As a pediatric dentist, I want my office to have a warm, friendly atmosphere where my patients feel like part of the family. And, for a while, the place did feel like a family—a dysfunctional one—which was no fun at all for the patients, the staff, my wife or me.
After completing my residency in pediatric dentistry, I joined a group of colleagues in buying a multi-office practice. None of us knew how to manage a practice, so the place was just a mess of conflicting egos. When we went through a “business divorce” in the spring of 2009, I was looking forward to finally having some peace and prosperity. Instead, my share of the split was an unprofitable, turmoil-filled office.
At first, I thought I was doing okay with 1,600 patients and $70,000 in production. But then I found out we were collecting less than $50,000 and we were going broke fast. I brought my wife in to be the office manager, but the staff resented her being there and treated her as if she were the new evil stepmother. We felt like we were being held hostage by the staff.
The stress, the constant staff complaints and the lack of income were wearing us down. We had a decision to make: either we turn the practice around or shut the doors and go work for someone else. We decided to give it another shot and see if we could turn it into the type of practice we wanted. But, since neither of us was trained in management, we also decided to get some help.
In the summer of 2009, my wife and I went to Sterling to get the management training we were missing. The training completely changed our mindset on how to run our practice. Instead of feeling trapped by our employees, we learned how to take control and build an effective group that works together as a team.
It has only been a year and a half since I started with Sterling, but the change is remarkable. The formerly insolvent practice is now profitable. We are producing an average of $120,000 and collecting $100,000, double what we were previously. Because the office is more efficient, I can work fewer hours. We no longer have the staff upsets and conflicts we had previously. The office is a much happier place to spend the day and patients frequently comment on the change. They don’t just tell us; we have doubled our number of patients over the past year largely due to word of mouth.
It wasn’t an easy decision for us to sign up with Sterling. We were insolvent at that time and money was hard to come by, but I don’t think the practice would be here today if we hadn’t made that investment. Our production and collections were up 40% last year and we are looking to expand even further.
Personally, I am much happier, have a more positive outlook and a lower stress level, all of which helps in my family life and in my interaction with others. I am very grateful for the help Sterling has given us; it has made a huge difference in our lives.
What I have learned is that being a competent dentist and hard work are important ingredients in having a successful practice, but they do not guarantee success. If there are areas of your practice that don’t seem quite right, I highly recommend that you call Sterling. They taught me what I’d been missing and got me on the road to living the life I dreamed of when I first decided to open my own practice. Now I am having fun.
Jared Evans, DMD