What the heck is a dental coach, anyway?  And why would I need one?

Chicago IL Dental Consultant

Tom Brady has a coach.  Tiger Woods has a coach.  Michael Jordan had a coach.  Actually, all of these superstars have/had multiple coaches.  The best of the best realize that it’s nearly impossible to reach the top without having someone in your corner, cheering you on, and pushing you to improve.  

Believe it or not, running a successful, fulfilling, and exciting dental practice is not so different.  I was lucky to learn this very early in my dental career.  I started working with a dental coach 5-6 years after I graduated from dental school.  She helped me become a better leader, a better business owner, and, most of all, a better person.

One of our Chicago Fortune coaches, Jonathan Miller, explained this best:

“A coach is someone who is trying to understand where you want to go, your vision, and why you want to get there. From that point, your coach will use her experience and knowledge to make sure that you get what YOU want out of the relationship. As a result, they make sure to keep you focused on why you wanted to get there in the first place.”

It is imperative to have your team on board.  If they don’t believe in, support, live, and breathe the practice’s vision, it will be an uphill battle for the dentist.  This often means that team members need to rethink what’s most important to them about their career choice.  This can also sometimes lead to employee changes.  While this can be daunting, remember, we only grow through tackling change and facing adversity.  

One of the first deliverables for a dental coach is helping the dentist and his/her team create their vision.  I know, I know.  If you’ve never crafted a personal or professional vision statement, this may seem “touchy-feely.”  It is NOT!  

If you don’t know where you want your practice to be in one, five, ten, twenty years, how will you ever get there?  If you don’t know what you want your LIFE to be in one, five, ten, twenty years, you will waste most of your time, “majoring in the minor things.”  And that is NOT how you build an extraordinary life.

If you can look in the mirror and honestly say that your practice and life are both EXACTLY where you want them to be, you don’t need me (or any other coach).  If you are ready to achieve all you ever dreamed of, call or email me NOW!

What is the absolute minimum information I need to check regularly so I will know if I’m making (and accumulating) money?

It’s common for many dentist-owners to turn the financial reins over to their accountant, office manager, or bookkeeper.  However, as the business owner, I always stress that you need to have a basic understanding of the three major financial reports that will give you a “snapshot” of how your dental practice is doing financially.

As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to check these three major reports regularly (that means at least monthly, if not weekly).  I find that many dentists receive their financial reports from their accountants maybe once a quarter, or much worse, once a year!  When they receive the reports, they glance over them quickly and usually go straight to the bottom line. If it’s positive, great!  If it’s negative, well….that’s when panic can set in.  

Doesn’t it make sense to take the financial pulse of your practice regularly?  Always check for patterns that could be hurting your business and address those issues ASAP.  Evaluate and reverse course sooner rather than later.  It could make all the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.

  1. The P&L (sometimes referred to as the income statement) provides information so we can calculate some important metrics like gross profit margin and net profit margin and track changes in revenue and expenses.  It’s common for dental offices to track only production and collection numbers.  It’s vitally important to know which of your expenses may be increasing, as that reduces your profit margin.  

There are certain parameters for each area of expense.  These percentages can vary quite a bit, depending on how many employees you have, where you live, what kind of dentistry you perform, to name a few variables.  

These expenses represent an average range of the percentage of the office’s net revenue.  Net revenue = Collections – any adjustments for insurance or re-do’s, etc.:

Total staff costs (salary, payroll taxes, retirement match, dental work, uniforms, vacation and holiday pay, etc.): 18-25%

Facility (rent or mortgage payment, property taxes, repairs & maintenance): 5-7%

Lab costs: 12-16%

Dental Supplies: 5-7%

Office Supplies: 1-2%

Marketing: 3-10%

Equipment: 5-7%

Computer/IT support: 1-2%

Continuing Education: 5-7%

Professional fees (attorney, accountant, HR, etc.): 2-4%

Interest expense, merchant & bank charges: 2-4%

You can see that these expenses can range from 59-91% of net revenue.  That is a big difference!!  The amount “leftover” is what you, the owner, can take home as a profit.  The P&L provides an in-depth look at the practice’s financial performance.  This is a “fluid” statement.  It changes constantly depending on revenue & expenses. You can see why it’s important to compare statements in a timely manner.  You can then see if changes need to be made, usually in one or more areas of your expenses.  

If you only check this annually, so much time has passed between evaluations that it’s too late to make minor changes to help keep your costs in line.  We recommend running this monthly and comparing categories from month-month to track how profitable your practice is (or could be!).  When I owned my dental practice, I used to run mine every month.  It gave me a good handle on where the money was going.  It gave me guidance as to where (or if) I needed to adjust our spending.

  1. The Cash Flow Statement measures the cash that comes in from operating activities (dentistry) and the cash that goes out from (most of) your expenses.  The cash flow statement is similar to your personal checking account.  

For example:  Say that you deposit $5000 into your checking account in one month and withdraw $4000.  You can see that you’ll have a positive cash flow of $1000 at the end of the month.  Conversely, if you deposit $5000 and (try to) withdraw $6000 over one month’s time, you would be overdrawn or show a negative cash flow.  The cash flow statement is a great snapshot of your business’s financial liquidity at any given time.

  1. The Balance Sheet gives a one-time snapshot of a company’s assets and liabilities.  Basically, it shows you what you have for assets (cash in the bank, real estate, equipment, A/R, goodwill, amortization, etc.) versus liabilities (accounts payable, long and short-term debt, interest payments, etc.).  Like the other 2 reports, the numbers themselves are less important than how they relate to each other, the other reports, and your total revenue.

No, you don’t need an MBA to learn how to read and analyze these reports.  You’re smart-you earned your DDS or DMD degree.  If you’d like to discover how easy it is to “wrap your head around” these reports, call, or email me!

I’ve lost staff members due to covid or other reasons.  Even though unemployment is fairly high, I still can’t find good people to work in my office!

Ah, dentists.  We complain when the economy is down, and we complain when the economy is up!  (Remember, I was a practicing dentist for 25 years, so I’m one of you!)

At the most recent Chicago Dental Midwinter meeting, quite a few dentists shared with me that they were frustrated with some of their staff members.  Some employees couldn’t “get it.”  Some just “dialed it in.”  Some were flat-out insubordinate or subversive.  When I asked these dentists why they hadn’t fired these employees, the dentists responded, “Well, the economy is too good!  Anyone worth hiring already has a job and doesn’t want to leave because of all the added perks, hours, etc.”  

Well, here we are in the covid-era.  The economy is not what it was in February 2020.  Unemployment is not what it was in February 2020.  Life is not what it was in February 2020.  

Question:  With so many people out of work, why can’t dentists find awesome people to hire??

Answer:  You are looking in the wrong industry.  Go outside dentistry if you’re looking to hire ANYONE who doesn’t require accreditation or license to perform her job.  

For example, my very-best dental assistant and scheduling coordinator both came from the hospitality industry.  They already had GREAT customer service skills, were excellent with people, we’re used to constantly shifting their focus, and were excited to start a career in a more stable and professional industry.  I’m sure your geographical area is like mine right now.  There are literally thousands of people who used to work in hospitality who no longer have a job.  Widen your search!!  

If you’d like help in finding and hiring the right people, call or email me.  

What is the one thing you could change right now that would make a huge impact on your practice?

Do you want the easy answer or the honest answer?  

Easy answer:  Many practice consultants tell dentists to work on:

  • Scheduling to goal
  • Treatment case acceptance
  • Patient enrollment
  • Maximizing insurance benefits
  • Reactivation in hygiene and restorative
  • Reducing cancellations & no-shows
  • And the list goes on and on…

Yes, it’s crucial to have all of these systems in place and working at top efficiency.  As a Fortune dental coach in Chicago, I review all these systems with my clients.  I help them evaluate if the system is working.  If it is not, I help them tweak it or even do a complete overhaul.  

Yet none of these systems will work, long-term, without the right…..

Honest answer:  CULTURE

Fortune Practice Management

Many years ago, business management guru Peter Drucker stated that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  If culture is more important than strategy, it’s certainly more important than structure, too (see above diagram).  All the systems that I listed above are part of your office’s structure.  

Culture is the base, or foundation, of the pyramid upon which you build your business.  We often tell patients, “You don’t build a mansion on a swamp” when we’re trying to stress the importance of periodontal health—same principle. 

Culture starts with the dentist’s vision for her/his practice.  

Culture starts with hiring, training, and supporting exceptional team members.  

Culture is reflected in what your clients (patients) say about your office when you’re not around.  

What words would YOU use to describe YOUR office’s culture?  Does that list make you smile?  Or wince?  If you didn’t break into a big, cheesy grin, it’s not too late!  I can help.  Call (312) 479-4427 or email me. Now.  

Why can’t my employees get along with each other?

Wow, I wish I had an easy answer for you!  The reality is that MANY factors contribute to tension amongst employees:

  • No office agreements
  • Poor communication skills
  • No training in sensory acuity
  • No understanding of VAK, meta-programs, DiSC, and other personality/behavioral patterns
  • Jumping to the wrong conclusions
  • Stacking and holding onto grudges
  • Not taking responsibility for managing their emotional state
  • Focusing on the negatives instead of the positives
  • …. to name a few

BTW, Doctor, this applies to you, too.  Yes, I know.  You may not want to spend (“waste”) time on helping your team develop these amazingly important “soft skills.”  You may especially not want to spend time developing these skills in yourself.  That’s okay.  As long as you’re okay with living in chaos.

At Fortune Management Chicago, we believe that learning elegant communication skills is the first step in developing a happy, self-motivated, and supportive team.  The first communication you always have is with yourself.

  • What kind of self-talk do you have every day? 
  • Are you always waiting for the other shoe to drop? 
  • Do you often say, “I hope for the best and plan for the worst?”

Stop hoping for the best!  Start planning for the best!  I will train you and your team to hone these skills, which all contribute to a person’s “Emotional Intelligence.”  Daniel Goleman started teaching the concept of “Emotional Intelligence” (EI or EQ) back in 1995.  Many business experts stress that EQ is more important than IQ.  This is especially true for business leaders (which YOU are, Doctor!).  And for those who work in healthcare (again, this is YOU, Doctor).  And this is truer now than ever.

Do you want to love going into your office? 

Would you like to be surrounded by happy, fulfilled, and self-motivated people? 

How great would it be for you to know that you could depend on your team to do what they need to do when they need to do, and precisely how you want them to do it?   

I can help you build and train your superstar team.  Seriously.  Call or email me to find out how.