The last time that Kelly and I spoke to a live audience was the first week of March in 2020. We are so excited once again be speaking at the Greater NY Dental Meeting next month. We will be presenting for an entire day on Wednesday, December 1st. This is a great opportunity to reignite the enthusiasm for you and your team. Our morning program is “3 Definite Strategies to Grow Your Practice”. Kelly and I will be joined by our good friend, Kay Huff, who is one of the most dynamic speakers in the country. A fun fact is that when I won the “Speaker of the Year Award” from the Speaking and Consulting Network in 2014, Kelly then won it in 2015, and Kay won it the following year in 2016. This will be an opportunity to see three award winning speakers on one stage giving you and your team actionable strategies to grow your practice immediately.
In the afternoon on December 1st, Kelly and I will be presenting “7 Steps to Increase Treatment Acceptance”. This course in a blueprint to insure that the patients who you know could benefit from your care will want to have it done without objection.
The loss of my dental practice to a series of life tragedies 20 years ago has served as my stimulus to now be dedicating my energies to helping doctors overcome struggles and challenges. The great success that my team and I had after we returned from two years of my disability and recovery has also laid the groundwork that enabled Kelly and I, and our amazing team of Smile Potential coaches, to help doctors, who have been underachieving, set the wheels in motion to discover incredible new success in their practices. It has been very fulfilling helping practices achieve routine first year growth of $300,000 – $500,000. Since January 2016 Smile Potential has now worked with 115 practices and the gain in revenue for those practices now exceeds $85 million.
I can still remember when I was disabled and unable to practice, how alone I felt. Sure, I had friends checking in on me, especially my good friend, my Schein dental supply rep, Mitch Cutler, who spoke with me daily, giving me encouragement and hope for a better future. But dentistry can be very isolating, and that was certainly made more evident over the last year and a half for almost everyone in our profession. The pandemic worsened the isolation that most dentists felt even prior to COVID.
In a suburban town outside of New York City there is a very modest dental practice. There had been reports that the dentist was not paying proper wages to members of his team, so the State Labor Department decided to send an agent to the practice to investigate. When the inspector entered the office he met the dentist and asked for a list of the employees and how much each of them were paid. The dentist responded by saying, “I have a Dental Hygienist who is paid $2,000 per week, an Administrative team member who is paid $1,500 per week and a Clinical Assistant who is paid $1,000 per week.” The inspector asked if there was anyone else, as he scribbled in a notepad. The Dentist responded by saying, “Yeah, I have one person who gets about $20 per week and enough cash to pay the car lease and gas money.”
“Aha!” the agent roared. “I want to talk to that man!”
“Speaking,” said the dentist.
Of course, this story is made up, but the situation is, unfortunately, not a gross exaggeration of what is sadly happening in too many dental practices today. Many, who have found a path to profitability, will hear this and say, “No Way.” Believe what you want, but Kelly and I have encountered far too many practices in this situation to dismiss it. We have seen busy practices generating hundreds of thousands of dollars and the dentists are deeply buried in debt and taking home less money than their dental assistants. These dentists have no path out of this devastating spiral.
Craig Presti, a dental marketing guru, in 2018 published an article naming that year as “the year of Dentists declaring bankruptcy”. In 2019 he published a book titled “The Dental Apocolypse Survival Guide”. This was certainly not very encouraging.
Recently I had the opportunity to see the new movie revival of the hit Broadway musical, “Dear Evan Hansen.” It is about a socially anxious adolescent and the difficulties he encounters with teenage life, including the suicide of a classmate. In the worst of these situations, teenagers may suffer in their loneliness and make devastating mistakes without receiving the help of others. There is a song in that show called “You Will Be Found.” As I hear that song, I listen to the lyrics that keep repeating “You are not alone, You are not alone, You are not alone”… and I immediately thought of so many dentists that we’ve met needing help.
Dentistry attracts many individuals who are task-oriented and introverted. In today’s world, running a dental practice requires considerable business acumen. “They Didn’t Teach Us THAT In Dental School”…someone should write a book with that title. Many socially anxious dentists used to attend study clubs where they heard the other members bragging about how well they were doing, whether they were or they weren’t, and they became too ashamed to ask for help, out of embarrassment. They received no help and they continued to spiral downward. They suffered in their loneliness and they committed “practice suicide”. The pandemic even eliminated the outlet of live study groups. Virtual study groups did not allow for robust two-way conversation, but rather featured one-way lectures or presentations. This certainly did not allow the type of discussions that could serve as support for those suffering. And mental health is taking a toll throughout our society. It has been brought to the forefront by athletes like Naomi Osaka., Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. Mental health is also a problem in our dental community from all of the stresses we encounter on a daily basis
Dentists are not alone. “You Are Not Alone” We are a community. We are not in competition with each other. There are more than enough mouths with teeth that should guarantee that everyone of us can achieve great success. Smile Potential is dedicated to helping dentists find a way out of their challenges, whether they be team attraction or retention, patient satisfaction and retention, practice growth, team development, systems implementation, stress reduction, life/work balance and profitability.
Dentists, team members, sales representatives, vendors and accountants should help identify practices that are not reaching their potential and offer to help them, even if it is just referring them to someone who CAN help them. If you are a dentist, you have some sense about your nearby colleagues who may be suffering. You may be even getting patients from their practices. Acquiring these patients is not a win. Don’t celebrate these gains. Find out what is behind them.
If you are a vendor, a representative, or an accountant, you know which accounts are ordering less and less with each passing month. You see the facilities in disrepair and the empty reception rooms, or empty schedules. You know the practices that are not finding a way to “get by”. Let them know that you see the signs of struggle and let them know that they are not alone.
Kelly and I, and our team of coaches, are here to help any doctors who are struggling, or who are not struggling, but just want to assuredly take their practices to the next level. Dentists are faced with so many additional challenges now more than ever before…hiring shortages, rising team compensation and supply costs, difficult team retention, corporate competition, challenging policy compliance, HR nightmares, increasing stress. As my grandmother would say, “Oy vey!!!” The good news is that we serve a population that needs dentistry more than ever. Cosmetic dentistry is at an all-time high. Technology is available to make dentistry more fulfilling than ever before. And we are here to help you feel not as alone in your challenges. The systems, diagnostic criteria, verbal skills, computer proficiency and training we provide in our coaching programs helps struggling practices find success, and successful practices achieve unprecedented growth and potential. You are not alone. We are here to help you.