Nine years ago, when my partner and I bought a practice from a retiring dentist, I had big dreams: a flourishing practice with happy patients spreading the word about us. Six years later, I saw a bankruptcy attorney to discuss closing it. The dream had become a nightmare.
Even though I was a high-quality dentist and loved my craft, I knew nothing about running a business. I thought I had some business savvy, but I kept making the wrong decisions.
My life was riddled with stress as my production, which was initially high, kept going down. I had no idea how to sell patients their treatment plans and so they didn’t purchase them. But case acceptance was only part of the stress; I was unable to manage the staff. I thought they would function on their own without any leadership, but the reality was they had no driving purpose except to show up, do minimal work and collect a paycheck. Instead of treating patients, I wound up doing the staff’s jobs and being criticized for it. When I discovered my partner and office manager wanted to push me out of the practice, my life seemed to be spiraling out of control. I needed help!
I searched for management solutions but found nothing that was of actual help. Then one day I received a mailer from Sterling and decided to give them a call. I was told about a weekend workshop and figured I had nothing to lose by going. Well, that one workshop ultimately changed my life and saved my practice. I realized that the problem with the practice was my own lack of managerial know-how. Sterling’s management tools were simple yet powerful, not quick-fix cookie-cutter tools; they used a technology that actually shifted my thinking.
I returned to the practice and started to get in real communication with my patients. I was actually interested in them and they started to accept treatment. By doing no more than applying the tools I learned at that Sterling workshop, I had my first profitable quarter in six years. I had found a workable system and wanted more.
I received consulting and took Sterling’s executive training courses, and was again blown away by the logical technology. I began to enjoy managing the practice and directing the staff so that they did their jobs and felt good about their productivity. They began to align on a mutual purpose– to give the highest quality service and care to our patients – each from their own job. The unproductive ones left or were dismissed. Using Sterling’s hiring and testing techniques, I found good staff who wanted to help the practice succeed. My partner and I were not aligned so I agreed to dissolve the partnership and my practice took off. BOOM! My production and collections have nearly doubled and I expect to triple those figures this year.
So the problem with my practice ultimately was me, and now I am the solution. Thanks to Sterling, I am now a better dentist, boss, and person because I understand people. I have respect and appreciation for the staff and I know the feeling is mutual. I’m sure my patients appreciate my thoroughness, service, and skill, but what keeps them coming back is my care. It’s very rewarding when patients tell me they now actually like coming to see their dentist.
If it were not for Sterling, I would have gone bankrupt and lost my practice. Instead, I can keep doing what I love, dentistry.
Bernard Lynch, DMD, FAGD