear of illness have many on edge. It means that some may not be acting themselves. For many, your office will be their first trip outside of their homes and while novel and perhaps fun, it can be scary and illicit all sorts of emotions.

Some people may say and do things that might appear inflammatory. Mundane tasks and requests may cause friction or hostility. Do your best to be kind, generous and understanding.

Treat people with excessive emotional gentleness and when things seem tough, take a deep breath and have real one-on-one conversations. Most people, when treated with empathy and kindness tend to relax and conflict resolves itself.

I know, I know, it’s a lot to ask. After all, you have a business to operate, treatment to render, a team to take care of and the concern of what will happen to your practice in uncertain economic times.

But always remember that when we get out of this -and we will- you will look back on your role during the pandemic and wouldn’t you like to reflect with the knowledge that you did everything you could to bring peace and happiness to those around you who needed it?

I can promise you that for every bit you slow down to help others through their difficult emotional time, it will come back to you ten-fold. The gift is always for the giver.

I’m always here if you need anything.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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A Cause For Optimism

This past week was my first time treating patients in a little over a month and a half and here are a few observations to hopefully lift your spirits:

Things are different, yet so much is the same
Orthodontics doesn’t change. Teeth move in the same way they always have. Yes, it was weird jumping back into my first patient (who incidentally asked me, half jokingly:”Hey doc, are you gonna be a little rusty?😂) but things will come back to you right away. While this new “normal” is kind of weird, like anything, a routine will form and all will be good.

The energy level of my team was unbelievable
When the Cares Act passed, adding $600 to unemployment benefits, many of us wondered how many practices would lose team members who would decide to stay home and collect their “free” money. Polls both in Facebook groups and in casual conversations make it clear that a lot of businesses-not just orthodontic offices-have found that many employees are not coming back to work. Is that a problem? Not really.

My practice reopened with a team that was three smaller than in March. Of course, my first response was concern. “How will we be able to service the needs of the patients with  a smaller team?” I have set columns of patients and losing two team clinical team members means needing to replace them (even after using protocols and software to lean my schedule), but the interesting thing is that even being down a couple of folks, my team was energized and ready to seize the day. They have been positive and upbeat and it was only after seeing their attitude that I realized we lost the baggage that was holding our team back. The ones who came back were there because they wanted to be there, valued the practice and (so far) the feel of the office culture in amazing.

If you’ve lost team members, don’t lose a moment’s sleep over it. You’ll emerge stronger and better because of it.

The potential employee pool is deep
I’ve practiced through four economic downturns and when they occur, you can be certain that there will be many more applicants for your business openings.

We’ve interviewed potential administrative and clinical team members during the last two weeks and I have been amazed at the quality of candidates. The average applicant is FAR better than what I’ve seen in the last decade. Smart, engaging, experienced people are applying in droves for jobs that I could not fill even 3-4 months ago.

Nobody wants to own a business in an economic downturn, but if you need to fill a position in your office, now is going to be a great time to find that next amazing team member.

It’s nice to be in a quiet office
The CDC/ADA recommendations of having as few patients in the office as possible has meant that patients have been coming back into clinic alone. No moms or dads or siblings and two things stand out:

  1. Appointments move so much quicker without distractions. It’s amazing how well things flow when there are no interruptions, questions, or siblings running around the office/chair.  And the office is so much more quieter, calmer, serene and dare I say…peaceful?  No parents at the front desk scrolling through their calendar for 10 minutes looking for that “perfect” appointment.
  2. Younger patients are now free to actually create their own healthcare experience with THEIR providers. You know those kids whose parents need to hold their hand during a cementation of an RPE “worried” for their child’s welfare, because the child is “scared to death” (and showing it)? So far, it’s gone. Without the parents there, do you know what happens to the kids who were scared? They come out of their shells and actually interact with the assistant and doctor and we see they aren’t scared to death. They have fun and learn how to cope with an appointment on their own. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I love my patients’ parents but there IS a reason why almost every pediatric dentist I know asks parents to stay in the reception area. These providers were taught what we’re now learning: Building a healthcare patient/provider relationship with a child helps empower them to trust and make it through a “scary” appointment better than any hand holding ever can.

There is lots of hope
New patients are calling, people are starting treatment, businesses are reopening and we know that we’ll get through this. When will things be “back to normal”? Nobody knows. But we will get through this. Our teams and practices WILL be stronger and better run because of the time we spent working on them while we were closed.

I missed my patients while I was closed and the other day I found myself walking out to cars to chat with parents from 6 feet away when I had the chance. I love connecting with my patients and it’s funny how when I first got back I thought I’d be much more focused on the phone ringing with new patients. In reality, the biggest concern I have is making sure that my patients are OK and that my team is aligned with the practice vision.

It’s clear that things are different than they were when I left the practice in late March. Not better, nor worse. Simply different. This is an event we will tell our grandchildren about some day and these tough times will pass. Keep an open mind to change, be smart and reasonable in following protective guidelines and keep working ON your practice while woking IN it.

I’m always here if you need anything.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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How “The Pumpkin Plan” Can Help Your Practice

This week, I share a few insights from “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michaelowicz to hopefully help you with your practice.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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Imagine The Practice Of Your Dreams When We Go Back To Work

Being home is getting frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with my kids and wife and things like longer workouts and 3 meals with my family every day. However, I want to be an orthodontist again. Well, I guess I am an orthodontist but I want to be a practicing orthodontist again.

The good news is that we seem to be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and we can start anticipating a time when we should be back in the office. I have one BIG question for you: What will you do differently than before you left the office?

I do NOT mean “what are you going to do related to the virus” or “how are you going to do virtual consultations”. I mean, specifically, how are you using your down time to come up with ways to serve your patients and teams better?

I was reading Marshall Goldsmith’s legendary book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. From correcting annoying habits that undermine our leadership credibility to becoming our “own press secretary”, Goldsmith explains that we must be evolving or we tend to go backwards.

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Marshall Goldsmith is arguably one of the most distinguished and capable executive leadership coaches to ever live. His words are worth are worth your time.

Think of it. How many orthodontists do you know who had amazing practices 10, 15 or even 20 years into practice only to stop working on their own development and then, as a friend of mine coined “ride their dinosaurs into extinction”. You know those practices and everyone has the right to do (or not) what they want, but is that really what you want? Do you want your legacy diminished? Do you want to see your practice slowly diminish and NOT see the kids of your current patients as patients as well?

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen in the long run. So. spend time thinking about -even just a few ways-that your practice will be different when you go back to work. Maybe there are some great books you want to read on leadership or management. Maybe you want to contact some mentors and work out how to do things better. Remember, most of us practice alone and it’s nice to have another set of ideas to help you along.

But whatever you do, do NOT be satisfied with the status quo. Time, like money, has an inflationary-like effect. Doing nothing DOES mean going backwards. Be motivated. Be inspired. Make your practice everything you want it to be.

If you’re tired of being where you are, reach out to me and I can offer some great solutions ranging from my experience with certain consultants or our geographically exclusive OrthopreneursRD group where we discuss these kinds of ideas (pending geographic availability).

But whatever you do, do something!

So, tell me…what is the one thing you will do to make you or your practice better starting right NOW?

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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Which Patients Should We Market To? Simon Sinek Can Help Us.

There’s been a lot of discussion about competing on price or lowering prices for limited cases. It leads to the question of which patient population is the one we should market to and which one is most likely to refer us more patients afterwards.

I was just reading Simon Sinek’s classic Start With Why and he was going into some great details about the spread of technology through society. Senek described Geoffrey Moore’s explanation of Everett M. Rogers’ 1962 introduction of Diffusion of Innovations. While Rogers introduced the idea, Moore used the “Law of Diffusion” as a way of explaining high-tech marketing.

We know it as the “Technology Adoption Curve” but the explanation runs much deeper.

You probably have already heard of the 5 different categories of consumers: Innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. However, what you may not have heard of is the way in which each is buys.

The first 2.5% is the “innovators” and to them, being first is important. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they are VERY loyal to the product. Sinek explains that we can all be innovators to a certain number of products, and it doesn’t have to apply to everything. Perhaps it’s a car or an electronic gadget, but can you think of any brand for which you HAD TO BE the first (or one of the first) in line? Chances are there was something you can think of. Sinek describes how is sister is an early adopter to fashion trends while he is in the late majority.

Laggards are the last 16% and to them (depending on the product or the idea) they could probably do without it. Sinek explains that if they weren’t forced to change, they’d probably still have a rotary phone (with regard to phones).

But here’s the interesting part…Sinek tells us that for laggards, “everything usually boils down to price for them. They are rarely loyal. They rarely give referrals and sometimes you may even wonder out loud why you do business with them.”

So, the goal for our practices is to figure out how to market to the innovators and early adopters. They are the ones who are most loyal, give the most referrals, value what you do and to whom price plays the smallest role.

By marketing on price alone, you are inviting those who care the least about you, cause the most headaches, don’t value your services and won’t refer friends.

So, how do you create those raving fans?

That’s up to you! 😀

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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You Have Four Options: Which One Will You Choose?

Our current crisis will end at some point. How long will it last and how tough will it be, nobody knows, but it will end and we will be practicing again. So, the question is: what are you doing now to get ready for when we do go back to treating patients in a regular way?

I was recently reading Grant Cardone’s book, The 10 X rule. Grant is a self-made entrepreneur, businessman and he has only one speed: fast forward. Love him or hate him he certainly has inspired many entrepreneurs and small business owners to new heights.

The 10X Rule has many interesting concepts related to “success”, but with regard to the topic of business “options”, he states that you have four choices when it comes to growing your business: retreat, do nothing, take normal business actions and take massive business action. Let’s explore all of these.

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The first one, “retreat”, isn’t something that any normal business owner would take. It would mean literally going backwards with your business which I couldn’t imagine anyone doing, so let’s go to the next option

If one were to truly “do nothing”, they would have to do something. This means firing the team and putting them on unemployment, putting the phone on voicemail with a message that someone will call them back when this was all over, handling just an emergency number and sitting at home basically taking a vacation until we get back. I don’t really know anybody doing this either. It’s an option, but it certainly can’t be helping your business.

I’d say that most orthodontist have been “taking normal business actions”. Handling the team (either firing them or keeping them on payroll or some combination), dealing with incoming calls and emails, reducing costs across the board, reducing advertising spends, handling emergencies, taking some CE, contacting scheduled patients, maybe some virtual exams, watch some webinars, read a book on growth or leadership here and there, Zoom meetings with the team once or twice a week, follow the PPP situation and hunker down for much needed time with the family or focus on their personal growth. Seems like a very fair and appropriate approach. It’ll mean that they’ll come out of this with probably the same footprint they went in.

What if you took “massive action”, though? What would that look like? Imagine all of the aforementioned actions from “normal business actions” and adding things like posting a daily youtube video for prospective patients, writing a blog article every day, connecting with existing patients in unique and interesting ways, massive number of social media postings, new patient virtual exams with a click funnel to drive patients there, significantly increased ad spends because the “per click” costs would be down these days, work on revamping the website for content and SEO, daily meetings with specific members of the team for marketing, growth and systems meetings, outreach to local community leaders and schools to help in any way possible, new technology testing to see how to make the practice experience easier and seamless, working on daily systems and policies with the team, having team members assigned specific tasks, webinars and reading topics specific to their jobs, take out a motivational billboard on a busy highway, and more.

You see, the idea is to go “massive” and most of it does not require a ton of capital. It’s about time. You have lots of that. There are 168 hours in every day. You sleep about 30% of the day, and spend another 30% with your family.  Maybe 10% of the week for fitness and eating. You can’t leave your house, so you have 30% of your week left for your business. That’s 50.4 hours a week leftover for your business. Sure, you can watch Tiger King or Hunters or some trending show, but remember, this isn’t a vacation and we are talking about “MASSIVE ACTION” here. So, you CAN do everything I mentioned above and more.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but imagine emerging from this with a stronger practice than you had before. That would be amazing, right? Less stress, more growth.

Like I said above, you have 4 options. Which one will you choose?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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Technology and Overhead: Can They Coexist?

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused us to shut down the face to face interactions we’ve been used to. As a result, many new (and older) technologies have moved to the forefront. Many have changed the way they’re practicing and the conversations have turned to things like virtual exams and teliomedicine options. Moreover, the discussions have gone further to suggest that this virus might have made changes to the way we will all practice moving forward.

At the same time, there has been much discussion about running practices on “skeleton” crews with significantly reduced overhead. Doctors have described how great it’s been connecting with their patients while answering phones, taking all emergencies and doing things they may not have done in years. Many have mentioned how “simple” it was when they saw fewer patients and had smaller teams with lower overall overhead.

This leads to the question: When all of this is over, will we adopt more technology to help make our practices more efficient and will these technologies really deliver on their promise of making us more profitable through their efficiency?

Video conferencing has been around forever and the costs aren’t that high. But what about machine learning programs to help track treatment, texting apps, software to schedule online exams, virtual assistants, online documentation signing software, software to create in-house aligners, virtual payment portals, and on and on. Everything has a price and someone has to pay that price.

One could make the argument that each of these softwares and technologies are essential in today’s environment and that if we are to tailor the experience to the needs of our clients, we need to be heading down that road. Can we afford this?

Historically, a well-run orthodontic practice in a suburban area can run effectively at a 50-60% overhead. Let’s be honest, very few orthodontists have starved. However, every penny spent on technology is a penny out of the practice owner’s pocket, so it needs to make sense.

The biggest problem used to be the cost of acquiring new technology. For instance, a new compressor or Pan/Ceph cost a lot. What’s changed is that everything now comes with the ever present “monthly fee”, so while you might not spend much for a new app, software or device up front, one could find themselves with thousands of dollars in monthly fees just from the ongoing maintenance of the practices upgrades. In perpetuity.

Which technological advances REALLY make us money or pay for themselves through efficiencies and which technologies are just “cool” to have?

Every doctor needs to make the decision for themselves and figure out how to make them affordable. It used to be that one simply “raised their fees” to accommodate the increase in practice costs, however, today’s market-and recent economic downturn-make raising fees a difficult option.

To be honest, after 27 years in practice (albeit only 5 in orthodontics) I have come to rely on those around me and the technology available to reduce my stress and make practice more enjoyable. Yes, it makes my overhead higher, and yes, I can tend to get excited about introducing new technology into the practice, but my partner helps us decide what’s right and what’s affordable. An extra set of eyes on most decisions is a great help.

So, which apps/programs/software/devices make the most sense to you? Which ones are the ones that our patients will demand AND recoup their costs?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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How Will You Emerge Stronger…?

At the time of this writing, most orthodontists in the US are either “closed” to routine care, or headed in that direction for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months and in some cases, “indefinitely” .

A lot of the recent discussion has been around what to do with teams, governments, loans and the now ubiquitous “virtual” exams and consultations. Yes, I think it’s important to create strategies and protocols to mitigate the impact on our practices as well as figure out how to serve our patients who are in active care, with no ability for us to actually actively treat them. However, there is one discussion that seems to be in the background…

How can we use this impending down time in our practices to come back stronger when this is over?

Yes, the Coronavirus will not be the end of humanity or orthodontics and there will be a time -in weeks or months from now- when we will go back to operating our practices with a “business as usual” approach. I know it sounds crazy right now, and things are likely to get worse before they get better, but it will happen. So, rather than worrying about things we cannot change, I have a suggestion.

Work on yourself as a leader, manager and entrepreneur while you have the chance.

Sure, it’ll be great to spend time with family…in isolation…for a while. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my family, but I can tell you that our two favorite days of the year are the day school ends and the day it starts again. It’ll be great taking walks, going on bike rides and spending quality time as a family while we endure our sequester. Maybe you can learn how to play an instrument, write a book, master a new game or app. That’s all amazing stuff to do.

However, there will be a lot of hours in a lot of days that you simply haven’t had up until now and won’t possibly get again. Use them wisely to help your practice emerge with a stronger core.

There are so many resources out there for you to develop your “emergence strategy” using books, webinars and online workshops. Ever wanted to become an expert in Photoshop so you can edit images? There are online workshops. Want to learn Adobe Premiere Pro to edit videos for social media? There are resources. Want a new logo? Master your PM software? Clean up your virtual case photo albums for your practice?  For everything from business plans to entrepreneurial goal setting, management courses to books on adapting to chaos, it’s all there for you.

So, knowing the resources are there and you have a lot of time on your hands, what steps are you committed to taking to make your life better when we go back to work?

You’ll have the time, but will you have the discipline?

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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Folks, Let’s Be Smart…

Let me start with as much clarity as I can convey that I AM taking this Covid-19 virus seriously. This week, I spent 2 hrs on the phone with my parents who are both in the highest risk group. They’re both over 75, my mom has multiple sclerosis and my dad is 5 weeks removed from a kidney transplant and is as immunocompromised as they come.

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Both of my parents fall into the “70-75” age group but their susceptibility, because of their immunocompromised systems, is much higher. This is a VERY real situation for me.

I’ve also (like may of you) spent the last 4 or 5 weeks glued to the CDC and WHO websites watching what’s been happening well before the virus started growing in the US. I’ve always been fascinated by epidemiology and this has been a remarkable time to watch the global pandemic situation.

So, my comments below shouldn’t be misconstrued as ambivalent or not caring about every single soul affected by this horrible virus.

We’ve all been reading articles penned by, and podcasts including experts from the medical fields. Social media has been full of stories about “My friend the infectious disease specialist told me…” and “My family in South Korea said…” and so on. We’ve been lucky enough to see academic articles on the spread of Coronavirus in the dental setting and most of us have made videos or sent letters to our patients explaining the situations in our offices.

Next came lots of conjecture. “What are you going to do in your office this week?” The answers included everything from following the ADA recommendations to the letter, to closing up shop, to having people wait in cars until their appointments, to “not much else because it’s just like the flu and we’ve always used universal precautions.”

Are we really going to tell people to stop wearing aligners and elastics indefinitely because it causes them to put their fingers in their mouths and we can’t trust them to sanitize afterwards?

We’ve seen enough graphs and charts to make our heads spin and everyone telling us what they know “for sure” when we’re truly in uncharted territory. It is 100% true that if we “can stop the virus now, our healthcare system might not be overburdened.”

But here’e the thing: We’re not shutting down. Go on social media to see proof that while schools are closed, the common gathering places like malls, supermarkets, coffee houses, gyms, Costcos, churches, nail salons, dentists, doctors, parties, etc are still happening. All over the county. Borders are open. Interstate travel is open. Pediatric dentists that I personally know have added days into their schedule because of all the parents wanting treatment RIGHT NOW because of the fear of potential loss of insurance due to perceived layoffs due to the economic impact of many of the necessary preventative measures.

Yet, orthodontists-arguably the least invasive practitioners in dentistry-are considering shutting down their offices, or perhaps being shut down by the government. Is this the right approach? With all of the other areas of daily communal life still open, does shutting down your office really make sense?

On one hand, the idea that “I can make a difference” is somewhat true. If you shut down your office, less people have the opportunity to transmit to one another in your space. But until they stop going to church, supermarkets and all the other places listed above where they will run into and interact with WAY WAY more people in an environment that isn’t watching out for them, what difference does it really make? Are you sacrificing your livelihood and the livelihood of your team and the welfare of your patients who need your care for no really good reason? That is NOT a rhetorical question, but rather one we need to ask ourselves.

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How infectious is Coronavirus? The “R0” for Covid-19 is around 2-2.5 and the seasonal flu is around 1.4. For a virus to spread and survive in a population, it must be above 1.

If you REALLY want to know how China imposed a quarantine, read this article HERE and see that what we, as a society are calling for is nothing compared to what they did. But it raises a far more important question. It took over two months IN CHINA with what are being called “Draconian measures” for the virus to reach past its peak tipping point. And they need to continue the measures and they are FAR MORE vigilant than we will be.

So, if you’re thinking of shutting down your office for a week or two, think about this:  It’s going to take months for this to pass if we want to look at China or Italy or South Korea as an example. Are you prepared to shut down or delay your patients’ treatment for 3-5 months? Moreover, looking at this from a logical standpoint, if you’re truly worried about transmitting this disease from patient to patient, and you’re going to close when there are 1600 active known cases in the United States, shouldn’t you FOR SURE be closed when that number hits 20,000 or 50,000 or 500,000? What’s the sense in closing for two weeks and reopening when the chance of a known carrier in your office is much more likely.

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Testing in the US has been pretty light considering we’re “quarantining” the population. Due to the non-severity of symptoms in the general population and the similarity to colds and flu, the number of actual cases is probably much higher than the estimates.

My point is that let’s not -as orthodontist and NOT epidemiologists or infectious disease experts-decide what’s the right or wrong path. Let’s not get on to social media and say “My wife is a doctor and she suggested..” or “My friend is an epidemiologist and he suggested…” or “My practice financial manager/CPA put out a letter that suggested…”.

The economic impact is uncertain. People aren’t making orthodontists a priority right now and the idea of us being out of business AND having to pay our team can be downright frightening for those starting their practices. As of the writing of this article, the Coronavirus Jobs Bill  (learn more HERE at the NY Times article) might affect us because of paid leave but also states “…and the Labor Department will have the option of exempting workers at any company with fewer than 50 employees, if it determines that providing paid leave ‘would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.’ ”

I appreciate it when I hear orthodontists say: “I’m going to pay my team even if it means that I can’t take a salary” and while admirable, is that really viable in the long-term? If your office is shut down for 2, 4 ,8 or 16 weeks, at what point does your family have to play a role in this? Are you ready and certain that the financial policies you enact right now are implementable in the longer-term? I’m just suggesting that you think wisely before implementing any policies.

Let’s listen to the protocols and procedures suggested by our parent organizations and do the best we can to protect our patients, ourselves and our team members. There ARE resources out there and we should try to follow their ever changing suggestions as best we can. The ADA suggestions HERE apply to dentists , who create an aerosol using water on virtually every patient (we drill far less and never use water) so these should be more than enough for us. A great article on dental aerosols is HERE. (Note that there is A LOT on the web about dental aerosols when one is using water, but very little about what we as orthodontist do with just air or even a slow speed alone.)

I explained to my parents that while many of us are taking precautions, as high risk individuals, THEY are in charge of making sure they protect themselves. They must wear masks and gloves when handling anything that comes through their door, set up a “containment zone” as best they can and they shouldn’t rely on anyone outside of their door being able to keep their home a virus-free environment. However, the fear mongering folks out there created an environment where my parents-the highest risk- cannot obtain masks or gloves or even the most simple disinfectants necessary because of the hoarding that’s happened.

THAT’S the real danger in this situation. People (us included) making decisions based on fear and over-reacting (as the public has) leaving many worse off than if they had done nothing.

These are unprecedented times for all of us. Most importantly, let’s not panic and make policies and protocols that don’t align with the recommendations of our governing bodies. Let’s stick together and help one another and no matter our personal opinions based on what we’ve heard or seen, none of us knows better than the CDC and the organizations making policy. This isn’t going to go away in a week or two, and things are likely to go through multiple iterations.  Let’s watch it unfold and help one another.

We MUST act to “flatten the curve” of the spread of this virus. We MUST do what we reasonably can to protect our patients. Let’s just not make hasty decisions based on emotion rather than what is being recommended.
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This will pass. Life will go on and we will hopefully learn from this and do an even better job the next time we’re faced with this kind of crisis.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

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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.

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You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Healthy

Your front desk just said “ummm” 37 times in a new patient call after intensive call training.
Your assistant just dropped her 4th instrument today after you asked her to “slow down”.
A mom, who has been shown her child’s poor brushing 3 times with documented paperwork blames you for her child’s white spots.
A parent wants a full refund for her teen’s Invisalign treatment because the teen wouldn’t wear them as suggested, so it’s “your problem”.
A dental assistant from an office that never refers gets upset at the discount you offered.

Every day we’re faced with situations that test our patience. Some are reasonable and some are way beyond anything considered acceptable. The problem is, we’re not in the tooth straightening business. We’re in the customer service business, and whether we like it or not, our responses to everyday problems will shape how well our practices and mental health will be.

We want to scream and just let it all out, or take a stand and hold our ground and say “NO!!!” but realistically, that’s not how it really works. Communication and setting expectations is always the key, or so you’re told, but what do you do when you’ve done that and yet, you’re faced with the same problems, over and over again.

I am reminded of a situation from 22 years ago, shortly after I had taken over my restorative practice.  Like many of you, I practiced alone. No partner and at the time, no Facebook groups where I could share my problems.

I had a patient come in for a simple DO amalgam. No biggie, and it went well. However, the patient had sensitivity afterwards, which isn’t unusual. What was unusual is that the patient refused to accept that we needed to give it time. I had adjusted the bite, used a rubber dam so there was no contamination, took my time and gave my best work. Yet, here they were, as unreasonable of a patient as I had met in my short 5 years of practicing, threatening me with a whole series of ridiculous statements (you’re not going to sue me for $220 or get my license taken away) and it was clear that they simply wanted their money back.

I called my attorney, a quiet, skilled and experienced practitioner. I went on and on about how insane all of this was and there was no freaking way I was going to pay them back the $220. After all, I did good work. The filling was great and the sensitivity would likely dissipate in time. He asked me one question which I remember to this day:

“Glenn, is it worth $220 to never see this person or hear from them again?”

He was 100% correct. In that particular case, I could be right or I could be happy, but not both. This has been my motto since that time. I don’t need to be right. I just want as little stress as I can in my life.

I can write nasty letters or emails to people who piss me off. I can stand my ground when I’m sure I’m being taken advantage of. I can make examples of people and “show them!”. But it’s not healthy for my mental well being and it’s not good for my practice or culture.

So, the next time you’re faced with someone who takes you for granted or tries to take advantage of you, simply take a deep breath and repeat what I say every morning as I prepare for my day: “I will NOT react emotionally.”

It’ll be better for your patients, your family, your practice and your well-being.

Wishing you the best,

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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.

gk-deep-elleum-1_pp.jpg
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.

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Here’s a great article on non-emotional decisions to peruse: https://www.idealist.org/en/careers/6-ways-to-control-your-emotions-and-make-better-decisions