In spite of the fact that the “professional landscape” has certainly changed, and new grads face different challenges than I did thirty-six years ago, some practice-building tenets never change:
1. A sound practice is built upon strong personal relationships. As the Pankey Cross of Dentistry reminds us, “Know Yourself, Know Your Work, Know Your Patient, then Apply Your Knowledge, and you will receive both a Spiritual as well as a Material Reward.” Taking time to establish that relationship with your patient family, one person and one procedure at a time, and developing a sense of trust through competence and education, is key.
2. Give back to the community which provides your livelihood! Serve your community as a volunteer on multiple levels (Kiwanis, Rotary, PTA, Cancer, Heart, United Way, Habitat, Chamber of Commerce, etc.). When you work with others, they discover that you’re just a “regular person” like they are, and a friendship often emerges ultimately leading to a great dentist-patient relationship.
3. Be on time!!! Time your procedures, and add extra time units (a schedule utilizing ten-minute intervals is best) for challenging patients or procedures. Respecting the time of your patients will absolutely set you apart from just about any other practice (especially medical)! Trust me, your patients will notice, appreciate, and talk about your timeliness!
4. Create a happy place to work. Share your vision with your team and help them “buy into it” using strong leadership and team building skills. Above all, set your practice apart from others by being patient focused and service oriented. As Og Mandino once said, “The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you no matter what your task may be.”
These simple tenets will take time and commitment from you and your team, but, with patience and persistence, you will absolutely build a successful practice built upon “word of mouth” referrals which will empower you to compete with the “big boys,” and succeed where others have failed. Good luck and best wishes!
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
Booker T. Washington